It has been five months. Five torturing, long months. Five months that have whipped though my life like a stormy wind, quick and stinging.
How I have managed to survive the last five months, I do not know. Honestly. I have no clue.
Some days I consider myself a monumental success because I got up, showered, dressed, fed myself, laughed and put one foot in front of the other until bed time. Other days, I wander around in a daze, half here, half somewhere else. And, still other days, I am a ball of anger that no one can see, but I feel like I might explode at the smallest transgression.
In the beginning, and let’s face it, it has only been five months, it is kinda, still, the beginning. But, in the beginning, I used anything as a reason to wake up and move forward. Meeting someone for lunch, taking the dog out to pee, catching a view of the fall leaves and sunset in the crisp air. But, now, those things don’t even make me tingle with a need or want to get up and move forward for them. I need more.
I need something that brings purpose back to my life. Because, quite frankly, this life is nothing without my child. I have no purpose. And, I know, living life that way, feeling purposeless, for too long, will get dicey.
When my sweet girl died, my heart broke into an infinite amount of pieces. The weight of the pain was not always seen in my actions or on my face; I was functioning considerably well, but my heart was screaming inside. It still is. In fact, I feel like I hear the screams more now than I did in the very beginning. The shroud of protection given by my brain, my body, my family and friends, saved my broken heart from feeling too much at one time.
Now, the weight has been getting heavier and heavier, my brain is no longer activating the shock mechanism, which is basically a protective bubble that allows participation in life with a hefty dose of ignorance is bliss feeling; my body is no longer functioning out of a fight or flight response; my family and friends are back to life as normal, for them. The force of the weight has come down so crushingly hard on the pieces of my heart that most of the pieces have been smashed to dust and they have blown away with the heavy sighs from the pain of reality.
The reality is that she is gone and I am still here. She is fine, but I am certainly not fine.
There is not one part of my life that is not haunted by her shadow. My husband can return to some semblance of life, albeit hard, that is separate from him being a Dad. He had an outside job, that had nothing, immediately, to do with being a Dad. I however, did not have that, and I do not regret that choice. But, I cannot bury myself in work or continue to hone my skills to further my career aspirations. I left my career when my daughter was born. I actually even denounced my desire, interest and acceptance of ever continuing and succeeding in the career path I had before becoming a Mother! I said that my career was, “NOTHING in comparison to being a Mom”. I said, “The desire I had to be the best at my role, develop my skills to continue to grow in my path and with my organization, gain more responsibilities and receive accolades for a job well done was a vain and shallow definition of success”. Yeah. Wow. Pretty harsh. I really loved being a Mom!
But, now where am I? My ideas of success went from fast paced moving, increases in power, financial security and recognition to savoring the moments, giving of myself with no promise or need for receiving, rolling with the punches and creating a life full of beautiful memories while loving every moment of it. So, what does a successful and happy life look like, now? I have no idea.
The thing is, it’s hard to move forward after a loss. But, you do. Your body, your brain and your support system are like strings and you are the marionette to which they are attached, they help you to move one foot in front of the other. At some point, those strings fall away just like the petals on a beautiful flower, having served their purpose no more. And, that’s when things get weighty, when you have to start thinking about moving ahead towards a destination on your own instead of being pulled there.
Bridges burned from my past and a freaking huge sea of uncharted waters are what remain. It is my choice on how this story moves forward from this point. I need to take the first step, the first real step towards a destination. Then, the next steps, I freaking hope, will manifest ahead of me. For me to follow, along with curves, forks, and choices between paths. But, none of that will exist without the first step.
I resolve, today, to prepare for that first step. In fact, perhaps it is THE first step towards a destination, it is at least a half a step! I recognize that it is time to engage experience beyond my own, beyond my friends and family. I have started seeing a counselor. I think of myself as a personally open and sharing kind of person. I think of my family and friends as my greatest support system. I thought I did not need therapy.
But, come to find out, I do. It is refreshing to share my struggles with someone and know that I am not exhausting those I love with my pain, pain they want to heal but cannot. It is something I look forward to as a practical plan towards improving my overall well-being. With therapy and outside research, I have been working on learning mindfulness exercises, which have already helped as a coping mechanism. And, in the spirit of working on embracing myself, my future and nurturing my mental health, I have decided to take a writing class.
I have survived for five months. There is no question that I will continue to survive. I made it this far. But, beyond that, what continuing to survive looks like? I have no damn clue.
But, eventually, I know, I will have a clue; because, I will be in the thick of it. At that point I will be living my most current definition of success–surviving, putting one foot in front of the other, by my own sheer will, in spite of only having a piece of my heart left.