The Price of Vulnerability

I watched Brene Brown’s segment that’s on Netflix awhile back and something she said stuck with me which was a loud theme of her talk…you can’t be vulnerable without being courageous. I think about my life over the last 20 months and how brutally honest, vulnerable I’ve been about this journey post tragedy and loss of my husband Paul. What’s the point in sharing and laying out my heart for those willing to read? It’s not that I need any of you to understand because you cannot (unless you’re a widow), and I’m glad you can’t because I know what that would mean for you.

Here’s why I do. This tragedy has changed every single thing about me and how I live my life. There are a few things in particular that I want to bring up that are essentially driving me mad in this world in which we live.

1. “This is the way things are” or “this is how things have always been done.” This is one of the most DANGEROUS mindsets to live in. Why are we accepting of things that are broken because “that’s just the way things are”? Why are we letting insurance companies dictate what medical care we can get? Why are we paying hundreds to thousands of dollars for it then we have to fight them to get a test approved that our MD says we need done? Why do we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on court cases where the proof is 100% there or someone knows the truth but won’t say it? It is GREED and our money is going into someone’s pockets – likely someone who’s getting million dollar bonuses every year. Why do things like the Clinton Conspiracy exists but no one has the balls to investigate it? Fear. I don’t live my life in fear anymore by putting my head in the sand and laying low. People want to talk a lot of talk and then do NOTHING! Healthcare and the justice system are a joke – everyone knows that but what is anyone willing to do to change it?

2. Selfishness/pride. So many are out for #1. Never willing to admit when they’re wrong or admit when someone else is right. This includes parents to their kids. Think what that would teach them if you told them you were wrong about something you did? I’ve had to eat some humble pie since Paul died because I’ve said some things out of anger that have hurt people. What happened to me doesn’t give me the right to walk around wounding others. I also think not being vulnerable is selfish. Not being vulnerable in marriage, relationships, your work is only hindering those from being more fulfilled. How much more success do relationships have when there is 100% vulnerability with one another? It’s called communicating which includes the ugly, deepest, darkest shit – that’s what connects people on a whole other level, one that actually means something. Why are we so afraid to communicate to our closest people this stuff? FEAR. But please let’s post on social media how we have the perfect life and all of our shit together. The truth always comes out, know that. In your career, if you aren’t taking a risk and following your passion, you’re vastly letting not only yourself but people down that could benefit from your God given purpose. The gifts and passions you were given are unique to you. Don’t let fear stop you from doing what you were created to do. Do what turns your heart aflame. Life is too short to not do what you love.

3. Be vulnerable with your love. Does it hurt sometimes? So freakin bad. Is it worth it? Absolutely. I currently have no desire to date and I think God has shifted my focus to other things. One thing I’ve thought heavily on since Paul died is about adoption. It’s something I’ve never let go of. I ask myself can I handle this? What if I put my heart out there for a child just for them to get ripped away from me? What if it’s too much? All I know is I was given a huge heart for a reason – I wasn’t born to bottle this love up and never give it away. I often think there’s a reason the word “love” is tattooed on my body twice. It’s such a big part of who I am. The song “Reckless Love” was one of Paul’s favorite songs and we had our favorite worship pastor Chris Jackson sing it at his funeral. As I drove home tonight driving his truck after a day of disappointing news, I turned that song on and with tears streaming down my face I sang along. I know love because Christ loved me first. He displayed every bit of vulnerability by going to the cross for me, for Paul, for you.

I’m thankful for the heart I have, I’m thankful for my gift of vulnerability although sometimes it causes more pain than if my head was in the sand. I can’t live my life in a bubble and I won’t. I will always stand up for what I believe is right. I will never back down from what I believe in my heart to be true. All I’m asking is the same from you. Let’s be honest with ourselves and KEEP IT REAL.

**Disclaimer: I do not agree with everything Brene Brown said in her talk.**

And I don’t discuss politics so don’t go there with me either.

