Well, this certainly describes me. And seeing it written out like this almost makes me realize how pointless it is. Almost.
How am I doing? Some days are awesome. I can get through the day and just exist. I don’t feel like I have to weigh every decision in life or death. I can just be.
Other days I panic when my husband takes the kids in the car. What if they all die in a car accident? Or when the kids are wrestling, what if one of them hits a piece of furniture and had to go to the hospital? Or worse? Or what if they choke and I’m in another room? Seeing as how my two littles can’t seem to make any type of good decision lately, this is completely plausible.
I found that when we were out pre Covid that I would always be very aware of my surroundings. I made sure that I knew where an exit was ‘just in case.’ Now Covid has sent me into another spiral of worst case scenarios. Just 2 years ago I rang in the New Year in the PICU with my littlest on oxygen. I know what it’s like being scared my child couldn’t breathe and I know I don’t want to go back to that.
So maybe my hypervigilance is my super power. I don’t want a cape or bat signal to notify others of this, I have a hard enough time trying to keep my own family safe. However, if I’m around your kids, I will be watching them as if they are my own. It’s not because I don’t trust you as a parent, but rather some messed up part of my brain thinks I can save you from the same fate. Maybe I just don’t want anyone to have to go through what we’ve been through.
A huge part of doing this for me is knowing that I feel like I have done everything in my power to prevent something bad from happening. I think I’d like to be able to tell myself with confidence that it wasn’t my fault. Because child loss is so tangled in guilt and self doubt. This ridiculous anxiety is my way of trying to counteract that.
Rationally, I know all of this is crazy. But so is grief and death and trauma. I don’t think imagining worst case scenarios is a healthy use of my time, however it’s now a part of who I am, like PTSD is. And I have managed to learn how to live with it so it doesn’t totally consume who I am. Today. Tomorrow may be different. If I’ve learned anything on this journey, it’s to never expect to ever be perfectly ‘healed’ or ‘over it.’ That simply doesn’t exist when you’ve lost a child. It’s all in learning to live with it.
I fear that I have fallen so far down the rabbit hole (though I’m not entirely sure which one, because this one is so very complicated), that I’m not sure where I’m at anymore. Every month in 2020 has been one tragedy following the next. And I’m tired. And I’m unsure of who I am and what I’m meant to do with this life. It’s all just so overwhelming.
I miss my Mom. I miss my son. And even though he could be an awful pain in the ass, I miss my dad. There is so much complicated shit going on that sometimes I forget that grief. It blocks it out. Just for a moment because it’s so overwhelming. But then it comes back and the hurt and the love and the pain are all still there.
It hides there for a bit under the surface. I find it under the sorrow of watching our world crumbling, witnessing the awful divide of our country. I feel it in the anger of the injustice of what continues to happen unchecked by those in power. I glimpse it in the helplessness I feel at this very moment. What can I do to help?
And it’s a lot to carry with me through the day. My heart feels very heavy and my soul, weary. And my grief feels ever present. I miss my people. There are too many gone from this life.
I had a virtual physical yesterday which was interesting. In all honesty it made the health conversations much easier with my doctor and I kind of like her more now that we can laugh about my cat walking in front of my face during a zoom call. This is the first time it felt more personal and less clinical probably because I was at my own house in my pajamas during this conversation.
One of the questions before we even sat down was if I had an increase in anxiety. I honestly started laughing. Who doesn’t have an increase in anxiety right now? Who isn’t having scary thoughts? I’m pretty sure I’m not in the minority here.
My doctor asked if I felt like I needed to speak to a therapist and I honestly had to think about it for a few minutes. I’m pretty sure I’m going through what everybody else is going through on some level. So my answer to her was my anxiety has been worse before, this is manageable for now.
It’s manageable at the moment because we are all healthy. Is my life an absolute shit show some days? Yes, yes it is. As much as I love being home with my kids it is exhausting being home with my kids. My husband is still working and has had to pick up the slack at our business that I cannot attend to. So that means longer hours for him and in turn longer hours for me flying solo over here trying to hold everything together. It’s a delicate dance and it doesn’t always work.
Today in the middle of a Pre-K lesson about the letter ‘S’ I broke down crying over the fact that we had to cancel our trip to Storyland this August. I am just now seeing the irony that Storyland begins with ‘S’. Yes we are all healthy and lucky to be so and yes I am grateful to be home with my kids. However that does not minimize the fact that I am sad. I am sad that my youngest is at the perfect age and has just recently become obsessed with princesses and will miss out on this experience this year. And I know there have been worse things going on in the world and we’ve gone through terrible things as a family, but I do not want to minimize my feelings. Because if I do that, then I will not deal with them. To put it plainly, this sucks.
I’ve seen so many posts mocking the graduates of 2020 who did not get their prom or graduation ceremonies and comparing it to Vietnam. Well yes, it does make you think about what that generation went through. However, it should never minimalize what these kids are going through today. One experience does not negate the other.
You are allowed to feel what you are feeling. It is all valid. Whether you are home with kids or you are home alone or you are surrounded by a huge family right now This is still really, really hard. And you are allowed to feel sad and you are allowed to feel anxious or any other emotion that you are going through. And you are most certainly not alone in these feelings. Just like everybody grieves differently, everybody ‘pandemics’ differently.
I’ve read several posts about all of the beautiful things that we will learn from this pandemic. That we need to slow down. That we need to spend more time with family. That we shouldn’t take simple things for granted.
There are definitely things that I hope change. I think the entire system of education and healthcare has been shown to be insufficient at best. For the first time parents are seeing how fucking hard it is to be an educator in this country. We have learned that our current healthcare system doesn’t work if everyone doesn’t have access to care. We’ve learned that the hourly wage earners are our heros and that our health care workers wear invisible capes. The way we view the world has changed.
And I get that we need a silver lining. We as humans need to bring some meaning into this madness. But at what cost? Is it fair that someone had to suffer in sickness or even die for you to learn that lesson? Is it fair for us to bypass another person’s anguish for our own reasoning?
I am struggling with the memes. All of the happy anecdotal memes that speak of the great things that will happen because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I understand them. I even agree with them. But deep down they bother me.
I know that a lot of people have died. And when people try to add reason to that I have a very hard time. It comes across almost like a crude sacrifice. As if one person’s death is ok because the environment is doing better or it forced Little Johnny to become closer with his dad.
Nothing happens for a reason. Our loved ones do not die for a reason. There is no lesson in any of it. They die and you do the best damn job that you can of picking up the pieces and figuring out what you’re supposed to do next. And who even knows what that means?
I will never find reason with all of the loss in my life. I will not look at this disease and massive loss of life as a lesson. I know what it is to lose someone you love suddenly and expectedly. Neither is easy or fair.
This is complicated for me. Yes I hope that there is change and yes I hope that people recognize that the way we were doing things has failed. But the death of 80,000 people shouldn’t be used as a lesson. It’s unfortunate that it’s taken this for us to open our eyes. So many of us afflicted by grief already know not to take things for granted already. Now the world has joined us.
This right here is exactly what I’ve been seeing and feeling. It’s really, really hard to miss my grief groups. I love that we can meet online, but I miss being in the room with my people vs. looking at them Brady Bunch style.
There’s just something about being able to put your hand on someone’s shoulder in a show of support. I miss my hugs from my special people that just seem to know when I desperately need them. I miss hugging those that hate hugs, but need them nonetheless. I miss losing myself when I’m in a room surrounded by other grieving souls, but knowing it’s ok, because here I am safe.
This too shall pass and we are one day closer to all being back together. And I cannot wait. Until then, I will see you all back on my screen.