Path of Grief

I attended my grandmother’s funeral this weekend down in San Benito Texas at one of the most beautiful, and coincidentally, most mosquito infested graveyards. I remember both the beauty and the mosquitoes from the September 5 years ago when we buried my grandfather. In fact, tomorrow, the 22nd, will be the fifth anniversary of his death. This time, however, I came prepared. Prepared with a camera to capture the beauty and prepared with bug repellent to protect myself from the blood lusted assault of the bugs.
The cemetery boasts green ground cover and mystical Texas Ebony trees which are small, for a tree, and remind me of a bonsai garden. There is also the occasional wild olive tree, currently in bloom.

graveyard1

The headstone for my grandparents is spot on for them. Two toasting wine classes and a rose between them. Everyone has continued to comment on the champagne toast my grandparents enjoyed each evening together at sunset. The minister commented that the sunset they’re toasting to now must be ever so spectacular.

The funeral service couldn’t have been more perfect. Small, warm, and heartfelt. A giant display of red roses rested upon her casket. Most family members stood up to speak a few words. I was surprised when my father was moved to tears as he described my grandmother holding each of her grandchildren when they were born.

This might sound strange, but I haven’t been moved much to sadness over my grandmother’s death. When someone has lived to be 93, lived an incredibly joyous life, has lost their one true love, and is suffering with both mental and physical illness, death is a blessing. The sadness though, that I have felt, has come from the experience of grief I feel for my mother and aunt. I can only speculate, but I think maybe part of my father’s emotion was from a similar place. Thinking about the loss his loved ones were grieving.

When someone dies before a “ripe old age”, grief is overwhelming loss and sadness. Grief is… loss of what could have been. For me, when someone who is 93 dies, it’s not the loss of the person that hits me the hardest, but what it signifies. It’s the loss of what has been. A time and age that we can never return to.

Regardless of whether you are sure you will be reunited with your loved ones in the afterlife, you cannot regain this life back. It is a reminder of my mortality. A reminder of the mortality of those I hold dearest. The finality of a time and age. A reminder of the memories we created together- memories that I wish I could relive. My childhood in their backyard swimming pool. The smile my grandfather had every time I came through that back gate by their garage. The sound of their doorbell. My youth, my own parents’ youth. Time is passing and I can’t slow it down.

So, I cry for my mom, and for her siblings. I cry because it was her mom. I know what it’s like to have a mom. I love mine with all my heart. I have been so blessed to have her play such an integral part of my life, and my own child’s life. When I imagine saying goodbye permanently to making more memories with my mother, it’s too much to process. I hope I will be so lucky to have her for many more years to come. Regardless of how old your mother is when you lose her, she’s still your mother. She never stops being your mom. And whether it was before her time, it was her time, or far beyond her time, it’s a loss.

When I was going through a period of grief at one point in my life, I created this map of what grief felt like to me. I think there is this sense in society that we heal in a linear fashion. Getting better and better each day. But grief to me felt like a spaghetti bowl of twists and turns and knots. Just when you thought you were at the end of it, it turned back around and took you for a spin.

 stages of grief

(You can see that at the brighter side of this graphical display of grief is KFC biscuits. True comfort and joy.)
I learned to have compassion for my emotions and process. We should do that for each other too. Lay down our expectations and accept what may come and what may not. Accept the unique path of your own grief.

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Amateur Anxiety

Does anyone here suffer from the “I can’t be the best so I don’t want to even try” syndrome?

In life, there’s always going to be someone better than you. A lot better than you. Probably many people that a lot better than you. They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. That’s a lot of time. As I’m prepping for my future of transitioning my career over to a private practice of hopefully working with mothers/want to be mothers, I am of course looking at what other professionals in the area are doing. Whenever I see a website of another treatment professional who lists all of their associations, their credentials, and 20 years of experience, I think to myself, ugh. Why would anyone see me? I stink! I’ll never compare. I’ll never be good enough. It makes me just want to not even try.

