Potterhead and Other Happy Things

Jonny used to call me a "Potterhead." I love Harry Potter. Total nerd about it. My husband was so gracious in my little obsession that when Part 1 of Deathly Hallows hit theatres, he went to the midnight showing with me. Even though he had to be at work at 430 or 5 the next morning.  I don't remember what time he had gotten home from work, but I do remember we ate dinner, hung out a little bit, and then he went to take a nap so he could stay up for the movie and have a tiny bit of sleep time before work. While he was sleeping, I decided that, like me, he needed a Harry Potter shirt. Mine was a Gryffindor tank top. I figured he'd feel most cool with Slytherin so I passed the time making him a tee while he slept. I used one of his white t shirts (gasp) I pencil-drew the Slytherin house logo on the shirt and then painted it with acrylic paint. Painting was one thing I used to do often in the nights he was sleeping and I was unable to (always been a raging insomniac). When he woke he wasn't too upset that I'd stolen his tee and he did think it was pretty cool. He also reminded me that he is not a Potterhead like I am and said he'd wear the shirt but wanted to wear another over it, in fear of looking like a total dork in Marine-land Jacksonville. I actually wasn't offended and was cool with it, but I assured him his hand-painted shirt would be far less dorky than some people we would see. Of course when we got there, there were handfulls of kids decked out in full-on HP gear. Some with cloaks and wands and different house emblems... if you've been to a midnight HP showing, you've seen it. He was surprised and finally he took off his "regular" shirt and let his inner Potterhead free. When he went to get us snacks and came back he was so excited about how many compliments he'd gotten on his shirt and proudly told me that he let each of them know "My wife made it!" I loved when he was proud of me. We enjoyed the movie, he actually stayed awake and liked it (not sure if he'd admit that to you...) and when it was over we got home around 330am and he caught a tiny bit of sleep before heading out for work. It's one of a handful of my favorite memories of our short time together. The things he did for me, to make me smile... and how proud he would get of me... Sigh. How I miss him.

Anyway, I begin this post with an HP story because I found two quotes that are pretty related to my life right now. I was going to blog separately but figured I might be a super weirdo if I did two back-to-back HP entries, so I'm going to roll it into one. Hang tight, folks, it might be a long one but I think it'll be worth it ;)

"Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it."
-Albus Dumbledore

I might have touched on this. Honestly I don't remember the last time I really blogged and got down deep and dirty. I probably did though. This year has been pretty tough. January, February, and March basically kicked my butt. I realized, with the help of some widda friends and my therapist, that I was finally feeling again. Yes, typing this I'm thinking I went here already but whatever it's worth discussing. So... the first few years - of course I felt. But let's face it, the first year, I was in some sort of mind-numbing fog. I was in pain, agony even, but I think my brain was in total self-preservation mode and really only letting me feel a portion of what I was really feeling. If that makes any sense. I learned about it once in psych class and it's true - our brains really do have our backs and they try to override sometimes and watch out for us. The instance of me forgetting everything that happened to Jonny the week of his funeral is a prime example. I still feel very sad for my friend that had to fill in the details that day in the dressing room as I looked at her and asked her, "What happened to Jonny?" I knew he was gone but couldn't grasp the details. She even had to explain acronyms to me that I'd been very familiar with for a long time. Survival mode, I believe. Then, I continued with survival mode by running. In physical sense (traveling), in an emotional sense (dating), in a stupid sense (drinking); basically anything to keep my mind off what was really happening. I was able bodied enough to take care of myself and my daughter but I was also damaging myself by trying to tuck away the pain I was feeling by distracting. This went on for quite some time. Even when I wasn't trying to, I was distracting myself. This year, when the rough time came around, there were no distractions. And boom I was blind-sided with pain and loss. I found myself barely treading water in this spot that was neither rock bottom nor where I wanted to be in life. Trying to stay afloat but not quite sure how I got there or how to get to some place out. Not quite drowning but certainly not walking ashore. The distractions were gone and I was facing reality and to be honest, I wasn't quite pleased with it. The pain was almost unbearable and I couldn't understand why after so much time had passed why it was hurting so badly. I chatted with fellow widdas who'd walked similar paths. It turns out, many of us distract ourselves (some of us in such similar ways it's scary), run from our pain and then we find that no matter how hard or fast we try to run from it, it's there waiting for us. Grief doesn't just go away. You can try to escape it but as soon as you think you've outrun it, it's waiting for you and reminding you it's time you feel and face it. So I did. I mean, what other choice did I have? Running/distracting obviously hadn't worked. So I felt. And I cried. And I got angry. And I basically recycled the whole grief process again. I hid from my friends, I was irritable. The whole nine. And then I realized it's time to make some changes. That if I'm not happy where I am, I obviously need to change it. I talked about the changes in an earlier post, and I'm sorry to be repetitive. But oh well, such is life. Soooo, back on track - I decided to make changes.

