This is going to be such a hard post to write, so bare with me...
Things have shifted. And in a big way. Things don't always go as planned, and... you have to shift. The emotion is still really close to the surface so, I apologize if it spews out across the page, but... you've been with me this far, and you're still here so this won't be the first time. Lol
To start... my husband left me in February this year. I knew I was taking this trip alone so, that was just that. If I'm being honest, I didn't give myself much time to work through that grief because I'm a master of being busy. I am always going, doing, creating... all the things. Being a life student and a relationship coach... it is really hard to swallow that my own marriage wasn't a perfect and lovely textbook example. It is humiliating, if I have to put a word on it. It feels like I learned nothing if I couldn't even see and remedy the issues in my own marriage. I must be a terrible relationahip coach.
What they don't tell you in your relationship classes, and you have to pretty much figure out for yourself is that... sometimes, you can't control another person's actions. And by sometimes, I mean, MOST times. You have no control over someone else's choices.
I had no control over his leaving me... I just had to decide how I was going to respond and what I was going to do next.
Fast forward to half way through my trip...
My husband's health is failing. He suffered injuries while serving his country and they are tired of being ignored. In short- his vertebrae is crumbling and trying without success to reframe his bones and muscle structure to still give him support. It's not working. He's going to require surgery (or series of surgeries, and if it sounds like I'm making light of it, please understand that it's my defense mechanism. )
I need to get back and take care of my husband. I love my husband and this is that part "in sickness and in health" that I agreed to whether he did or not. I believe in marriage and I want a happy marriage, but I can only do what I can do. And do it to the best of my ability without judgment, or punishment and in an unconditionally, loving way. And what I need to do is get to Alabama to get my husband through this surgery and physical therapy on the other side, in the most loving and supportive way I know how. God is pretty amazing and is capable of turning this marriage around at any point, so I walk in faith.
No dates have been set, as yet for the surgery and I have come to realize that I will no longer be able to travel. It's a hard pill to swallow since I've worked so hard to finally get here and now I have to put it to rest. I am so very thankful that I was able to have this one last bang of a trip. (Sidenote: This is WHY you don't wait until retirement to follow your dreams or do the things your heart tugs you toward. Don't ignore it. Don't wait... you might not get the chance "later".)
I am beyond grateful that I got to follow The Oregon Trail... It wasn't the trip that was originally planned, but I'm not sad. I saw so many things. I learned so many things. I made friends along the way. I learned things about myself that I would have never discovered otherwise. I got to "meet" all of you. These memories will set me up for a very long time.
I have yet to go through all the photos, something to look forward to.
A lot of new wheels have been put into motion.
- I cancelled the PostCard Club.
As I have mentioned before, I did not receive an income from the Club, and more times than not, it cost more than it brought it. Plus, I will no longer be traveling, so it seemed the right thing to do.
I have decided that all the members will still get their ornament and the 2020 group will still get their digital copy of my book A Devil's Errand when it is released. I will still send out all the postcards for the month of September and for those who purchased for the full year, I'll send along other gifts instead to make up the difference.
- The History Revisited Facebook Group.
The group... oh... this is hard... I have enjoyed my time with you so much and I have loved getting to know you throughout the years. And those who popped in every once in a while... I saw and appreciate you too!
Seeing as how I'm about to be a full-time caregiver, I feel the best course of action is to delete the group as I won't have the time to keep up with it and again... not going to be traveling or visiting historical sites until further notice.
I will still be producing the Bag of Bones Podcast, for those of you who need your history fix. I'm going to turn all of my (spare) attentions on that and my author life. I'll be writing books, coaching and maybe creating some new writing or history courses, I don't know. I have no idea what my future looks like, but my writing is everything so it will continue in some form or another.
I would be so honored if you would follow me on my Facebook page(s)-
Elizabeth Bourgeret- Author and/or Bag of Bones Podcast
Perhaps we can continue our friendships there.
If neither of those are a fit for you, please know that I will miss you and again, have enjoyed beyond words your participation and presence in my life.
- The Wildwood Conestoga
I am grateful that I will get to visit with my children (both in MO) and my family (mostly in AR) before I get settled in Alabama where my husband and his family reside.
The Conestoga will be sold next month. It has served me well, kept me safe and the new owner gets a new set of tires! Lol!
What a good, mostly sturdy companion it turned out to be :)
Money is about to get extremely tight, so I am downsizing in every way.
