On grief and guilt
My therapist says that part of what I’m feeling around my son’s health issues is a kind of grief. That I’m grieving the idea of a totally normal, complication-free life for him. Not that it was realistic to expect anyway, life is never free of complications. But it still would have been nice to have a year or two when he was just my perfect baby boy.
Is that fair though? Some parents never get to meet their babies. Some babies never leave the hospital. Mine will likely come out of this and grow up a normal kid with a few scars and stories to tell. So yes I am feeling grief, but also tremendous guilt. Why can’t I appreciate how lucky I am?
Then there is the anger, which I am told is part of the grieving process. It hisses, “This isn’t fair. This isn’t right. Why me. What did I do to deserve this. Why not someone else?”
Guilt again. Who else would “deserve” this? Nobody deserves this, there are just shit hands and someone has to get dealt them. There aren’t enough Aces to go around. So why not me? Why do I think I’m so special? I don’t know. But haven’t I been through enough already? I don’t know.
I hate that word right now though. Enough.
It rings through my thoughts. Is the house tidy enough for company? Rarely. Was that run long enough? Doubt it. Have I paid enough attention to my son today? Never. Have I shown enough appreciation to my husband? Of course not, and he certainly deals with… enough.
Nothing I do feels like enough these days and guilt seeps into all the spaces between where I am and where I want to be. I’ve been stranded by this storm of overwhelming emotions, and I don’t know how to get back. I see glimpses of a woman I wish to be, but I am lost and I do not know how to become her.
There is grief in that too. I grieve the loss of the smiling, doting mother I thought I’d be. I grieve the loss of stability that pervaded our lives when Postpartum Anxiety struck. I grieve a sense of predictability, of normality, of knowing how I might feel when I wake up.
I know my husband misses it too. And my friends, my family. I know everyone wishes that any of the words they had to say seemed to help. It’s got to be miserable feeling like there’s nothing you can do. I feel guilty about your helplessness even though I know you wish I didn’t. And yes, I feel guilty about that too.
It’s irrational, I know, I get it. The conclusions my grieving, guilt-addled brain reaches are usually demonstrably false and I wish that meant they were easy to discard. But none of this is easy. I don’t know why.
I’m not entirely okay right now. Some days are better than others, but some days are bad. Maybe it’s because of the grief or maybe it’s the guilt or maybe it doesn’t matter. I am doing everything right. The meds, the therapy, the support groups. Meditation, long walks, writing and more writing. It’s a process, and I know I will eventually get where I want to be.
Now, though, for this moment, I guess am grieving. I am sad, I am angry. At the world, at myself. I am scared. Terrified, really. I don’t like this, I don’t want to feel like this. And I guess it’s not my fault, but… there it is again. The guilt.
I’m trying to be patient with these twin dark clouds hanging over my head. I’m told they will pass. But for now, I wait. Wait with me?