2021 Goals

My goal for 2021 is to fall back in love with myself. Now, I’m not entirely sure that I should really have any goals this year, given what were all going through. If 2020 taught me anything though, it’s that I need this. I need something for me. I need to refocus on what’s important.

The parts that are weighing me down are the anger, the guilt and the fear. There are some days I am so angry that this is my life. It is really, really hard to accept that my son isn’t with me. It is really, really unfair that I don’t have either of my parents. Man that anger comes out at the worst times and unfairly to people that don’t always deserve it. I need to find a better way.

I’ve had a lot of time to think this past year and a lot of time to realize that I am carrying a lot of extra ‘stuff’. The grief I will carry forever, there is no choice there. I’m not sure I’ve made my peace with that or if I ever will, but the grief is all of my love for all of those that are gone. I need my grief. As bizarre as that sounds.

I could write a novel on the guilt. The complete inability to protect my own son and keep him safe plagues me. I think that losing a child might be the guiltiest feeling in the damn world, no matter how irrational and undeserving it is. It’s unnatural and out of order and brings so many deep rooted feelings of inadequacy. Even when there is no fault. It is hard to explain unless you’ve lived it. I don’t have any idea how to conquer this one besides talking about it, so buckle up.

The fear just exhausts me. I’m always so concerned someone is going to get hurt or die. It’s hard not to get yourself worked up after you’ve seen the worst. It’s not all the time and it’s not everyday, I just know that feeling wasn’t there before. I didn’t love in fear that it would all be taken away.

Damn, just writing this is a lot. And maybe it’s more than I can take on by myself and I’ll have to seek outside help. But that’s ok. I’ve been there before enough times and I’m willing to go back if need be. But writing this down and holding myself accountable helps. Because I know I’m probably not alone in this.

It’s so hard because who you are as a person changes so much once you’ve lost a child. It’s coming up on 8 years for me and I’m still reeling. So much of who I am now feels shaped by my loss. I’m starting to come out of the fog and realize that being in a heightened trauma response mode is not where I want to be forever.

So I did what anyone else does when they are trying to figure something out, I Googled it. Because why not? I wasn’t expecting some life altering answer, because I know the shortcomings of the internet. But I hoped for something somewhat thought provoking.

I was brought to daringtolivefully.com. This website seemed like a good place to start, complete with a self love quote from Oscar Wilde. It has over 911 shares, so it must be good stuff.

I joke because it’s a defense mechanism. I do not even begin to know how to go about this mindfully or purposefully. I just know I must do it. Or try it at the very least. I’m too old to be living with this version of me that I don’t always like.

So here is the list of characteristics that people have who love themselves are supposed to be able to do:

  • Give yourself what you need, instead of waiting for others to do so.
  • Embrace both your strengths and your weaknesses.
  • Be gentle with yourself when you make a mistake or fail.
  • Be comfortable with doing things alone.
  • Know you’re in your corner, even if nobody else is.
  • Know that you’re enough.
  • Have the confidence to go after what you really want.

That’s quite the list. And it all sounds rather nice. And I know there are some things on this list that I already accel at and others that I’m horrible at. At least it gives me a starting point.

I’m going to try this 10 Step Program and see where it goes. And you get to come along for the ride if you want to. I have zero idea of what to expect or even if what I’m looking to accomplish is attainable. But it will be my little 2021 Eat/Pray/Love Project. I think just getting it out of my head is the first step.

What’s Your Word?

I have decided that I need something to hold onto this year. Last year was a stunning disaster of epic proportions and this year hasn’t exactly started off so great. I’m tired of waiting for the world to get it’s shit together enough so that I can breathe.

Grace is the word that I will be taking with me on this journey into 2021. Grace is what I will be holding, for yours truly and others. I need to learn to forgive me and not be so hard on myself. I also need to learn to hold grace for others.

I’ve been home with my children since March. We’ve spent a considerable amount of time together. And I’ve begun to notice that my 12 year old daughter has more love and respect for herself than I do at 40. She is unwavering in her view of herself and I have never been more proud. It is easy for her to make a decision and she is guided so effortlessly by her moral compass. She has compassion for herself and others and almost always seems to make the right decision. I am jealous.

I would give anything to be as self possessed and confident as this child is. I come off as tough because I had very little choice in that department. And maybe tough is construed as confident, yet I feel anything but. I am constantly second guessing myself and how I interact with others. It is absolutely exhausting.

I feel like at 40 I am flailing. It has been a very hard year with heavy choices. I feel as if grief has consumed me for so long, that it’s hard to know who I am anymore. What is left?

I’m feeling very confused about who I am. I think that’s a part of growing up and maybe that’s what this is. It’s hard to look at yourself and not feel recognizable.

2020 showed me that it’s time to begin paying attention to what is going on in the world. I need to be aware of what’s happening and begin to strengthen my convictions. I have 3 little people that need to be able to be a part of the solution, not the problem. But, before I can do that, I need to work on me. I need to figure out exactly what I want and need from this life.

I’ve gone around and around this in my brain and I think I need to fall back in love with myself. I need to learn to love not only my good parts, but the parts that don’t make me whole. I will never be who I want to be while grieving the loss of my parents and my son. And I need to learn to love that person anyway.

I need a little grace this year. What’s your word?

