There are a lot of things in my life that I choose on a daily basis to ignore. I can’t think about certain things and I’m not always sure what hurts more: the thoughts I detour or knowing I’m not strong enough to handle those thoughts.
I have trespassed over fields dotted with a variety of emotions growing wildly and without restraint since my stroke two years ago. I was told by a counsellor what to expect when it came to grief. He said this was normal. He said to expect changes in things like my sense of humor. He said that things would be different for a long time. My survivors network members all had testimonies of their experiences with what I was warned was to be ahead of me. But everyone’s situation is different and people tend to experience different forms of grief or anger or sadness or even triumph at different stages in their recovery. I’m still grieving, I learned and I’m learning that my grief goes so deep I don’t think I will ever learn to overcome it.
I think we all learn to block things out because we know we can’t handle them. How we replace the thoughts can be varying; some can be hazardous, some can be pleasant. Some of us find ways to express ourselves through art and music, some through violence and abuse that can come in many different forms. I feel very limited in ways that I cannot express and because of this I feel lost. I feel lost as a person, as a wife, as a woman, but what hurts me the most is being lost as a mother. I have myself so wrapped up in fear and precaution that I can barely move without vomiting the bile of my depression or anger. I fail as a parent because I cannot hold myself together in front of my kids. I fail as a parent because I am not teaching them how to deal with things properly. I can’t teach them what I don’t know.
I try really hard to be strong for my kids, I really do. I don’t think I do it well enough, however. My husband, he tells me, “You do more with those kids and for those kids than mothers with 100% of their minds and bodies.” I know he’s right but I still can’t forget the things I can’t do that I have always wanted to do and I feel this creates a gap that I’m not sure I will ever be strong enough to cross.
I never wanted kids. I did, when I was little, but then the older I got the further from the idea I got. It feels like the day I said out loud:
You know what? I like my body. I have no stretch marks. My boobs aren’t big but gosh darn aren’t they perky? I really enjoy just going to concerts when I feel like. I like having loud sex with my fiance at 4 in the morning,
I got pregnant.
But that was fine because then I thought:
Dude…an excuse to watch cheesy kids movies and cartoons, awesome.
If it’s a boy, I can buy him a shitload of Lego’s! And we can build whatever we want!
And then when we found out he was in fact a boy:
I can show him how to play sports, how to throw a perfect spiral, how to breathe when he runs track. I can take him back to my home in New England when he’s older and I can show him where I come from, and how to hike and how Birch smells like root beer and is sweet if you gnaw a fresh twig. Or how delicious that one little drop of sweetness from a wild honeysuckle bush can be. How to sled, how to skate, how to bat, how to play badminton. And hacky-sack…
And it just went on. And of course, after I had Skas, I did none of those things. We lived in the ghetto. Do you know where ghettos are located? I’ll tell you where you can find one; just look for two or more of these things within a 4 block radius of each other and a ghetto will be near:
- Grocery store
- High school (for some reason not an elementary, maybe a junior high, maybe)
- Strip mall
We lived between a grocery store and a highschool, across the street from a hospital, a block away from 2 different churches – one with a daycare next door. Across the street from the grocery store…a strip mall. I never took my kid outside alone.
But then he turned 3 and I started feeling really guilty. He needed to be outside more. I had quit my job to go back to school anyway so I started taking him for walks around the block early in the day knowing most “hardcore ” (lol?) people would be sleeping or pretending they were working, maybe doing community service . It was nice. We’d sing ABC’s and count while we walked. He’d ask me about my favorite color and we’d talk about Spongebob. We’d come home and my pockets would be stuffed with rotten pecans and acorns, pebbles and small twigs but he was always happy. But there was nowhere to go, nothing to do. We just went around a couple blocks, then it became a few and then we’d zigzag back to make the walk longer. I felt like I was wasting time walking and not doing anything else but I just kept saying:
I’ll make it up to him when he’s older.
I didn’t know I’d lose that option in less than 6 months.
I want to sit here every day and mourn over that. I want to slap myself for taking such advantage of what had been given to me. It was so precious. I look at my little boy and I want to still teach him, to show him how mommy “used” to be. In my head I am still my jumpy, hyper, “let’s go” self but physically I am nothing like me. I am so broken. I am so lost to myself. How can my kids ever know me if I do not exist? It is so ironic because that very same question is what kept me going after the stroke.
And now, I feel like my kids will grow into thinking I am nothing but excuses and what’s worse is they will probably be right. The other day, the reason for this post, my husband wanted to take the baby for a walk, I really wanted to go. But I couldn’t. It had rained the day before, mud was on the sidewalks, the grass was saturated with water and it was windy. My hip was pretty tight, my balance off-key. But I wanted to go and it breaks my heart because I didn’t go. I thought it was best to just stay home and be alone than to ruin their walk by complaining halfway through that I was in too much pain and needed to go home before they were ready to end their walk.
I’m not sure if by doing this I am missing out and in turn causing them to miss out or if I am sacrificing my presence so they can enjoy having an extra hour of nothing to do but walk around the property. I’m pretty sure I’m teaching them bad habits no matter what.
I know that crying over it does no one any good so I try to avoid these thoughts but that’s not working either. I can’t bottle things up, I can’t ignore them. I just explode eventually and Kasper is left trying to figure out how to fix everything. I have to stop doing that. One of these days he will stop threatening and will actually call a hospital. I have to face these things and deal with them but oh my gosh…it is so scary. I am still grieving the loss of the mommy I will never be for my kids but maybe that doesn’t mean I can’t discover the mommy I can still become.