As I maneuvered through the electroshock therapy at the end of the Tough Mudder course and stated (out loud) that “This was going to be easy!” the attendant on duty shouted into his microphone… “DID YOU HEAR WHAT SHE JUST SAID!? SHE SAID IT’S GOING TO BE EASY! I DON’T WANT THIS TO BE EASY! I WANT YOU TO MAKE IT CHALLENGING! MAKE IT HARD!” And I said back to him, “Then you should have made it hard. Right now, I want easy.” And it was easy. It was the easiest part (that I was most dreading) of the entire course. The course, the outcome…great metaphors for life. Uphill, downhill, through the mud, in the pit, obstacles everywhere, getting shocked (yes, I still got zapped!), challenges you cannot get through without teamwork, and some, well… you’re all on your own.
Not one day has gone by that I haven’t thought of June 26, 2020; sitting in my office and hearing that shot ring out. I knew. I knew in an instant what it was. And I also know, now, that Joe wasn’t thinking about any of that when he made that final walk. He wasn’t thinking about the rest of the fallout, either. Or that I would be investigated, questioned by authorities, my personal property and papers sifted and sorted through, taken from me by strangers to root around, read and handle—more trauma. My mind may one day forget these memories, but my body never will. The body keeps the score. I understand that trauma has to be dealt with in order to be healed, and yes, getting professional help could be necessary to properly resolve or dissolve the feelings of guilt and responsibility surrounding me about that day.
Mental illness is heavy. Suicide is heavy. The sexual abuse of children is heavy. But the truth is it’s happening daily—to people you know, and possibly in your own family. Or maybe it’s happened to you, as many have shared. 1/4 girls and 1/6 boys are sexually abused. It’s ugly, ugly stuff. It’s evil, and still… it is happening. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. If we want to change it we must talk about it.
Mask mandates are heavy. Joe was not permitted into the mental health facility—The Hamilton Center—where he should have been welcomed and received with open arms—because of his fear of the masks and what they represented for him. A muzzle. Shut up. We don’t want to hear what you have to say. Oh, and by the way, your business, your livelihood, well…it’s essentially closed now, too. (Suicidal? Sexually abused? Not my problem. Put a mask on, and we’ll talk-otherwise, I can’t help.)
With the numbers given above, is it possible there may be children looking at school as their safe haven? Do you think it’s possible that children are being abused in their homes and told that something terrible would happen to them or their families if they tell? Do you think it’s possible that the mask may represent something more for them? Even if they could breathe adequately through them?
This kind of trauma is real. Joe, my best friend, my husband, my business partner…just gone, after thirty years together and in the blink of an eye. For me to move past it, I want to have, need to have, closure on all that was my life with Joe—as much as I possibly can. We spent nearly every waking hour together. We worked together, lived together, loved, and played together. The intimacy in which our relationship was rooted is where all of our purpose and passion lived; we were inseparable, and this closure is important.
I didn’t get to say goodbye to friends and customers last year because of the shutdowns and quarantine. I didn’t get to go to the shows and the places I needed for that to happen. I didn’t get to see my show family or look them in the eyes as they shared their wisdom and love with me; a hug, a smile, and tears. That’s what I’m getting to do now. And though it’s been really hard, it’s also been really good. I may never do another show again after 2021 is complete—I just don’t know yet. I’m allowing myself to be open to whatever may come. I’m paying attention and watching for signs—those Intuitive hits to guide me.
But for now, this is enough.
Joe and I had some stressful shows on our schedule—shows that were hard for the two of us to do, let alone doing them without him. I know that women can do amazing things, but I’ve always believed in the balance of the feminine and the masculine—together. That’s why Joe and I were such a great team, we could both adapt. When I have to “get in it” and “get dirty,” I know I must find that masculine energy and use it. Joe was no different—he never backed down from dirty dishes, dirty diapers, or housework of any kind. It’s why we were able to create an amazing life and business together.
This business was our baby: Born and built-in love. I knew that doing the shows without him would be challenging and a test of all tests, but my God… I am so happy to be doing it! I will get through the roughness of it all—the anger, the rage, the tears, the sadness, the goodbyes, all of it. I will persevere, and I will prevail. Do you know why? Because I DO HAVE GRIT. I KNOW that now. I have staying power. I’m not a quitter. I have quit many things in my life, to be sure, but I’m not quitting on my mission or this business. Not until God gives me that direction. Until I have a clear and concise message saying… “it’s time.”
I have been broken, and I have broken down. I have cussed, thrown, and pounded things with my fist. I have said things I shouldn’t have and remained silent when I shouldn’t have, too. I’ve offered apologies and asked for forgiveness. I’m always seeking grace (the unmerited favor of God, and you.) I’ve accepted the help I never wanted to ask for in the first place. I have been in prayer and spoken to God more than I ever have in my life. I’ve also cursed him. I have been released by those who see more pain than purpose in our relationship. Grief like this, until you know it (I hope you never do), will be too much for some, to suffer with you. I, too, have done some letting go and releasing. My house is dirty and needs attention. My grass needs to be mowed… again (every damn week! really?), and weeds that need to be tended. The laundry is piling up, and my bags are still left unpacked from the last trip. And you know what? It’s all okay. I’m making candles and decisions. Cutting off the fat and all excess. More information becomes available after every setup and tear-down.
I’m dealing with drama and trauma and doing the very best that I can. That’s not always pretty, and it’s not always good, but that is where I’m at, at this moment. This business, my business, driving to and setting up a booth, teardown, inventory, hauling a trailer—all on my mind, clearly. But so is suicide, the sexual abuse of children, mask mandates, Joe—all on the table and my mind. I’m never going to stop talking about these things. I am only going to get louder. I hope that one day I’ve made so much noise about it that it will indeed make a difference.
Everything has changed since losing Joe, and the added pressure of doing shows without him has taken its toll, but I’m prioritizing and letting things go, for now. I’m making notes and jotting down fervently every time my muse visits—for future projects. When the fat lady sings, sometime in December… I know I will look back and be proud of what I’ve accomplished and all that I’ve done. I will know that in the end, I did the very best that I could at any given moment, and when I know better, I will (hopefully) do better. And really, isn’t that the best we can ever strive to accomplish, putting our best self into the world?
I’m asking for much grace (yours and God’s), compassion (above all else), forgiveness (for my shortcomings), and doing it all… with TRUE GRIT.
To your healing, and to mine.
xo, and peace.
If anything I’ve said feels right (or wrong)… share some ❤️ ⬇️ and leave a comment (and thank you!)
Call: Lifeline 1 800 273 8255 (USA Only)Text: CNQR to 741 (741 Crisis Text Line (USA Only)
I just want the pain to stop… (video)
Suicide is not a selfish act. It’s a desperate act.
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Michelle Hollars says
You have a gift. I admire your strength and determination, as well as your honesty.
Every single time…I think, man if I could just make words flow like that…
Keep on taking YOUR size steps up and down the mountains!
Wow! Thank you, Michelle. That’s the nicest compliment ever! Up and down… here we go! (I’ve decided I really like the word ADVENTURE, and I’m adopting it as one of my new essentials!)