Friday, June 26, 2015

Happy Father's Day

A few years ago I blogged about Father's day. http://janaeandjohnskids.blogspot.com/search?q=father%27s+day it was so happy. This year was so different. We visited John's grave on Father's Day. So you can imagine that this post is going to be a little emotional...

John's mom met us at the grave.  I posted this picture about the kids being sad. I didn't mention that it was hot as blazes that day and that grandma Janet brought strawberries. I didn't mention that my littlest one tried to steal the pinwheels from the kids' graves like HE ALWAYS DOES. Or that stuffed animals were climbing all over the Jesus statue at one point and Grandma Janet got sprayed with water. Seconds after someone was told not to spray said water.

So that went well. We dropped off flowers that my friend Charla brought over. I even cooked breakfast that morning that my kids didn't eat. We skipped church because I just can't handle father worship day one month after my ex husband died. If my kids started crying just for a second I would have probably lost my marbles.

Two days before I had a slight disagreement with God- because having fights with someone who is never wrong is always a good idea. I told him if he was really a God that inspired people wouldn't someone be talking to me? Sort of like asking for a sign if you will. I mean... uhh. oops.  Then my friend Dana messaged me. Then my friend Charla showed up at my house. Weird. Maybe it was just coincidence that they just told me they felt impressed to say God loves me.
Point God I guess. Every time. I still will most likely start another fight I'm awesome like that. Never give up. I always loved the idea of a loving father that you could always talk to. A perfect father that knew us. Being known and understood and taken care of is such a strong human need. It seems so beautiful to have a Heavenly Father.

That's not really part of the story though that I want to talk about because things with God are complicated and not everyone I loves believes in God and the point is that you need a place for hope when you don't know where else to find hope. The story is about how my ex sister in law posted online that my ex husband loved his kids and I felt like I got kicked in the stomach. She said that John lost a battle with Depression. I asked her to please block me on these posts.

I've been there with the kids taking care of them. It's been a nightmare. I know I've let people down. I've been scrappy and people have helped me over and over. I've learned that I'm not too proud to ask for help. It's been almost everything I was ever afraid of happening with children. My sister is living through the only fear I had that didn't come true.  My sister loves her son and it's been one of the hardest things on earth seeing her struggle with him having ongoing health issues. It just gets tiring sometimes to not see a brighter future. To be so overwhelmed and working so hard for so long that you wonder how much longer the fight will continue. Her husband and her know a different Father's day than most people do. They know the hopeless fight.
John wanting to be in his children's life was one of the top two reasons I married him. I have a pretty narrow view of what parents who love their children do. Like extremely narrow. None of this fits in my parameters. I guess I also have in the past told God what I think a perfect deity would do.

One of the most beautiful things I've ever seen was someone posting happy mother's day to his ex wife that cheated on him. It was really simple and included other mother's in his life and I thought it was one of the bravest things I had ever seen. That is someone who really loved his wife. I wondered if I could post that. Where I could just thank them without holding on to things that happened. Or replacing them with a shiny new dad pretending that the old one never existed.

My little old man drew a picture for his dad full of hearts and an ocean of tears. He interrupted the funeral when someone said John called his kids and said- but dad never called us back. I told him dad used to before dad was sick. It gets hard to remember the dad I posted about a few years ago over the noise of life. One of the last conversations with John was full of him saying everyone would know how bad I was.  It wasn't the back and forth that I was jealous of other people having. Not my Instagram post dream. They know their father was sick. One father's day they will know that he took his own life. Maybe we won't be able to save their happiness like I wasn't able to save my marriage or all his family and friends couldn't save John.  In the graveyard we put the flowers on the grave and went wandering around looking at other pinwheels and balloons. I love the flowers. The thing I loved most about John as a father stopped existing through divorce and depression and his death.

Some people remember it though. I remember it. When I forget and it's too painful my friends remind me. Family reminds me. I remind my son that he had a dad that loved him more than anything and told him stories all day with mega man and every single superhero that he could think of doing anything the children imagined. My ex sister in law reminded me when I couldn't see it over my own exhaustion.

