Absent 

Ever since Steve died, I haven’t felt like writing. I’m not sure if there is a connection, but that’s been the timing of things. I mourned him, and realized a few things that I won’t mention here… yet. Or maybe ever. It’s been a month. A solid month.

I will say I’ve felt uninspired, lack-luster, and at times totally bummed out. I let my mind go back to old negative patterns of thought and… I gained weight.

Not lots of weight, and I don’t really care to be honest, but it is a sign of how much I let things go last month.

I stopped getting on the dating apps. I don’t care about that either. I have a couple guys that are still hanging out, and that’s ok, but I’ve also come to terms with something: I’m in love. We’ll come back to this.

I’ve been absent from my own life and I can tell you, it felt strange to realize that I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going lately.

I’m usually very future driven. I always have a plan, I map things out, know what I want and that I have to do certain things to get there, and in general just keep my eye on the forward movement of life. I let that go for a while. I’m not sure it was a bad thing, but I’m not sure it was good either.

I know that things go better for me when I’m very mindful of them. When I live with intention and a focus. I lost it for a while. The worst part was I didn’t really care. I was numb to the whole thing.

Which brings me to now. I snapped to of it probably two nights ago. It was like all of a sudden waking up and not remembering falling asleep, but here you are feeling like you gotta get your A out of bed and “get it in gear sister”!

So, I did. I went to church yesterday. I started back eating better today. Took a brisk walk. Here we are…blogging. Everything is right in the world again. Mostly.

So, my friend, the one that I got hired here, that I fell for  a while ago and have been trying to not feel like I still want to try that out with, has been ill. But even before that, he indicated that maybe… just maybe, he could be the guy that makes me happy. As in dating. As in, he and I, together. This was…. well earth shattering almost. I had it in my mind that he’d never want me that way. I knew better but my head is in a weird place where he is concerned. Such a long story for another time. The point here is, I wanted something for a long time, and then possibly could have it and…I freaked out. I think I tried to “friend-zone” him. AGAIN. It’s safer that way right?!

Noooooo….. there is no amount of trying to pull back and shield my feelings to be done with this guy. I’ve realized in the last two weeks that what I feel is something closer to love than I’d like to admit.

That my friends is about all I have in me today. Sorry for going dark. Working through mental stuff is like walking through a giant vat of rubber cement sometimes. Very slow going.

More on AZ, as I call him, later.

Seek joy 

Last week wrung me out in terms of emotion and energy. I didn’t have it in me to write it out. I didn’t really even want to talk about it. 

Today I woke up and two things happened.

1. I realized I need to shift my focus and my thinking. 

2. I haven’t made all the changes I’ve made over the last 6 months to still be sad and miserable. 

So, I kicked my own behind. I started down what I have always thought of as the road to happiness. It starts with gratitude. 

Years ago when I was in the thick of my therapy and really just wading through a giant swamp of depression and negativity my therapist told me to start every day with a gratitude list. If you’re going to adjust your thinking from the negativity you’re used to then you have to start by recognizing what you have. 

It really does work. Every time. 

I read an IG post this morning about fear being bigger than courage and how God teaches through pain, but also teaches through joy. Sometimes it’s just about perspective, and what you train your mind to do. Do you want it to be about things you’re afraid of? Or would you rather it be about all of the good things going on in your life. I’ll tell you this much… sometimes one is easier to focus on than the other. 

Last week had me sitting in such a deep hole of darkness. I felt so low I wasn’t sure I’d get out any time soon. I still think about Steve almost every day and… it’s hard. I can only imagine how his “people” feel. I pray for them collectively. The sudden loss of someone so great is… there are no words. 

I am not built to harbor such continual sadness though. I don’t feel like anyone is. We hang on sometimes because it’s easy, and comfortable to sit, and stew in our pit of despair. Sometimes it’s not about hanging on… it’sabout the courage to get back up and get back to it. I used to think if I recovered from crappy things too quickly it meant that the significance of that thing was diminished. Boy was I wrong.

You can be forever changed by loss, grief, change, trauma, but you can also be forever changed by love, and happiness and joy. There is no set timeframe for feeling things and moving on either. Allowing time to process the hard things we have no control over is all part of life, but you don’t have to do that forever. You don’t have to get stuck in a bad feelings rut. 

