Worth The Fight

If you couldn’t tell by my recent writing, Rob and I are really struggling. And we’ve both been coping (or rather not coping) in our own ways.

I cope either by eating everything in sight, or by not eating at all. There have been times when things were so bad that I only ate about 1 meal a day. I once lost about 15lbs in 2 weeks. It’s not a good way to cope. But it keeps me sane(-ish). My other brilliant coping mechanism is to either wallow or shove my feelings aside. For the past few months, I’ve been shoving and now I’ve gotten to the wallowing part. Basically, I cry, watch TV, and do nothing other than write, cry, and watch TV with occasional spurts of manic cleaning. Again, not the healthiest, but I’m still here, I’ve made it through every rough patch and I don’t see why I won’t make it through any future rough patches. It might not be the healthiest way to handle things, but it seems to work for me.

Rob used to cope with things by doing very destructive things. Drinking, smoking, etc. Basically any vice you could think of is what he would tun to. But over the years he’s moved away from destructive habits. There would be times when he was struggling and he would buy a can of dip, or backslide in some other way, but he has done so well the last several years, and I am so proud of him. But he is struggling more right now than he has in a long time.

Today, he was talking to me about how he’s been backsliding into one of his less-destructive habits: overspending. We have a pretty strict budget, and part of that is our weekly ‘mad money’–cash that we can spend on fast food or any other splurge items that we want. We withdraw a certain amount, and once your share is gone, it’s gone. But for the past few nights, Rob has been buying food that he didn’t have the cash for and just been putting it on the card instead of only buying what he could afford. I was a bit freaked out at first. This used to lead to bigger and bigger spending, and more and more destructive habits, until he swung manic.

But then he talked to me about how since he doesn’t want to fall back to even worse habits (he had considered buying dip and cigarettes) he is just sort of accepting the fact that he will overspend a little as a coping mechanism. He said he didn’t want to freak me out by talking about the things he was thinking about, that he didn’t have a plan to ‘misbehave’, he just knew what he was prone to and wanted to think through every possibility. So we talked about our different ways of coping, and we both agreed that neither of us have that great of coping skills. We also agreed that being aware that we are struggling is more than half the battle. He’s going to get in touch with his therapist on Monday and we have a couple’s appointment on Friday, and until then we are just going to cope as best as we can and be there for each other.

I was so glad that Rob was willing to talk to me, and I told him that. How only a year ago he would have just shut me out. And what he said back to me really made me stop. He said he was glad that he felt he could talk to me, because before with the PTSD he felt as though he had to watch what he said because he was never sure how I would react. And when I stopped to think about it, I realized he was right. I really did get confused sometimes, and sometimes I did really overreact. Granted, sometimes my responses were completely warranted, but looking back I can see where it would be disorienting to try and figure out who would be responding, me or the PTSD. In a way, it must have been like me trying to figure out if I was dealing with Robby, manic Robby, or depressed Robby. And I had never realized that before.

So I thanked him for being willing to work with me even when I had the PTSD, because he was willing. He was always willing. And I am so glad (and so is he) that I started EMDR. It’s been a long, hard fight, but so worth it.

That’s Not What You Say

I published my piece How It’s Supposed To Be on Facebook yesterday, both as a note on my page, and to a group I belong to called M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) (their FB page is here) . Most people were extremely supportive, and just said things along the line of “I’m thinking of you” which is wonderful. But my mother wrote this:

I miss Jamie, too. I hope you, someday, have a child to enjoy. You are BOTH wonderful people whom we LOVE SO MUCH!

Now I don’t know if I’m reading too much into this, but her response kind of rubbed me the wrong way. You don’t tell someone who is mourning their child that you hope someday they have another child. That’s like saying “You’ll find someone new” to a person going through a divorce. You don’t want someone new, you don’t want a new child, you want the one you lost.

Yes, Rob and I do want to adopt a child some day, but that in no way diminishes the pain we are feeling now. And it will in no way take away the pain we will feel for the rest of our lives. The pain of losing Jamie. No child can replace another, and it offends me that she even suggested that. That someday, by having a baby in our arms, our hearts will be healed. Because that’s not how it works. Jamie will still be gone, and we will still miss our baby. We will be overjoyed at this new little life, but that love makes a new piece of your heart grow, it does not refill the piece that is taken when your child dies.

How It’s Supposed To Be

Today is Christmas, but it’s not how it is supposed to be.

You’re supposed to be here.

We were supposed to make cookies together, get to watch you unwrap presents, and take you to see Santa. We should have gotten to help you decorate the tree, hang up the stockings, and unwrap your presents. We were supposed to get to hear you laugh at all the Christmas fun and see your eyes light up at all the wonders you would be understanding for the first time. We were supposed to feel our hearts fill with love and joy when you ate the frosting and candy toppings while decorating cookies, when we helped you hold your candle at the Christmas Eve Service, and when we all snuggled up to read The Night Before Christmas together.

But that’s not how it is.

Because you’re not here.

