Thursday, September 6, 2018

Taking care of ME!

Things have gotten turbulent in my area of reality as of late, well, for a while (or is it awhile).  My anxiety is at an all time high as I am starting to have almost daily panic attacks which involve so much more than I am willing to indulge even in my own blog.  Hell, I've got to hold SOME things sacred to myself for my own journey.

Here's what I CAN share: My avoidance of my mental state over the past decade (almost) led me to merely manage my mental health instead of improving it.  And, with the words of someone I didn't expect, my focus became inward, a self-reflection to be honest.  I'm sure I've written about it before on my blog, yet now it is like a white head zit about to get ugly.

"Don't treat this like the beginning of the end."  This was not said under the same circumstances yet ended up becoming an opportunity to reflect on the past 9 1/2 years.  Holy cow!!!  Has it been that long?

When the bottom dropped out and it was confirmed we were LIED to about Trey's condition, all hope in me was lost.  We spent a week and a half having hope for our son's survival only for that hope to be destroyed.

I lost hope that day, hope that I had carried my WHOLE life as the optimist I was and hope to soon be again.

SO, my utter disregard of my own struggles and solutions to those struggles led me to simply getting the very support that I need, support I had taken for granted.

It bit me in the ass and BOY HOWDIE am I glad!

I met with a new doctor today and unloaded my life, mostly after Trey's passing but not without everything before.

My anxiety has taken control and I want my control back!!!  I am realizing that 9.5 years ago I lost the most precious thing I ever had, myself.  Ever since then, I have lived in fear of the unknown and even the possibilities.  I have tried to cope with it on my own through various ways I am not proud of and some I  befuddled by.   I have always expected more of myself.  I was taught to do better by all who love me yet I still am paralyzed by expecting the worst in every situation.

Most people know me as the upbeat and positively obnoxious person I am proud to be.  But only those close to me know how much I struggle.

I struggle to be positive.  I struggle to live in the moment.  I struggle with resentment and blame.  I struggle with crumbling under confrontation.  I struggle to hold myself accountable and follow through with goals I set for myself.  I struggle with self loathing.  I struggle with admitting I need help.  I struggle to stand on my own 2 feet.  I struggle to not let others steal my power.  I struggle to not let myself steal my own power.  I struggle with self control.  I struggle with perserverence.  I struggle to keep going on with this diatribe because it seems I am only getting in my own way.

I have even struggled keeping up with this blog, the very blog I started to unite families affected by the loss of a child and the communities that support them.

My anxiety says I am a failure but failure has NEVER been an option.

So I want to IMPLORE ANYONE who is going through any type of trauma to speak.

 Speak to your friends.

Speak to your family.

Speak to a therapist.

Speak through your talents.

Speak your truth.

Speak your pain.

Speak your struggles.

Speak YOU!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

That Moment

I love going to the beach, especially with my family.  My daughter is of the age where she is self sufficient and I love sitting in my beach chair and watching her play with other children, search for shells, cruise the waves, dig holes, play with us, and, more recently, put her goggles on and swim under water.  It's pure joy on top of relaxation.  Each year, our experience at the beach as a family changes and grows.  Long ago are the days when we hovered over her making sure, at 10 months old, that she didn't eat sand or get too tired. 

Throughout the years, we have seen and met many families.  All of which have had children of all ages and Lorelei loves playing with them all.  She has always been engaged with children of all ages, yet on the beach she gravitated towards children who can actually play with her.   That's the scenery I get to enjoy beyond the obvious. I've never paid any mind to the younger children because I was too busy watching her play with her peers.

This last trip, a week ago, she was playing in the water with her dad and I was looking on. A family passed by with a son who was about a year old. He was so timid about the water, curious but not quite sure. His parents and grandparents, I assume, were doing everything they could to encourage him and so was I from afar. And as he got braver and began to enjoy the ebb and flow of the waves, and then get skittish again, I realized what I never had with my son.  I was literally sitting there encouraging him the way I would my own child.

My breathing got labored, I started to sweat beyond what the sun made me do. I started to that thing I do when my head and my heart are wrapped around something emotional, my head swept back and forth slowly, seemingly trying to keep the tears from coming.  I took a deep breath, but nothing subsided. I tried not to look at them, but their experience was too precious and beautiful to keep my eyes away. It was a precious moment for a child, his parents, and anyone who ever has the joy of experiencing it, even as an observer.

It's moments like these that suck the joy out of life sometimes. I have spent years marvelling over milestones that I have gotten to experience with my daughter very rarely catching myself in such a despairing connection with what we did not have with Trey. The milestones that I lament our birthdays and grade level changes, and of course him becoming an angel. As a teacher, I see birthdates all the time, and only this past school year have I seen his, and it didn't affect me the way I thought it would. Maybe it's because it's been so long and I had hoped I'd never find someone with the same birthday as hin or the day that he died and I was glad for it.

