Last week, Ryan attended a Critical Incident Stress Management workshop at the fire station which taught firefighters how to recognize individuals who have difficulties dealing with stressful situations associated with their jobs. Issues like post traumatic stress disorders and dealing with death were among some of the subjects discussed.
Of course, Ryan thought of me and our situation as he learned about many of the signs and symptoms of someone struggling with coping issues.
During one of his classroom breaks, Ryan phoned me to let me know that, perhaps, we needed to seek help in dealing with our own grief over Christian's death. I'm not sure why, but I was mad at him as he rattled off the laundry list of symptoms he'd just learned about. I kept insisting that his class didn't apply to me because our situation was different. Christian was our son and I had a right to feel terrible. I had a right to feel depressed.
I was so defensive during our conversation and I could hear his frustration building as his loud sighs permeated through my rantings of denial and pain. And, although the tension was mounting between the two of us, Ryan pressed on telling me about the instructor in the class and how he thought she might be the person to help us with our pain...my pain. It was at about this time when I completely shut down and stubbornly tuned him out out... I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to hear that I needed help. And it completely crushed me when I realized that my husband was worried about my own emotional well being. I felt like a failure because of my inability to cope with the loss of my son.
After we hung up...I paced around the house screaming out my frustration. I yelled and cried out loud...wishing I could purge the hurt and pain that has occupied so much of my life these past several weeks.
MY SON DIED. I've been to Hell and back these past several months with endless hours of worry, sadness, anxiety..and feelings of loss. Ryan and I have been on an extreme roller coaster ride for the past year. So much sadness and unbelievable joy in such a short period of time. Not to mention that, physically, my body is still adjusting back to normal after 9 months of pregnancy. I am a mess and I have a huge emotional battle scar on my heart.
As I vented my anger out loud and alone in my house, I fell to my knees started crying. I cried like I'd never done before. I released every bottled up emotion I'd been hanging on to over the past several weeks. I let it all out and I let the tears fall until I had nothing left... my spirit was truly shattered at that moment...I was broken.
And then, I started praying. I prayed to God for help. I prayed for strength. I prayed for my marriage. I prayed for other families who are experiencing the same tragedy and I prayed for healing for all of us.
It was some time before I actually picked myself up off the floor. Ryan was right, we needed help... I need help.
My friends, I am not proud of the way I've dealt with Christian's death. People tell me that I am strong and I am an inspiration. But the truth is I am not strong at all. I cry privately...afraid to show my tears because I don't want people feeling sorry for me. I cry in the shower when Ryan is at home so he won't look at me with sad eyes...although I know he knows. I've been hiding out at home...afraid to run into people who don't know about Christian.
For some reason, I feel as though I deserve the way I'm feeling. Ryan and I went down this path with our eyes wide open. We knew our son would not survive Trisomy 18. We chose life even though we knew it would ultimately lead to pain and heartache. Even now, I would still make the same decisions over and over again...because my son was worth it. He was worth every tear I've shed since his death. I love him so much! I just didn't know that it would be so hard to pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together again after he died.
No, I have not dealt with this very well at all.
Yes, I do need help. I've been too stubborn to admit it. I realize this now.
I only want to honor my son now that he is gone. I want him to be proud of his mother and that means I need to help myself. I need to take this experience, hold it close to my heart and become stronger because of it. It doesn't mean I'm moving on...but, it does mean I have to move forward. I must for my own sake and well being. Christian would want that.
When Ryan came home from class I began asking him questions about the doctor and told him I wanted to see her. I think he was surprised by my willingness to hear more about her. But I also know he was glad that I was receptive to getting help.
So here it is, my friends. I am taking it one step at a time... no more denial... I am seeking out help because I certainly don't have all the answers. This is too big for me to handle on my own. And so we move on to another chapter in our story...