Down the Rabbit Hole

I write because it’s an outlet for me and sometimes it helps to maybe feel like my feelings/struggles are known – maybe so someone can relate and know they aren’t alone. But just like with social media in general, I feel like it can create the false sense of “friends.” Like do people really care what I have to say? Do they just want to see what crazy thing I’ll say next that no one else has the balls to talk about? Well none of this is pretty….

Recently, I have felt entirely helpless, misunderstood, alone, hurt, ostracized, like damaged goods. My feelings are confirmed by the way people treat me, the lack of caring when I feeling like I’m clearly sounding the alarm of “hey I’m not good.” I’ve learned to essentially eat it – everyone has problems, everyone has internal struggles, everyone has their own families to attend to. I’m really sick and tired of hearing “everyone loves you Katie” and then when I’m being super transparent about having a hard time, where the fuck is everybody that “loves” me? The person that loves me unconditionally is 6 feet under. My biggest support, the person who held my arms up when I couldn’t anymore is gone. The weight of our life is on my shoulders now. But guess who can’t go to work today because I cannot get my fuckin shit together? Me.

I’m tired of the stuff people say to make themselves feel better that leave me feeling like shit. “I’m glad you’re still here.” Then don’t reply to my text messages. Some day you will make someone happy when you get yourself right – because I’m too fucked up for anyone to love me I guess huh? My only fault in this life is I love too much and I love too hard. My heart is too big and to be honest, I’m tired of being hurt over and over again. I’m tired of being strong, I’m tired of being asked what Paul would say because guess what…he isn’t here, I thank God he didn’t have to know what it was like to lose me like how I lost him – it’s hell on earth. And if you know Paul like I did, he would be struggling because his heart was big too. I knew one thing for sure in this life, that dude loved me with everything in him. I went from being someone’s everything to nobody’s anything.

I’m constantly in this place where I have 1 foot here on earth but one foot hanging in the balance. I think a lot about who I want to have what when I’m gone, as I’ve had to deal with this since losing my husband. I think about the songs that I want at my funeral. I’m 30 years old thinking about this instead of mindlessly going about life like a lot of others. My life before Paul I was asleep as one widow put it – going through the motions. Now post loss, I’m awake and have a perspective that I embrace most the time but sometimes I’d give anything to have a mundane routine and act like everyone else just coasting through life trying to make it. I keep telling myself that someday this pain will have a purpose, but I have yet to see beyond the pain that I keep enduring as a result of losing the love of my life.

None of this is good today and I’m ok with that. Don’t convince me otherwise. Let me feel how I feel, just like the sermon I heard at church yesterday. This is my grieving process, unique to me. This is what it looks like some days, it’s ugly, it hurts to my core. Don’t reach out because you feel pity on me. Don’t ask what you can do for me because I have not the slightest inkling, nothing helps. I’ve tried it all to no avail. Just keeping it real.

Food for Thought: Welcome to the Buffet

Last week was full of things I didn’t wanna hear – of course nothing that could ever be as bad as things I’ve already heard before. But I want to let people know what I was told by some professionals in the area of mental health – and what I believe to be true/false about what they said.

Being in the healthcare world for me has often times been a “blurse,” blessing and a curse. It’s like you know too much sometimes but most the time I’m grateful for it. When it comes to mental health, my views and beliefs are constantly evolving as I experience depression/anxiety specifically over more time. I was told that I have major depressive disorder quite some time ago and I believe that 100%. We have all been told at one time “depression is caused by a chemical imbalance.” However, with reoccurring depression, I was recently educated that for two thirds of people with this, there really isn’t an explanation as to why. So I want to bring forth this discussion if you will and think about things holistically…

For me personally, I can trace a lot of my depression to times in my life after lots of stressors and lots of reoccurring disappointment. Lots of asking myself “what is wrong with me?” Easier said I can trace it to my negative life circumstances – and life sucked – and this was before life really sucked after losing Paul. And I also want to say that it is true that prolonged anxiety leads to depression. So with all of that, can medication help? Yes. Is it needed? Yes. My question is when do you start asking yourself, when am I going to stop swallowing these pills? Because there’s not a test (I asked) to determine what is causing my depression (outside of life circumstances). When can I be free from them or can I? When can I know I’m ready? I thought my time was in November of 2017 – I was newly married and me and Paul were trying for a baby. Finally life was looking exactly how I always wanted. Then a month later, that was shattered when he died (life circumstance).

