Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Saying goodbye to complacency

They say there is no wrong way to grieve, we all do what we have to do to survive, but I can tell you that I was doing it wrong. I began using alcohol, "responsibly", at first, but had it spiral out of control over the many months, slowly breaking my little rules that I set up to convince myself drinking wasn't a problem. By summer I was abusing alcohol, period. I managed to shield Simone from the brunt of it for a long time, but in the end, I was not being a good parent. I think that was the hardest part, and still is the hardest part now that I look back. She deserved better.

I'm happy to say that I've said goobye to alcohol for awhile and I don't think I've felt better for a very very long time. I realized that all I was doing was trying to escape from the pain. Whether it was my alcohol, my ipod, or my computer; I did not want to feel what I was feeling. After hitting rock bottom and almost committing suicide (I had convinced myself I was a terrible mother and Simone would be better without me, 'crazy' I know), I checked myself into the Psych ward at the hospital. It was my daughter's 5th birthday, and i think it will always be the single best gift I've ever given her.

Being there, where everything is done for you, where there are no responsibilities except getting better; I had to figure out very quickly what to do with myself without my distractions. No phone, no computer, no housework, no work, no childcare. It was soooooo hard. It's like I had to start all over and really question everything. But I learned that I can cope with the pain, it is bearable . . . barely.

. . .

So, here I am. I clawed my way out of the bottom of the pit. For months and months, I thought it was a bottomless pit, but I was wrong. I've stood at the bottom, it's the worst place you can be. I can't say I wish I had never been there, however. I think that knowing there is a bottom, having stood in the darkness, seeing no light above me, but knowing I could sink no further, grounded me in a way I never expected. One thing I came to realize there is how alienated my dh and I have gotten from each other. I realized during my four days at the hospital, that I would not be able to heal if I did not address the problems in our lives. I was wonder woman for so many years, I didn't even realize that i was trying to be everything to everyone. I needed boundaries, space, and a room of my own. Hence, the separation.
We haven't been happy for a long time, and I realize now that I was putting too much pressure on Myles. In the first few months, I would always cry for the longest time about how he was my 'savior', oh how my life needed that baby. In the pit, and over the last few weeks, I've really thought about what I was saying. How could I have so much riding on him, this tiny little innocent baby? He wouldn't have been my savior, everything would not be miraculously perfect if he were here. I see this realization as a gift from him, he WAS perfect, will always be perfect, but nothing else in this life is. I am so grateful to have had him in my life, he has given me the most precious gift in this world. He has helped me to realize that I do not have this life figured out, that it is much tougher than I ever realized, and that I can make mistakes but be better for them if I work hard enough? I will be forever indebted to my son.
. . .

Brandon and I started counseling a few weeks ago, and it has already started to help us reconnect. He has had chronic back pain for many years, and the separation and counseling has helped both of us realize that what I was doing with alcohol he has been doing with painkillers. Now that he has had no painkillers for over a week, he realizes he was not just numbing his back pain.

It's almost like we took turns bottoming out. It's so hard seeing him standing at the bottom of that pit this week. One of us has to be here for my daughter, and it's hard to think that for awhile, we might have been meeting her needs, but we weren't really 'there' for her. We were just getting by. Today, I am 'there' for her, and for him, and that feels really good.It's been overwhelming to see him crying everyday, I've never seen him cry like this. For the first time ever, having him say to me, "I need you. Please, help me." My Brandon never asks for help. And I've been staying the night back at our house to take care of him. I see our separation as short term because I still love him and I do not want a divorce. I may even want more children together someday. But I am committed to it through November and maybe longer, and I fully realize that it may end in divorce, and that divorce does not necessarily mean failure. I think an unhappy marriage is a bigger failure than any divorce. Complacency is the root of all evil. Anyway, even after only a month, I can already thank our separation for a new level of awareness in our marriage and in our parenting. It seemed like forever that we were just trading off babysitting, going through the motions, and now we are being more concerted in our effort to heal, not just ourselves, but our family.
. . .

Last night, I asked DH, where would we be if Myles had lived? And we both, for the first time acknowledged together that WE might be no better. We would have our darling son, and there is no doubt he would've brought so much joy to our world, anyone who knows us knows we both looooove babies sooooo much. But we wouldn't have this opportunity to stand back from our lives and truly question everything, to be able to really ask, "am I happy?" and to be strong enough to answer, "no", and take that knowledge and have the courage to change our lives for the better. Moving out was the hardest thing I've done, it's still not easy today, but I've realized anything worth doing is not going to be easy.

So here I am, a day away from 10 months without my Myles, exactly a year from the day i began my preterm labor and the long weeks of bed rest that did not culminate happily as I was so certain they would. The countdown has begun, and I have no doubt the next few months will be hard. But I do not think they will be my hardest. I can look back now and clearly see the worst months behind me, and that gives me hope that no matter how many good and bad days await in my future, that they will never be as bad as they have been.

I will survive.


Ya Chun said...

I am so glad that you guys are taking care of yourselves, your marriage and each other. This is important work, both the greif work and the effort you put into your marraige. I think you will make it through both.

My parents have a very toxic relationship, and now as I grow older and have ost my baby, I can see how much it affected my behavior and emotional development. But they are still married, somehow 'winning' that contest yet so miserable and unhealthy.

Do you have family that S could stay with for a week so that you two and as individuals can have some more unwind time? A camping trip to an aunt or grandparent might be good for all??

It's brave to do this-really search and deal with your emotions. It's not easy.

Lisa said...

Just wanted to say that I think of you very often. I don't really know what else to say, just know that there is someone out there pulling for you.

Lisa in Austin from MotherTalkers

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

She not only survived.
She became...

It was a privilege to meet you.

Cara said...

(new reader) Honestly I struggle to comment because your intimate grief road is so intense.

I'm moved...I'll be back.

Henry's Mom said...

I check your blog to see how you are. I'm hoping you're taking care of yourself, thinking of you and your family.

Julia said...

I am incredibly late to this, and only a day from your anniversary. But I wanted to say that this post really moved me. It's incredibly hard work you are doing, and so mindfully, and together.
I hope there is peace on this road for all of you, wherever it leads.
I will be thinking of you tomorrow.