So weird right? I mean, logically in my head I know that everyone starts somewhere. And if everyone compared themselves to the best of the best and decided not to put forth in effort in learning, no one would get help. Nothing would ever get done around the world. No one would try. No one would learn. If every aspiring musician just gave up because they weren’t the best… we’d have no music.

So, I know I have to try. I know I have to start from somewhere and expect things to be slow. I know that people get 20 years of experience only from starting with zero. It’s just scary. Super scary. I am prepping myself by reading a bunch, trying to schedule trainings, etc. I am not one to just jump into something blind. I have to remember that.

On another note, one thing I am doing is starting “professional blog posts.” Nothing to be posted yet, but starting to write so I have a whole bunch of posts already written that I can add to my website when I’m up. One thing I’ve always enjoyed, as a woman, and a person, is relatable posts. Psychological and medical jargon is ok and absolutely has its place, but real stories, real quotes, real feelings are what I connect with. If any of you ladies out there would be willing to submit some quotes, or answers to questions in the future, I would be more than grateful.

For example, one of the blog pieces I’d like to discuss would be parenting after infertility. I’ve ready many of your stories of how many years you’ve struggled to have children, and then read about the emotional struggles that you face AFTER receiving that child. Like, parenting is hard, and I think at times we all might have feelings like “what have I done” or “I hate being a mom,” but I imagine for some, after struggling for so long to BECOME a mother, how does one reconcile those two feelings? And, that it’s OK to feel that way. Like, just because one of the things you wanted your whole life was to become a mom, you’re completely allowed to have feelings of regret. Or feelings of being overwhelmed. Or I can’t take it anymore.

Other topics would of course be ones closely related to postpartum anxiety and depression. Topics of unwanted advice/judgments from other women/people.  I’d of course also welcome any ideas you have about topics you think other women would like to read about/connect with.

Night cuddles

Tonight Lamb is coughing. She’s coming down with something, hopefully something minor. A cold perhaps. I had forgotten to give her benadryl before bed (it helps her sleep without coughing), and the coughing started not long after she fell asleep. Sleep coughing? She wasn’t really awake. I decide to make her a bottle with some milk and some benadryl and wake her up and make her drink it because I knew her coughing would keep me up all night and it also just made me sad for her to be miserable.

I sat in the chair that I held her in so many nights. She quickly and easy took the bottle. I stared in her eyes. I savored the moment that we rarely get to have anymore. I thought of all the nights I cried in that chair just begging my child to sleep. All the nights she needed me. At the time, they were horrendous and never ending. Now, they’re over. I was sad, again.

I woke up after a horrific nightmare last night at 3:30am. I got up to pee and suddenly memories came flooding back in of all the nights I was up for hours on end. Dear God no. That’s how I felt. Can’t do that again anytime soon. Certainly not. It’s so completely amazing just going right back to bed after a quick bathroom trip. But I also miss cuddling my baby.

Who is this child?

My sleeping child amazes me. Who are you? What happened to my poor baby that couldn’t sleep longer than 1.5hrs at a time? Seriously being woken 4+ times a night for most of the first year of your life. I can’t believe I sustained that kind of sleep deprivation. I am glad you finally came around. I knew you would in your own time. Or did I? I might have felt hopeless at times….
Last night you begged me and your dad to put you in your crib at 6:20pm. You were ecstatic to be in it. You didn’t wake up until 6:30 this morning. Normally you wake up between 5:45 & 6:15am.
Still. This quiet uninterrupted sleep is INSANE. It’s a dream I feel like I will wake up from at any moment. Someone pinch me! (No, don’t).
I still hate waking up at 6 with you daily but a little coffee and your sweet face quickly make it better. It has become my favorite time of day.
I pick you up from your crib and put you on the daybed with me in your room. You have your lovie in hand and you get so thrilled when I give you a bottle of milk. I turn on PBS kids and we watch Wild Krats. You love it. We snuggle together, both of us with disheveled hair. You lean your head on me and smile. It’s so great. So so so great. It makes 6am something to look forward to.

