October 28, 2010
I haven’t written in this for a week, mostly because for almost a week I was really sick and then after that I spent the next couple of days frantically trying to get the house cleaned, groceries purchased, and work wrapped up so that I could take a week off from work to spend with our guests. But now I see that writing in this really does help me and maybe I shouldn’t have taken so much time off from it.
I got this grief survey online today and one of the questions asked if I had found myself less tolerant of people and their problems since my child died. I marked “agree.” My usually high tolerance is at an all-time low. I’m leaving it there for the time being.
I talked to my friend who lost his partner a year ago and asked him whether or not he’d had to cut some people out of his life after his partner died because he couldn’t handle them. He said that he had. From reading other online support groups, it doesn’t seem to be a foreign idea so at least I am not alone in this.
At any rate, this might be a little bit embarrassing to write, but I’m going to go for it. I get random e-mails from people that I don’t know saying that this blog helps them and maybe someone else out there will be able to identify with this.
I have become very picky about who I let in anymore. This didn’t start with Toby’s death. In fact, it started a few year ago with Lynn because after her shenanigans it was hard to know who to trust. Toby’s death definitely solidified the idea, though, that sometimes we are better off on our own.
At this point in time, it’s not always easy to let people in-even the people who have been nothing but helpful. The fact of the matter is, nobody can understand what we’re going through. Three months ago I wouldn’t have been able to understand it myself. Sometimes, people act in a manner that is totally detrimental to our mental state due to this lack of understanding and we find that we can’t be around those people. Fortunately, the majority of our friends have been pretty great and supportive, even if they do think that we are crazy most of the time. In fact, my friend Karen told me the other day that if we asked her to go dance naked around Toby’s grave with us she would probably shrug and say, “Pass the sunscreen” if she thought we wanted her to do and it would help us. Another friend said that although she was worried about my health when it came to another pregnancy she would do a fertility dance right now if she thought it would speed things along for me.
These are nice things and they make me smile.
I have not been smiling much this week.
I remember not too long ago having a conversation with some friends about school and how we all agreed that we wouldn’t do Middle School over again for a million bucks. Well, I felt like I was right back in the middle of it again. It’s rare that I find myself faced with such self-serving, righteous, aggressive, manipulative, spiteful, and ultimately immature behavior. It’s even rarer that I have to put up with it in my own home. In fact, I’ve only ever had to do that twice in my life and one was sent packing immediately and the other eventually left, but not before they managed to do years worth of damage.
I am a pretty simple person. I don’t complicate things or situations when they don’t need to be. In fact, I think that’s one of the problems today-that people try to make things more complicated than they really are. Sometimes, a person is just an asshole. Sometimes, the situation really is black and white. And from where I stand, all I can see is that people who were supposedly here to “support” us acted like total jackasses to the point where even the people around us were getting offended for us long before we were.
Pete and I have taken a lot of crap lately, but mostly it’s been from afar. And it’s been from the same people. And it’s been in the form of writing. That was bad enough. But when you have someone up in your face, getting aggressive, shouting, disseminating guilt, throwing double standards at you, and being verbally abusive (in person) it’s a whole different story. Grief counseling says that if the person is actually up out of bed walking around then they’re doing great. It is hard enough to get out of bed every morning and find the motivation to work, cook, clean, and take care of Sam. But at least my home is kind of my sanctuary. When I have to walk on eggshells in it and tiptoe around the delicate natures of those that have come around then not only is that putting extra pressure on me, but it also means that my home is no longer a place of comfort and safety. And that just pisses me off.
I have never in my entire life been so examined and scrutinized. If you go looking, expecting to find something bad, then you’re going to find it. And it was found. It was found in a million different ways. The way I stayed in the kitchen for most of the afternoon, cooking for 30 people, and didn’t have conversations with my guests (who were sitting outside) even though I was doing the work by myself. The way that when asked to show off my pumpkin I said, “Hold on just a minute” because the knife was in it and I wanted to finish the last part and then promptly forgot to hold it up and show it off. The way they were left in the living room with Mom for an hour because Sam had to have a bath, be put to bed, and I needed to take a few minutes to myself after cooking all day and having a bunch of people over-the first time it had happened since Toby died. These were all examples of the injustices that I performed, along with many others that weren’t verbalized.
I was insulted in front of my mother (who the hell does that?) and my husband when it was bluntly stated that since so many people (meaning 2 couples that I am not even friends with) can have problems with me then there must be something wrong with me.