I know it’s been just 10 days since the passing of a wonderful man. I’m not sure anyone that was really close to him is going to be ok by now. I met him once casually and it still makes my heart hurt to think about it. 

The truth is though, I didn’t have to know him really well to know that he’d want people he loved to be happy. He’d want their lives to be full and happy.  

Every one of us owes it to ourselves to give joy a chance to bloom in our lives. We all deserve to experience happiness at such  level that it becomes part of our very nature. 

I’m going to continue to seek joy. I’m ready for my life to be more full then it’s ever been before.

Angry 

I don’t ever get mad. It’s not my emotion of default. But I’m angry, and I don’t understand. 

I’m mad at God. 

Since I’m never the type to be angry, or mad, it’s a very uncomfortable thing. It makes me feel… raw. 

I think there is a purpose for everything. I’ve witnessed in my own life how things have fit together to make me into the person I am, with the life I have. I know God has always had a plan for me. I’ve never questioned it. Never. 

Lately I’ve been asking “WHY?!” 

People are put in my life for a reason. I’ve always felt like God gave me the friends I needed, at the time I needed them. He has put people in my path when it was the perfect time. 

I don’t know why God had me meet Steven Holcomb. 

I know I shouldn’t question. Really though. It’s not up to me to know the plan. But… I have felt like there should be a reason if he’s going to allow me to feel this awful. 

In the last two months I’ve felt so small, so insignificant, so unimportant… and I’d like to think there’s a good reason. 

In the last 5 days I’ve felt so sad, and so confused. When you meet a sweet genuine soul like Steven… you know there’s no replacement. He’s an original. I keep thinking of his mother, and his best friends. It makes it hurt worse because I can imagine how they must feel… I’m still depressed and I only met him once and had minimal time interacting with him. 

On top of that… why did God take him? Why him?! Of everything I know, and all of the things his closest say of him… it’s terribly unfair. *I could go off of my own impressions of him, but again… who am I?! 

It just seems unreal. In his sleep. At 37. His heart. His HEART. There’s something so wrong about the whole thing. 

I’m going to say this… all of this post is out of my comfort zone. I’m not sure how to explain how I feel without feeling terrible about it later, but honestly… who reads this anyway?! 

I’m mad because I don’t see the point. I don’t know why I needed to meet such a great guy if God was not only going to take him, but take him before we were even what I would consider good friends. I tried to “be there”, but he was a tough egg to crack and I ended up feeling… small. Only good for one thing, which I don’t even wanna put into words. That’s on me, not him.

But again… I ask myself AND God: why do I get to wake up every day and he doesn’t?! I feel like his purpose was bigger, and unfulfilled. I feel like he had more ability to impact people and do things. I feel like… he was more important. God should have taken someone else… even me, in his place. 

I’m in a pretty dark place right now. My birthday is in two days and… I just want to skip it. All of it. 

Heavy

Two days. It’s been two days since a man that I had connected with passed away. The cause still unknown and I think of his mother. Her baby is gone before her. He’s gone before he was old enough to have gray hair and the kind of wrinkles that only come with time and years worth of laughter he won’t get. 

He’s just gone. 

I woke up this morning thinking “but I can still text him right? He’s not really gone.”  Then I cried in the shower. 

I’m glad I never ereased out texts. I still have them all. I can’t stand the thought of reading them, but I have them in case I change my mind. 

At this point the thought of what his mom must feel is killing me the most. Being a mother is like part of your heart living outside of your body and not always being able to protect it. It’s the best and worst thing. 

I don’t know what it’s like to watch that piece of you grow and go live their own life. Especially since her son went and chased his dream every day, and succeeded. I can only imagine how it’s been to watch, and how this feels now. 

I’ve been praying for her. There’s nothing else to do. She knows how great he was, she’s probably had a LOT of people to tell her all of the great stories, memories, lessons he gave them. She will need time and love and maybe things she doesn’t even know herself yet. 