Career Directions and Passions

Last month I spoke to a career counselor who I found really helpful. I’ve been feeling very directionless and uninspired when it comes to my career future. I’m about to (finally) get my license as professional counselor. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do after that. I know I need to make more money. Not tons of money, just more money. “Enough” money. My counselor had of course stated that going into private practice as a counselor was definitely the elephant in the room and we needed to decide if that’s the direction I wanted to take or if we were going to take it off the table. Honestly, going into private practice scared the crap out of me. What if I fail? What if I get no clients? What if I can’t support myself? What if my clients hate me? Who would want to see me anyway? What do I have to offer?! There were all these huge mental hurdles getting in the way. I was also extremely concerned about burn out. I’ve been hitting that a lot at my job because it’s so repetitious. I’ve also been very frustrated with the lack of control that I have with working with a large institution. I dislike having to be here for set hours even when there’s no work to do. I dislike the office politics. I want more control! I want to choose my working hours and make decisions that are best for me and my family.

I actually really enjoy counseling. I love being in session with my clients. It does make me nervous at times. I do fear being unable to help someone, or saying the wrong thing, or just not being the best that I can be for them. Choosing to continue in a career of private practice would mean facing those fears, daily.

On the information sheet I filled out for my counselor, it asked what I liked to do in my leisure time. At the time I was filing it out, the only thing that could come to my head was all the stuff I did BEFORE I had a baby and how I have no time to do any of that stuff anymore. Then later, I asked my counselor how she kept from getting burned out. She said that she finds the things that energizes her and does more of it. That marinated in me for a few days and suddenly I started thinking about what I actually DO in my leisure times these days that fulfill me.

Connecting with other mothers.

I realized that since the birth of my daughter, I have blogged about motherhood, I have set up a facebook group to connect other mothers going through the ups and downs of motherhood, I have written a guide to pumping breastmilk at work, and I created a 30 day daily e-mail of encouragement that I send out to all my friends for the first 30 days after they have a child. Supporting mothers is clearly important to me. I feel passionate about it. I suffered from severe baby blues or even mild postpartum depression and I just felt like I didn’t know how hard it was actually going to be. I felt so unprepared and alone at times. If it weren’t for this blogging community, I think I’d feel like a freak at times.

So, I’ve decided that I want to set up a practice with an emphasis on mothers/want to be mothers/women, etc. I’d like to create more support networks and programs. Possibly developing an online component. I want to do this.

This is going to take time. I have a goal of getting things set up for next summer and perhaps reducing my hours at work next summer and transitioning toward a private practice. I have a big vision in my head but I struggle with the details sometimes. Though, for the first time in a long time I actually feel excited about something. I actually feel like I want to accomplish something. That feels good. It feels hopeful.

Career Directions and Passions

Last month I spoke to a career counselor who I found really helpful. I’ve been feeling very directionless and uninspired when it comes to my career future. I’m about to (finally) get my license as professional counselor. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do after that. I know I need to make more money. Not tons of money, just more money. “Enough” money. My counselor had of course stated that going into private practice as a counselor was definitely the elephant in the room and we needed to decide if that’s the direction I wanted to take or if we were going to take it off the table. Honestly, going into private practice scared the crap out of me. What if I fail? What if I get no clients? What if I can’t support myself? What if my clients hate me? Who would want to see me anyway? What do I have to offer?! There were all these huge mental hurdles getting in the way. I was also extremely concerned about burn out. I’ve been hitting that a lot at my job because it’s so repetitious. I’ve also been very frustrated with the lack of control that I have with working with a large institution. I dislike having to be here for set hours even when there’s no work to do. I dislike the office politics. I want more control! I want to choose my working hours and make decisions that are best for me and my family.

I actually really enjoy counseling. I love being in session with my clients. It does make me nervous at times. I do fear being unable to help someone, or saying the wrong thing, or just not being the best that I can be for them. Choosing to continue in a career of private practice would mean facing those fears, daily.

