It has taken me so long to write. To be able to release in this medium. To have clarity in where my path is taking me. To step out of (or off of) “I-2020 South” with enlightenment, connection, forgiveness, self-preservation, strength, and solid boundaries. I’ve been traveling a long road ~ yearning for connection and searching for hope ~ without knowing or being able to control what’s to come.
That’s FAITH. Right?
I have “sat” in this. I have fulfilled my needs and learned any lesson that came to me. I listened to it. I felt it. For almost a year, I transitioned into a place of speaking less (shocker, I know) and observing and reflecting more; to expressing myself in other ways, and maybe in ways only for myself to hear. I’ve retreated and kept to myself more – to remain focused and faithful to myself.
I’ve realized that my offerings aren’t always necessary or what others are asking for, and the energy it takes isn’t always healthy for me; that just because I always “mean well” doesn’t mean I always “should.”
My energy had to be refocused within so that my tank could remain full for the expenditures that matter most to me – my children, my marriage, our physical and mental health. But just as I seemed to be getting a handle on one thing, something else would start shaking beneath me – struggles that the girls were facing, marriage bumps, job uncertainties, poor communication, friendships, exposure, confusion, isolation, worry, hopelessness, anger, anxiety, unrest, trauma, insecurities, stigmas, grief, lack of trust, feeling unheard, feeling misunderstood, feeling more alone than ever. What in the world was happening?!
Then I got sick. All signs pointed to COVID-19, but the test results showed otherwise, stumping medical providers and causing increased anxiety in me. I was terrified but trying to hide it as much as possible from those close to me. I was juggling how to keep our household and others safe while trying to get myself healthy again. At times I avoided getting the help I thought I needed because I wanted to leave space for others who needed it more. I was apologizing to my loved ones for my lack of ability to function the way I needed to. I was breathless without “proof” on a monitor. I was experiencing pain without tests “confirming” a cause. I actually felt embarrassed for being so sick without a solid answer to “confirm” what was actually going on (which we still don’t know). I felt “crazy.” I was hurting and suffering from the inside out, but no one on the outside could understand or figure out why. I just wanted to feel better. I wanted to get my life back to the way it was. I wanted to know that I would be OK.
One day, somewhere in the middle of this awful acute illness, I realized that the location of my respiratory illness-related chest pain was in the same place as where the physical effects of my grief is felt. I literally have an area in my chest, perhaps in my heart? that feels bruised and abraded. The constant physical chest pain associated with my grief has become more of an intermittent occurrence through lots of treatment and coping techniques (thank God). But on days that I’m deep in sorrow, I still feel the intensity of the “flare-up” – in a way that physically aches and burns – as if she just died. (As a side note, medical experts are finding that this pandemic has triggered a viral reaction, as well as an emotional reaction, causing the type of cardiomyopathy known as “broken heart syndrome” – https://www.tctmd.com/news/takotsubo-rising-during-covid-19-stress-viral-triggers-need-attention).
The visceral pain that I was experiencing brought me right back to Norah; to my never-ending love of the deepest kind for her, hence my intense grief and suffering in her being gone. I was being shown such significant signs: hearts and 111s and her name showing up in the most “random” (but not coincidental) ways. Other lessons and messages of a deep nature, that was changing my perspective and increasing my faith even though I hadn’t yet realized it. She was here to give me a the hope and connection I had been yearning. I realized that although I live in fear for my childrens’ lives, because of one that was lost and another that was almost lost, this was the first time I was fearing the loss of my own life. Was I gravely ill at any time? No, I don’t think so. But the intensity of whatever illness that took over my body for 3 solid weeks felt as though it was possible. Maybe because I’ve never experienced an illness like that before? Maybe because I have traumatic PTSD? Maybe because I’m not sure that things weren’t missed by medical professionals during Norah’s life? Maybe because this virus is unfamiliar and wreaking havoc on anyone it chooses? Maybe because I simply needed an intense shove into a place of absolute certainty that I don’t want to leave. I want to continue this journey, as painful and difficult as it is for me, and as uncomfortable as it may be for others who can not relate or tolerate or understand or empathize with me. I still want to continue this journey.
For the first time, in a very long time, I feel a sense of renewed faith in myself and it’s clear to me now that this path was the end of my journey on I-2020 South. God and Norah led me here. I was brought to these places to see that others, even those not living in the world of child loss, have had their world stop spinning, too. Not that I would ever want others to suffer in any way, but the current crisis has, ironically, made me feel less alone in what I’ve been experiencing every single day for the past 926 days of my life. Sadly, for some, there is no resolution, but there is HOPE. So while time may not heal, as the platitude tries to convince us, I do believe that time does, in fact, change everything.
~The title of this entry is in honor of my favorite band, Blue October. I’m so grateful for Justin Furstenfeld’s vulnerability and talent in the expression of his music. His story, his intensity, his ability to connect through words and chords and tears and strength, has been part of my “treatment” and “self-care” on this journey. For anyone suffering any type of stress, uncertainty, hopelessness, addiction, loss, fear, I highly recommend checking them out. You can find “storyteller” versions of their music with commentary from Justin that leads you directly into both the good and the bad of his life. This song, specifically, has really aided me in getting through some of my most intensely dark moments.
“Everyday I just have to kill one devil.”