Her Shampoo

There is something about grief that goes against everything I was ever taught, and that is; if you work really hard you can fix something. Or: If you want something bad enough you can get it. Or: Bootstraps bla bla bla. The truth is, is that there is no coming back. The truth is, is that there is nothing to come back to. There are no bootstraps, there is no fixing or filling or striving or commandeering this. It resides in me, it is me, I am bereft, I am hollow, yet I am full, I am a ghost and yet I also chase ghosts. There is nothing to believe in. Eventually I come back into the world in whatever broken way I can because I have bills, but I am never fully back in.

The wind blows through me, no amount of self care in the world can fix this gaping, living, breathing hole that now resides in my heart and eats all of my food. It is like that parasite that lives in clown fish and replaces their tongues  I may curl my hair, wear lipstick, laugh with friends, just like the parasite host; the fish goes about it’s life. Humans put on their human bodies and we participate in the world, but for the grieving one’s, our heart is not in the game. We have loved ones, and we have care and we know survival and all of these things are in picture frames that decorate our lives but we are like a sheet hanging on the line with the breeze blowing through it moving however it likes. That little parasite always visible.

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I can understand hoarders now. Watching that show, I used to get so mad at the people wanting to keep old diapers and dried up, dead cats, and mounds of rotten food. All of these people had a common string of loss somewhere in their story. Sometimes it was a divorce, or big a life change and sometimes it actually was a death. Something happened to them that they never came back from the ‘thing’ that broke them. I empathized with this in their stories but I always got so mad that they would rather hang on to that stuff so much so, that their water would be shut off by the city and they’d poop in a bag over moving on. They always kept all the stuff that reminded them of their ‘before’ life. The thing that they ‘missed’. I understand it now.

I have all of Savannah’s things. I don’t have a closet in my studio apartment. There is one little built in cabinet thingy that serves as a closet and me being the master of organization have found a way to keep all of her things and mine in an orderly fashion and still have my apartment space. I have all of her books, clothes, stuffed animals, journals, makeup, hair products, lotions, hair ties and bandannas. I have her shampoo and conditioner. She had just bought colossal sizes of both as she was moving into her own place, but she died. I am to the point now that those things are starting to run out. I am ignoring how much this upsets me.

I know she is dead, I know she is not coming back, I know that if I don’t have these things anymore that all of this will still be happening but I don’t want to run out of the shampoo and conditioner. I don’t want to use all of the lotions. Do I expect to have these things around until I myself die? I don’t know. I am not thinking about the future in any way shape or form, I am just worried about the running out of her things. That’s the other thing grief did to me, it took away my ability to see or care about my future. Funny that that’s what Zen is supposed to be like. The Here and Now of it all.

Given this careless future thingy, I have been going about my life in a sort of fearless manner. Moving to a new city, changing every habit that I’ve ever had, reading voraciously like I did when I was a kid, lying motionless in bed for hours and days sometimes; breaking every rule I’ve ever made for my adult self. Applying for a job I never thought I’d get because it sounded amazing and like I’d be perfect for it. Telling people what I think of things, not giving two fucks if I upset them because I no longer try to guess how they feel. I do not having the capacity to take care of another soul nor worry about if they can take care of mine and this has changed me and the way I am my SELF to others. Getting the job I never thought I’d get. I got it.

I have a salaried job. I can pay my rent. I will be making food for people and running the whole entire kitchen system at a safe-house. I get to take care of people by just being there and helping them feed themselves and by existing in this form, I can help them. I found out my previous frat house job had a GM who was manipulating my position there and thought I was taking advantage of them so he was not giving me the hours I needed. WOW. That’s what prompted this. I refused to beg for hours all summer and thought I’ll just work somewhere else. I fretted and cried and worried and this man shit on this grieving mom for months and looked me in the eye and called himself ‘my family’. Ironically enough, nothing could be more true.

Since I no longer care or need permission to have my feelings, I found all of this out because I spoke up. It got worse and worse; the information I found out. It turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done is stand up and voice myself with no editor or no worry about ‘how I seem’. I didn’t let ‘the men talk’ and I blew everything up in their faces and none of it really matters anyway. It changed my life so drastically for the better; to take these actions, and this call to adventure, that now, I can’t believe I am in the position I am in in this body in my life right now. I want to hoard more shampoo. I always want to have her lotions.

