There was a time in my life when I needed everyone to know how I was feeling but wasn't exactly sure how to do that. Even when they weren't asking, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that I was falling apart. That I wasn't handling God's little challenge for me. That life was not normal in our home. That doing what we were doing to a little boy was not normal. That our worries and fears were not normal. That life wasn't fair and just because we put a smile on our face didn't mean that all was well. But I was afraid I would scare people. So I kept it in. Kept a stiff upper lip until I could no longer.
We built a wall. To hide behind. To pretend like we were handling it. To pretend that we were grateful for this opportunity to raise a special needs child. To accept such a challenge from a loving Heavenly Father who really did know we could handle it, it would just take time for us to realize it. We rarely broke down even around family in the beginning. It ended up only hurting us, but it is such a fine line between holding it together and completely being a hot mess. Would society think we lost it? Maybe, so we better hold it together. Another coping mechanism that I do believe helped us move forward. But I did end up talking to anyone who would listen.
Two years. That is how long I cried for, most of the time by myself or with Dave. And two years is how long it took for me to not care as much if people really knew what was going on in our home. But during those two years you'd better be careful if you asked how we were doing or how Blake was doing. Sometimes I would say, "do you want the polite answer or the real answer" or "how much time do you really have." Sometimes I would sit in friends' cars and talk and talk and talk about Blake and then wonder if I was boring them. Or get so frustrated if they asked, but then didn't have the time to listen to all of it. But it was ALL I could think about. And cry about. And wonder if and when I would ever feel normal again. If life would ever be normal again. I felt the need to be validated for being a hot mess in my head.
What ended up bringing our wall down? What ended the need for validation? Self-confidence. Comfort. Peace. In our new life. In our challenge. We were dealing with it. And succeeding. I knew it when someone asked how Blake was doing and I was finally able to say, "Fine" and nothing more. And not care if they knew he had a bladder infection and that 20 diapers in one day was killing us financially. Or if you watched me change his diaper your eyes would pop out of your head and you would say, "you put THAT....WHERE? And realize that life is very different in our home than many others. But guess what....we finally felt "normal" and I didn't need the validation anymore. But it was an important part of the healing process. I knew how hard life was going to be for our family. For our little boy. For his big sister. But it took time. And talking about it was what helped in the end. Being honest with our feelings. Crying when I needed to cry. Not being afraid to say "I'm not loving Holland today."
Life became rather routine for awhile and I went quite some time without crying. But when Blake started kindergarten last year, those emotions all came rushing back to me. But did I feel like I was failing this time? Did I feel the need to put up a wall this time? No. I was honest with parents, I cried in front of them. And most times, it didn't make them feel uncomfortable, which was nice. But I think it was because I just talked about it as a part of our life. Open and honest and not embarrassed. I cried in the Principal's office every time we talked about Blake's care. It is and will always be an emotional issue for me and while I apologized for his possible discomfort while I cried, I didn't apologize for crying. And I knew I was no longer a hot mess. Just emotional about a tough but normal situation for us.
So I guess what I am trying to say is that life does move forward and time does heal pain and loss. And normal does return. Maybe not the same as it was, but it will feel normal again. There was a time in my life that I needed to be validated. Now I feel the need to validate.
These thoughts and memories were prompted by a dear friend's post. Sharing through difficult times is what it is all about. Otherwise we would not be able to grow and learn from others experiences. I'm glad she is sharing. You can find her blog here.....you will be touched and inspired.