In this next part of life after loss I will attempt to recapture the events that have lead me to my most current events of freedom. Which will come in the conclusion of the series but in order to do that I believe it’s vital to talk about the time in between.
Spending Davids first year of his life in a sense of survivors guilt and also protection of him to not look at him and say things like “this is what Danica would have been doing”. I was being tortured by that thought and using as much energy as I could muster to not say to much out loud. I didn’t know how to talk about having lost a baby and then having one, I often felt like most of the time people were done hearing about her death and the struggle to move on.
Then Nathan was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder. See not only was I in the grips of postpartum depression at the time i had no idea I was struggling as bad a I was. I was not well people. I cringe still at the thought of the time my dearest friend and sponsor came to bring me a coffee and I physically couldn’t get up off the couch. I heard the knock and I was frozen. Struggling to find the words about my oldest son hitting me and having horrific melt downs for things I just couldn’t understand. Some noises were to loud, some things were to quiet. I had no idea what was going on. I felt Satan him self had moved into my house and I was going to be straggled by the struggle of living life one day at a time.
I reached out and tried my best to talk about the darkness I was feeling. Then David turned one. Maybe there was going to be hope that life was going to be better. He was getting older after all.
We threw him a party. A party where everybody was invited. Aunts and uncles, cousins and close friends. A declaration of accomplishment that life was moving on.
The next part of the story has dominated my world for the last 4 years. At times I felt free and other times I have felt completely held prisoner. This is my attempt at telling what happened and how it affected me and recap a series of events that were the second punch in a double punch combo life hit me with.
Being in this 12 step program I am encouraged to reach out and talk about hard times, seek support and talk about the darkness so the power of voicing scary times will keep us from a drink. You see in recovery up to that point I have never had someone in my inner circle of support break my heart. Sure I’ve had disagreements, been plagued by wrong choices I’ve made and flat out walked away from relationships but always in time we all would realize that everyone was attempting to keep the best intentions for each other and at the end of the day we are here to be sober and we need each other to do that.
So when a family member, who was a part of my inner circle for support, and there partner accused Abram of being abusive, implying Nathan’s behavior with his SPD was learned and claiming to have seen things that didn’t happen was more then my heart could bear. A heart that had already been broken in half by the loss of my daughter and first home was attempting to swim through a new baby and a deep dark postpartum depression as well as a life tilting diagnosis with my older son.
Still Abram and I had made attempts to understand following a suggestion by people whom he and I trusted in the program and meet in a third party situation with these two people, in an effort to address these awful accusations head on only to be met with two individuals who were convinced they were right and we were wrong. I walked out of that room with my jaw on the floor and a heart in pieces.
Abram and I went straight to a friends house and sat in there room for an hour asking questions like “are we missing something” “tell us the truth” and they did, that we were great parents, though imperfect at times we were certainly not abusive in any way.
I remember sitting on my sponsors couch and having honest talks about my sense of betrayal and struggle to find peace. Family isn’t supposed to turn on each other I would say. After a while I realized I can either stay a victim or I can find a way to move on and learn to live with the death of someone who is still alive and lives 15 mins away. I have been told the loss of a long term marriage is similar.
So as all things do, life goes on and I did 4th step inventory’s and praying for them over and over and over. I started to get a sense of freedom. I realized over lots of conversation and personal inventory that I’m not to much different then them. I have judged people harshly only to find out I’m wrong. I have changed some language I used to use to describe my relationship that was giving the wrong impression. I gained a large quantity of compassion for my fellow travelers and less judgment.
For a time I could breath easy. I stopped checking parking lots for their cars and trusted no matter what happened next I was protected and cared for by a loving and caring God. I went to meetings with an idea that we talk about in the program all the time which is “what other people think of me is none of my business.”
At the same time a dear friend had recognized the darkness I was processing through and gave me the money to join a mops group because at the time Abram was unable to work because of a broken leg. I was placed at a table with trouble makers and it was perfect for me. The kind of moms I needed to be around. The ones that not only loved being moms but also enjoyed being women. We cussed and cried. We had hot cups of coffee and it was a continuation of my healing into a life of having two kids and one in heaven. The women I was sitting with were selected by God. It wasn’t that the stories were life altering it was just having something to look forward to and a place where the joys and struggles of motherhood were shared.
At the end of the day however I was still held hostage by this insufferable pain and I wouldn’t make the connection of the cause for another 2 years. You see when I got sober at 17 I was sitting in the basement of a treatment center and made a decision that I was going to give my parents a daughter they deserved and I was going to be the best sister I could be. I also found a community of people that I felt safe with. A place that I never really had to think twice about. I just belonged and I was so comfortable. You remember the family members I told you about? Well they were apart of this community too and stories, especially juicy ones like abuse travel fast. All of a sudden that safe community didn’t feel protective any more. Being able to process the grief and loss of Danica no longer felt safe to process any more, at least not in meetings. I had had people check my kids for marks and heard things through the grapevine I never thought I would hear in reference to me.
So here I was with this new baby, loss of a daughter, a massive fracture in my own family and now the community that I got sober in was harder to be simply me in. Still I pressed on. Went to meetings any way, constantly getting questions or looks or just people flat out stop talking to me. Long term friends no longer there. The other person in the “divorce” I guess. So I did what any respective human being would do and armored up. But here’s the trouble with armor, sure it blocks me from getting hurt again, which was a welcomed comfort but what I didn’t realize is it also blocks things from being let go.
All along this step by step process I would try to let go of this pain I was feeling about Danica or my family or struggles in parenting and I would experience a short reprieve and then it would return with a vengeance. Over and over and over because what I didn’t realize is I would let it go and it would ricochet off the inside of the armor and come right back.
The day came, as it always does, I couldn’t ignore the panic attacks any more. I would be moving along and all of a sudden I would be on the floor grabbing my chest and not quite understanding what was wrong. I ended up in therapy in an effort to find some outside help around all this grief and loss. I came away with some really amazing tools to process my anxiety and tools that serve my family to this day.
I discovered some things in therapy that helped me remove my armor and discover some areas of freedom I didn’t know were trapped. Thanks to a caring a loving God moving on has been possible. The next part is all about what happens when the armor is taken off.