I’m the one

I’m the one that drives 12 in a 40 during a snowstorm because I’m scared of crashing.

I’m the one that panics when the 3 year old sleeps through the night, because she usually doesn’t.

I’m the one that cries at doggie daycare drop off because I’m afraid of my puppy with the other dogs.

I’m the one who tries really hard not to go into stores and religiously wears her mask.

I’m the one that decided to keep her daughter remote during a pandemic because she’s scared of it.

I’m the one who lost her mom to cancer at 16 and her Dad to bad lifestyle choices at 39.

I am the one who was hit by her car in her driveway and watched her son die.

I am the one with PTSD, anxiety and probably a myriad of other issues.

I am the one that doesn’t necessarily live in fear, but has lived too much in reality.

I am the one that has seen too much, lived too much loss, yet still really hopes it will all just be ok.

This is what is left and I’m tired of apologizing for whom I’ve become.

Marbles

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.

Oh, and that marble, came right back out.

Positivity and Music

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.

Below is my list, what else can I add?

My GAF is Broken

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.

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.

The Stockings Are Hung

Every year we hang Benny’s stocking for Christmas. And every year we each write him a letter, draw him a picture, etc. To include him in our Christmas.

Sometimes it happens on Christmas Eve, some years on Christmas day. Sometimes it happens as we take the stockings down for the year and that’s ok. It’s our way of including our little guy.

As I was pulling out the notes to look this year, my heart hurt. It’s crazy to think that there are so many letters. Long ones, short ones, scribbles and everything in between. I found mine from 2013 and I don’t think I’m ready to go there yet. Maybe one day.

It’s been a long road. And it keeps going. Sometimes it’s windy and bumpy, other times it’s straight and I know where I’m headed (or at least I think I do). Sometimes it feels like a very lonely road and other times I am surrounded by so many others. But it’s my road and I know I will walk it until my last breath.

1,000 Years

My heart hurts so much after reading that singer/songwriter Christina Perri’s daughter was born sleeping. This after she suffered a miscarriage.

Her song, a Thousand Years, has been Fletchie’s and mine since he was born. I would sing it to him at bed every night and every naptime. Now when it comes on the radio he immediately seeks me out. And then falls into my arms in a blubbering mess. Because this kids loves more than anyone I’ve ever known. And he feels more than most people.

Some part of him recognizes how shattered my mama heart is. I swear he understands. So he holds me and I hold him. And we sob. Every. Single. Time.

And my heart is broken knowing that another mama is struggling. Her words have had such a huge impact on my healing and now she knows this pain. It makes me very sad. Sending her family so much love.❤️

‘And all along I believed, I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more.’

Brave

I’m not feeling very brave. I’m feeling very beaten down and tired. I’m feeling overwhelmed by the fact that it has been 7 years since Benny died. And maybe if the world wasn’t a disaster, and school wasn’t a mess and work wasn’t overwhelming I could spend 5 minutes actually acknowledging this very fact.

My soul is weary. Maybe even more so than it was 7 years ago. The constant reminder of death, the statistics and the faceless people is too much to bear. Because I know how absolutely soul crushing it is for these families to have to try to pick up the pieces. But I don’t know how they do so in the absence of hugs and physical touch.

I don’t think that I’m fighting so much right now as I’m surviving. It seems to be a constant game of defense, as something new rears its ugly head to contend with. I don’t feel like I’m pushing away the waves as much as I’m being slammed by them. Over and over as I try to right myself and swim again.

Trust me, I very much want to give up some days. I want to get in my car and drive until I’m somewhere, anywhere. I want to be done with 2020 and all of its constant reminders to ‘enjoy every moment, because you never know when it will be your last.’ If anyone knows about death and loss, it’s me. My bingo card is filled to the brim. It’s overwhelming to constantly be reminded of this.

But I’m here. And tomorrow’s another day. And hopefully I will find my 5 minutes of peace with my grief. And if it’s brave to just exist right now, to just be, then maybe, just maybe, I am brave.