Sunday, September 1, 2013

Thirteen Years.

Some things are not easy to write.   Not because I can't figure out eloquent language, or appropriate expressions, but because there aren't any.   There are no words when tragic events happen.  There are no words to describe devastating loss.   There are no words for heartbreak.

It was deja vu this morning.  As I walked into church I was hit with the same wall of emotions I experienced thirteen years ago, but this time, I was thirteen years ahead in my journey of grief these people were just beginning.   Our community tragically lost a young man this week.   His family was not there, but many of his friends were, and I recognized all too well what was going on inside.   The emptiness from crying for so long and so hard.   The pain from losing someone so tragically.   The confusion, the doubt, and the determination not to doubt.

I wanted so badly to have some wisdom to share, something helpful to relieve some of their pain ... something ... something to help share the burden.  But that is the problem with grief.   It does not divide, it is dense, and it lingers ... year after year.   Even though it is shared among so many, it is as though you alone are bearing the weight of it.  Even though it is invisible, it is impossible to see through to the other side.   Even though it comes all at once, in a moment, it never leaves the same way.   

There is an admirable inner struggle that goes on.   The struggle to continue in one's faith and trust in God's comfort, but at the same time, be so confused that God allowed something so devastating to happen.    I looked into people's eyes this morning hoping I had something to offer, but after thirteen years I am still stuck in the midst of it.   After thirteen years, I am still asking the same question of why.  After thirteen years, I am still hurting and missing my friends.  After thirteen years, I am still grasping on to God's comfort and goodness while desperately trying to make sense of it all. 

I miss you friend.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Invisible Disabilities

Sometimes I do not know how to begin: how to begin a new post, or conversation with a new person, or just begin.   I have come across times in my life where I am completely stopped, but life moves on, and I am faced with the task of trying to begin again.  Picking up the pieces inside me, or around me, and beginning anew.  For months now I have struggled, do I share what has stopped me?  Do I let people see the ugly, the imperfect, and the weaknesses I struggle with?  Do I leave myself open and vulnerable?

At the end of the day I have always answered no.   No, people might think I want attention.  No, people might think this is a badge I wear proudly.  No, people won't understand.   No, I don't want people to think less of me or see me differently.  No, I don't want anything to change.   But in saying no, this weight I am carrying has become heavier and heavier.   I am very good at hiding things, very good at side stepping, and very good at appearing like I have it all together.   But now, against my own good reasoning, I think I need to share how I don't.

PTSD.  It is my invisible disability.   

I guess I should begin by explaining it some.  Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a severe form of an anxiety disorder that develops after a life threatening physical or emotional trauma; and for me, that was giving birth to Little One, and then triggered again by similar complications after Little Three's birth.

As you have probably noticed I have not mentioned or talked much about his birth.   Even now, I am not ready to share the details of that experience, except to say that I came very very close to dying just a week after my little one was born.  Avoidance, that is one of the symptoms.   I have many blog entries I have started, but have never been able to finished because it is too difficult.   Because I avoid anything that triggers the panic attacks, blackouts, flashbacks, and nightmares.   It might be almost 6 years ago, but they have not gone away, only lessoned.   The symptoms have succeeded in building up walls between myself and those around me, not because I don't desire closeness and relationships, but because I live with a daily fear and expectation that someone I love dearly (my husband or one of my little ones) will be taken from me.   It is the constant state of flight or fight that I am working against.   The constant state of panic I am trying to relax out of.   The constant fear of vulnerability that I am working to overcome.  It is like sitting on the beach watching the ocean.  Sometimes the waves are small and far off in the distance, but then the tide comes in and over takes you.   There are moments I forget what is going on in my brain, and I think it has passed.  But sometimes, sometimes my reality is altered and I am stuck in a small hospital room 6 years ago and the waves of anxiety and panic are all coming in and crashing around me.

This past year I have felt completely stopped, but I have watched as life continued on around me, and as I have found myself countless times before, I am trying to figure out a way to begin ... again.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

1 to 3

It's funny.  When Husband and I look back at parenting one little one verses three we giggle.   Man were we type A! (I should add a disclaimer here ... When Little One was born I was a full time grad student and Husband was a full time grad student AND had a full time job! Schedules = survival.) So to our families, thanks for cutting us a little slack for those few years.

