I Hereby Grant Myself Permission to Be Shitty

Six weeks ago, I started seeing an amazing new doctor who finally diagnosed this mystery illness that has made me so sick the last two years. He has begun weekly IV treatment along with a host of other alternative therapies that are finally starting to give me my life back after two years of countless ER visits, trips to the doctor and testing. The treatments are really helping. But, when I have to go more than a week between them, I start to feel really sick again, and some weeks I feel worse, before I feel better. I’ve gone from being in bed 80% of the time to about 20% of the time, though, so that alone is a miracle, especially when you have four children. I have decided to document my journey here to show the up’s and down’s of my healing journey, in hopes of offering an honest view into my world, as I fall and rise, yet again and again and again. Through my years as The Grim Reaper Girl, I have learned above all, that our struggles teach us as much as our triumphs, so I hope you can be inspired by my acceptance of all the parts of this journey, and myself in them. 

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Days like this are really, really hard for me. This healing journey comes with its up’s and down’s. (If you missed my updates on my recent diagnosis’ of serious chronic illness, go check my Facebook page). Right now, I have severe asthma and allergies on top of the chronic illness I’ve been suffering from for 2 years. I have a severe infection in my lungs and feel like I can’t breathe. I’ve been in bed since Sunday and this week I had to postpone my weekly IV treatment because it’s just too much for me to drive an hour and a half each way to the doctor, receive the treatment which really drains me, and then come home and have to take care of 4 kids alone for 3 days until my husband has a day off. Today I feel really horrible – bad anxiety (a side effect of my treatment), extreme fatigue, nausea, headache, heart palpitations, brain fog, chest pain, and a wicked cough. And I woke up this morning to find out my 3 year old who just got over a horrible case of the flu that almost turned to pneumonia a couple weeks ago, now has CROUP. Croup is what my nephew died from.

This shit is real, folks. I don’t make it up. It is absolutely ridiculous how often we are sick. It is absolutely unbearable feeling horrible myself and taking care of a toddler who feels awful – when he doesn’t feel good, he is mean and nasty and whiny and gets into trouble all day long. So, I should be in bed, but instead I’m pulling him off counters and shelves and candy cabinets all day long. Oh yeah, and there’s also a 16 month old to take care of and 2 other kids to take to and from school, and make sure they get their homework and chores done. Mamas don’t always get a day off. No matter how sick they are. 

I’ve worked really hard to train myself to stay in FAITH instead of FEAR but days like today, I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle ALL ALONE. My husband works 7-7 most days. I have paid a babysitter enough money to put her through college, to help me this last year and a half, but she has limited availability because she’s in school. So, today, I am just trying to be ok with not feeling great, and wishing I could feel super loved and supported when I’m feeling really alone and overwhelmed. Am I allowed to feel that? Am I allowed to have days where I kind of just can’t get to a place of positivity and faith and lots of words of inspiration while I try to heal?

Well, I’m the only one who can give myself permission to just be as I am. So, I hereby grant myself the inalienable right to just say, THIS SUCKS. THIS IS HARD RIGHT NOW. I know it will pass, but right now, it hurts and its hard and I would LOVE more than anything to feel your love around me right now.

Tomorrow I will probably be back to peppy-steppy-feelin’-and-believin’-Megan. Today, I am allowed to just be Megan. And maybe even, Shitty Megan. Or, at least, Shitty-Feeling Megan.

And I feel SO much better when I just express myself honestly to the world. Don’t you?!!!!!!!! I hope this inspires you to be honest about your struggles. When we give ourselves permission to be real, we give others permission to do the same, and the truth is, sometimes this being human is hard, isn’t it? Let’s not try to pretend any different. What makes it worth doing, is being in it together, and knowing there is as much beauty as pain.

Ahhhh…I feel more faith-filled already. I know this will pass, and I’m trusting some miracles are on their way…and I am so grateful I have this community of people around me to support me from near and far through this. Thanks for being here, thanks for listening. Remember, whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone. I’ve probably been there. I see you. I get you. We’re in it TOGETHER, and we even get to be SHITTY together if we want to.

The Brave & Brokenhearted Club: Are You In?

I want to start a new club. Who wants to join? Everyone? Great!!!!!