Here’s why I’m asking – I’ve been battling harm OCD, anxiety, and depression for almost 4 years – that’s almost 4 years of medication. When I asked is the end in sight, I got told this is expected to be a lifelong thing for me. I REFUSE to accept that. Why? Because we live in a society of quick fixes. Swallow this magic pill and you’ll lose weight, swallow this pill and be pain free – I believe in no pain no gain. Pain is the pathway to growth. I refuse to not put the hard work in through therapy in hopes to one day be able to cope without pills. And you know what? If I fail, I can at least accept that I tried and that I know I need medicine to help me. But I look at medicine for mental health like this – you would not keep taking pain meds for a broken leg expecting it to heal your leg. You would do therapy, possibly have surgery, do other interventions to have your broken leg fixed…you’d put in the work to get there! Our mind is no different!

Any time you go to a facility for mental health, there is always an emphasis on both the physical and spiritual elements of health as well. Ask yourself why this is…does the way you feel about your body effect your thoughts? YES. Does your morals and values and whether your are in touch with those and/or straying from your beliefs effect your mental well being? YES. Hmm how about that. That’s why they say MIND BODY SPIRIT. When we neglect one, the other parts of ourselves feel that too.

The other news I received that didn’t sit well with me is that I’m appearing like a person who is only 5-6 months out in their grief. Why does that bother me? Because I have never EVER ran from my grief. I have always faced it head on. I went a whole year last year not knowing what in the hell was happening – I can’t even tell you what all went down last year. All I know is I want to be better – I want to be better like yesterday. God did not bless me with patience…can’t ya tell? So what does this matter to any of you? So what, you haven’t suffered a tragic loss…my point would be that the road to healing from whatever you are healing from is sometimes the slowest, most grueling journey of your life. It is lonely. You don’t see a light at the end. No one else’s path looks this jacked up (partly because they ain’t talking about it, just sayin!!). No one wants YOU right now, at least not like this…not this broken. But the truth is – you are not alone, there is a light, this journey is unique because it’s yours, Jesus wants you…every single broken piece. I have to remind myself of that. I was given my story for a reason, for a purpose.

I know this has been long but I want to end by saying this. I believe God provided man with knowledge of medicine for a reason. I don’t believe medication is bad but I do believe it can be overused and abused like anything else. The words in this blog are my opinion and based off my own experience. I’m sharing in case you feel married to medicine as well and if you are looking for alternative therapy just like me. I would never and do NOT support discontinuing medications without consulting and being supervised by your doctor that prescribed such medication. These drugs are no joke. I have attempted more than once to wean myself off meds and ended up being highly suicidal. Please do not make the same mistake.

Here’s some other thoughts I have after such heavy convo:

1. I’m bout to throat punch the next person talking about Area 51

2. No one tells me what to do (isn’t it obvious😝)

3. I wish I loved working out as much as I love food. I had myself at the word ‘buffet.’

Keep It Real, Keep It YOU

Generation Wuss: Handle Your Shit

Common theme of the world we live: avoidance, avoidance, avoidance.

We run from the hard, tough emotional stuff. The most difficult, gut wrenching conversations. We stay in relationships out of comfort when we know it isn’t right or because we are AFRAID of the negative emotions: failure, loneliness, loss of comfort and “what we know.” And oh but WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY/THINK 😱

I’ve had to handle certain things step by step and only when I was ready did I do it – on my time. But I had a fire lit under me from my friend Rebecca who said to me that she was once told “God can’t steer a parked car.” That has resonated with me in more areas of my life than 1. I’ve had to put my big girl panties on (so many times when I didn’t want to after Paul died) and take care of business. I have had to have some very hard conversations I didn’t wanna have – cry a lot of tears that felt endless to get to where I am. And actually, it’s never ending. For example, for work I have to get certified for CPR on the 18th of this month. Anyone that knows my situation knows that I am internally freaking out and could vomit at the thought of having to do this. But I’ll do it – because nothing here on this earth is going to define me or break me.