I am breaking out of my life into a life I didn’t even know could be mine. It is not mine. It is the other self’s life. I feel like a cardboard cut out of me is doing all of these things. I am also going after the rehabilitation center where Savannah died. One person against the broken machine of a system who profits from people’s fears and pain. Joining with Shatterproof so I can be an advocate for change. I hate groups, but they have a platform dedicated to this very thing. Right now I am one lady going ballistic online, calling journalists, the DEA, planning a march, calling and writing anyone and any system involved in this same broken system that created it. It’s like watching the beginning of 2001 a Space Odyssey.

The awful evolution, the overacting extras in monkey suits, the beautiful music, all part of the system that we just accept and help create just by being in it. Watching monkey’s and being a monkey. Asking monkey’s for help. Some of the monkey’s are like me and lost in the same system and doing their part to fight back. Given the number of opioid deaths in this country however, this small army is growing, but it is hard to fight things from under grief. Sometimes you just want the monkey’s to have their bones so you can just go back to bed.

My cardboard cutout buys healthy food but my real self doesn’t see the point in living a healthy life. I eat the food. I also sneak away from healthy Judy and buy cake and candy and sugar and beer. So many rules have defined my life that I just can’t bear to stick to any now.

There are nightmares and re-reading of journals and texts and thinking back to when she was three or seven or thirteen and wondering if I could have done something different. How did such a brave, strong, sensible, discreet kid get into heroin? It must have been something done to her or her psyche. Or is it just a shot in the dark that gives us all our lives and demeanor’s and pain and pleasures? Why am I still here when I should have been dead a thousand times already? I picked up hitchhikers. I drove drunk. I let men beat me. Is it like Groundhog Day or Russian Doll where the main character tries to save the life of someone so many different ways only to watch them die anyway? If I went back in time and changed that one day would she have died in another year from a different thing? I would spend a lifetime looking for that day.

Is she mad at me for talking about this? Is she in a better place? Is human life really this stupid?

Even if you shut all of this off; all of this universe crap and ‘better place’ crap, you still have grief. You still have the hole. You can appear in any way shape or form here on this earth and you will always be beside yourself. Literally, you can look over and see yourself standing there. Both of you with the same look on your face.

I can buy more shampoo.

It will always be her shampoo.

Living With Sad

You put it in the car with you when you are going to the movies. You tell it:  be quiet now, we are going to have fun it is OK for us to have fun please just sit here I will get back to you later.

You sit across from it while you are eating dinner. You tell it: We are eating dinner now I have to eat. It’s OK for me to enjoy things like cheese sauce and chocolate chips. You are going to have to wait. I cannot cry while I swallow food.

Some days it gets to have all of your time and you cry and cry and cry without a care in the world because no one is around or someone you love very much is around and you both share your time with this Sad and then you get to move on for a moment.

And it is moment by moment like this. You aren’t running from it, you aren’t all consumed by it, it is part of you; it is your partner, it is your new soulmate and it is your new annoying friend because it opens a window for you to see the world so much differently than you ever saw it before.

Photo by Jody Fausett – AMAZING ARTIST!!!

collageart/painting by me💛

Recap on #LiveBig

Trying to tie these two blogs/lives/meanings together/and reach out/live thru words/Do Something Meaningful/Reach People Grieving/change the world/make something of this mess.

This is the first blog I wrote after Savannah died. I was writing in journals, in bits and fits and particles of moments in time. This contains the piece I wrote and read at the memorial (show). Along the lines of a song from Dear Evan Hansen (which I finally got to see last week❤️) titled ‘You Will Be Found’ – I had such a strong sense of so many people in the world feeling so alone, and knowing this through feeling it myself, and knowing it through my experiences with Savannah’s trauma with her eating disorder and addictions and her beautiful amazingness which she had such a hard time wrapping her mind around, and seeing how many people filled that room.

Savannah Changed My World

Go be big. The world needs it.

