Friday, January 17, 2014

Lessons along the Road

Waiting for the end to come
Wishing I had the strength to stand
This is not what I had planned
It’s out of my control
Flying at the speed of light
Thoughts were spinning in my head
So many things were left unsaid
It’s hard to let you go

(Oh) I know what it takes to move on
(Oh) I know how it feels to lie
(Oh) All I want to do
Is trade this life for something new
Holing on to what I haven’t got

Sitting in an empty room
Trying to forget the past
This was never meant to last
I wish is wasn’t so.

- Waiting for the End
Linkin Park

I am leaning more and more toward a fresh blog.  I've floated a name idea out on Facebook, and it's gotten some approval, but not a ton of traction, so I'm a little worried that the people who think it's stupid just don't want to say, but, more likely, most people have other things to worry about.  It's probably not the best way to do market testing, but like I've said before, I'm a lazy researcher.  A friend did give me a great alternative idea, though, so now I'm torn because I like both mine and hers a lot.  But, the real point I've come to after some really intense soul searching is I want to give myself permission to be more light hearted.  I mean, I hope I'm not a total downer in these posts, but overall I have spent years now wrestling with some serious topics and I'd like to let that go, at least a bit.  I think that's a big step for me.  I suppose I could continue on here and just switch topics.  I've done it before.  But, it doesn't seem right somehow.  Like it would betray the subject matter I focused on here.  Therefore, I continue to lean toward letting this one float out there in the cloud for anyone who might happen across it and find some succor in my words and creating something new for myself to explore the new world I find myself living in.  But the reason that's not just a no-brainer is because as soon as I move on to that new topic, I do, to my own mind, say I'm ready to move on with my life.  And that's harder than you think it would be.

I thought I would spend the last few - potentially - posts here walking through what I think the biggest themes of grief recovery are from my perspective.  And, I'm finding as I consider my options about the blog, that this is a huge one:

Self-forgiveness is hard.

And maybe the hardest of the lessons there is.  At least it is for me.  And it's the one that keeps cropping up to bite me in the ass.  Because, no matter what the circumstances, we're wired to want to protect our children.  Our mandate is to nurture them and raise them and let them outlive us.  When an offspring, even an adult one, dies before us, it's against nature.  It is not what was what intended, so we must have failed somehow.  Even someone like me who believes strongly in Fate and things happening for a reason struggles to reconcile the obscenity of that kind of loss against moving past it.  And it's natural to think, "If only I had..."  What?  If only you had noticed symptoms earlier?  If only you had grounded your child that night so they weren't out on the road?  There are a million "if only's" for a million different scenarios, and I bet there are a million or more parents right now who have that litany running through their heads.  I get it.  I really, really get it.  What I don't have is an easy answer.  I struggle with this still.  A lot.

I was reading a post recently from a mom who was clearly just exhausted after years of battling her daughter's disease and was wanting to throw in the towel at the moment.  Oh, how I uttered those same words so many times.  I wanted to shake her by the shoulders though and tell her not to say such things because she may someday live to regret them.  I didn't.  I didn't say anything.  Because I also know she didn't mean it.  She just needed a safe place to vent.  And then she'll take a deep breath and continue the battle.  But if they lose the war in the end, she'll harken back to those words one day and hate herself for them.  So all I can say is that it serves no purpose at that point.  You don't bring your loved one back.  All you do is short change the family and loved ones you still have in your life.  That is so much easier to say than to do.  And doing it takes a lot of time and self-patience, and still there are some days when the self-loathing just creeps in and takes over.  At this point, I may have to concede that it'll never go away.  I have a lot of "if only's" that dance through my head in those quiet moments when all there is me, my thoughts and my memories.  When they creep up on me, really all I can do is ride it out.

I don't think it's any stretch to say that the individuals who go on to start organizations in their children's names do it out of that struggle to find forgiveness for themselves.  If we can do something - anything - to prevent the same thing from happening to another parent's son or daughter, then we can find some redemption.  I threw my efforts into this blog, for example.

We make mistakes as parents.  Unfortunately we are not magically endowed with super powers once we have given birth.  And sometimes our most earnest efforts will not be enough and bad things will happen.  That is the simple fact of the matter.  So, if I had to say something to parents who are struggling to cope with children who are in the grips of an eating disorder, it would be understand what the stakes are:  this disease is a killer.  But also understand what your limits are and allow yourself some self-care as you wrestle with it, because it's a long, hard fight.  You will say and do some wrong things along the way.  You just will.  Learn from them and move on.  If you, God forbid, lose your child at the end, then all I can say is please know this disease is a horrible monster and sometimes is stronger than all of us together.  It's not your fault.  It's this awful, horrible beast.  Not you.  Your new battle will be to now accept what I am saying as true and that will be a long, hard fight.

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