Is this because I’m strong? Maybe. Is this because I have to do it? Partially. Is it because I have bills to pay? Basically. Bottom line: I’m doing what I have to do in order to take care of my shit here. Because no one else is gonna do it for me. I’m not saying the generation we are seeing is all bad because I’m not a negative Nancy, but we have a lot of entitled folks running around expecting everyone else to fix their problems and/or pay for them. That is the sober reality of adulting. There’s no escaping responsibility anymore. You own your life and your decisions 100% and don’t expect a damn thing from anyone else – no bail outs given here.

You’ve heard it once and I’ll say it again…you have 1 shot at this life. That’s it. I know my husband lived his life to the fullest – pursued every dream in his 29 years that he could in that time. I admire that so much and strive to live that kind of life. So in my heart when I see people settling, sitting on their hands while their world is going up in flames meanwhile sporting their rose colored sunglasses, I want to scream – DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS IS YOUR ONLY CHANCE?! You’re settling for less than what God intended for you!

I’m blessed to be surrounded by people who have hard conversations- who I say act as my voice of reason – who don’t tell me what I want to hear but what I NEED to hear. Those are the relationships that give life, that define friendship, that give the utmost perspective, that ultimately give the most love. Those are the friends that say I love you so much that I’m gonna tell you when you’re wrong here before you make a mistake. No one is in the business of hurting people’s feelings (unless you’re just a complete asshole)…but we have got to understand there’s a way to communicate our feelings (and be receptive to hearing someone’s feelings) without getting butt hurt. Go back to 2nd grade and use the “I feel ____ when you ____.” Let’s stop being so daggone sensitive/offended and listen to what people are telling us. I believe 99% of the time, hurt feelings are just miscommunication- most people never have the true intention of actually hurting someone else. Maybe I’m too nice with that statistic but I know I’ve had to take a step back many times and say ok I know that person would not want or be trying to hurt me. And for the love of God, call someone on the phone or speak in person. Stop texting, writing messages over social media or emailing 🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️

Lots of thoughts that I just wanted to give a voice to. I walk around with a smile on my face most times when I feel I’m certainly entitled to be the biggest bitch ever because of the cards I was dealt. But who would benefit from that? No one. Would I be true to myself if I did that? No. So if I can be kind, you can be kind. If I can get up every single day that I don’t want to, so can you. If I can own my shit, so can you. If I can be real, SO CAN YOU. Embrace the life we were given even if it sucks right now. And figure out your stuff and stop being so expectant on other people.

P.S. I think I’m sassier at 30 than I was in my 20’s…#sorrynotsorry

Keeping it real since 1989 ✌🏼

Stings Like a Bee…Kinda

Since it’s raining and we all have nothing better to do, I’m writing a blog for ya. It helps decrease my anxiety sometimes by giving what keeps my mind racing a voice. For the sake of time and your sanity, I’ll narrow it down.

The first thing for me has been the area of wanting to try to get out there and possibly date. But here’s the thing, I’m 30 and have been married to my soul mate already – dating, especially this day in age is anything but enjoyable. In fact here’s a brief snapshot of what it looks like…I’ve been on Bumble a couple times just to see what’s out there, fulfill some boredom, and honestly because I wanna feel like a desired woman for 2.2 seconds.