Live or Die: Part Two

This is how I got through the last 24 hours. This is scattered and un organized. I will write my novel another day. This what strong looks like:

I cried whenever no one was around. I had all these grand schemes to Go Do Something when I got off work and I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I tried to go to a movie and I didn’t have my debit card so I tried to use a gift certificate and it all fell apart. Wrong theater…bla bla bla. I’m so sick of crying in public. I mean, no one really cares…some people smile, some don’t notice, but I’M sick of it. I just didn’t have the wherewithal so I came home. Sometimes to have the sadness full on, full frontal, rip roaring, bawling my eyes out, losing it, attack is all I can do. I cried so hard I made sounds that didn’t sound like me.

I watched a couple of episodes of Sherlock.

I wondered if people who have kids die any other way than from a drug overdose get more support? This is a weird thing to grapple with. It’s messy and ugly and scary to everyone and somehow makes this all ‘nasty. And fuck that. That’s why I worked so hard with Shatterproof. This is gonna be a long road.

I talked to a friend, boyfriend and my aunt on the phone.

I think I did dishes.

I read Savannah’s Instagram from beginning to end. I like to see her be alive. I like to laugh with her, I like to see her moving and talking and being funny and she was so funny. It keeps everything about her not being here anymore NOT ALL ABOUT DRUGS. She was so much more than that and in her videos I can see that. She was so talented. So much stuff on her Instagram I am astounded. And her Twitter and her Vine. All of her creativity is so alive on there. I can see she was at the peak of it when she got to New York for the first time. All of her poetry, her photography, her videos, her writing, so creative and soulful and FUCKING FUNNY and so much love and pain and hope and finding herself. She was 18-20 and really creating so much during that time.

I cried all day today wishing I could have paid for her to be in The American Academy of the Dramatic Arts for four years. She went for a summer program at the school and stayed in NY for three years. She simply loved it there and became herself in that school and with her friends that she made while attending. Surrounded by adult ‘theater kids.’ She was in New York 4 months and got cast in the play ‘Playground’ that ran in NY, London then LA. She found it. She had it. All the ‘it’ a girl needs, she had. She attended Studio 4 after that and always wanted to get back to that.

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I don’t know when the heroin started exactly. Somewhere in there. Maybe before she went to New York. God, I don’t know. I can see when she is clean and I can see when she is not. I’m sure I could pinpoint it if I CSI’d every journal and piece of info that I have here. A lot happened in New York. Good and bad. It was everything that made her happy and everything that ruined her.

She had just left Children’s Hospital Eating Disorder Program..(here’s a blog entry from that time.)graduated high school…and then attended the summer program at AADA then stayed in NY. The eating disorder would never leave her. The damage it does to your psyche never lets up. I’m wondering if this play pushed her over the edge. So much. She loved it, but maybe it was too much. She would go back to eating disorder rehab at The Eating Recovery Center one more time here in Denver, then on to Utah for drug rehab about a year or so later.

Her insight was amazing. What I am reading now in all of her social media, especially Instagram, were things that were helping her recover, and those words are helping me recover right now. Some of the posts brought me to my knees. I was already crumbled up in bed losing my shit but the hits were hard. It’s funny to me how private she was, yet so creative on social media. Her private life tho, was very private.

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I can see now why people choose to not speak of someone after they die. To let it go. Let it pass. Leave it alone. I used to think ‘how could someone do that?’ Now I know. It’s so they can move through the day without wanting to die all the time. It hurts.

I’m trying not to ruminate. I hate that I know that word. I hate that Savannah had so much pain and yet I love that she still offered so much healing to the world. I hate that so many people took advantage of that pain. I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) read into these posts and words and tweets and memes like I can now. I am heartbroken I could not provide more. I am heart broken my son lives so far away. I feel like I shouldn’t waste a minute of my life in sorrow but that is impossible really. I should move closer to him. I don’t know what to do in life. Forever a mom. I spent my young life raising kids trying to have a life and now all I want is that time back.