Instead we try and hold it together when we see the kids at the mall, excited to see Santa. Kids that would be about the same age as you. Instead, we feel an ache in our heart because the traditions we wanted to share with you make us miss you even more. They just remind us that you’re not here.  Some days are easier, and some are so much worse, and so to cope with the holidays, we cling to each other. We tell each other that’s it’s okay to struggle, that Christmas never will be the same, but some years will be easier–maybe even almost ‘normal’–and this just happens to be a rough year. We know you are having a wonderful Christmas in Heaven, and it soothes our hearts to know you are there, but oh, Jamie, we wish you were here. So we spend time together, just the two of us, because even though it’s been two and a half years, the loss of you still hurts as much as it did the day we lost you.

Because we never stop missing you.

 

Share the Writing

I’ve always been hesitant to share my writing.

Mostly, because it makes me feel too vulnerable. I don’t want people to know my inner thoughts. It’s hard to share my innermost thoughts and feelings with my husband and my therapist, let alone anyone else. I started working on that a year ago when I created this blog, because for some reason it felt easier to share with complete strangers than with my family and friends. Probably because they never knew the false ‘me’ that I portrayed to everyone else. I don’t have to answer their questions, explain myself.

Justify myself.

And I’ve always been afraid of that. That I will have to justify myself. My story. What if people do question my story? What if they don’t believe me? What if they still think that I’m lying?

Through talking about it to Lori, I’ve realized that there are always people who are going to be hateful and negative, but it would upset me much more if my writing was criticized. Because I know my story is true. The people who matter know that my story is true. The people who need to hear my story, will know that it is true.

And while I still struggle to keep that in my mind–that it doesn’t matter what they say about my story–I am much more focused on whether or not my writing is impacting the people who read it.

Emily is going through a rough situation, and she told me that she had been writing to try and process everything. We decided to exchange writing as a way to support each other and keep in touch since we don’t get to see each other often. So I gave her my blog. And this is the conversation we had the other day via text

Me: I’ve been reading the quotes you’re posting on your Pinterest board and I just wanted to say hi and I love you. I’m proud of you for being so reflective. In situations like this it’s always easy to say “its their fault” and ignore how much you’ve been hurt. Good for you for taking care of yourself. Love you

Emily: Laura, you are so wonderful. Thank you for the words of encouragement. It helps so much. I’ve read a lot of your blogs. I really love the one titles Losing Myself. Your writing is so beautiful.

Me: Aw thank you. That means so much to me. It really does.

Emily: You’re welcome! Honestly you could write a book

Me: I really hope to turn my writing into a book someday, about my journey from being abused, to being trapped by the PTSD, and now to working with therapy to break free from the PTSD. When you get a chance, read the About Me, Why I Write, and Dedication pages on the blog. It’s got a lot there about what I want to do with my writing.

Emily: Your book would truly be a bestseller. Ok, I’ll read more tonight. It’s really therapeutic.

Me: Em it means so much to hear that. You’re the first person other than Rob and my therapist I’ve shared my writing with, and your kind words mean so much to me. All I’ve ever wanted from my writing was to help someone else. Thank you

Emily: Well I should be thanking you. Thank you for sharing with me, and for your support! You’re awesome.

I want to change peoples’ lives through my writing. I want to help someone. And the response from Emily was the most positive, affirming response I could imagine. When I was reading her text, I actually teared up. All I have ever wanted was to use my writing to help someone else, and the fact that she said it was therapeutic just touched my heart.  It made me realize that even though it is hard to expose my soul through my writing, it is the right thing to do, and someday–if I do get my book published– it will help others.

A Lack of Christmas Spirit

I’m just feeling kind of lost.

I know that I’m sad and mourning Jamie, but I feel more lost than I have in a long time. I know that it’s Christmas but I’m just not feeling the spirit of the holidays. I have one decoration up, and it’s just a decoration that I picked up at the Dollar Tree. I just don’t feel the passion or drive to do anything Christmas related. I’ve enjoyed listening to some Christmas music but even that mood doesn’t strike me very often. It’s almost as if I’ve been avoiding Christmas.

And I don’t know why.

Last year I really enjoyed Christmas, at least, right up until Christmas Eve service. That’s when I lost it. I just cried and cried. The candlelight service has always been my favorite part of Christmas, and I really think it took until that moment for it to hit me that our baby wasn’t there with us.

I don’t know if I’m trying to avoid Christmas in an effort to keep it from hurting as much this year, or what. Which doesn’t even make sense, since I’m already mourning Jamie. It’s going to hurt no matter what.

And I guess I’m not completely avoiding Christmas. Cause I’ve had some fun doing some Christmas stuff. I enjoyed the cookie party, and the Christmas stuff at work has been fun too, especially the crafts with the kids. And I get to make a gingerbread house with little sister T tonight, which will be fun. And I’m looking forward to seeing Santa with the girls, and having some time with Robby when we are off from work.

I guess I just have to recalibrate. Maybe eventually I will want to decorate the house, and will be back to what I consider “normal”. But I guess for now I need to learn to be okay with a different way of celebrating Christmas.