For those of you that don’t know the concept of bumble, if both the guy and girl swipe right on each other, it means they are interested in one another. Then it’s up to the girl to message the guy first – the guy cannot initiate the conversation. So here I am trying not to be boring with the “hey what’s up” initial message so I send something like “hey it says you’re only 2 miles away, you should probably come meet me and buy me a drink, just sayin.” Obviously, this is just initiating conversation…I’m not going to meet someone right off the bat without having a conversation to see if I’m even remotely interested. To which I get the reply, “you look like you’re a strong and independent woman so I think you can buy yourself your own drink.” YES people this did in fact really happen. I think it goes without saying why this ahole is still single. Nonetheless, I am strong and independent and can indeed buy my own drink but a free one does taste better lol

I say that to say this…a small encounter like this makes me feel a lot of things. But mostly it makes me very resentful at the position I’m in. If I just had my husband, I wouldn’t be dealing with this. Everything was settled in this area of my life, everything was good! I crave to mean something to someone in a romantic way – to have that 100% intimacy (something way beyond sex). Because I went from 100 to 0 in seconds on December 20th. I want to be a desired woman because I believe God gave me the deepest desire to be a wife and mom. I wasn’t the greatest wife of all time, but I know I was a pretty good one.

I wrestle with the idea of needing a man to bring happiness back into my life. A lot of people say “someday you’ll be happy again” and most the time they equate that with moving forward with a new love. My therapist explained this to me (because this theory drives me nuts) that either they are happiest when they are with someone or they saw you at your happiest when you were with someone. I don’t necessarily believe that happiness is found through another person but I can’t ignore that it is also something God created within us. I go back to when he created the heavens/earth/everything and Adam. And he saw that Adam was alone and that it was NOT GOOD (Genesis 2:18). So he created Eve for him. I know my love for Paul is so big, but I know I have so much more love to give. I give it every single day in many ways, but I’m not fulfilled.

Also I never want to portray that I am this holy, without fault Christian woman – I am far from that. I cuss a lot and I’m struggling with wanting things of this world. So please don’t ever read my blog and think I’ve got it all together in the realm of following Christ. I’m trying to figure this stuff out as I go and trying to trust the Lord’s timing (which he did not gift me with patience btw) and trust that his abundant grace is sufficient for me (2 Cor 12:9). I’m a struggling girl in a tough world, but he hasn’t failed me yet.

P.S. My dog just puked everywhere, gotta go ✌🏼 #thisisreallife

“You are Blessed”

Derby season is not an easy time for me as my constant thoughts played back to Paul working lots of hours as everyone on LMPD is generally required to, him meeting Jason Witten (lookin like a star struck girl lol), and his love (and sometimes tears shed) for the playing of “My Old Kentucky Home.” It’s hard knowing I will never see him putting on that uniform again, kissing him goodbye, and waiting anxiously for him to be off work. I still cannot bring myself to take down the TBL sign I have hanging in the doorway of our house -which unfortunately is where he collapsed – that says “Come Home Safe.”

This week I received a text from someone in the police family that has truly been there for me from the beginning of Paul’s tragic death. He expressed how proud he was of me and towards the end of our texts he said “you are blessed Katie.” Me 1 year ago would probably have been offended but me today completely agrees with what he said. Here’s why…

While empty promises were made after this tragedy, the ones that were kept have blown me away. Blue brothers that have stepped up and became my friend, treated me like I was a person and not just “Paul’s widow,” the consistent communication, being the definition of “no one fights alone.” These guys have literally made me laugh, made me feel important and loved, made my life a little less lonely. People in this family have actually helped me get the job I’m in today. So while I will never get to see Paul in uniform ever again, there is a comfort in knowing I still get to be a part of the police family that I love – a family most people can’t appreciate/understand until they are in it.

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you know that while I never would ask for this widow life in a million years, I still want to embrace this tragedy as a way to be better. I don’t want it to define me and I embrace the people that make me feel like it’s not my identity. It is not easy most of the time and I’ll never pretend it is. Some days I’m still trying to survive, just focusing on taking the next step – knowing I might take a few steps back. But above everything, I don’t deserve anything in this life but God has given me lots of things to be thankful for. He gave me two of his sons – Christ and Paul. Which has blessed me til eternity.

