Two messages came through Facebook asking me to contact a couple of friends I haven’t heard from in a while one Saturday night. I acquired these friends during my marriage to the #FallenHero. These friends knew all the original parties well.
First one asked if I heard about the #FallenHero. My automatic response was “What has he done now?...” The response was one I wasn’t expecting.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“For what? It’s been two years…”
“No honey. He’s dead. They found him. He died of liver failure,” she said quietly on the phone.
The words “Well at least he didn’t shoot himself in the head again” tumbled out of my mouth without a thought. My focus was immediately on his family. They had already lost enough.
“Yes,” she said quietly again. “I’m so sorry.”
“Why are you sorry?” I asked. “It was an end we all knew was coming. It actually came a lot sooner than I had expected.” Why would someone say they felt sorry for me? We weren’t married any more. We hadn’t been in touch since the divorce got finalized. The only thing I knew was that he was literally right across the street in our old townhome without knowledge of me being so near. And the automatic panic attack that appeared at the sight of a bright blue car. Heck, it didn’t even have to be a Focus! This made absolutely no sense.
Don’t get me wrong. I knew the man he was capable of being even if he chose not to be that man for a good portion of our relationship. But I couldn’t quite rap my head around why everyone wanted to send condolences to a dead marriage involving a hero that had fallen long ago.
Although it was nice to hear from this long lost friend, I still couldn’t figure out why people were behaving the way they were. Was I supposed to be feeling different? I called mama bear. My first response after trying to state the obvious to others was that maybe I should reach out to his family. They had already lost one son. It seemed like it was the humane thing to do. Mama bear gave me a second to process it.
“No. I shouldn’t do that.”
“No. You shouldn’t,” she said quietly on the phone. “People disperse their anger to anyone that is easily available whether it is wrong or not. You already had to bear that role multiple times. Do you really want to do it once more?...”
“No,” I said honestly. Still unsure of exactly what I was supposed to do with this information. We talked for what seemed like hours. A normal routine for us. I went through a range of emotions.
He will remain the start of my adjusted sails, but he will never be the one to control this boat. I am glad that no more pain can come from this storm. I also know that it was this storm that could never define me. I just grew that much stronger. Now the winds have died and all is at peace. The sky has cleared for both of us. Today, we are both free.
Storms don’t have to be about alcoholism or abuse. Storms can be bad days at work, struggles with a 13 year old, and a serious need to sleep. Storms can be working at crappy jobs with even more crappy co-workers and management. Storms can be terrible projects that cause the desire to throw your computer out the window. Storms can be the battles of emotions within ourselves. However, storms can be as simple as never getting to go to the bathroom alone. The truth of the matter is that storms can be any shape and size. But they aren’t outrunable! (Yes, I just made up a word…) Whatever your storm, you’re not alone. I have my shoes laced up and am ready to run right beside you. Let’s do this!
If we knew what really happened behind closed doors we would most likely be shocked into disbelief more than any reality show could produce. For example….The picture above is around two days of consumption. It always fascinated me how much my fallen hero could consume. Well, until his liver began to disagree.
Yes, this was my life. A life that no one knew until now. A piece of my life that I share with you simply so you will always remember that you can survive any storm. Yes, this was my life that no one knew. I had to take a picture one day because I knew no one would believe me when the truth came out. I had lied for so long that I think I even had myself fooled. However, reality had me not wanting to go home and praying that he would be passed out by the time I got there. Sometimes luck shined on me. Others, not so much. However, I gave vows “for better or for worse…” I was eagerly waiting “for better.”
Why would you even bother in the first place?! Well, it wasn’t always like this. In the beginning he prepared for war. I knew what he could become even if he didn’t see it himself. I could see it. And I would save him from himself. I just didn’t know that he was already lost beyond reach. No one bothered to tell me the past until they dropped him in my lap and said, “Best of Luck!” It was okay. I knew who he could be. I could save him….
War came and he wasn’t allowed to drink overseas. I would tell him out loud, “There you are…” He’d smile and tell me he loved me, and I believed he did until the war ended. I can say that there were “for better” moments. I just don’t remember them very well with all that replaced them. Yes, this was what my life had become.
We had an ongoing epidemic that I referred to as the #vodkaflu. He had it a lot. It kept him sick on the couch as our living room turned into the picture above. I despised the #vodkaflu. It took away what “for better” memories I started with. It left me alone to support us both. It made me bitter and hateful and not liking the world at all. Sometimes it even left me alone at home because he had disappeared with no word at all. But no one needed to know the #vodkaflu consumed my house. So I became really good at smiling and acting the part of a proud military wife. Behind closed doors was another story. There were holes in the walls, venomous words that will never be able to be taken back, hand to body contact, and a desire to lock the bedroom door and pray we didn’t touch in bed when sleeping. Yes, this was my life. See what things we find when we open closed doors? See what storms hide that no one knows….
Yes, that WAS my life, and after 5.5 years of realizing I couldn’t save someone who had no desire to be saved himself, I laced up my shoes and I ran. I escaped the storm. I escaped the alcoholism and #vodkaflu that almost caused me to completely drown. This storm was not going to take me. This storm was going to carry me!
So here I sit with two years of freedom under my belt. Recently, I found that I would be free forever. The fallen hero had fallen for good and would not be getting back up. Liver failure shockingly enough. He put himself on a path of destruction and a desire to simply drink himself to death. A path I could not follow. I had to lace up my shoes and save myself, and despite the fact that some blame me for his end I know that there was nothing more I could have done before leaving. I couldn’t save him, but I could save myself and I did.
The storm carried me to safety and on my own separate path. I was not the same person, and I was going to stay that way. So Chasing Stormi began. Now I have a new life. A life of being uncomfortable, making new friends, finding adventures, and smiling for real once more. So tell me….are you ready to lace up your shoes and run with me?....
Today I had lunch with a man that spoke of great wisdom and someone I would proudly call a new friend. “Why do I care?” you ask. Well, because I found myself learning a lesson that I think we all need to remember. After getting caught up some as to what was happening in our lives these days, he kept telling me, “You don’t need to be perfect.” My response was always, “Yes, I know. I just do my best for that day.” As we continued our talk and I confessed my current sense of drowning in a life without balance, he continued to state…”You don’t need to be perfect.” My response continued to be the same, but I began to wonder…was I not making any sense when I was speaking? It definitely wouldn't be the first time! As usual, the constant auto-replay of this ADHD brain brought me to pure realization. I was lying. I was lying to myself every day, and had been for months now. I wasn’t just trying to give my best for that day. I was pushing to be perfect without even realizing it. At everything. To the point that I feel so stretched and I am failing at it all! And yet a stranger that knew nothing of me suddenly knew me better than I had known myself for months. A person can only be perfect at being imperfect. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s time to stop beating ourselves up. Make time to reward ourselves for our awesomeness. It’s time to find balance once more. We don’t have to do it all. We want to, but that doesn’t mean we should kill ourselves trying to. As my new friend reminded me, "You still have plenty of time." So take a breath. Relax your overly tensed and stressed body. And be what you are meant to be! Perfectly Imperfect.
A girl just trying to find her way, stepping outside of her comfort zone, trying new things, and making new friends along the way!