I hate money. It made me have a hard life with the lack of it. I never really got to be the parent I wanted to be. I was always living just above poverty level in shithole apartments; that I dressed up for us as much as I could. Like in the movies, or in real life perhaps if you’ve ever seen one; how there would be a really old apartment and with old furniture but it is immaculate and everything is shiny and in its place. We didn’t have the best stuff but I kept what we DID have in the best shape. Except that one red couch I bought that felt like the first, living alone, grown up thing I purchased. I drug that around everywhere until I had to move out of an apartment to get away from an abuser and I left it by the dumpster. God I made my life hard. Did it ruin my kids? Can I take all my choices back? This thinking will drive you insane.

I asked my mom then if I could move back home and she said ‘You can sleep in your car before you can come back here.’

I always thought she treated me like a drug addict; or how we are taught to treat drug addicts who steal and lie and scare you. I never did anything to them. I always paid rent when I went home. I cleaned, cooked, helped with the horses, worked, paid back money when they bought tires. I don’t know what I ever did wrong but I finally don’t care. Fuck them for raising a daughter who hates herself.

Then look what I did. Despite everything I did to fight that. All the art, theater, song, and creativity I brought into our home for me and my two kids so we could all have our personalities and lives and no judgments. The three of us were MY FAMILY. I let them have freedom but I kept our computer in the living room out in the open. We had bedtime and rules and homework and stuff like that. We did so many things outside and biked, played roller hockey, hiked, camped, painted, sang, made videos, danced. I was so shut down as a kid when it came to having my own ideas and personality. I vowed to never shut my kids down.

This is so fucked.

So that’s what I did that last 24 hours. My mind went from past to present to my past to Savannah’s past to Anthony’s past. I dredged my brain for the sewage of answers that come up when you try and figure out why your kid died of a heroin overdose in rehab after seven months of living there. It’s a stinky, horrible maze of tunnels and places you don’t want to go.

I’m starting to think rehab in and of itself is a lie. Why would you take a group of people who want nothing more but to belong in a community and who want to be loved and separate them from their family and friends, give them no contact, have them sit and talk every single day about all of the worst things that ever happened to them in their lives over and over and over again, have to present themselves to the group for forgiveness every time they fuck up and then want them to find a life worth living? It’s like if you had to go to work and sit and tell everyone all of your shit, EVERY DAY, then when you fuck up, have to call them all together and announce the fuck up so you can get your constricted privileges back again. How are you supposed to assimilate after that? Just go find your tribe, you have a community, you BELONG, get a good therapist to go to in private, dance more, you are ok. YOU ARE OK. YOU ARE.

Intervention doesn’t work.

Just have them be a part of a community that helps each other and rises together and sings and dances and maybe has medication monitored and SHOW THEM HOW TO LIVE. Show them how to be a community. Show them how to accept, not demean, pick apart, and devour one another.

It’s insanity.

So I spent hours on this topic in my head and crying my guts out. They will still do what they do I suppose. It’s a very hopeless feeling. Figuring out humans.

Then I got up this morning and went to work.  I listened to meditations for four hours while I made breakfast and lunch for the guys. If I unclenched my brain for one minute I cried. I cleaned up. Good zen work. Ate a little food. Cleaned out my car. Now I’m home on my sofa writing this.

Crying.

Wanting so much.

It’s beautiful out.

I need to stay gold.

My son is having his life. I can’t figure this out. I don’t know how he is having it. It’s such a weird blanket grief lays on a family. I have asked him but he has no words to explain.

I’d like to just shut my brain up for one fucking day.

I have champagne in my fridge! I will make a raspberry Bellini.

That is how I am strong.

I go and go and go like a godamned Energizer Crazy Ass Robot Killer Bunny, then I take a break. Sometimes the break is a hike, painting, or watching tv, but today it is champagne.

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Some Days

Today I got up, and I went on a hike. It was beautiful. I smiled. I listened to Joe Dispenza talk about changing your brain. Grief and this heavy pain is like being sick. I want to change my brain and my body. Like when sick people ‘recover’. I want this to go into remission.

Savannah was so talented and amazing and just finding herself. She had such a hard time loving herself. Now she has given me this. This THING where I am the loneliest in my heart that I have ever been in my lifetime and I have to walk through it to love myself and find a life.