P.S. Paul’s favorite verse which is commonly associated with police is “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

The Girl That Cried Suicide

Rejection is certainly not easy when you’re a widow – just like everything else that’s related to it. It feels like a punishment that comes with something you never asked or wanted. A label that got slapped on you which was out of your control. I often ask myself what’s wrong with me? Feels familiar as I asked myself this in a relationship prior to meeting my husband. Which just furthers the hurt and pain of losing him. Like I wouldn’t even be in this position (single) if he was here.

I’ve found it a lot easier to just withdraw from a lot of things and mostly people. Because no one listens – truly listens. What I have to say is met by suggestions of things that would be “good” for me. You know what would be good? If my husband was here – because he’s the only person on this earth that listened to me and honestly made me feel like I could keep living. And now that’s fucking gone.

I’ve pretty much realized I will always battle suicidal thoughts. I’ve given up any hope I’ve had that I will ever truly be free from them. My faith has kept me here and here I’ll remain for that only reason. It’s funny to me how no one bats an eye when I say I think about swerving into the median while driving, etc. I’m actually astounded there’s not a greater response…it’s like I just told someone I had a waffle for breakfast. Maybe actually going through with it would create a reaction? Just some thoughts I have. People act like they never saw suicide coming – but did you really not? Are you really listening to people around you? I’m not being critical just being real because I’m amazed at humanity sometimes. Why is our face stuck in a phone on social media, texting, or calling when we should be showing up at peoples doorsteps? People aren’t gonna ask you for help – at least most aren’t. They don’t wanna put people out, take them away from their “busy” schedules. Don’t wanna be an inconvenience. And are we really that busy? The answer is no – you’re never too busy for the people you “love” or care about.

I know after this is posted it will illicit a response but I beg of anyone reading this to do one thing – be a REAL friend. Have the hard conversations with your closest people, people you know are having a hard time. Be genuine with no ulterior motives. And please if you feel like me, get help. You are not alone, you are not weak, you are NOT ok and it’s ok. And please reach towards heaven, it is truly your only saving grace.

P.S. Kyle Idleman said in his sermon today “if you have to be here, might as well make the most of it!” — which is something I’m trying to do but it is the hardest thing I’ve had to do in this life.

It’s Critical You Stop Criticizing, “Christian”

I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw some negative feedback about author Rachel Hollis. I’ve never read one of her books but I have listened to a podcast of hers. She was such a REAL woman talking about REAL struggles. And she is a Christian — referenced who God says she is multiple times per the BIBLE. So why do I see 2 negative comments from 2 women criticizing her work when I guarantee they haven’t even read her book?! Check yourself here…is it because she’s successful and people are buying what she’s selling? That doesn’t make her a bad person. Last time I checked we were all on the same team in the “Christian” world but that’s actually the problem I want to talk about…I am so sick of the critical Christian.

You wanna talk about everything that’s WRONG – critical about mega churches, the lighting, the choice of music, no hymns, how much money the pastor makes, etc. What I wanna know is what in the world does that have to do with YOUR salvation? Why you analyzing everything else but your own heart? Your own actions? Stop judging every little thing that everyone else is doing and work out your own salvation boo. I will say one thing – I don’t go to church for the people. People have disappointed and judged me as I have them (preaching to myself as well). But Jesus never has. Have I been angry and not understood his plan? Yep. But I’m not about to go around being critical of everyone else when I haven’t walked a minute in their shoes. I have had to learn to give myself grace in the last 15 months of my life – and I’m working on extending that to others as well.

I’m literally SICK of the critical Christian. Ain’t nobody can win in your all’s eyes. Y’all are the kind of people trying to reach each other – don’t dare go outside your circle for the true lost, hurt, broken, the outcast. Being a Christian ain’t about being comfortable! And it sure ain’t about sitting on social media and trolling Christian “celebrities” successes. And for goodness sake women, we are our own worst critics as it is, start banding together and stop tearing each other down!

Believe me when I say I am a continuous work in progress. I pray often that God checks my heart and intentions. I know I will never ever be perfect. I just cannot stand by and watch “Christians” continue to act like this. Makes me sick. I’m thankful I knew Jesus and established that relationship before I saw how some “Christians” were…otherwise I’m not sure I would be buying what the church was selling either. You are the church people, the bride of Christ…act like it.


