Life After Brain Surgery

A week ago my family was all meeting up at a parking garage outside of University of Maryland Medical Center Baltimore, gathering our belongings necessary for the long day ahead, and rushing inside to get to where I needed to be by my 5:30 appt time. Sadly, the hospital sent us on a long run around until we finally landed right where we needed to be, but we got there. Tension was high among the group, of course. The nervousness in the air; palpable.

I was asked if I was ready, more times than a few. How do you answer that? How are you ever ready to risk leaving your family behind? How are you ever ready to risk not coming back to them the same as you left them? So I lied. I was ready, yes. I lied and said I was fine. I lied and said I was going to be okay. I was petrified.

Questions began, IV was started, prepping was moving at the speed of light, but I was still stuck. Lingering, waiting for my entire family to hug me all at once. What would be my last thing to say to each one of them? How do you decide that? You cannot scare the kids, Kristen. You cannot upset your sisters, Kris. And my God, don’t let my parents feel my fear.

Last night I was asked what I felt in those moments. What was it that I told myself to help me get through it and make the final decision to go through with it.

The answer is my life. I wanted my life back. The vibrant, exuberant, fly by the seat of her pants girl was gone. She was replaced long ago by a zombie of a woman that was barely surviving this world. She could no longer head out on grand adventures, planned or otherwise. She spent her days hardly able to make it up and down the stairs let alone to a school event with homemade brownies.

She couldn’t make it to concerts with her sisters anymore. She had to cancel plans with friends more times than a few. She couldn’t get outside and run around with her two sons anymore. Life as she knew it ceased to exist.

But this morning. 7 days after the scariest decision of her life, that girl woke up at 5 am without an alarm clock, went downstairs without a single creaking or aching bone (stairs are a different story), and made herself a cup of coffee. Do you realize how long it has been since that has happened? I won’t count the nights where sleep never happened and I got up at 5 to start a day after a night of no rest. I’m talking actually slept for hours, woke up, went down, and made my own damn coffee??

Let’s ask my little baristas when they wake. I bet ya it’s been a while.

Good morning, world. It’s good to be back.

Night Train

It’s not even midnight, but I hear it rolling through.

When I hear that night train, I always think of you.

The dreams I had, the plans we made, it all got lost somehow.

I try to forget your kiss, but I can taste you now.

The echo of the night train.

The memory of your touch.

The magnetic connection.

The ethereal rush.

Release me from this reverie, let me please let go.

Night train, take his memory, he doesn’t have to know.

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Too Much

I guess I was just too much. Too loving. Too strong. Too resilient. Some people don’t like that. Some people can’t handle that.

I guess I was just too much. Too much woman for a small minded man. Too strong for a weak man. Too much of myself for a man still searching for himself.

I guess I was just too much. Too outspoken. Too opinionated. Too loud. Too bold. Too powerful. Too much.

I guess I was just too much for the man unaware of my offerings. I guess I was just too much for the man too blind to see my beauty. I guess I was just too much for the man too stuck in the past to live in the present moment. I guess I was just too much for the man afraid of the future.

When You Love Someone

When you love someone, you will do the most ridiculous things! When they don’t love you back quite the same, or at all, you will reach new levels of ridiculousness. You will look like a fool, to them, to yourself, and at times, to those around you. You will put yourself out there only to have your heart crushed by the inevitable truth that they just don’t love you the same, or at all.

Love them anyway. People who have been hurt in the past may be a little more difficult to love, but no less worthy of your love. So love them anyway. Love them with all that you have. Show them what love should be. Sure, you have to learn at some point when to stop pushing for something that may not be meant to be. And finding that fine line may be difficult. But don’t give up. Love that person anyway. Even if just from a distance. And if you decide that it’s best to walk away, you can still love them. Nobody can make you stop doing that. Love them anyway.

Understand that their inability to receive your love is not a reflection of you, but a reflection of all that they are struggling to overcome. As humans, we inherently crave love. We seek out those that we find can provide us with the comforts of a loving relationship. But some people have been damaged by the toxicity of their pasts. Those people are the ones that deserve a little more love.

I’m not telling you to give so much of yourself and get nothing in return, time after time. I am telling you to be patient and understanding. If the person you love tells you they love you, but they are struggling with demons of whatever kind, be patient with them. That is part of the deal. Learning to be patient, considerate, and compassionate are all difficult things when you feel like it should come as easy for them as it does for you. I get that. Trust me! It just isn’t that easy for some. Not after some of the things people have gone through.

I write these words as a woman that is very difficult to love, or at least I once was. Now, I’m the woman trying so desperately to be patient with the man I love while he figures out how he wants to move forward; scarred from his past. And I think of all the times people gave up on me because I was a little more difficult than they thought I should be. I won’t be that person. I won’t give up on him.

