Friday, September 7, 2012
It Seems Like a Good Place to Start ....
So. Here we are. My first blog entry. It took me 3 years to decide to start this venture. As a Master Procrastinator, I don’t like to rush these things. I suppose I should give you all a little background ... it seems like a good place to start.
My name is Dina. I will celebrate my 43rd birthday this year. I was born and raised in central Missouri. My parents divorced when I was 7, and I mostly grew up with my 3 older brothers. My father was married both before and after his marriage to my mom, so I have half and step-siblings too. We didn’t have much, and my mom worked nights to help earn a little more in order to provide for us. I spent summers and every other weekend with my dad. Both my mom and my dad lived in small towns, so I am definitely a product of the small-town environment. My graduating high school class had somewhere around 50 students. My home town, at that time, had a population of around 900 people. Big City Living, I’m tellin’ ya.
It seems like forever ago, but I graduated high school in 1988. I met a man almost 10 years my senior the next year, and we married in the spring of 1990. I was barely 20 years old. He was not quite 30 years old. His name was Dale. We met at the warehouse where he already worked, and I had just started in the accounting department. My first real 8-5, Monday-Friday job. I stayed there until 1992 when they had a large lay-off and let me go. I had good secretarial skills and always had an interest in law, so I started applying at law offices and landed a job within a couple of months. I still have that job 20 years later. Some may say I’m loyal to a fault ;) It’s the Scorpio in me I suppose. But I love what I do and enjoy the people I have the pleasure of working with every day. It’s a good gig and always good for a laugh. My favorite movie line to quote is from Erin Brockovich when Julia Roberts as Erin is asked if she is a lawyer. Her answer: “I hate lawyers. I just work for them.” I steal this line a lot. A Lot.
Dale was a good, sweet man. His parents were still married; he was the youngest of three brothers and also had a younger sister. We had fun together listening to music, going to concerts, working together and just hanging out. He enjoyed hunting and fishing, gardening and working. He liked to stay busy, even if it was doing leisurely things. We had our first daughter in 1993, our son in 1997 and our second daughter in 2002 ... “Peanut,” “Jelly” and “Peanut Butter” ... my little sandwich of goodness. We lived in a larger city not far from my home town until Peanut was ready to start kindergarten. Then it was back to small town life and even rural life at first. Neither one of us wanted the kids to be a part of a large school system. He grew up in it. I didn’t. I certainly didn’t argue with it, though, because I liked the small school setting myself.
In 2005, a lot of things changed. The company Dale had worked for since he graduated high school 26 years earlier had made the decision to close down the plant. He would either have to find a new job at nearly 45 years old or move to Troy, Michigan to keep working for this company. Uh, right. No way was I going to say “ok” to relocating our family to Michigan for a warehouse job. And he really didn’t want to either. All of our family is here. So he was faced with re-entering the job market. Dale was insecure in a lot of ways, and this is the point where the anxiety attacks started. His job ended and he bounced between a couple of other jobs before he landed something good for him, the hours he wanted, the environment he liked, people he liked. He started to get much better. In this same time period, we moved from our rural house to a house closer to the kids’ schools. What I didn’t realize at the time is that he never really dealt with his anxiety issues or his coping with stress issues. He also never seemed to be able to really trust our relationship in that it was like he always expected me to leave or find someone better than him. I blame myself a lot for that. I suppose I just didn’t know how to show him what he meant to me, to us. Or at least I didn’t know how to recognize what he needed. By mid-2009, the panic attacks started again. Only this time, he didn’t tell me about them. I could tell he was feeling a little stressed, but he never let on how much or how deep his fears were. Or maybe I just missed the signals. It’s hard to say now. Just two days after Peanut turned 16 and just five days shy of his own 49th birthday, he took his life on a sunny, Thursday afternoon.
Needless to say, my world was rocked. I was faced with not only being a single mom to three kids, but also with the stigma of suicide (if I allowed it to be a “stigma”). I mean, what do people think of a woman whose husband killed himself? I know how much I blamed myself, so I could only imagine how much blame was coming at me from everywhere else. Everything was just so unbelievable. Dale was gone. Really gone. And the myriad of emotions that a normal grieving person go through are enough for anyone to handle, much less those that come along with grieving a person who took their own life, who left you, who left your children and his children. I am not a quitter. I may take my own sweet time doing things, and I may fight the system or the norm, whatever that is, but I don’t quit. It’s hard to wrap my brain around the “why” of suicide. What I have found in the 3 years since the suicide is that I’m not alone in that sense. Everyone affected by suicide struggles with understanding why it all happened. Most of us never actually get an answer to that question.
A lot of good friends reached out to me during this time. One of them was Richard. He never got the opportunity to meet Dale. Richard and I had just reconnected through Facebook a few weeks before the suicide; we knew each other back in our high school years. Somehow, it was easier to talk about everything with someone who didn’t actually know Dale. Talking frankly and candidly with people who already knew him kept me on guard, like I was always trying to be careful what I said so that I didn’t poison anyone’s image of Dale or their good thoughts or memories of him. He really WAS a good person. I just had a lot of anger over the suicide, and that had to be spilled somewhere, preferably not on my children or family who were already suffering so much. Richard was that shoulder, that ear, that understanding person. We were so similar in so many ways. He let me say whatever I needed to say and always made it okay to do just that. I probably rushed things. But when I know that I want something, I want it now. The relationship developed, and we ended up getting married in the spring of 2011. It was my turn, I guess, to shock everyone else.
So here I am. Three years later. Happy again. My kids have fared well through everything, and I thank God for it because He is the only one able to work such miracles. I now have three step-kids too, so life is full and busy most days. But this plucky little procrastinator is still darn good at putting off what doesn’t need to be done today ;)
Written by Dina Marie ~ A Plucky Procrastinator