We will visit the memories even if they are imagined and a reflection of the hope that love like that exists. That hope is why we have God and why we have each other.


Happy Father's Day John.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Boise 70.3 Race Report

Last Saturday I didn't finish Boise 70.3.

I've read some amazing Race reports. Like Skye who I met at a transition clinic in SugarHouse Park with BAM. You know what I liked about her report? She was describing the pace of the miles she expected to have and it was amazing to think of someone who plans their pace and is that FREAKING FAST. Plus she won. You should read it HERE.  I don't always give my coach as much feedback as I should and I think her race report also showed me a sort of different mindset. A lot of the time I'm out there like- you know- not thinking about pace. and when I'm training I'm like- yeah but if my friends want to do a 3 hour bike ride on a different day then I'M GOING BIKING RIGHT?! I'm so impressed with their race reports. Really great athletes who WIN IRONMAN RACES NO BIG DEAL.
Let me start with why I started doing triathlons. I never wanted to do triathlon. I hate swimming. like hate. I dated a guy who did triathlon and I was like- yeah not happening. Then I started to think well maybe I could learn to swim and maybe I could do one ever. Then someone questioned my ability to do one and it was sort of like- oh yeah? well fine. I'm going to be better at them then you are.
this plan to be better quickly became- I am going to finish one without dying. then- I am going to get out of bed and do some training for this. I swam a lot. I got eczema. I got steroid cream but it didn't do a ton. I had a swim coach. I joined a triathlon team. I made myself talk to people. I got a triathlon coach. I signed up for Boise 70.3 before I really knew how to swim. I tweeted ironman and they recommended Tennessee but that was too soon and I wanted a certain date.
But the date was important to me so I wanted to do this ironman thing. Because I had a miscarriage once and it was close to my due date (OK a bit after) and I like to memorialize things. I think it's important to ritualize things in your life and events. I used to take rocks from the place where something significant happened in my life. I had a rock from when I got engaged and married and mission stuff and my divorce. I just carry rocks. It almost killed me one day when my kids took my rocks. Oh I'm sorry kids your crazy rock collecting mom needs you to step away from her divorce rock thank you very much.!!!!! I used all my mom zen to let the kids take the rocks. They lost the smooth pink one with the streak of white.

In other obsessive behavior news I was sort of working towards this ironman thing as well as I could. As a memorial. I took swimming lessons. I posted on Facebook about how hard it was. I cried a LOT. turns out some of us cry after we swim that's normal. I mean every time you could DROWN. someone once asked me what I was afraid about with swimming. THE DROWNING. Then they joked that you can't die in a wetsuit. Know what? that's incorrect. I don't want to call them liars but I mean- that's a lie. I heard once you could drown in a teaspoon of water and that one Playboy girl Holly wanted to drown herself in a bathtub so you tell me I can't drown in a lake with real living things? I don't want to hear that.
Do love the buoyancy of the wetsuit though.

Then John died.
I think I took it harder than I meant to. Or thought I would. Not that I ever expected it. I know no one really gets it because he was my ex husband so all the feelings are super complicated and mostly I distract myself by being incredibly stressed about money and learning stuff like he didn't have life insurance at work that you get when you commit suicide and blah blah I have a meeting with social security next month and a ton of people have supported my Gofundme which let me be home with my kids this month while I was a MESS that might have lost my job if I was at work. They don't like the not functioning at work- weird. Being home with my kids was actually one of the best things ever I miss them every day.
Getting the death certificate is like getting punched. Even though John was struggling and not always reliable with paying he was there. Them being gone changes everything. It's a hollow place. Also it's a nightmare when you sort of break and a financial nightmare. Still in the middle of the mental adjustment to that. His funeral was nice and the kids are devastated and so am I but sometimes I'm also nostalgic and sometimes I'm angry.