I have been so blessed and so ridiculously grateful to have been able to come on this adventure. It truly has been an adventure of a life time and I am beyond thankful that I was able to make it to Oregon.
I have earned my Coast to Coast title and being an ocean girl at heart, that's no small thing.
I have SO many new story ideas that have come from this trip so I will never run out of book tasks. And being able to see what they saw, feel what they felt, touch the flora and fauna, cry with their pain, celebrate thier victories... I promise you to give their stories true depth and emotion so you feel as if you are there. Witnessing the land and their crossing (even the California route too!) I will have SUCH an advantage to creating an authentic Oregon Trail Series.
So, I am blessed. I'm not upset. A little sad, (okay fine, a lot sad) but I know that I will continue to be blessed in other ways, because my God loves me, and shows me everyday.
So I walk... and drive... in faith.
Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for taking this journey with me. Thank you for being my penpals.
If this could NOT be a good-bye, but just a transition... that would be really great.
So... not goodbye... I'll see you on my author page or the Bag of Bones page
And don't count me out... there's more to come from this plucky author, I promise...
We all have pain. We all suffer loss. We all have to go through experiences that we'd rather avoid. The question is, how do you react when you are faced with unpleasantries?
We have no control over the things that life is going to throw at us. Sometimes it seems as if we are being "picked on" by the universe or God or whomever you choose to blame. When the truth is, we all have our fair share. Some people get it dumped on them all at one time, others have a constant stream of disappointment, still others have it dispersed through out life at an even pace so as barely to disrupt their daily activity.
How can this be? I believe it is how we react to these events that determines the radius of destruction it plays in our lives. How you react places the value on the negative event. Is it going to shut you down? Move you to a cardboard box in an alley? Is every event catastrophic? Or can you get through it with a few minor tweaks? Is it something you have to work a little harder to push through? Or something that would turn out better if you just lay low for a while? Grief and tragedy affects each one of us in different ways. Learn to know your telltale behavior when times get rough to learn if you need to alter a few things to make life easier, you stronger, thicker skinned, or whatever the change might have to be.
I do not belittle any tragedy that goes on in people's lives. God knows, I've had plenty to try and keep me down. The Devil loves to challenge my faith on a regular basis. And yet...
The doctors of the medical community have diagnosed me with clinical manic depression. Which, basically gives me permission to have crying jags, eating binges and months of solitude and a list of medications to choose from if I so desire. Because of this condition, I have the green light to turn my heartbreaks, my letdowns, my bumps in the road, my catastrophes of any size to take control over my life, my emotions and my well-being. Well, guess what...
I choose not to let the weight of the world control my destiny!
Let alone my month, my week, my days. Okay, sometimes... many times it can have an hour or two, but then it's time to get back up and get back to life.
Being diagnosed with depression, means that I sometimes have to work harder to see the sunshine instead of the rain, but since I know that about myself, I know what I have to do. It isn't easy. Like I said, I have permission by the professionals to sit around in my pajamas for days on end and wallow. But that's not the kind of life that I want.
I choose to keep the sunshine on my face so the shadows stay behind me. I am not in denial. When these bad things come up, I make a choice as how to deal with them. I do my best not to make mountains out of molehills. I don't let gossip or what others think of me take a hold of my life or alter me.
I know, that I am being the best person I can be under any circumstance.
So, how do you react? When bad things happen, do you let it sink in and take over? Complaining doesn't help. Constantly bringing it to the surface doesn't help. Gossiping, or using the feel-sorry-for-me-card doesn't help. Don't discuss your problems with others unless they can help you. Either by support, or getting you through the situation. By constantly telling everyone how miserable you are only makes you a whiner. Enough of the reality tv show attitude. Your dirty laundry wasn't meant to be scattered all over the front yard. I'm not saying hide it. But I'm saying don't flaunt it. I'm not saying pretend everything is fine when it isn't, I'm suggesting reserving your comments on the situation for specific people. People that can help you and have your best interests at heart.
Like I said, what life throws at us is out of our control. But you can make it three times worse if you give in to pressure, or depression, or bullying, or grief, or brick walls. There is ALWAYS another way. There is ALWAYS another choice.
Choose the sunshine.... Always choose the sunshine.
The feelings of loss can be brought on by any number of events. Most typically we think of the death of a loved one. But grief in its deepest forms can also be the reaction to the loss of a job, family estrangement or betrayal. A break-up or divorce. The loss of a beloved pet. Or even the empty nest syndrome... The feelings or stages of grief can be different for everyone and we all process grief in different ways. I present them to you here, to "normalize" the grieving process and to work through it myself. Writing is a healing tool for me, so, allow me to heal and hopefully my words will come back to you when you are in your time of grief and they will help ease your transition.
