Friday, June 21, 2013

How Far I've Come

I've been doing the final touches to my book Coping with a Child's Death: The Anti Guide to Infant Loss and let me tell you, it's been an emotional ride. Not only have I had to relive a lot of the things that happened to me in my journey but I've had to relive a lot of other people's journeys, too, since I've been interviewing my infant loss friends. It's been hard on me, it's been hard on them...but I think the book will be a good thing in the end. In going back and reading some of my old blog entries, which I often had to do since much of that first year is a blur to me, I am amazed
at where I am now compared to where I was then.

I thought I would take a few minutes and do a blog entry on the bumps in the road and what I think I've kind of learned along the way...

The people who weren't there

I don't know what happened to a lot of people in my life. Like, literally. I don't understand what happened to them. I know that people say that their friends and family members kind of drop off the face of the earth after awhile but I suspect that some of mine actually did. You know, Toby died almost 3 years ago and I have yet to hear from or see my sister? There was no falling out, no words of anger, just....nothing. I can't even be completely sure that she knows he's dead.

This made me angry for awhile. Not like, raging angry or anything, but I worked up a pretty good mad over it. Now I don't care. Realistically, we weren't close to begin with. It's a relationship that I am curious about but not one that either one of us has ever cultivated. If I saw her then I would be cheerful and polite. I no longer have any kind of anger towards her...just curiosity.

My BFF, though, who I also have only heard from once in three years and who didn't make the funeral or visitation...I can't say that there isn't still some anger there. Not any that I would project if I ran into her, but enough to keep me from sending her any holiday greeting cards.

The people who were there for awhile

This is something I still struggle with but after much soul searching and analyzing, I am coming to terms with them and my feelings toward them.

For awhile, these folks who showed up, were supportive for a week or month, and then left me hanging were honestly the fuel for my emotional rollercoaster at times. I just didn't understand it. How could they abandon me? Did they not care? Did they not care about me? Did they not care about Toby? They were my friends, right? How could they have just left me like that? I didn't understand it and, to some extent, I still don't. But I am trying.

My loss was not theirs. As wonderful as I think Toby was and as much as I love him and miss him, he was not their son. They did not have that bond with him. They could only have that bond with their own child. I couldn't realistically expect them to remain in the depths of my despair with me. It wasn't right and it wasn't fair. They had lives and families of their own.

That's not to say that some people weren't just flat out shitty friends. Because some were. But others tried their best. Their best, unfortunately, wasn't always good enough. That's just the truth.

Don't get me wrong, some people were flat out assholes. The ones who judged us and made things worse-well, those people are different. I still have enough anger in me that I'd like to throttle the lot of them. But others...not so much.

The drama 

Thanks so social media we can now share our feelings 24/7. Things that we used to only tell our BFFs and write in the privacy of our diaries are now plastered all over the internet. I did that with my blog. I wrote about all my feelings and if you did anything to piss me off then I wrote about you, too. And I might continue to do that. That was a double edged sword.

It really pissed some people off. Some just thought it was too much drama. They deleted me and blocked me, even though I didn't say anything about them at all. Lots judged me for being too sensitive or overreacting (which, granted, I did on occasion) and I got chastised for using names or distinguishing characteristics of the ones who upset me.

On the other hand, I gained a lot of infant loss friends who were experiencing similar things and, by reading my blog, felt like they had someone to talk to. There are parts of grief that you don't normally get the chance to talk about and the conversations I got in with other parents about these things helped me. It might have saved me.

So I regret airing my dirty laundry and stirring up the drama? Yes and no.

I don't regret talking about getting my feelings hurt and sharing some of the shitty things that people did. Yes, it cost me those friendships but those friendships were dead anyway (hence the blog entries which were really just the final straws).  I guess what I DO regret is offending the other people who read them and thought I was a terrible person for being so negative and took themselves out of my life. I don't want people to think that all I do is over-analyze and see the bad sides of folks, because I don't. So if I lost some good friends because they thought I was "too much drama" for talking about things, then I'm sorry about that. The fact is, though, expressing that anger and those frustrations is literally what kept me alive at times. I got to a point where, if something bad happened, I could blog or I could cut myself. I chose to blog. Neither option was a pretty one.

The explaining

Here is a regret: I wish I hadn't spent so much energy explaining to people that I had the right to be grieving. I know, it sounds odd, but I must have spent at least a week's worth of conversations showing people articles and snippets and directing them to videos and such to get them to understand that what I was feeling was normal and that I had a right to be feeling those things. I wish I hadn't done that. Those who 'got it" got it. Those who didn't would never get it.

Letting go 

I did come to a point in several relationships that were really unhealthy. In the past, it would have been easy for me to break these relationships off and move on. Because I felt so isolated and lonely and miserable, though, it was easy to hold onto these. Pete's friend tried to convince us that I was a terrible person who brought shame and damnation on the family and I honestly believed that for a long time. As a result, I didn't end the relationships that were harmful to me because I pitifully believed that at least those people were still around and I hadn't run them off yet.

That has changed. I have cut people off who brought negativity into my life and it feels so much better. Honestly, I would rather it just be down to me and my family than to have anyone in my life who doesn't somehow add something good to it.


I never in a million years would have thought that I could write about losing my son with humor. But I noticed when, in writing my book, that humor did come up from time to time. I felt kind of weird about that until I started getting some of my interviews back from fellow infant loss parents and saw humor in their experiences as well.

I think if you get to a point where you can actually laugh about some things then you have to have turned a corner somewhere along the way. I think, and hope, I have.

No comments: