I had a counseling appointment this morning. While driving there, I tried to “check in” with myself…..to see how I was doing. How I’d been feeling since my last appointment? Less Anxiety, More Anxiety…Whatever…and as I attempted to “connect”…I found myself shutting down.
Whatever I was trying to connect with or process seemed too great a task and it was as if a huge cement lid was slamming down on top of whatever I was trying to connect into…..I guess, myself…
There was a song on the radio that I liked and so rather than fight against myself…I sang along with the song until it was finished and then I tried again……
By this point, I was mildly frustrated and so I tried again…and there was nothing. Brief lines from popular songs flashed through my mind, filling it with meaningless drivel;but I couldn’’ seem to grasp a hold of one concrete, valid thought.
I became aware that this is something I do…..often.
I have so much to think through and so much to deal with and it’s been SO LONG that I’ve been living in a state of heightened stress…at some point I shut down in an effort to not “break” and now it feels like this coping mechanism has crippled me.
It’s possible that my life experiences may also have “broken me”, were I to have fully embraced them all as they came……but I didn’t…
I walked into the counselors office and sat down; and chatted about trivial things not pertaining to the matter at hand and then I brought it up.
“I shut down. Often. And I don’t like it.”
It’s kind of like the whole “building walls” analogy…..You get hurt by people, so you start to build walls to protect yourself; and eventually you end up alone inside your great castle, and that loneliness hurts even worse than the possibility of hurt from letting people in…..
I shut down emotionally because my experiences were too great a pain to bear.
I’ve experienced too many intensely hurtful things.
Shutting down has become instinctive and not a choice.
Now, anytime I attempt to work through something that feels the slightest bit “intense”, even if it would be a positive thing…..I shut down and cannot think straight enough to make sense out of any of it.
It feels shameful because it’s something I “should” be able to do.
I laughed when I said that, because I know it’s a fault of mine…..this belief that I should be able to do anything and everything……that I should be in control at all times….that I should be capable to handle anything and everything that comes my way, with no signs of weakness…..How’s that for holding myself to impossible standards?
I feel angry because I don’t like feeling powerless and out of control.
It takes me back to the days that Nathaniel died and was born.
How do you process something like that? How do you carry a baby for 25 weeks; and plan and dream about and love the being that you are growing inside your very soul….how do you cope with having that piece of yourself taken from you? How do you walk away from your heart? How do you deny everything that your gut is saying to you to leave him when you know they will put his body into a cold freezer and yet you must just walk away and leave him there…..where no one loves him….where no once will or can care for him…..
You don’t….you shut down because those thoughts will destroy you…….
My baby died. I can’t even fathom it, and yet I lived through it….I think those are the wrong words, though. I carried on. I kept on going. I shut down and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. A little boy who was the perfect size for his age. A little boy that they could not find anything wrong with. There was no reason that we know of….he was not sick or broken. Just dead.
Even writing this I seem to flash in and out of these feelings of grief. Shut it down….feel……it’s too much….It’s TOO MUCH…..so many tears….so much sorrow held for so many years….He would have been 11 years old this year.
I held him for such a brief moment. I didn’t know what to do and neither, it seemed, did the hospital. I have so many regrets and so much anger inside.
Why didn’t they ask if our families would like to see him?
Why didn’t we call our families in? It would have been so much more real, then….
Why didn’t I hold him to my chest and sob as if my heart was broken into the million tiny shards that it was?
Why was I so scared that holding him was the wrong thing to do, just because he was dead?
Why didn’t the hospital walk us through more….better….with details….or information……or something?
I can’t have these “why’s” answered…..
I’ve existed, laying these “why’s” down because I knew there were no answers to my questions…..but what I have not realized was that in being “logical” I was dismissing or down playing the validity of my emotions…I was shutting down…..
It’s ok for me to be upset that my baby died.
It’s ok for me to be upset that my baby died without a reason.
It’s ok for me to be angry that we were not “helped” along more by the hospital.
It’s ok for me to feel sad that I didn’t hold Nathaniel and cuddle him as much as I would have liked to.
It’s ok that I feel shameful for not knowing what to do……How could I have known?
It’s ok that I feel so many “regrets” because I can never go back to that moment…..
I walked away from the hospital feeling more alone and broken than I had ever felt before in my life. I remember standing in the elevator wishing that I were dead. Wondering if I was, because it wasn’t possible to simultaneously hurt this bad and yet feel nothing.
I felt dead. But I knew because of how badly it hurt to even breathe, that I was so very alive and that I had kids to take care of and that life had to go on.
We came home to an empty, still house…..mirrored by my own emptiness. We walked upstairs to the main floor and I remember hugging Jon, and crying. I felt so helpless…..so out of control……and so desperate for another baby……a living baby.
When I think back to that time…..there are a few things that I remember “doing”…..I don’t remember “feeling” anything other than desperation for a baby to love, to hold, to fill the empty places inside of me……
Siah was born 3.5, very long, very loss-filled, very traumatizing, years later.
Now how do I move forward….that is my question…….
I don’t want “shutting down” to be the first thing that I do when faced with…..life….
Because I want to “really live” with authenticity and transparency and passion; and not just exist……