It’s called The Brave and Brokenhearted Club. Think you belong in it?

Here are the qualifications for admission:

  • A) You are human. 
  • B) You’ve had your heart broken.
  • C) You are still living and breathing and walking around on a planet with your broken heart, knowing it could be smashed into pieces again anytime. You are still daring to be in relationship with other human beings who may get sick, or struggle, or die, or hurt you or betray you…and you are still loving them, anyway. Because, you can. 

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This is not a sad club. It’s a club of elite members of people – humans – who do really brave things like open their hearts up again and again, even after they’ve been broken or trampled or pummeled or pounced on. People who have become masters at stitching their hearts back together from pieces and pumping those hearts even louder and prouder for what they’ve loved and what they’ve lost. People who live wholeheartedly, as Brene Brown calls it, embracing love for as long as they can hold it, knowing, in their hands lies the both the possibility for their greatest joy and profoundest sorrow. Because to love is the highest risk – it is risking our own hearts. It is knowing we can never hold onto something, truly – that every love, relationship, friend, teacher, experience, is only ours to borrow for a time.

It’s living out loud, even with broken hearts. It’s letting those broken hearts grow, not wither, from each loss, each beating. It’s owning our stories and showing them to others, so we can ALL BE REAL about the truth of our humanity.

It’s still loving hard, playing hard, giving hard, believing hard, faith-ing hard, praying hard…while also grieving hard, crying hard, raging hard, recovering hard, and growing…HARD…no matter what life gives us. 

But, even more than all this, let me tell you what this club is really about.

This is a club for front runners. For brave and brokenhearted souls who are willing to walk ahead of the pack, alone, standing for their truth.

You see, it’s very cold and lonely walking this road alone, sometimes, but we are the people who have finally figured out, after years of trial and error, that there is no MAGIC PILL. That healing NEVER comes overnight. That part of life is taking time to honor, acknowledge, process and recover from the stories that make us and break us. 

In this modern day and age, our society has found a way to hit fast forward on just about everything. We’ve sped up cooking, eating, exercising, traveling, working…but, we’re paying the price in so many ways for speeding up BEINGNESS. Where is the time to just BE? And where is the time to grieve, feel, emote, joy, sorrow; celebrate? 

Our bodies were not designed to heal overnight. When you get a cut, or scrape, wound or broken leg, do you expect that you’ll wake up the next morning healed?

The Brave and Brokenhearted know that hearts heal like bodies. They take time to puss, bleed, ooze, scab and scar, too. They take time to put back together after they’ve been shattered, like carefully rebuilding a broken ceramic vase from three million tiny shards and pieces.

 

We Brave and Brokenhearted, we believe it’s ok to take this time. We’ve stopped listening to the society that tells us to, “Hurry up and get over it!” “Put on a brave face!” “Soldier on!” And, “Keep positive!”

ChutzpahWe’ve learned that ignoring our wounds, our pain, our sorrow, our grief, and even our GREAT VICTORIES of the heart, literally KILLS US, slowly. When we deny our truth, we become the zombies we over-glorify in movies and TV shows. We lose our heart, our life force, our chutzpah (chutzpah: the quality of audacity, for good or for bad) when we give up the honest expression of our darkest fears, deepest sorrows and grandest miracles of who we are….which is BAD ASS WARRIORS.

We Brave and Brokenhearted give ourselves and others permission to feel, to grieve, to struggle, to celebrate the tiny victories and the large ones. We give ourselves and others permission to take time to heal. To be whoever we are. To own our stories, our diagnosis’, our never-ending grief, our mistakes, our growth and recovery.

We have taken TIME back, and given it to ourselves.

And we want you to have it, too. Time to not only mend your heart, but breathe it back to life and joy and loving again. Time to not have all the answers or solutions just yet. Time to recover not just from illness but from trauma and loss and grief. Time to fill your well, every single day. Time to pursue your passions and purpose on this Earth. Time to mine the dark caverns of your soul for gold, and time to bring that gold to the surface, to share with others, because we need what you have!!!!

It takes courage to join this club. It means standing against the old paradigm of HURRY UP AND GET OVER IT, and holding a vision of a new era, a new paradigm while others who don’t understand (yet) look on with bewilderment, or worse, look away. But, we have to do this anyway, for each other, so that every time one of us starts to feel lonely up there ahead of the pack, we remember, we are NOT alone.