This did not go well with training for a half ironman. I got SLOW. like a ton slower. Felt like I was moving through mud most of the time. Lay in bed. Do workout. Post picture. Go back to bed. Eat too much. Take kids to the pool. Post a picture. Go to bed. Wake up in the middle of the night with kids. Repeat. I sort of mentally checked out of life for a bit and let myself get distracted. I (mostly) woke up and did my training plan. Still too many feelings to move normally.
My deep and abiding hatred of swimming did not lessen. I panicked in the open water. Like A LOT. The first time I tried I panicked then Kim helped me back to the shore and didn't go back in. I didn't want to ever go back in.
Then I knew if I was going to finish this race and I WAS I would have to really work at it.  I practiced only 3 times in the open water after that and my coach gave me tools to help for when I panicked. I never wanted to be away from people when I was swimming. Like EVER. I thought with the time I would just make it in under the amount of time you have to finish the swim for a half ironman. DON'T TELL ME THAT'S SLOW I KNOW THAT.  rode up to Boise with Suz. I had all my food planned and my stuff laid out and I got to see my adorable nephew and my sister. I found a mantra from Danielle telling me "I'm good at all of those things." I pictured myself finishing.
On the day of the race I woke up with super bad stomach pain. Like I was like- whoa I'm dying. Texted my friend Jeanie and she said it's nerves and I'm OK. Forced myself to eat in the morning. Bagel with peanut butter and a banana from Claire.
Forced myself to drink and I was glad my coach told me to make a food plan or I would have shown up to a half ironman on an empty stomach.
Took a fantastic looking selfie with my wristband that's part of it. Next time featuring makeup.

I got to the race and finished setting up my transition and met some AWESOME people.  Many of whom had helped me with swimming. My age group was pretty much last so that wasn't my favorite. Put my wetsuit on over my bathing suit top and tri bottoms and three minutes before our time to get in the water I put on my silver swim cap and thought about how awesome this was going to be.  I drank the water I was supposed to and I took a salted caramel gu before I got in. Like clockwork.  Not too panicky. Less Stomach pain. My friend Robyn was there and she was super nice and Kristi whom I just met.  Said hi to a bunch of swimmers in the water before we started.
Go. So many fast swimmers but that never really bothers me. I sort of like the rush because it carries you for a bit. I was doing the 20 strokes and then 5 seconds to calm down thing I practiced. Pushing the water like my friend Heather told me. I was rotating. My left eye goggle was leaking dammit I brought the wrong goggles. 
Holy shit there is no hell like swimming over a mile. I mean I get it you sight you swim you sight you swim you get off track you swim back you keep swimming some girl is faster than you and she's doing backstroke you sight you swim. I was glad that my friend told me the number of buoys. That kept me from quitting after two. five yellow four orange five yellow. The water was the perfect temperature. I couldn't use my left eye but that also meant that I only had to panic a little bit about seeing mysterious sea creatures. You know what else? my calves didn't cramp and sometimes they do that when I swim. BAAM nutrition (that's the triathlon word for food) covered.
There was a guy that kept telling me I was getting off track. Apparently swimming away into the middle of nowhere isn't the goal of a race. We are triathletes and I was trying to be a mermaid for a bit- just going back to my home under the sea in the middle of the lake way away from the course no big deal. Thanks Kayak man. He wasn't as cute as the beautiful swimmer that told me I was off track in my first triathlon.  Just saying.
When I finally got down to the five remaining yellow buoys I wanted to cry I was so freaking happy. ok I did cry but there was so much water Kayak man didn't notice. If he could have pretended it was hard to kayak as fast as I was swimming that would have been nice. I felt like I was swimming against a current and it would never end. I kept getting closer. I thought people were cheering me on. Then I finished.
There was a blonde woman wearing a jacket in 90 degree weather waiting for me. She was sorry I was 36 seconds too slow and they pulled my chip.  I guess those people were telling me to stand the hell up and run. It had felt MUCH slower than any of my other open water swims. I didn't know if I should just keep going and finish the freaking race so I could get a medal. She told me I shouldn't continue I could get on the bus and it would take me back and she was sorry.
I started crying. I mean I don't know about you but when I swim a mile I cry at the end. Transition was pretty much broken down. There was a girl after me that was crying more and a guy who looked super fit. I got on the bus. I was grateful for my awesome sunglasses so the volunteers wouldn't see how sad I was. I decided not to get on the bike course since they told me not to twice but I sort of still felt like a quitter.