That moment, relaxing in the sand the book in my hand, watching my daughter play, yet distracted by this young boy and his loving and his loving guardians giving him his first experience at the beach shook me to the point that I had to stand up and walk away. My husband was watching my daughter but I had to go away and take a deep breath to keep from crying. I didn't have to do that when I saw that one of my students had his birthday. It's curious.

I always talk about the things that I would never experience with him like they're fact, and which they are. Those are always in the back of my mind. I watch Lorelei grow and thrive through such milestones and the joy of it pushes the lack of the same from Trey to the back burner.  I guess what surprised me was finding such joy and seeing a baby experience the beach for the first time, and finding such sorrow in it.

What grabbed my attention that the same time was that you can go so long living on, that these experiences can sweep you right back to the start in a second. For the past 7 years I have been living life for my daughter, giving her experiences, encouraging her milestones, and celebrating her conquering the ocean waves of life. I remember it like it was yesterday. She squealed like a pig on her first trip to the beach.  She was so excited when her daddy pulled her up in the air when the waves came at her. She stared with wild wonder at her toes as the water and sand washed over them. My favorite, she wiggled her toes as the sand and the water rushed over her feet and then kick with reckless abandon.  I'm blessed to have these memories with her and her father. It broke my heart that day that I never had them, these precious memories, with Trey.

Friday, May 18, 2018

After the Rain

I remember vividly the outpouring of support when Trey was born and when he passed.  The messages, comments, post views, meals, phone calls, texts, and visits were so vast it was almost overwhelming.  As soon as 2 weeks after he passed, the support waned gradually.

I don't think this is unique to child loss.  I haven't experienced too many deaths of people who I am close with thank goodness but I am also guilty of pouring on the support when such an event happens to someone else then backing off.  If we are honest with ourselves, we all are.

But we can't beat ourselves or others up about it.  The intense emotions we feel when someone else experiences loss are parallel to the intense emotions felt by those affected by the loss.  Over time, those emotions slowly lose that intensity for both the griever and the supporter.  The difference is, for the griever this happens much slower.  The grief is worn and lived everyday in every way.  The problem is, the support is still needed.

This is a mixed blessing because we are left with our own grief which can lead to personal healing, however, we are left alone to without anyone to to listen and be a shoulder to cry on.

If you're anything like me, I didn't want to drag people into my pity party but I also couldn't deal with handle the powerful thoughts and emotions drowning me.  I had to set aside my pride and reach out.  Throughout my maternity leave, I would call my husband multiple times a day distraught and begging him to come home because I couldn't bare to be alone.

Although any comfort is better than no comfort at all, I found the most solace in those who have also lost a child.  There were so many emotions and thoughts I could share with them with they related to and had insight about.  Their advice sustained me if just in the moment.  The thing is, luckily there weren't too many I knew who had lost a child or at least didn't talk about it.  Friends came out of the woodwork, surprisingly, sharing their stories and giving me assurance that I was not going crazy.

The hardest part to me was the avoidance.  People would avoid me when I brought him up or change the subject.  Conversations were cut short and/or people would give misguided advice about me getting over it.  Those very same people who, in the beginning, said they were there for me and to reach our anytime were nowhere to be found.  The closest emotion I could assign to this is abandonment.

In reality, child-loss represents a minuscule percentage of loss that many people have not experienced.  They can only sympathize with our pain and give the normal responses given for loss.  It's God's will.  Everything happens for a reason.  Time heals all wounds.  You're in my prayers.  The list goes on and on.  Expanding on that point, thoughts and prayers seem like empty promises for someone who doesn't know what else to say.  Actions truly speak louder than words.  As sad as it is to say it, thank goodness they don't know what to say.  Thank goodness they haven't experienced this kind of pain.

Yet, there was and is always my tribe that would listen whenever I talked about Trey.  There was and is no judgement only listening ears and hugs.  They are my tribe.  Trey is a part of their lives too.  He is real and not just something that happened.

What I've learned is that we have to be gentle on ourselves and others when it comes to the decrease in support.  It's hard not to feel bitter, speaking for myself, but we must reflect on our own support for others to empathize with others knowing we are all human.  I have used this experience to reach out to others giving them a shoulder, lending an ear, and supporting them in whatever way they need.  I hear about someone losing a child and I reach out immediately letting them know that IF they need me, I am always here.

We are all members of a club none of us signed up for but we must stick together.  Holding each other up helps our healing and makes it possible for the world to be our friend again.