Everything seemed like such a big deal.    The time poured into finding the perfect stroller or carseat because it makes SO much difference if the stroller reclines with a zipper verses a strap.   Do we get the orthodontist approved pacifiers?  Do we dare give our little one a nuk before 8 weeks old ... gasp!(we did ... and he survived:)  Our little one's entire success in life depended on those big decisions and their schedule ... or so it felt like.

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say we are seasoned parents, after all, Little One is only 5, but we've learned a few things over the years.   We've changed somethings, we've relaxed, we've taken a deep breath, all while the crazy factor has increased exponentially.   Newborn bath time, that once sweet and peaceful time cooing over Little One, has now been reduced to a quick squirt of dish soap on the head, rinse, and dried with a paper towel (don't judge!) for Little Three.    Nuks that fall on the floor are no longer cleaned and given back to said little one ... they are just given back.   They are not always put together in cute nice clothes (although I like to make people think so).  You will probably find food stuck to their bottoms right after a meal because that is where they hide it.  The importance of the question 'so how long has the bottle been out?' is directly proportional to how long (and loudly) Little Three has been crying.  Things change; our priorities, our abilities, our desires.

Some where between three little ones, two masters degrees, four moves, and two job changes in the last five years we've found schedules aren't the end all, invaluable to the sanity of day to day life, yes, but not the end all ... in fact, sometimes the best memories have come when we ignore them.   When we put our kids to bed somewhere else so we could hang out with friends, skipped the afternoon nap, or went outside instead of going to bed in the summer.   Messes, mistakes, and chaos are going to be made.   But in the middle of all the poop, spit up, and dirt (and there is quite a lot of all those) ... the little ones are thriving.   Not because we had the latest and greatest car seat, stroller, or bottle, but because we've let go and let life happen to them.   Yes, sometimes they get sick, they don't always have the best, most efficient (insert baby thing/gear here), and yes, they have been disappointed ... but when we've chilled, so to speak, our little ones have thrived.   They have learned to adapt.  They have adjusted.   They have grown.  And perhaps, so have we ... although we are still pretty type A most of the time and I'm ok with that.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

To my little boys ...

I have not forgotten about you two.  It seems like forever ago when I got all nostalgic about raising a little girl, but trust me, you two little ones have never escaped my mind.  Perhaps it is because one of you is always within an arms reach of me, or earshot ... but I am more inclined to think it is because of the huge responsibility I feel, being your mom, to raise you and watch you grow into true men.  There are many ideas floating around of what a true man is, but many of them are wrong.  There are many ideas floating around of how a true man behaves, but many of those are also wrong.  There are many ideas floating around of how a true man speaks and carries himself, but again, so many of those are wrong.   Dear little boys, this is what a true man is ...

A true man lives up to his name:
who is like the LORD and he has heard; those are powerful, and have significant meanings, take time to grow into them and humbly live them out.

A true man is full of gentle strength:
he does not trample over people, but picks those up who have fallen
and bears their burdens with them.

A true man is a humble servant:
he does not seek praise for his work, but quietly goes about his life
honoring God by doing the right thing in both public and private. He is not too good for the most humbling tasks: laundry, dishes, and diaper changes.

A true man sees a woman as a companion and treasure,
not a prize to be won, or trophy to be demeaningly displayed
amongst other men.   A woman is not yours, she is God's; but she is yours to empower, encourage, and to love.

A true man does not stay silent.
When injustice is happening, get up and fight for the those less fortunate. 
Be passionate about justice, seek after it with your whole heart.

A true man recognizes true beauty,
and knows it does not come in a certain number or color. 
Yes, beauty is very much seen in the physical, but a true man
recognizes that true spiritual beauty will far outlast any trend, style or perfect body type.

A true man brings wholeness to the people around him.
He does not start conflict, or hurt others with his words.  

My dear little boys, grow up and be true men, who's strength and dignity come from something greater than yourself.  And because I want your wives to like me some day ... don't forget to put the bathroom seat down, to empty your pockets before you put things in the laundry, and learn to cook ... every woman likes a man who can cook :)