So, I went even longer this time without writing. I did not think that I would do that again, but I did. I guess I am human, and even with the best of intentions all of us slip up at one time or another. It’s not that I did not think about writing. I did. And then I just could not write. Writer’s block? Or was I just not sure if I could write? Probably the latter. I have all of these thoughts and emotions going on, and maybe it was just too hard to put anything into words. So, I just sat on it. And sat. And finally I said, enough is enough. Enough time has passed, it is time to write again.
Sometimes a task at hand can seem just too overbearing. Overwhelming. Where do I start? Should I start? When? Do I have time? I had these thoughts at the beginning of the new year. 2015. The time of the year where a lot of us reflect and say, “What do I want to accomplish this year? What do I want to do differently? Our junk drawer in our kitchen “stared” at me in the face I think on January 1st. This drawer is still a mess. And is really a mess now. I opened the fridge. Oh gosh. It has been two years I think I said I was going to really clean it. Like, really clean it. Not just a simple wipe. Instead of succumbing to thoughts that I had “failed” and why haven’t I made time for this project or the other, I was patient with myself. And understanding. Which is a difference. I said to myself, “Just do what I can right now.” So as I was preparing breakfast, I cleaned out that junk drawer. I did not intend to, but pretty soon it was all done. I wiped a couple of shelves in the fridge. Let me repeat, a couple of shelves. Not the whole fridge. But, I did it. Projects that seemed so daunting that I never seemed to have enough time to do for the past few years, I made a small dent in that cold morning.
The same goes with grieving. It can seem overwhelming. Where do I start, we may say. Do I even want to start? Do I want to just walk away from it, and act like it isn’t there? Like, my life has not changed. Although I know that it has, who are we kidding? I started reading a book called “Choices” by the author Melody Beattie who started the “Codependent No More” movement many years ago. In it she talks about sometimes us needing to step into the “blackness”. The unknown of what is ahead. Even if what we really want to do is resist it, sometimes we need to push through it. I thought of grieving with this. It would be a whole lot easier to escape it all. I think of the Chinese handcuffs experiment. The more we resist and try to break free (fast) the harder it is, and the more unlikely it is going to happen. We get stuck. It is when we step into this “unknown” and relax and just let things be. Feel our feelings, and not try and “escape” them. And taking small steps with that.
I attended this baby loss group last night, as I do monthly, and the exercise that was given to us was very appropriate and fitting in nature. It was about our New Year “Reflections” not resolutions. And broke these up into small, weekly manageable steps. Whew– The pressure was off a little bit. Our facilitator described that these would be our reflections for the year, not resolutions. She did not like the words resolutions. Rarely do they stick. She’s right. They poke fun of this fact by week two after the new year on television. Plus then we “beat up on ourselves” for not fulfilling this list. It is hard to change and do new things, especially when we are used to the same way of doing things. Even if these ways are not working for us. My counselor that I see says often, “And how is that working for you?” When I bring something to her that is bothering me, and my reaction to it. And that I am still doing the same thing with it, and nothing is changing for the better.
We have the power to change some things in our lives. We have choices. Not all of the time, but we do have choices. We can choose to look at our lives and see what it is, and where do we want to be? I realized that I have changed quite a bit in the past two years since Emily and Michael died. My grieving has had its highs and lows. The highs meaning, “I am doing ok, I’m alright. I am even sincerely smiling and laughing.” To the lows where I would rather just ignore my feelings, and numb myself with alcohol because it is just too painful. All of this is normal with grieving. But at some point, we have to step back and say, “I can’t bring my baby or babies back as much as I want to. I cannot bargain with God.” And start to take small steps into creating a life that has meaning and that we love.
It is hard work taking that first step with our grieving. Acknowledging that our pain is real and exists would be a start. And then what do we do with it? Journal? Seek out a counselor? When our anger or sadness comes back, do we go back to our easy ways of dealing with things? Numbing ourselves with alcohol or something else not beneficial? Or do we create a list of things that would be more helpful like drawing about our anger or banging some nails into an old piece of wood? We all have choices to make everyday. Where are you? Where do you hope to be? Choose which direction you want to go in at that fork in the road. There are many in a given day.
Take small steps. Be patient with yourself. Please be patient and loving with yourself. Pretty soon all of those small steps will add up to something big. My hope is that the fridge will be clean by the beginning of next year. And if it isn’t, I have to remember that I am trying. And I will just have to add it to my “Reflections” for 2016. Happy New Year!