Our ‘ Best’

I’m not even sure I’m doing my ‘mediumest’ right now. After Benny died, it was all I could do to breathe and exist. It has been so hard to feel like this again. I’m trying with all of my might to hold all of the pieces together tightly.

So I will take whatever I can get out of myself right now, day in and day out. This last week has all but gutted me. And I know that I am not alone in this. Sometimes there is just too much going on and all you can do is ‘try your best.’

I’m going to start by trying for my ‘lowest’ and hopefully work my way up from there.

2021

The 2010 decade sucked for me. I felt like the 2020’s were going to be my time! I’m a January baby and in 2020 I turned 40. I figured this was it! I was going to rule this decade!

So, we all know what happened there🙄. I don’t really want to claim anything in 2021. I’ll just be happy to put 2020 behind me and take a nice deep breath and hope that 2021 will surprise me. In a good way.

I am holding onto hope. I’m hoping that love wins out in 2021 and the world looks more like the world that we knew in 2013 when Benny died. When people were good and kind and caring.

I hope that the loss that happened in 2020 isn’t overshadowed by the political BS occurring daily. Remember when September 11th happened and we were shocked and horrified as a nation? We are seeing September 11th level death daily. It makes me so sad. To be complacent in others suffering instead of coming together to try to help is not ok. We need to get back to that mindset of holding space for each other and caring.

It has been a really, really tough year. I have been challenged as a mother, wife and business owner like no other time in my life. Maybe except for 2017 when we were homeless (because we sold our home and the housing market was nuts) with a 2 week old baby and just bought a business. But the challenges this year have been different. I’ve felt so out of control and anxious. I’m exhausted. I’m trying the best that I can to make the right decisions for my family (whatever those are) and trudge forward. But my god it is hard.

I’m working on self acceptance. I’m relearning to like myself and trying to show myself a little grace. 2020 has given me ample time to think and reconnect with me. It’s a process.

So there will be no big New Year celebration. I’d be surprised if we all make it to midnight. And that’s ok. I’ll be holding my breath for 2021 and hoping against hope that it’s a little bit kinder to us all. Because I can’t be the only one that needs a break.

12 Days of Memories: Day 12

I’m going to be honest here, I have no idea how to close this out. I am exhausted by Covid, the holidays, all of it. So I’m going to give myself a little grace.

I had all of these grand plans when I started this little holiday journey. But I’ve honestly forgotten half of what I planned and winged it. Sometimes that works better for me anyway, it allows me to be more honest to myself about what I’m truly feeling.

Right now I am tired. As far as Christmas Eves go, today was pretty stellar. My kids had fun, we ate a ton of food and we got to connect with family I haven’t spent time with in years (thank you Zoom). But I found myself tearing up all day. I missed my Mom. I missed my Dad. I missed my son.

I know this holiday season is tough. Even for those of us that are years out in our grief. Grieve however you need to right now. Do what feels right to you. Give yourself a little grace. ❤️

12 Days of Memories-Day 11

I miss my son. I’ve made that pretty clear. I miss everything about him. But I miss ‘me’ too.

I miss being able to parent without feeling like something is going to go wrong every second. I miss my ability to make decisions and not second guess myself. I miss not being paranoid over every little thing. I miss me.

12 Days of Memories-Day 10

It’s amazing to me how inanimate objects can hold memories. I can see something and it automatically sets off my grief without warning. It’s like a slap in the face.

I just spent the morning cleaning up and as I was vacuuming I was noticing all of the things that scream ‘Benny’ to me. Anyone coming into my house would have no idea, but I look at these items and I think of him. They weren’t his items, but something that I’ve connected to him since his death.

Peace Lilly from Benny’s Memorial
Spaceman Benny from the Lego movie
Any bus

Grief is weird. It changes how you see things. It’s like you have a permanent set of glasses glued to your face that can never come off. And if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t want them to come off. I’m able to see hope and love in the mundane.

12 Days of Memories-Day 9

Part of being a grieving parent is holding onto the old memories, while making new ones. Which is really hard when your child is gone.

Honoring and remembering our babies becomes the mission of the bereaved. We become the reminders of what is appropriate in grief and that there is no right or wrong way to walk along this path.

We remember Bennett on his birthday. We celebrate and sing to him every year. He was here and it’s important to us to celebrate his life.

We remember Bennett during the holidays. His memory is intertwined with ours and we make sure to hang his stocking and decorate his tree (thanks to an awesome suggestion by another bereaved mama). We do a 5K in his memory around the holidays every year.

We remember Benny on the day he died. We visit with him and take a moment to reflect on all that has happened.

We remember Benny by lighting candles on days of rememberance. We remember him in the day to day conversations and pictures spread around my house.

I never planned it this way, but we created new Benny memories without even knowing it. I know that he’s not here to be a part of it and that sucks. But he lived, and that life is so intertweaved with ours that his presence is felt daily.

12 Days of Memories-Day 8

Music has this uncanny ability to evoke emotion. Especially when I’m driving. I can be jamming out one moment and sobbing the next.

While I have many songs that remind me of Benny, Benny and the Jets is probably the one tied closest to his memory for me. We would constantly sing it to him. When we named him Bennett, I never anticipated called him Benny. It just kind of happened. It was never Ben, always Benny.

Whenever that song comes on I think of him. Sometimes I smile, sometimes I jam out and other times I cry. But every time I think of my crazy little dude.