~Kristen

Moving On

When you realize your worth, you laugh at those that didn’t see it. You pity them for missing out on all the awesomeness that is you. Yes, of course you mourn for the “what could have been”. But you look ahead at what will be!

We have formed these ideas in our minds of what could be. And we get excited about the possibilities. We begin to feel like we are finally heading in the right direction. Being led to our destiny. And then the crash. The realization that we aren’t going to have what we thought we would. That moment when the truth hits is like a knife in the chest; a punch in the gut. Why couldn’t they have just followed through? Those fears that held them back have now crushed your dreams. It’s a terrible feeling. I know.

Moving on, though, is a beautiful thing. When you can feel yourself getting stronger each day. When you can finally hear that song or see that person on social media without feeling weak inside. When you can feel your strength building little by little. One day at a time. When you realize you are worth far more than you ever knew. When you see what you should have seen all along. And then you apologize to yourself. You need to make it a point to do that. Apologize for being blinded by love. Apologize for the way you viewed the world through rose colored glasses and ignored every red flag your inner self tried to point out. Apologize for being human. For wishing and dreaming of what would never be. But warn yourself, it’s probably going to happen again. And that’s OK!!

Too bad they were too scared of what could be. It could have been amazing. But what is to come will surely be better. Because now you are wiser. Do not put yourself down for trusting the wrong person. And do not allow that person to influence the way you view the next person. Do not hide away, either, my darling. Do not cut yourself off from the next possibility. Live your life one moment at a time. Allow things to happen, both good and bad. Because that is the beauty of life.

 

Hurt People, Hurt People.

Do you realize just how difficult it is to come to terms with the fact that someone wasn’t truly who you thought they were? To find out that the person was lying or pretending the entire time? It’s a gut wrenching feeling to think that all the words they said that warmed your heart were nothing but bullshit. It’s a horrid thought to think that they were laughing behind your back the entire time. It’s embarrassing and hurtful and humiliating.

We need to do better, folks! We need to stop hurting people just because someone else hurt us! I have done it. I have been guilty of this myself. I have allowed my unhealed wounds to bleed all over another person. An innocent person. And it isn’t fair. I know that now. And even though I know better and try to do better, occasionally things slip past my radar and I am the one left covered in the blood of another person’s old wounds.

It hurts. It hurts like 10,000 knives ripping through my flesh, carving through my bones, on the way to my tender heart. Hurt people hurt people. Say it again, hurt people….hurt people. If you are hurting, please heal yourself. Stop allowing your open wounds to drip the misery onto a new relationship or interaction with someone that had nothing to do with your pain.

Death Will Find Us All

It is truly a sad time in my life right now. I am not writing this seeking pity or condolences. I am writing this because I have so much to say on the topic of death and how we don’t ever know when it will find us. Today, we buried a 56 year old grandmother. Three months ago, my 34 year old brother-in-law. My poor children (my daughter especially as this was her grandmother today) have seen so much death in their young years. And it makes me ache from deep within my soul.

I have a special place in my heart for children. And to see so many show up to Mrs. Audrey’s funeral today really broke my heart. But it also made me happy to see just how many children she mattered to. Just how many children she helped in so many ways. But that heartache, that grief, will follow these children. As much as we like to think that children are more resilient than us adults, we must recognize that they will forever hold these memories in their hearts, aching and not understanding why they had to endure it at such a young age. They will think, 20 years from now, back on this day and remember the tears and the sobs of those around them. They will remember just how much they loved Mrs. Audrey and all that she did for our little farm family. And for some of them, it will be their first memories of death.

That is truly heartbreaking. To think of how many children will most likely cry at our first horse show of the season. Shows where normally Mrs. Audrey would show up late, barreling up the dirt lane pulling a horse trailer, stopping at the porch to drop off the cooler full of ice for our food stand. The times we will laugh remembering those times and her heart of gold will be the only thing that gets many of us through the upcoming show season.

It is times like now that we reflect back on how we interacted with others. Did we show them enough appreciation? Did we let them know they were loved? I know that I thanked her many times over the years for her love for my daughter. She showed her love in many ways, never faltering, never failing. And my daughter will hold on to those memories forever. I know that I have raised my daughter well and she never let Audrey’s good deeds go unnoticed or unappreciated.

As I sat through the service listening to all of the things said about her, I could only hope that when my time comes, those same things are said of me. I hope that people note my strength and resilience, my love for my children and my family and friends. I hope that by the time death finds me, I have achieved all of my goals and watched my children reach theirs. Death finds us all, but will we be ready?

Kristen A. Ruchalski