That was my first half ironman. I told my coach. I texted my sister even though I had no idea where I was and I just wanted to cry a lot- and eat ice cream. 
I failed to finish. With all the things going on in my life I thought hey this will be a great memorial and it will show that I can still do hard things even with John dead.

That's not really what happened though. 
I sort of wanted a do over so I could swim harder those last 5 buoys. I wanted a boyfriend so I could cuddle. I mean let's face it that's pretty fun when you feel bad. Not really thought because my ex husband just died and I never want to date right now. I wanted to hide and not see all my happy friends that made it and I didn't want them to hug me and I cry and really it's OK.

I finished the swim. which means I can swim 1.2 miles. I want to do another race. I never thought I would ever do a single race and I don't really enjoy swimming ever and I hate doing things that I'm bad at and having people see me doing them poorly but still I'm sort of in the group of people doing them I just don't always feel like I belong.

 Oh look here's a selfie of me driving back with my cute Boise shirt with my name on the back!
It was like huge closure when the race was over. Not the kind of closure where you are like- and then I conquered everything. More like the underwhelming kind of closure where it just moves on and you don't talk about it much. I still can't believe that I swam that far. I didn't get to bike or run and those were the things I was less worried about. I went over everything I did wrong and felt like I still needed to work out more that day. I did a lot of things wrong with training. I didn't track all my distances or enter my data. I signed up for a race too soon before I was ready with swimming. I wanted a date to happen even though I didn't know if it would work. I had the tools to finish but I didn't push as hard as I could have. I kept going when my life sort of told me to stop.

I don't regret any of those things. My race report is that I'm pretty sure I can do the SWIM part of one of these things within the allotted time next time. I think there will be a next time as well. I'm not a shiny professional triathlete I didn't even finish this race. I started though. My coach told me that a DNF is better than a did not start. I've never not finished a race before. I didn't want everyone to know I was even there.

The triumph over probability almost happened. I missed it by 36 seconds.
So I finished a half ironman swim almost on my due date. Maybe that's a fitting almostiversary.

I didn't pick up a rock.





Monday, June 8, 2015

Funeral Day

Today they buried John.
I was distracted about writing about it since someone told me how I was a terrible person and showed me a screenshot of a discussion with even another person about how my kids were going to suffer because I exercise and I'm not at work right now.
I don't know who that other person is but I'm 100% sure they haven't had a spouse or an ex spouse die. I'm 100% sure they've probably never had anyone die and I'm 100% sure they aren't my friends and haven't reached out to me.

That friend said they wanted the old me back.

It reminds me of the funeral. Mark really wanted to see his dad's body. He talked to me over and over about opening the casket to see his dad's body. He told everyone that he knew were the grave was so they could find it. He told me the story of praying that he wouldn't have bad dreams anymore and maybe that was his dad coming to comfort him about his bad dreams. Everyone seemed so overwhelmed. John's old best friend was super nice about the kids like I don't even know how people can act that way. There were people there I really don't like. Mostly I didn't see them because I only saw my kids. My daughter still has a hard time being around any sort of dad that other kids have. I was surprised how awful it was to realize that the only person I've ever really loved killed himself. After he said I was the reason he was so unhappy and wanted a divorce. I mean lots of relationships fail and I'm for sure not perfect. John even told me before he died that everyone would know what an asshole I was and how I tried to kill him. I told him he had to stop because I was just trying to imagine a life long of someone saying that to me every time I sent them a bill for the kids getting a new filling. The emotional fighting had to stop for me.