The five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, are common experiences people go through when dealing with loss. They surface in different ways for different people as grieving is such a unique and personal thing to have to go through. Not everyone will go through them in the same order. Not everyone will stay in the same stage for the same length of time. And once you have experienced each stage, that does not mean that you won't go back through it again. (Much to my disappointment. Being very aware of my emotions from the standpoint of "outside looking in" kind of way, I would mentally "check-off" the stages I felt myself go through happy that I was one step closer to Acceptance.... Not so much the case, my friends. Not the case at all...)
I hope you can use this article as an awareness tool. To help your body, mind and heart heal when it feels like you never want to see the sunshine again. I am hoping to help you understand the process and stand beside you saying, "You WILL get through this," as I tell myself every ten minutes or so. Because this IS a process and we WILL get through it...
Denial. This is where you've just gotten slapped in the face with news. Bad news. This stage is your defense mechanism to allow your body to deal with the shock. Your brain deflects your immediate emotions to allow you to attempt to process this new information. You're mind begins to swirl with questions and while you are trying to sort out the realities, the emotions will fight their way to the surface.
Anger. Reality of the situation, brings pain. And to protect ourselves from drowning in the pain and sadness, we express it as anger. We feel anger and resentment and hate to someone in particular or sometimes anyone who happens to cross our thought paths at the wrong moment. We use our anger to deflect the pain that if we give into it, it will surely kill us. David Kessler, a grief specialist explained it this way, "At first grief feel like being lost at sea; no connection to anything. Then you get angry at someone.. suddenly you have structure- your anger towards them. The anger becomes a bridge over the open sea, a connection between you and them. It is something to hold on to; a connection made from strength of anger is better than nothing."
Better than nothing. That's for sure. Anger gave me direction, and it DID feel better than feeling numb. Numbness and hopelessness are the worst feelings to have in my humble, heart-broken opinion. I'm really good at the anger stage and frequent it often...
Bargaining (Or depending on the cause of grief) Begging. This is another defense mechanism to protect us from the harsh reality we unwillingly find ourselves in. This is the land of "if only's". Most of the time, this stage happens in our mind. We fantasize different endings and outcomes to the situation at hand. Sometimes, we see a revenge, or a reconciliation, or a miracle cure. If we do happen to find the words or have the chance to "make things right", we bargain, threaten, cajole, negotiate, promise and throw guilt around like candy, anything to un-do the pain. But nothing works. You wake up the next morning and the pain is still there. It really happened and there is nothing you can do to change it.
Depression. This is where you really feel that the loss has moved in and is making itself at home. That feeling of emptiness returns and you know it's there but you just don't feel like doing anything about it. You even entertain the idea that it will be there forever. You tell yourself that this too, is part of the process and it will pass, but while you're in it... you feel... sadness, regret, worry, loss... emptiness.
This is your body trying to work through the grief. Trying to prepare you for what's on the other side. It's a time of reflection and also a time to allow you to accept a new... different future.
Acceptance. This stage does not mean that what has happened has been given our "approval"- for lack of a better word- but it means that we can acknowledge that the event really did happen and we can't un-do it. So we must learn to deal with it, make peace with it, and move on with our lives. Some people never reach this stage. I do not anticipate that being me. I know God has other things planned for me other than standing under the darkness of this raincloud. He knows that eventually I will accept my new reality and keep moving forward. But not today, Lord. Not today.
Grief has its own rhythm and you have to allow yourself to go through it from beginning to end. If you try and push it down or ignore that it is happening, it will only take longer to get to the Acceptance part. Linger in one stage or another if you must, but get to the Acceptance part. In some cases, the pain will never be gone and we have to learn to live with it buried in some compartment of our heart; in some cases, when you look back you'll wonder why you behaved so; and still in others, things happen that are out of your control and our only option is to deal with it the best we know how at this particular moment. One thing I do know, is that life is not meant to stop. Don't get trapped in the pain.
We grieve because we love. And because we cannot NOT love, there will always be pain in our lives. But our hearts are made resilient so they can love again. Our memories are created to hold on to the times that made us smile. Hope is forever bubbling down deep inside waiting to renew your spirit. Strength keeps us moving forward. And faith... faith is the promise that we will love again and continue to give love a chance no matter what.