I’m torn between being so sad I can’t stand it and feeling like I have no right to be upset. In the graph or chart of important people to him, his mother likely being the center or ranked highest…I don’t even make the chart. That’s not a knock against him… I just know in his life I was a tiny blip on the radar. I’m realistic about it. But I cared… I really liked him… I thought about him and how he was. Not how he was performing. How he was doing, mentally, emotionally, physically. 

I won’t make it to the funeral. They’re being held in his home town and at his training center. I would’ve just stood towards the back of wherever, as hidden as possible, and just cried my eyes out anyway. Maybe there will be a televised version and I can just mourn by myself on the couch. That’s preferable for me anyway. 

There’s a heaviness to grief. It sits on you till you can’t breathe. It threatens to stop your lungs from filling, your heart from beating. Grief is cruel though. It doesn’t immediately end your life… just slowly devours it a piece at a time. You have to fight against it if you want to see the other side. Then it’s just like a shadow that follows you around but you might forget little bits at a time. 

I may anonymously send his mother flowers. I know there won’t be any shortage of those but I still want to. 

My heart still hurts. It just hurts. 

The bobsledder 

I wake up with the sun and tears are still steadily leaking from the corners of my eyes. I have guilt over posting this, but I don’t want to deny the importance of a man I met and knew briefly. I’m still shocked and part of me hoped it’d be just… a dream.

In December, right after returning from my visit to my brother’s before the holidays, I “matched” with a guy on Tinder. His profile said he was 36, and an athlete. The pictures were of a handsome guy with intense eyes and a kind smile. Totally my type.

He erased our conversations on that app some time in the last couple of months (I suspect because he gave an interview in which he stated he wasn’t on Tinder) so I can’t even go back to it. I’m not sure why, but that makes me sad. Maybe because it’s one of the few traces of him in my life that I have left.

After chatting for a little bit with this very funny man on the app itself, I gave him my phone number. We texted for over a period of two weeks before I ever met him in person. I wasn’t aware then that it’d be the only time I’d get to interact with this handsome sweet guy face to face.

His name is Steve Holcomb. I went on one date with him and now he’s gone. He passed away yesterday.

I’ve written about him before and left out the details because he is an olympic gold medalist, and somewhat famous. I’ll tell you the story, but mostly because my heart hurts, and also because…I don’t want to forget.

When we first started talking I joked with him about his medals and how many hot dates he got. He made light of it, and I think because he was so reserved and private, that he didn’t actually use his celebrity to get dates. I never asked. It wasn’t important. I in fact didn’t even give the medals or his “status” a second thought. It wouldn’t matter what he’d done if I met him and he was an ass. I’m just going to state it simply: Steven was nothing but gentlemanly and sweet to me.

*I may have said he was an ass in my previous post, and in all fairness, since he ghosted me, that’s how I felt. I now think it’s likely, he just didn’t have it in him to continue long distance communication. I’ll never know the truth.*

Funny. He was so dry witted and funny. That smile….

But I digress…

I met him on a Tuesday, I believe, for Sushi. The restaurant was a recommendation from a coworker and, funnily enough, he was slightly late. I had set reservations, and showed up early. I was more nervous than I’ve been in a while and it was all because… he drew me in. Something about him was, special. No, it wasn’t the “Olympic Gold Medalist” part. He exuded kindness, and understanding.

In my previous post I know I eliminated most of our conversation. It was “mine” was what I said. well, I think it might be important now. I say might because the cause of his death has yet to be announced. He was 37, and it’s anyone’s guess, but I think…because I’ve been there, I might have an idea.

During dinner, because I’m too honest for my own good, we talked about my struggles with depression. It’s a huge part of living authentically for me to not sugar coat for any of the men I date romantically how I’ve battled with the darkness in my own head. It’s part of me, and it’s not going anywhere no matter how much I work through it. I told him I’d gone through several bouts and that I had seen therapists. I also told him that I feel like sometimes depression becomes a bad habit. He said “Sometimes it feels good to feel bad.”

I didn’t “Google” his whole life. I didn’t try to find out as much as possible. This was a first date and I was going to roll with what he told me about himself. I later read his book and found out that he too had experience with demons in your head. At the time, I thought he was just a kind soul, with a great smile.