On the information sheet I filled out for my counselor, it asked what I liked to do in my leisure time. At the time I was filing it out, the only thing that could come to my head was all the stuff I did BEFORE I had a baby and how I have no time to do any of that stuff anymore. Then later, I asked my counselor how she kept from getting burned out. She said that she finds the things that energizes her and does more of it. That marinated in me for a few days and suddenly I started thinking about what I actually DO in my leisure times these days that fulfill me.

Connecting with other mothers.

I realized that since the birth of my daughter, I have blogged about motherhood, I have set up a facebook group to connect other mothers going through the ups and downs of motherhood, I have written a guide to pumping breastmilk at work, and I created a 30 day daily e-mail of encouragement that I send out to all my friends for the first 30 days after they have a child. Supporting mothers is clearly important to me. I feel passionate about it. I suffered from severe baby blues or even mild postpartum depression and I just felt like I didn’t know how hard it was actually going to be. I felt so unprepared and alone at times. If it weren’t for this blogging community, I think I’d feel like a freak at times.

So, I’ve decided that I want to set up a practice with an emphasis on mothers/want to be mothers/women, etc. I’d like to create more support networks and programs. Possibly developing an online component. I want to do this.

This is going to take time. I have a goal of getting things set up for next summer and perhaps reducing my hours at work next summer and transitioning toward a private practice. I have a big vision in my head but I struggle with the details sometimes. Though, for the first time in a long time I actually feel excited about something. I actually feel like I want to accomplish something. That feels good. It feels hopeful.

Skinny

As I sit here and eat milk duds, I think about my how my emotions and thoughts interact on a daily basis. I’ve never had an eating disorder, not textbook style anyway. I would binge on surgary foods as a teenager. I still do sometimes. I overeat when stressed, depressed, or bored. I make poor choices sometimes. As a teenager and adult I’ve always been just a little overweight. 

Like many American women, I have a difficult time not associating “thinness” with success/happiness. I generally try to just let these feelings come and then pass and go along my normal day. Sometimes though I’m shocked at the moments in which they get me. I mean, intellectually, I don’t believe all the hype. I KNOW that the shape of your body is just the shape of your body, nothing more. I suppose though the times I’ve been thinner, have been the times that I’ve been happier, more driven, doing better in life. So, I kind of assume when others have lost weight, they too are doing better. Better than me.

Envy of thinness is an interesting thing too. What got me thinking about this was this weekend I visited with Adam’s sister Sally, who has a 4month old baby. She didn’t put on a lot of weight during pregnancy, but I was kind of blown away with how ridiculously thin she had gotten since having the baby. I started thinking, gee she’s so thin, how did she do that. I wonder what she eats. I am so jealous. I am envious she gets to to to the gym and be a stay at home mom. I guess she’s trying to be a trophy wife for her older wealthy husband. I wish I could lose weight, why is it so difficult? Why do I have to love chocolate and wine so much? Ugh why is everyone else in life happy and successful and I am not? 

Gosh the mind is an awful thing sometimes. Why do I worry about what everyone else is doing instead of just paying attention to my own damn life? I keep telling myself, focus on what you have. Focus on all the positive. Live your own life to the fullest. You never know how much time you have left with anyone. Remember that each day is a gift. How would you want to remember life when you die? Worried about how successful you look to the outside world? The size of your pants?! God no. Just live. 

Today Adam’s mom called me and told me his sister had taken her baby to the doctor for his 4month check up and he had fallen in the weight percentile and the doctor was suggesting she feed him rice cereal to get his weight up. This of course sent her into a panic and tears and she was saying things like “Eve [that’s me btw] would have never fed Lamb rice cereal! Eve never had these problems! Eve didn’t do that!”  and I see how she’s comparing her mothering to my mothering. She’s guilting herself for assumptions about me that she’s making on her own, based off of the thoughts in her head. Thinking I have it all together, or had it all together. 

None us really do though, you know?