There are more and more of us coming out of the shadows every day, saying, “I’m not hiding who I am anymore. I’m human. I struggle. I fall down. I get back up. I throw pity parties and tantrums. I make mistakes. I eat too much chocolate. I cry, I scream. But, I’m alive. I’m still breathing. I’m still trying. And that’s what makes me amazing.”

There’s a funny thing that happens when we give ourselves permission to be exactly who we are. We give others that permission, too. They get permission to take off their masks, let down their hair, and pull up a chair to THE REAL AND RAW table, too. And you know what that feels like?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….relief.

So, we just have to keep showing up and keeping it real and being honest about whatever is in our hearts, and soon enough, those people staring at us in bewilderment, will be pulling up chairs to our table and saying, “Thank you, thank you for inviting me to the Brave and Brokenhearted club, where I have permission to be…HUMAN, too. Thank you.”

Are you in?

#brave&brokenheartedclub

On the Edge of a New Era (in Which We FEEL)

kyler sickAfter awhile, you learn what people do and don’t want to hear. You learn that most people don’t really feel comfortable hearing the truth of your feelings. So you start changing, without even meaning to. You hide your feelings…stuff them down so deep you don’t even realize you’re stuffing them. Because where else do we put them? Right?

Girls cry, we get labeled drama queens, over-dramatic, over sensitive.

Boys cry, they’re not tough enough. They’re weak. They’re “pussies.”

I’ve gotten to be pretty good at hiding my true feelings. I’ve learned the world usually just wants a triumph story with a happy ending. That if you’re grieving or suffering, depressed or just simply FEELING the whole gamut of life…many people will make you feel like a “downer.”

I almost always feel the need to put a positive spin on my posts…because I’m afraid of scaring everyone away by saying some days it just really sucks or it’s just damn hard.

I’m afraid of being labeled.

I’m afraid of being ignored.

I’m afraid that somehow I’ve met an invisible quota on how much FEELING I’m allowed to express or have. Of how long I’m allowed to take to grieve 21 deaths. To recover from being married to an addict for 10 years. To learn how to live and parent 4 kids in a world where I’ve already buried three.

I’m tired of living by the old rules. News flash! They’re not working! Suicide rates, depression rates, mental health statistics, overdoses and rehab centers will tell you: WHAT WE’RE DOING IS NOT WORKING. This whole NOT showing our true feelings thing? It’s KILLING US. Those feelings don’t just disappear. They turn into toxic poison that kills us from within. That we have to drown and soak and stuff and eat and numb our way away from.

I want to stand on the edge of a new era. The era of BEING ALLOWED TO BE OURSELVES and not play by anyone else’s rules on how much we’re allowed to feel, grieve, hurt, sorrow, celebrate or express our anger openly. An era where we all get together and say HEY, THIS BEING HUMAN THING IS HARD SOMETIMES…HOW ABOUT WE ALL AGREE NOT TO PRETEND ANY DIFFERENT?!

An era where a man can grieve his child with tears at his graveside 14 years after he died.

An era where GoFundMe campaigns are set up not just for funeral expenses for the one who died but for support of those who are left behind.

An era where people who are dealing with blow after blow after blow in life can say it STILL sucks and not be called a downer.

An era where we don’t always get the happy endings but we support each other in the FOREVER MIDDLES.

An era where a girl who has been open about her grief and struggles, and her commitment to finding light in landmines can come on Facebook late at night after a good HARD cry and say…

In 2 weeks it will be THE day…THE day…March 14th…the day my nephew died…when he was almost 3…

And today it killed me inside a little…to see my sweet little baby boy who is also 3 so sick his fever was 106. He is exactly the same age. He has the same hair, the same exuberance for life. And I hate not knowing how long he’ll be mine to borrow. I hate knowing that children DO die and for the most inexplicable inconceivable reasons. And I am still grieving the little boy we lost too soon…and I ALWAYS will be…because I will never stop loving him…and it will never stop being the hardest thing on Earth to be reminded of the last time I held him…as I parent my own four kids. Tonight, I’m hurting. Tomorrow, I’ll get back up and live out loud like I always do…and I’ll feel something different or maybe the same…but tonight I wanted to tell you the truth of me because I know one thing for certain…the truth will always set you free.