When we sat and chatted in the car at Sonic, he told me that most people aren’t the same person twice. You meet them or talk to them and then the next time they are someone totally different. I remember asking him why he felt that way, and he just said that everyone is putting on a show. I remember laughing and telling him that I didn’t really think that was worth our time and we were old enough to not play games. He just smiled.

We did make out on the driveway at his mother’s house before the night was over. other than that there wasn’t anything else that happened. I tried to see him once more before he left to go to Europe for the rest of the World Cup. There just wasn’t enough time. He was a busy guy. I got the links to all of the locations to follow his races online and we parted ways with simply “I’ll see you soon.”

I mentioned that everything I ever sent him was through SnapChat and I was deleted. I now wonder what the real reason was. There were photos, conversations, and personal things on that feed. I thought it was him just getting rid of me. Maybe, it was him protecting me.

I follow his social media. Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and of course had his phone number. We exchanged all of that information before we even met. I had joked with him that he could social media stalk me. It was a big joke but that was how we stayed connected, social media.

I watched his IG while he was away, and there were times I could feel that he was maybe fighting with some depression. One post in particular said something about seasonal disorder. I remember telling him that if he’d let me try to cheer him up I would. That he didn’t need to filter things with me. It’s all well and good to offer, but that person has to accept. He never acknowledged with me that he even needed help. Just that my pictures did cheer him up. I wish now I had all of those conversations saved, but sadly when the snapchat feed went so did those.

There is a feeling you get from someone that has battled depression if you’ve been there yourself. It’s an underlying tone of…. heaviness. They smile at you, but there is something just behind the eyes, something that begs for you to see them, for you to get it. When you’ve gone through the mental health battle yourself it’s not hard to recognize. I wish now I’d pushed a tiny bit harder to be there, and ask the right questions, but I was in my head about it. I was hurt.

I need to be really clear here that since I’m not close to the family, or any of his friends, or was anyone special to him, I may never know what happened at the end. No one will but his people, and only they can choose to let us into that world. He may very well have died from something natural. There are so many possibilities that it’s impossible to even assume I know. I just know what I feel in my gut is true, and what I gathered from him in the brief time that we had contact. My heart will find peace if it was just a freak health thing, and not what I fear- suicide.

When I lost contact with him the last thing we discussed was my struggle with a “funk” I was in. He was as always sweet to me, and said “tough times don’t last, tough people do.” That was the last thing I ever heard from the handsome man I’d hoped would come back and give me that second date.

I can’t even begin to tell you how I’ve felt since yesterday when a close friend sent me what had some across his sports news feed. I was unable to speak or leave work or do anything but cry. I didn’t know him as well as any of the teammates he had, or fellow competitors or the main people in his life, but I knew him well enough to know how special and wonderful he was and the loss hit me like I never would have expected.

The fact that I can’t even watch him in the next Olympics and know that he was doing what he loved the most in the world hurts as well. I never cared about that part in terms of dating him, but it was all part of who he was. He’d spent his life chasing his dream, and being successful at paving the way for others involved in the sport. It was his passion and you could tell when he talked about it. I just wonder at what cost it came to him.

I will remain glued to the news feed just like anyone who had ever met him and cares about how his life ended so abruptly. I will say, about a week ago his named popped up on my Snap viewers and I thought it was odd. When we had connected on social media he had two snap chat accounts. When he deleted me, it was only on one account and I thought the other one had been an oversight. Now, I’m not so sure.

I wish I had tried just ONE more text. Or that he had sent me a message. Something. Everything in the publicity about his death have an underlying tone of possible suicide. It makes me cry every time I think about it. I’ve been praying so hard since yesterday that God just wanted him up there with him, and it was peaceful, and not a finalization of a longtime battle with the voices in his head.

Pray for his family. I know he was close to his mother, and he had nieces, nephews, siblings, a grandparent that was still alive. I can only imagine what they are going through and will go through in a very public way very soon.

Steven, oh Steven…I really wish we could have talked just one more time. I really wish I could have seen your face in person again. I hope you’re at peace handsome. That the trip up to heaven was every bit as great as any trip you took down the ice in your sled.