Valentine's Day now marks for us the day we lost our second baby. What started out as a day of love ended as a day of loss. The angels that go on display this time of year will forever remind me of our little angel and bring to mind the pain, horror, and confusion that unfolded that morning.
I'm not a person who shares emotions easily. Vulnerability is scary and uncomfortable, even with those close to me. However, as I felt the claws of depression pulling me down as the days roll inexorably closer to the first anniversary of that fateful day, I reached out to the Positive Parenting community. My intent was just to provide an explanation for the possible slowdown in posts. What I got back was message after message of sympathy, condolences, and love.
Thank you, everyone, for the kind words and the support. I'm so sorry that so many of you have also gone through the same devastation. The more I reach out, the more I find in our special club. I am not alone. You are not alone.
Several people asked how I remained positive in the face of so much not positive. I don't have an easy answer or formula. Many times I'm not positive. Many times I don't say anything.
I began seeing a therapist and psychiatrist after recovering from surgery. During a major depressive episode, I nearly committed suicide, which was a turning point for me. Depression and PTSD can cause temporary memory loss and confusion, which can provoke anxiety, and it's easy to spiral out of control. For so long, I'd tied my identity to my mind and felt I had no value if I couldn't use it. My body had also betrayed me and I could no longer provide the big family my husband wanted. My family is the only thing that kept me going, but even still I worried what legacy I was leaving my daughter and would she be better off if I weren't around if I could only be depressed. (It's hard to understand how warped your thinking can get unless you've been there. I thought I'd be doing people a favor by no longer being a burden to them.)
It turns out that my husband values my compassion and sense of humor and wit and creativity. That he'd rather have me and our one living child, than lots of kids without me. That we'd find a way to manage if I couldn't keep my job.
I actually ended up getting a promotion, during all this. The validation I'd received at work never really 'landed' for me and I didn't believe it. I wasn't terribly nice to people who were slow to pick things up, but boy, does your attitude change when suddenly you are the one who can't keep up.
Hitting rock bottom freed me to take a chance on what sounded a bit like snake oil. I bought a program that promised a sneaky way to get 'unstuck' in your life. I learned a lot about how the brain works and that a lot of common beliefs that you can will yourself to be or do something just aren't true. Compassion comes a lot easier when you realize everyone has the same primitive brain filtering all the information you take in.
There was some worry that maintaining the page and confronting so much worry, pain, and need on a regular basis would hinder my own progress. One of things that's emerged from therapy is that I get fulfillment from being a resource for others. What creates stress is taking on responsibility for others. As long as my communication is true, helpful, necessary, and kind, I don't own the other person's reaction. It's a very freeing place to be, but not easy for me to get to.
When I first started on my journey to be the best parent I could, I never realized how much I would grow as a person. There's still a lot of room for improvement, and I don't claim to have all the answers, but I'll continue to share and support as best I can.