What era do you want to live in? How much we allow others to be real is how much we allow ourselves.

The next part is up to you. ♡

*Are you following me on Facebook? This was also posted over there. Click like on that box on the right side of your screen if you want to see all my posts. 

The Answer to Everything Is…

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It’s been a hard week here. It started out with calling 911 on Sunday because the baby was choking on something she picked up off the floor. It took a visit to the ER and several panicky hours to figure out she had a small piece of thick plastic lodged in her throat that the Doctor was finally able to remove. On top of that, several of my closest friends have been dealing with life-threatening illnesses for themselves or their kiddos, so basically my heart has been walking around outside my body all week feeling the ache of lack of protection and acute vulnerability.

I tend to get mad when things like this happen. I have a strict Don’t Mess With My Loved Ones policy that the Universe does not seem to adhere to. Dangit. I also really don’t like being such a sensitive BIG feeling soul when my lovelies are hurting, and I really don’t like it when all my lovelies are hurting at once. That is just about unbearable.

But, you and I both know I’ve walked this road a million times before. I am a self-certified Tragedy Specialist. So, sitting in the discomfort of vulnerability today, watching my lovelies suffer, I just had to find a little compassion within and tell myself this:

Ok, Megan, here we go. You know what’s happening. The squeeze is on. You’re being ground and twisted and wrung to a fresh pulp yet again…so what will you do different this time, knowing what’s on the other side of this pain is the promise of LOVE, beauty and immense wisdom? Knowing you’re going to come out of this a sweet, sweet cherry-limeade, ripe with empathy and love?

Here’s what I think I’ve figured out about all of this.

Anything…ANYTHING can be made bearable if you surround it with enough LOVE.

Francine Wheeler, Mother to 5-year-old Ben, who was one of the Sandy Hook victims, said someone told her after her son’s death that there would always be a hole in her heart. BUT, if she surrounded it with enough love, that love would build a protective coating around the hole that would eventually make it possible to live with a Swiss cheese heart.

So here’s my answer to everything, I think:
FEED IT MORE LOVE.

Whatever is broken or hurting or vulnerable or quaking in your heart, whatever your holes are, your aches, your dreams, your losses…feed them more love til there’s so much love around them, it doesn’t hurt as much anymore.

In the darkest depths of pain, loss and grief, LOVE is always possible. In the uncertainty of fear and unknowingness on the life to your dreams, MORE LOVE is always possible. When someone has hurt you or betrayed you, MORE LOVE for yourself and for them is always possible…because if we can forgive ourselves, we can forgive others…when we realize EVERYONE’S always doing their best.

When you are scared, feed yourself more love. When you are sad, feed yourself more love. When your lovelies are aching, feed yourself more love…so then you can overflow onto them when they need it most.

Yup, more love, more love might be the answer to everything. 

Are you following me on Facebook? This post was shared on my Writer’s Page over there today. I often post brief musings on Facebook that I don’t post here, so run on over and click like if you want to hear more of my thoughts on life, love, tragedy & everything in between. 🙂 

How 10 Minutes of Heaven a Day Saved Our Marriage & Our Lives

IMG_20150709_124857I’m currently reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and I’m pleasantly surprised to find that many of my “depression lessons” from my fight through postpartum depression and life, are succinctly mirrored to her monthly bids at happiness projects. While she wished she had more of a platform of hard life experiences to draw on in order to relate to her readers, I’ve had more than my fair share, and yet we both write about the same things – finding more happiness, embracing our imperfections, trying to enjoy parenting when it really sucks the life out of you, and above all, joyful abundance of self-care.

My project has been more of a Bring Me Back to Life Project, as I’m working to retrain myself to experience joy again after so much hardship and tragedy, but I find the same basic principles of Rubin’s Happiness Project at the foundation of my daily work. I’ve been put into a situation with PPD/PPA where I’ve been forced to make my own self-care and happiness a priority. When my husband, Kory, went to rehab, he was forced to do the same thing: put his self-care first, and that’s why he’s still sober two years later. Both of us are “recovering everythings” in our own unique ways. Our journeys to healing are what have kept us together; our devotion to our own ritualistic inner and outer daily maintenance the basis of our success in staying together, and raising a generally contented family of six.

Even as we’ve faced the stresses of parenting four kids through PPD/PPA, even as we were putting our family back together after Kory went to rehab, we’ve both made self-care a top priority, knowing this alone would keep us afloat. These last eight months since our daughter’s birth, as we’ve watched unwashed laundry piles grow legs in every corner of every room, dog poop piles fill the side yard, and weeds grow between the cracks of the front walk way, we’ve simply sighed and acquiesced, knowing we could only do so much. Yet still, we made sure Kory got to the gym a few nights a week, at least. Still, we drug our way through hours of reading Vroom Vroom Llama Llama or breaking up, “He pinched me!” fights, so I could get time to write or he could leave the house to feel the freedom of NOT being a parent for an hour.

This is my TEN MINUTE OF HEAVEN...a computer, a pile of soul-stirring books, and a Kleenex box, just in case.

This is my TEN MINUTES OF HEAVEN…a computer, a pile of soul-stirring books, and a Kleenex box, just in case.

At our worst, Kory shortened his morning ritual from 40 minutes to 15 so I could sleep, but he still made sure he meditated for 10 of those 20 minutes, and before he got in the shower, he woke me up first and gave me 10 minutes of HEAVEN to start my day off with less of a deficit. 10 minutes of Heaven each, saved us, and our marriage, empowering us daily to keep fighting our individual, and collective beasts.

In many ways, PPD and years of tragedies have dictated our abilities, shunting our capability to do more, be more, or have more. But, in many other ways, we have not let any of it stop us from getting exactly what we needed to THRIVE, instead of SURVIVE. Our hardships have actually forced us to build bright glow sticks to hold up and revel in, as we fight together, each darkness that confronts us.

Each of us in this world has our own crutch or cross to bear. Yours may look more like parenting a special needs child while trying to build a home business or care-giving aging elders sooner than you were ready to. Every one of us will at some point feel like we have to make sacrifices – to let something “give” because we just can’t do it all. For you, it may not be the laundry, it may be the dream of a larger home, but the smaller one with the lower rent or mortgage affords you mini-vacations and little luxuries, so you do it. Or, it may be less time for manicures and nail polish or even just a close shave – but you let those things go willingly so you can squeeze in those two hours a week at yoga class.

Sometimes all I get is 10 minutes in this morning on this couch to listen to the birds chirp while I squeeze in a meditation to greet the day. And that's enough to sustain me those days.

Sometimes all I get is 10 minutes in this morning on this couch to listen to the birds chirp while I squeeze in a meditation to greet the day. And that’s enough to sustain me those days.

It’s ok. This too shall pass. I won’t have PPD forever. You won’t have your crutch or cross forever. But, soon, we will have different crutches and crosses to bear, that’s one thing that’s certain, isn’t it? It never stops. It never ends. There’s always this give and take of put a little more on this side of the scale, a little less on that one. That is parenting, that is life, with PPD or special needs or elder parents or grief, or without.

Whatever you are balancing right now, whatever you are forgoing, I hope you do not cross yourself off the to-do list. I hope you make time for YOUR TEN MINUTES OF HEAVEN as often as you can – be it reading, meditating, yoga-ing, writing, exercising, doing nothing mindfully likethis guy suggests in his TedX talk, practicing gratitude like this blogger William Lloyd, or spending time in nature. I hope you use your unique crutch to propel you to more self-care, instead of less. I hope you realize that the only way to survive the tough times is to build reserves in the good ones – to be devoted to filling your well daily, regardless of circumstance. And if you have excuses – lots of good ones, I’m sure – for why you’re not carving out that time for you, I hope you think of Kory and I juggling addictions, deaths, depressions, recoveries, illnesses and hospital visits, and tell yourself to just get creative and find a way to do it. It’s the difference between surviving and thriving, I guarantee you, and I speak from a hellavu lot of experience!

If you’re not sitting around biting your nails waiting for my next post, I hope you’ll be levitating off the ground somewhere in your unique little ten minute slice of heaven. What does your TEN MINUTE SLICE OF HEAVEN look like and how are you MAKING it happen for yourself today, or how you swear to do it tomorrow? Comment below! 

See you again soon. I’m trying to post more frequently!