I’m not trying to hurry through this by any means. I’m just trying to survive it.

There is no rehab that teaches you that you matter and to regard yourself as unique and amazing and fearless. You are punished for relapsing and have to apologize to the community. In real life we can just move on. We don’t have to go to work and apologize to everyone. Or beg for our home back. We just need to change our brains. There is no punishment in trying to be a better person each day. There is no punishment in moving on and forgiving yourself, if you don’t DIE that is.  It’s okay to love yourself.

I was taught to NOT love myself.

I do not have to learn this anymore.

It is not MY lesson. It was my mother’s lesson. AND my father’s and they gave it to me.

I am giving it back to them

I am changing my brain.

I believe it is a miracle that we breathe and walk and that our hearts pump and that we like puppies and that wanting love and life and MORE is okay.

I believe I have the strength of someone I didn’t even know existed inside of me.

I went on a beautiful hike today. I cleaned up my apartment, I smiled. My heart is so, so lonely for Savannah. It is undying in its love for her and for what life she never got to have that she was on the verge of. At 20 she was just finding her creativity and voice. Drugs took her life away. Eating disorder brain took her whole self away. She never climbed out of that.

She was amazing and beautiful and loving and kind and wicked fucking funny don’t get me wrong.

But I can’t give up thinking she was on the precipice of this whole, giant life and she couldn’t get over that peak. She was up there. She made it. She was in a play that went around the world, she made friends in minutes, she was an elf at Macy’s, she was in acting school, she was making New York work. And even in rehab just recently she was building up to go back in to acting and was working at a theater that was getting ready to show Hamilton. She had her apartment set up for when she got out and I have all of her notes. I have her map of the world she was making. She had places to be in her calendar. Fun places, places that were her goals.

She wanted it ALL. ALL of it. She had it. The ‘it’ people talk about. She had it. It was all around her.

Drugs killed so much of that ambition and belief and she worked so hard to build it back. I have journals filled with her hard work. Her knowing the steps to loving herself and studying it and writing it down and caring and wanting it so fucking bad.

I’m so angry and disparaged.

I’m other worldly and not included. I’m also big and so loved and loving and want to give love because its so easy to do. Smile at someone, help someone. Its easy. I can’t live inside my anger that I had. That was not my anger. That is my mother and fathers’ and familys’ anger.

I can see my heart and it has opened up to so much compassion and such a new world that I never want to go back. But riding inside that love and peeking out the back window is a loneliness that has a permanent seat. And I will walk, and hike and work and paint and write and have a life with my son and I will give and love, but I will be lonely for Savannah forever.

I talk to her and she is with me, yes, but when people say ‘she will live in your heart’ she will, yes, but what holds my heart now is loneliness. I can see other lonely hearts. I can feel other lonely pain from people. Its okay, because I am a healer. I am just not going to deny this with ‘she’s in a better place’ bullshit. If it’s better, why aren’t we all there???

Because we chose to have hearts and minds and have this human experience. Where Savannah is right now is not a human experience. She can’t touch anything or feel a fluffy kitty or have a song fill her heart. We miss this experience and we want it so we come back here.

I have my beliefs about why and how Savannah was here. If you want to sit and chat I would love that. But spilling my guts out on this blog gets me overwhelmed at times so I’m gonna not do that particular one in here.

I come in here to express myself and share this with others because I know people need it it and relate and find it good. It is a good thing.

So I will prepare today for tomorrow. Literally. I have a guest checking in to my apartment so I can pay July’s rent. I have the 5k to go to in Savannah’s honor and to help Shatterproof and all the work they do. I am staying on the go all weekend. I am visiting with my Aunt so we can play with some recipes. I had an interview with a kitchen in one of the best fucking restaurants in Boulder that I’m waiting to hear back from. I am staying with Michael one night, going to a Shakespeare play and an airbnb with my friend another night and I am making my life move on. I am making a choice. I am controlling my mind to have the life I want, not the life I was taught to settle for. I am doing this like a fucking Badass Warrior Queen Angel Monster.

But today, my heart is lonely.

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