The hardest thing about your kids burying their dad is when people say dad is in a better place. They say his body is perfect. But my kids just have a closed casket and remains they aren't allowed to see. You can tell them about a fantasy world with a happy dad but if you push it too hard why would they want to stay here? It's like when you get divorced and everyone says you will end up with someone better and faster and richer and nicer. I don't know about you but I'm still waiting for unicorn knight rescuer second billionaire husband to come around and really I just want to figure out how to be great at the job I have and know what I want in a career and be able to give my kids the life I want for them without a guy. The thing about being alone is- it's very peaceful. I like peaceful.  I hope my kids see that. This life can be really wonderful. Even if we are broken. I would like to have the same calm assurance Elder Kopischke had talking about John's death. I don't know if he's in a better place. I just know that I didn't at any point think I would be raising three kids alone. People said I was but I don't think I was. I was always picturing trying to figure out how to get along with John later. Practicing mentally so things would go well at family events that never happened. His brother talked about John telling stories to the kids when he used to do before he got really sick. Mark interrupted to say "but we couldn't find him" and I had to remind him that dad did call- before he got sick. Dad could tell stories with any given characters for almost any length of time. Mega Man and Spiderman and Batman all in one doing whatever you could imagine. Then he disappeared and I got angry and Mark missed his dad.

Let me tell you a little about my experience with suicide of an ex spouse. There isn't a lot information out there.  It's been a little over two weeks and I still don't have a death certificate. He didn't have a will or insurance so there aren't things really coming to the kids from dad like his soccer trophy from high school or his yearbook. His brother is taking care of personal possessions but I don't know if the kids will ever get the stuff dad wrote- probably when they are adults.  They called me the day they found out and I was in the obituary. I got my last child support check a week after he died. It's harder than I thought. It's like re-living the person's life just like when someone dies but I've got an almost 8 year marriage (9 months of that was separated) and a divorce in there.
All the feelings.
I've also got some pretty mean people who feel free to tell me I'm doing things wrong. I have no doubt that I'm screwing things up. I also know that I'm distracted by the practical things like the huge drop in my budget and getting my kids to counseling and wearing clean clothes every day.
I'm mad that I am so emotional about it. I'm mad that I feel guilty for not calling the police when I asked John if he was safe a few weeks before he died and he said he was but I didn't believe him because he only ever got really emotional before he tried something. I'm mad at his family. I'm mad a lot of things and I know I'm not really mad at them it's just displaced anger since I can't really change that he's dead and I have all these feelings and nowhere to put them.
My doctor says it's normal to experience what I am going through. So does my counselor. So do the people who have lived it. I rode in the limo and sat with the kids and no one was mean to me. In a way I felt more entitled to sit there than anyone else because the kids are there.  I'm the one who has been telling stories about someone who hurt me a lot nonstop for two weeks. They don't tell you how much damage people do to the people around you before they complete suicide. You don't hear about the months of not getting a call back for the kids because dad was in a bad place and couldn't call. They don't tell you how it will be hard to see the pain they were in through the pain they caused. I used to just imagine all the bad things never happened when I told the kids stories about dad. Dad used to go do tough mudder races while you guys were babies and he was always really fast so they will probably be really good at running. Dad was really good at math. Dad and I went to Italy on our honeymoon and rode in the boats and got glass in Venice.
 It was amazing to see so many other people step in and tell my kids happy stories.

When my ex spouse died I took it harder than I thought. I didn't know what to do and I'm pretty sure I didn't do everything right.  I had nightmares and threw up at night and the kids didn't sleep and I think I gained 5 lbs in a week. I try to work out but I feel like my body has some kind of flu. Then sometimes I feel fine. Every day I feel more fine and less like staying in my bed forever. I care about the people who are disappointed I'm not doing well. They see something I don't see every day.
I hope that they are right and that I can do the things they think I can do.  They think I can do this kid thing alone and that I'll have the best career ever. I love the capable me that they see just as much as it hurts me that they aren't helping me and that they were so nasty to me.

I miss the old me. I also miss the old John. the one that everyone has been messaging me about. I miss the naive belief that we would make it through all the hard times and be happy together. Maybe John is in a better place and I will get to a better place.
I know Mark doesn't have nightmares anymore and I know other people have made it through worse things. I also know seeing my daughter cry made me feel so lost and helpless.

My kids know where their dad is. Today that will be enough.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Laundry

Well today was a hard day. and Yesterday was harder. I found out the kids had like over 1000 dollars in medical bills from last year. John said he paid them in March but I guess it didn't happen.