Finding Me

I had typed out a whole other post but when I write I want it to feel right. And if it doesn’t, I either just save it to share (or not) later when the time is right or start back up with something else that’s pulling on my heart. This re-occurring theme keeps popping up at this time in my grief. I keep asking myself who am I? Usually when people ask about who you are you tell them what you do for a living or your marital or parental status. But think about it, does that tell anyone WHO YOU ARE? Am I the jobless widow? Gosh I sure hope that isn’t my identity (even though sometimes I feel like that’s all I am).

The first thing that pops into my head that is absolutely one of my pet peeves is when parents hide behind their kids. Almost like their kids are the dictators of who they are, what they do, when they do it, etc (don’t get me wrong, to a certain degree I understand). Ok before all you parents freak out on me and say I don’t have kids (trust me I wish I did), don’t miss the point, don’t get defensive. If that was your initial reaction, you are probably doing exactly what I’m talking about. Nothing drives me more insane than when people bring their kids to a party/event etc and suddenly become the world’s top helicopter parents to avoid adult conversation/interaction. Stop avoiding the awkward adult stuff that the rest of us are dealing with without the distraction of kids. Your kids do NOT define you. They are part of you – big difference. You were someone before you had them. Don’t lose sight of that.

So now that I’ve ticked off all the parents, the same goes for married people. Yes you are “one” when you get married – but you are still an individual person. Only now you operate under the conditions of “how does my individual decisions effect us?” I hope you get what I’m trying to say, just like with the kid thing, WHO ARE YOU outside of this? What’s at the foundation here? While losing Paul is the absolute biggest tragedy I will probably ever face, I have to check myself and say to myself that I was someone before I was his wife. I am someone that isn’t defined by relationship with someone else. I am my own ME. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the many different “hats” we wear, and that’s just it, they are hats. You take one off and put on another given the situation.

Ok hopefully I’ve established what I’m talking about when I say who are you, so I want you to genuinely ask yourself that. WHO ARE YOU? WHAT MAKES YOU YOU? What do you enjoy? What are your goals? We can all for the most part say we enjoy family time and vacation. I’m asking you to dig down deep here. My friends and I at Honey Lake call this “real talk” because we can’t do the small talk. For me, the answers to these questions are tough – they aren’t jumping right out at me. For example, I almost feel pressured to say “I am beautiful” because as a Christian woman I’m supposed to know that I’m more precious than rubies right? Well help me Lord, that ain’t my first response, not something I believe 100%.

Looking at this through the lens of our careers, I often describe myself before losing Paul as doing what I was “supposed” to be doing. I was working a full time job I had ZERO passion for because the money was good, working from home was convenient, no weekends or holidays sure was nice for RN life. Who’s really happy they have to go to work every day anyways? It’s just a common nuisance for us all. WRONG. If anyone thinks I’m going to go work and do a job that I’m not even slightly passionate about or interested in again, they are absolutely off their rocker. Life is too short to not live out my passion in my everyday life. Which brings me back to who am I and what drives me? You should absolutely consider this when you think about your career – you spend too much time at a job not to.

What inspired me to sit down and write this was being alone at home, scrolling through social media seeing couple after couple together whether it be for V-day or what they did this weekend. And the truth is, I shouldn’t be sitting here alone. Paul should be here…but he’s not. While I struggle with loneliness, I’m asking myself how do I survive this? How do I be me without him and find joy again? How do I be content in this season? I want to argue that God made us relational and that I won’t be alone forever, but it doesn’t feel like in this moment that that is true. I need to be able to handle aloneness without going to the dark place in my mind that tells me I shouldn’t stay on this earth anymore. So believe me when I say, this post was just as much for me as it was you. Let’s do some soul searching and get back to who we really are, chasing our passions, and not just being something because our society says it’s who we ought to be.