And then along came the American Widow Project's newest program they were still test-driving "WidowU" comprised of four courses. The course I enrolled to attend - Overcoming Obstacles. I decided I was ready to conquer, I was ready to not only overcome the obstacles but first to face them. I enrolled and waited a few weeks before it was time for the "session" to start, a long weekend in Austin, Texas dedicated to overcoming the obstacles in my life and helping me restart my journey to a better me.

"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."
-Albus Dumbledore

Turns out, WidowU helped me more than I really had anticipated. We meditated. We worked hard to look inside ourselves. We had to ask ourselves the hard questions and then dig down deep to answer them. I realized I am holding on to so much fear. I'm scared of like... everything. I pretend not to be, but I'm welled up with fear. This fear has been holding me back immensely. I was challenged to overcome fear and look fear in the face. I overcame physical obstacles representing the limitations I'd put on my life. As I conquered each challenge, I felt a little bit of fear slip away. I felt my limiting beliefs lift. I felt myself ready to conquer my life and my own mind. The trip really couldn't have happened at a better time. I realized that I really do have the ability to feel happiness, not just distract-from-life "happiness" but true happiness - with myself. And it's not bad to feel the sadness and the anger and the grief. They're all part of this journey. But as I explored meditation with the group, I learned something else, too. When I meditate, I find it really hard to get my thoughts to stop. My mind wanders and the whole peaceful meditation thing is thrown to crap. I learned that it's not really that you have to shut your mind off (I'm sure eventually you want to get to that point but it doesn't just happen), you acknowledge that you're having a thought and then you just kind of push it away and continue on your peace quest (RJP term for meditation ha!) and I think the same goes with fear and with grief and other not-so-awesome feelings. You don't just turn them off or try to force them away. They need to be acknowledged or else they'll really build up and come hammering on your door and eventually bust it down and take you hostage. So instead, politely open your door. Hello grief/anger/fear/sadness, we meet again. I hear what you're saying but I'm ready to continue feeling happiness. You've been acknowledged, you may now move on.

I'm ready to turn on the light. I'm ready to find contentment within myself. I'm ready to push myself harder than I've pushed before to fulfill my dreams. I am ready to be the me I was born to be.


  1. Harry Potter makes life suck less. That's my motto.

    Hugs, friend. I'm thankful you have a support system of sisters to walk through this with you. I know amazing things are in your future.

  2. I used to think that if I let that pain in, that pain that always comes back, that I would be stuck in that horrible place forever. But I'm not, ha. Great post! Glad you're facing fears and making yourself happy :)

  3. pure joy and pride....only things i can say of how I feel reading this and knowing you...you continue to teach me things and change others lives for the better without knowing so <3

  4. Not too much of a Potterhead, but my 10 year old daughter is and she just became one after a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando.. Now hooked! :)

    Anyways, wanted to let you know I was thinking of you!!! & I love reading your blog!
    Maybe soon we can connect!!
    Your fellow Marylander,

  5. I've seen the video Taryn made of the American Widow Project and I read her blog too. What an amazing person she is and what an AMAZING thing she has done and continues to do for military widows.

    I am really glad you were able to go for the weekend, it sounds like some incredible things are in store for you as you continue to walk this path. Obviously I don't know you personally, but it seems to me you have handled things very well so far and I would like to think Jonny and everyone who DOES know you would be proud of you for continuing to take steps to live your best life in the midst of such tragedy.


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