I wasn't allowed to have an opinion, grieve, be sad, talk about Toby, take a few moments for myself, or even BE myself and that was incredibly hard for me.
My friend Karen asked who the hell did something like that. She said, “You’ve got bandages on your wrist!” I told her that maybe they were trying to be helpful by giving me a matching pair. You never know.
But she was right, of course. So were my other friends who attended the party that we hosted, as well as the dinner we had the night before, and witnessed some of the injustices that I supposedly caused and all agreed that they didn’t exist.
Still, my friends being right, and even me knowing that I was right, didn’t mean that I didn’t feel like crap. I have felt a lot of things these past few months. I’ve felt sad, helpless, depressed, anxious, scared, lonely, and tense. But this was the first time that I can say that I actually felt like garbage and worthless. And hopeless. And for a few moments off and on, like I didn’t deserve to live. Suicide crossed my mind in the very beginning, that week that he died, but it actually crossed my mind several times a day this week.
And even though today has been a good day for me overall, it still lingers. I still question my usefulness. And when that doesn't scare me, it makes me mad that someone made me feel that way.
I have no use for these people. As individuals, they mean nothing to me. The feelings that they created in me, however, are important. Those I have to deal with. Pete pointed out that even the weather got nicer today. I agree. But I still need to deal with my emotions.
I could have handled myself differently. For instance, when I yelled at one point due to the heartache that my husband felt, I could have handled it in a completely different way. I could have thrown a frying pan instead, for instance.
Maybe I should yell more.
When someone is sitting there telling you how awful you are, it’s easy to believe it. It’s especially easy to believe it when you’re already feeling down and at the bottom of the barrel. It’s frustrating, too, because Pete and I both know that lies are going to spread about what happened and self-satisfied people are going to sit back and cluck their tongues and talk about how horrible we were and the indignity that we put them through. And small minded people who live in little glass bubbles and were never going to give us a chance anyway are going to believe it and cluck their tongues and nod in agreement. Sympathy will be doled out all around and everyone will feel self-righteous.
That’s hard to deal with, especially for Pete. He struggles with this, that the story that’s told will always be against us even though the witnesses on this end are actually pretty great in number and nearly everyone I know stood up and supported us.
I can’t do this anymore. Maybe I am entering the anger phase of my grief, but I refuse to let anymore of this negative energy into our lives. Not only is it hard to deal with given our current mental states, but I witnessed things this week that bore strong resemblances to a person that I once knew that scared the living daylights out of me and that’s not a reminder that I like having around.
When I’m feeling really low, like right now, I start thinking back to the minute Toby died. Becca and Rob came over and stayed outside our house for like, three hours, in the rain waiting for us to get back from the hospital. They cooked for us that night, brought me food, and Becca more or less moved in that week and ran the show so that I didn’t have to make any decisions that I didn’t want to. Ashley and Karen actually met us at the hospital and visited the ER room where they had Toby laid out with us. My chiropractor drove all the way to Campton and brought flowers and I had only met him 3 times. Angelina drove down from Detroit and spent the night with me. She covered me ear and eyes when they were putting the dirt in on top of the casket so that I couldn’t hear it. Jose fixed us lasagna. Desha cooked for us. Libby sat up with me while Mom and Pete drove David to the airport so that I wouldn’t be alone. Karen painted my toenails and left her own family countless times to come over and spend the night and talk. Bonnie came up from Alabama and brought Olive Garden to us because I was still having anxiety about leaving the house. Chastity brought us quiche after everyone left. She was also responsible for a lot of the food that we had after the funeral when people came to the house. Melissa helped me pick out the clothes that we buried him in and THEN held a yard sale to raise money for his tombstone for us. And lots of other people have done lots of other things. People that I barely knew, met ONE time, sent me checks for his memorial and nice letters. One woman sent me a check and I didn’t know her at all. She just knows me through Facebook.
I think about these things and then think that we CAN’T be all that bad if people can do stuff like that for us. I can’t be that terrible of a person if people can do that for me, right?
This is what I keep trying to tell myself, but it’s difficult. It’s difficult when someone makes you feel low and worthless and continues to kick you while you’re already down.
I said that if I got pregnant again, I would never have the pregnancy that I did the last time. That I would stand up for myself and put myself out there and keep fighting until someone listens to me. I’m going to say the same thing about this type of situation. That was it. That will never happen to me, or to us, again. We couldn’t prevent Toby dying or Alison dying but we CAN prevent people from treating us like that. We don’t have to take it. In top form, I could always remember that. Right now, I just hope I don’t forget it.