P.S. I applied for a job at Home Depot because I love the smell of the store. I wouldn’t be passionate about it, but it’s simply just something to get me out of the house and “back in the game.” So if you see me rocking an orange apron, that’s really the truth behind it. LOL

Baggage Claim

With the wonderful Valentine’s Day approaching (rolling my eyes) and also my wedding anniversary, it seems like the topic of love is consistently running through my head. In a way, this post is an extension to my last about “Why I’m Open to Love After Loss.” After losing Paul, I feel like my life has been under a microscope – everyone wants to see what “the widow” or how “the widow” is doing. Every decision comes with the thought, “how is this going to be perceived?” The magnitude of already suffering from being a people pleaser, always looking for the approval of others, has intensified immensely. So naturally when you talk about being open to moving forward in the realm of love – it feels even more so that all eyes are on you. People say there is no timeline to grief – no timeline to moving forward with your life – so why am I hearing that “it’s only been 14 months”…like you think you know if I’m ok or not ok to love again? Why am I explaining my “timetable” to anyone? So I want to address the baggage that I’m carrying and why it looks scary/intimidating but it also comes with compartments full of things you would never expect (good stuff).

I’ve recently explained to many people close to me that being a widow, let alone police widow, that you feel like the untouchable – the one with the scarlet letter in a sense. Like you are so far damaged, way too sad and depressing (because I post sad things about my deceased husband)…or in the police world that it’s viewed as disrespectful to my husband to pursue me with good intentions. And I want to just say right now that all of that is 100% BS coming from the widow herself. Since when did our jobs define our life to the point we don’t pursue love? Like I always say, life is too short and LOVE HAS NO LIMITS. That was a side rant you got for free. 🙂 BUT ANYWAYS, the truth is – I am sad, I am depressed, I am damaged. My question is does that define me? Is that who I am? Are there other people that haven’t lost a spouse that you would say are sad, depressed, damaged? YEP absofreakinglutely. I personally view these as excuses. And you truly don’t KNOW me if that is your only perception.

So here’s the deal with baggage – it is truly what crap you wanna deal or not deal with. You will never, ever meet a person that hasn’t had negative life experiences that have made them be a certain way. Maybe you’ve been cheated on and you don’t trust anyone. Maybe someone made you believe they loved you but their actions didn’t show it – and now your heart is so hard and calloused because of it. Maybe you’re divorced and scared to put yourself out there because you are afraid to fail, again. Being someone that believes real, true love exists can I just say don’t give up. Someone will pick up that baggage and carry it with you. It’s kinda like people saying they will have kids when they reach a certain financial status…ummm if you wait until you have enough money to afford kids, you’re never gonna have them. Just sayin. So why are we waiting to be a whole, complete person with no baggage before we take the plunge in finding love again? I think about Jesus and his love for us when I say this. How many of us can stand before him whole and worthy of his love? None. So I’m asking why are we expecting our human selves to be “fixed” and perfect before pursuing earthly love?

I don’t like using the word baggage for my widow stuff for the simple fact that it sounds negative but it’s purely for illustration purposes. What I want to say about the baggage I’m carrying…it is HEAVY. It is big. It is at times debilitating. It is carrying someone’s legacy and trying so hard not to screw that up. BUT it is beautiful. It is pure love. It is the ability to love someone who isn’t here but also the ability to love someone new with a full heart knowing love is indeed very precious. It is a GIFT. It’s appreciating the moments most take for granted. It’s putting your person ahead of everything every single time because you don’t know what tomorrow holds. It’s forgiving faster. It’s not getting caught up in the little petty things. It’s maximizing your time spent together. It’s saying “I love you” every day and always kissing you goodnight. Don’t mistake this as me saying I’m glad I am a widow that now has a new perspective on life – I wish I wasn’t one. But I would be totally missing the point if I didn’t embrace the new lens through which I see life and love because of what I’ve been through. So while it’s hard for me to feel like the widow with the scarlet letter, I know the special man that God has for me next will appreciate my new eyewear.

P.S. The next man I love is one lucky son of a gun. Period.