So here’s the thing about loss. When something really awful happens, you begin to realize how little control you have over things. And that maybe something bad can happen again. And it’s terrible.
I’m paranoid and anxious. A lot. I try really hard to reason with myself and be realistic, but man there are just some times when it is really difficult to let my guard down. In my 41 years of life there has been so much damn loss. And grief. And trauma. So much of who I am and how I react now is a trauma response.
Let me preface this story by stating that everything turned out fine. Earlier this week I was in the living room on the floor working out. My littles were on the other side of the couch playing with marbles and magnets. I was less than five feet away. I could hear them giggling and goofing around. Then I could hear something in their mouths and my ‘Momdar’ went into hyper drive.
As soon as I popped up to ask them what they were doing, I could hear a slight choke/cough and my 3 year old Perry began crying, saying she swallowed something. To say I panicked is an understatement. I completely freaked out.
She swallowed a 1/4″ steel ball. At first I thought it was a magnet and then I really started to panic. I called her doctor and was told that the NP would call me back soon. It was a long 20 minutes.
I called my husband who convinced me the marble wasn’t magnetic. That made me feel a little better. I was convinced we would have to go to the hospital and they would have to open her up. During Covid. I was freaking out she could have aspirated it. Every awful scenario played out in my head. I was texting and googling like a madwoman hoping to find someone who had gone through this before and could guide me.
The worst part was that I was right there when it happened. I was maybe 3-4 feet away from the kids and she still swallowed the damn marble. I was a second too late in realizing that my kids were making very poor choices. And I was really angry at myself. And my kids of course, because they both know better than to put stuff in their mouths. But they are just kids. And I’m the adult.
But I couldn’t prevent it. I couldn’t predict it would happen. And I felt completely out of control. And anxious. And really angry that I was fearing for my child’s safety again. I’m pretty sure I aged another 10 years in those 20 minutes.
The NP called and wasn’t concerned. It was a good thing it was small, it was a good thing it was round, because it wouldn’t get stuck. Even if it had been a magnet that’s fine as long as it’s just one. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Here’s the thing about trauma, the small things become big things. They send you completely down the rabbit hole. Just when you think you have something figured out, life throws you a curve ball. This was my reminder that I cannot control every situation. It was a reminder to give myself a little grace.
Attempting to start this whole ‘falling in love with myself’ is freaking hard! I joked about following some steps that I found on Google. But I really need to sit down and research exactly what steps I need to take and what I know will best work for me. It’s time to do some serious research and soul searching.
In the meantime, I am attempting to alter my mindset (if possible). I tend to be a sarcastic realist and that comes out as negative a lot of the time. And let’s face it, it’s been really hard to stay positive this last year.
Reading about all of the death happening around the world is horrifying. Especially because I can understand how these families feel. But I didn’t lose anyone in a time of Covid and I can’t begin to imagine the lack of control/closure these people must feel. The world’s suffering weighs heavily.
Back in January I began a playlist of positive and upbeat songs. I keep adding to it and I’ve been playing the bag out of it. Music is so good for the soul and can set or reset your mood. I’m loving how it can help me turn down the volume in my head to all the negativity I constantly feed myself.
It’s very helpful when I’m driving and some ass is tailgating or has their high beams on. I’ve noticed it helps to keep me calmer and kinder. I’m trying to remind myself that I have zero idea of what is happening in that person’s life and to have some grace (there is that word again).
When we have family dance parties a lot of these songs are ones that I chose to play. Because they are fun and crazy and loud, and sometimes your soul just needs that. We love to dance and I find I sleep better and smile more on the nights when we shut off the lights, turn on the $15 disco light and blast ‘Firework’ or ‘Lovely Day’. It creates this instant connection amongst my varied age brood and everyone joins in.
There have been homeschool days where the littles and I are just dragging. The whining begins and my patience wears thin. I know the curriculum calls for Chopin, but sometimes you just need some ‘Good Life’ to get you through.
We all know the lyrics to just about every song on the list. And I’m hoping it’s having the impact on my children’s mindset that it’s having on mine. Because I need the positivity in my life right now.
Well, damn. It’s as if Twitter knew that I needed to see this yesterday. I was telling my ‘person’ that I need to stop worrying about everyone else’s crap and start to deal with my own. Which is extremely hard right now given the fact that the collective can’t seem to make good choices.
Before I start down this self love path of hearts and unicorns (this is sarcasm, because it’s my go to when I’m completely uncomfortable, which I currently am at the prospect of this whole entire idea. Which is why it’s probably a good one), I need to get something off my chest. Because what’s the point of doing this whole thing if I don’t let some of this crap out in the process?
I am someone that has been grieving for more than half of my life and you know what? My ‘give a fuck’ is broken. I can no longer find my ‘give a damn’ and I haven’t used my ‘give a crap’ in awhile either.
I have found myself in situations where my filter is also missing and I feel that it is ok to be brutally honest with people. Like when they suck, I have found it much easier to tell them so because the further that I get into this whole grief thing, the more I realize that I don’t care what people think of me anymore. The worst thing that can happen already has. Someone’s opinion at this point can’t touch me.
My grief goggles are on and all I see is what’s important. Drama and bullshit are out, I don’t have the space for either. If I think you are making bad choices, you will know. Not to be cruel, but because I care and life is too short to make stupid mistakes. It will hand you plenty of stuff for you to deal with on your own.
I don’t have time for things where I don’t feel connected. This whole grief thing is hard enough, if I’m going to give my time and passion to anything, it better be for something positive. I need that good energy to keep myself going. I need to feel like I am all in.
All that being said, I will hold your hand if you’re hurting. I will cry with you. I will sit with you in your grief. My GAF is broken because so much of my focus now goes to the people that count. My energy is now dedicated to the things that count and have meaning.
It’s crazy how grief shapes you. I’ve tried to fight it for a really long time, but it’s time to start dealing with it. So what if my BS tolerance is a little shorter and I’ve learned to say no to things that I don’t love? It’s who I am now.
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.
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?
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.
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.