Which reminds me of something that happened in my divorce. Oddly enough I know. The thing is if you have kids and want to get divorced in Pennsylvania you are required to go to at least three sessions of counseling. This is something like punishing you for marrying that person all over again. I know at least one of the sessions I spend half the time feeding my baby since I was breastfeeding and had a new baby.  but this is about how they went.
counselor- you will need to think about provisions for your children and custody and do some paperwork and the divorce can be quite cheap if you write down what you want then just file it yourself or get an attorney together
John- I've been unhappy the whole time I just pretended after the first year and we aren't on the same educational level and she's fat. The cheating isn't really a big deal.
me- WHY THE FUCK DON'T YOU EVER PUT YOUR LAUNDRY IN THE LAUNDRY BIN? We had one in the hall which was too complicated for you so I got you a separate laundry bin. next to your bed. Somehow your socks would make it to one foot  away from the laundry bin. BUT NEVER IN THE BIN. Was that one foot just too much for you? Do you think your laundry just does itself and climbs back into your drawers? Did you not notice when I started hiding your ties after you wouldn't put them away on Sunday and I had about 30 ties before you asked for a specific art tie with the scream on it which I don't even like? Why do you have so many ties?

You can imagine how well this went. I was like 100% accepting of what was happening. Also my number one marital advice to couples- hire someone else to do your laundry. I think my husband almost had a heart attack that I was so upset about laundry when he was cheating. Maybe I never really got that memo.

So when John passed away I handled it with similar excellence. On the bright side someone else came and did my laundry. They put my laundry away. They talked to me even though I am pretty sure I was non-responsive. I'm still really struggling. The other day someone said- it will get harder and when everyone is done talking about it you can still talk to me. I knew what she was talking about. I know things will get worse before they get better. Nothing made me more angry than how my ex husband didn't call the kids. hearing your kids cry makes a parent crazy. But this time it's different. I find myself still getting frustrated like when I got the medical bills. But there is no one to call or text. No one is ever taking care of that. Dad is never calling the kids back. He's never going to eventually live close.
Just like he was never going to pick up his laundry while we were married. I was getting divorced and I was upset that my husband would never have finally started to pick up his laundry. and now their dad is dead and I'm upset he didn't finally start paying the medical bills. I thought it would get better.
Sometimes when people ask me about religion and eternity they ask how you can understand eternity. I tell them they have things in their lives that will teach them about eternity- it won't be your children or your good times. It will be the laundry. Laundry is an eternal principle. You invest into clothing and you have to wash it. Over and Over and Over again. There is never really no dirty laundry. Never. It's an endless round. Sometimes you ruin your clothes and sometimes you get good smelling detergent and it makes your life and warm out of the dryer towel heaven. But sometimes you leave it in too long and ruin your favorite pants.
I'm still distracted by survival. Experiencing significant changes in my life plan are NOT my favorite thing in the world. I wake up in the middle of the night and throw up. I try to go running or biking and it feels like my body is shaking the whole time then I can't make it work. I start crying while I'm swimming with my friends because I don't even remember the memory I had. We aren't all good at endings. I usually let my feelings catch up with reality about a month later than the time when you were supposed to say your feelings about something happening.
Which makes sense, because that's how long it takes for me to do laundry as well.
I don't know if there will be some kind of memorial fund for the kids. I don't know how anything is going to work right now. I don't really know who put my laundry away in my closet that I didn't wash or put away. I'm overwhelmed by the change. My friends are collecting memories for the kids. I wanted the kids to have something they could watch or look through when they want to think of dad. I don't know how to be both parents even though John was pretty sick and didn't get to see the kids much it still feels too final. I'm still mad that he didn't help pay for the kids more or didn't pay me the back owed child support.

Just like sitting in counseling while I was getting divorced and talking about how I did all the laundry. and he never cleaned bathrooms. I don't even mind doing that usually. I like paying bills as well. I am still in shock. Please stop messaging me about how awesome my ex was. I'm not even to the point when I realize what happened so I can hear that right now.

Plus I have a lot of laundry to do.


Hey- here's a link to the gofundme since I'm taking some time off work to be with the kids. and I guess to pay these medical bills...
gofund.me/madsenkids


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