About as Naked as it Gets

I have to admit, however, that at times, I’ve tried to deny and hide my feelings masterfully. Escapism seems like an excellent tactic until that moment when you are alone and all those emotions that you compartmentalized so well show up on the doorstep of your heart. You wish that you had a restraining order to keep it a safe distance away — a way to protect yourself and insulate your feelings .But that’s not who you are really. And deep down, you know it. So why deny it? Most of the time, I am okay. My life is good and filled with so much love. I am quite blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by such an encouraging, supportive and loving tribe. They are my people. They are the humans who keep me in check and remind me that it is okay not to be okay sometimes.

Still, when it creeps back in, I find myself pretending that I am fine when, in fact, I am not. And I know deep in my heart that by saying I’m not okay, that it isn’t an admission of weakness. But it’s hard to let it out when you feel like you need to be strong. I realize now that I don’t always have to be. The truth is that I started writing this a few nights ago — a night when I didn’t feel strong. I felt tired, defeated, sad, and numb. I was a volcanic eruption of emotions. At the time, there was no rhyme or reason to what I was feeling, and I didn’t deny my feelings either. I let myself feel everything I needed to as the week played out. It was important to me to roll with it and acknowledge how far I’ve come, even when I don’t see it right in front of me.

It’s now Sunday, January 20th. It also happens to be my birthday and the fifth anniversary of my mother’s death. And, it is my first birthday without my dear Aunt, who was like a second mom to me and who left this earth this past August — a bittersweet day for sure made better by the love and support of my husband, family, and friends. I miss my mom deeply. I think about my dad and how this must be a hard day for him too – and for my brothers and sisters-in-law. And yet, my heart is happy knowing that she is in a better place and reunited with her sister – always partners in crime. Oddly to this day, I can recall the exact moment when I knew something was wrong. It was shortly after 1 pm, and I felt a deep, intensifying pain. I was trying to enjoy my “healthy” birthday cake with my co-workers, but I didn’t feel right and was unsettled the rest of the afternoon. I would learn that evening from my husband and dear friend what happened. And I can tell you I have never felt such intense pain and loss.I can share with you now that the last words my mom spoke to me that day were “Happy Birthday, sunshine.” But I never imagined it would be the last time she would wish me a Happy Birthday. All the more reason to write this today as there is no promise of tomorrow. I’ll never forget the sound of her voice and especially that day when it was softer and weaker. The guilt I felt after learning about her death because I knew from her voice that day something wasn’t right. Funny, I think she did too.

But, if my mom taught me anything, it is forgiveness. And love. And humor. And strength. But most of all courage. And she defined the latter, especially that last year.

I asked myself whether I would publish this or whether it would remain a draft. But, I feel compelled to share my story. I cannot deny that this week has been taxing. My sadness nearly consumed me, but my tribe helped me through as did an unexpected story about my mom shared by a loved one. When I take a step back and put it all into perspective, I realize that this is part of the process. This process is part of growing and learning and finding your way. At times it is ugly but within that ugliness lies beauty – even in the perfectly imbalanced chaos of life.

While it may seem like everything is snow-covered and cold right now and that the blah days won’t end, I know that they will. The sun will come out, the snow will eventually melt, and there will be new growth — all good things in time. I see things with brighter eyes today. And while I am sad and missing those two amazing women, I am also grateful and happy for this life that I get to live. It’s not perfect, it’s not glamorous, and it hasn’t always gone in the direction I intended. But it is mine, and I am glad that I get another day to appreciate all of it.

I have this wonderful outlet that I would never have had the courage to pursue had it not been for my mother’s passing and the gifts of wisdom she left me.

So, as I sit here and look out the window at the freshly crested snow and the barren trees, I am reassured that I am where I am supposed to be for now. I know that the emotions I felt the other night – the vacancy that was within me – wasn’t that at all. My heart is full but not exempt from feeling. I let myself succumb to it, and I am thankful that I did because it led me here and despite how low I felt, it opened my eyes.

It’s a new day and another chance. And for that, I am ever so grateful. So, here’s to the angels watching over me and guiding me through. I know you are with me every step of the way.

Laura Mikolaitis
Laura Mikolaitis
Laura is an instinctive dot connector with a propensity for learning who seeks to maximize productivity and throws down challenges. Currently, she is the Director of Sales Operations for the Annie Selke Companies, a textile company located in the beautiful Berkshires of Massachusetts. It is here where she gets to put her top strengths to use and thrive in creativity. Laura hails from Northern NY, but a tiny hill town in Massachusetts is where she calls home. She credits her writing, which laid dormant for years, to her late mom who always believed in her. Inspired by millions of moments, Laura writes unabashedly from the heart. Whether it is poetry, fiction, or a personal essay, her love for the written word feeds her mind, body, and spirit. With a dash of hope and a sprinkle of faith, she is the little engine that could.
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Bill Dickinson

How beautiful that we can feel. Laura your tears were a balm for me. I hope all of us know such love, gratitude, and grief. It’s humanity at its best.

Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler

But most of all, I found my way. This kinds says it all. If we find our way our journey is a story that speaks with its own voice. Strong Ink Indeed!

John Dunia
John Dunia

Those were some powerful words, Laura. I hope you don’t mind if I reach out to you personally.

Joel Elveson

Laura, they say death never takes a holiday . The same holds true for the sometimes uncontrollable grief it causes. Your article (tremendous by the way) screams of the pain and suffering you rightfully feel. Both of my parents passed away many years ago I still grieve for them. I sorely miss the calls I made to my mother every Friday to wish her Good Shabbos. People will tell you to get over it already. They can’t and don’t understand how you feel. Grieve for as long as you need to but try to find time to smile even though it hurts. Keep your mother’s memory alive while doing all you can to honor it. It is okay for you to live a rich rewarding and happy life. Thank you for courageously sharing your feelings. I wish you all the best

Donna- Luisa Eversley
Donna- Luisa Eversley

Very beautiful Laura. I felt every word. Losing someone like a parent is always hardest. I lost my gandpa when I was eight or nine, abd tried to get into the grave to be buried with him. Think it was the first time I understood that the way someone loves you can be enduring even when they are not here. I am 50 now, and I remember his face and eyes, and how he made me feel loved. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.

Wow… this is beautiful and powerful and deeply moving, Laura. Losing someone important is never easy. Allowing oneself to feel exactly what you feel without self-judgment or criticism may be even harder. We’ve all felt those raw emotions, but most of us don’t have the courage to share them with the honesty that you have here. Thank you for sharing this. As Bill Dickinson said, “this is humanity at its best.”



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