Friday, February 25, 2011

Good morning

Well, I had been doing significantly better since my last post but the last two mornings I've once again woken up with what feels like a hand squeezing my heart. I cannot even begin to describe how I hate this feeling. 

I know the obvious thing to say is that I'm still grieving...which I certainly am...but I think the additional stresses in my life are compounding the grief.  I don't live in a vacuum.

So again I'm writing.  I just really have no direction today.  I'm sick of whining about being sad and lonely and stressed out.  But that is how I feel.  The tiniest thing can cause my anxiety level to go through the roof.  And as much as I've given myself permission to "feel my feelings" I really wish I wasn't feeling so much right now.

What I do know is that these feelings will pass.  Maybe in 5 minutes, maybe in an hour.  As a general rule I no longer have the all-day anxiety of previous weeks.  Mornings are just hard.  Always have been.  If I can get my day moving along, these feelings will probably go away. It's just a really crappy way to start the day.

That's it for today.  No major complaints or celebrations.  Just reporting in.  Just trying to do something to help myself. And maybe some other people too.  Your feedback has been wonderful.  Until the next time....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I'm counting, once again, on the healing powers of writing.  The last few times it has helped, even if only marginally.

I feel physically ill.  Every day.  I awaken sick to my stomach and often, well I won't go into the details of what I do to try to get rid of the ache.  I am unbelievably anxious.  It feels like the world is just sitting on my shoulders and won't get off.  I have actual pain in my neck and shoulders.  And don't get me started on the crying.  I can do that for hours.  If I get on the phone or sit with the right person, the tears are unstoppable.

I know what many of you say, the tears are healing and I have to go through the pain in order to truly heal.  At this rate, I'm going to be the most healed person on earth.  Have I mentioned that I barely eat or sleep?  I've lost nearly 20 pounds since my mother's death and I suspect that I'm still losing. I am the exact opposite of the stress eater.

I'm trying so hard to connect to my kids but even they get it.  Lily gets clingy and afraid to let me out of her sight and Addison told me that I need to be happy. I can't even force myself to bake cookies or do an art project with them because I can't focus that long. Snuggling with them has been great medicine when I can sit still that long but it kills me that they know just how bad off I am.

I understand the work I have to do.  I just wish that I could figure out a way not to be so demonstrative ALL the time.  Being around other people helps.  I spent time yesterday with another person I know who has been struggling with her own depression and we looked at each other after a few hours and realized how being together was helpful.  I hope we get to do it again!

There's a life out there that I'm not living.  I want it back.  I miss it.  I miss the good times with my family and friends. I hope yesterday was a step in the right direction!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Running on Empty

I'm feeling like the biggest downer but I've also been told that getting things out and onto "paper" is a good way to heal. So I intend to have more uplifting posts as time goes by but right now I'm struggling.

I feel like I'm running on empty.  Losing my mother has sapped so much of my focus and energy.  Struggling financially doesn't help either.  I need a steady income but my inability to focus sometimes gets in the way of figuring out how to solve that problem.  And my children require so much more than I feel like I can give them right now.  They need fun and energy and I'm lucky I get meals on the table and a DVD in the machine.

I want to be that fun mommy who does projects and bakes cupcakes but lately I just want to make sure they are occupied so that I can go curl up and cry ... again.  I love them more than anything in the world.  I want to find the joy again so that we can have the wonderful kind of relationship that I shared with my mother.  I don't want them growing up thinking "Mommy cries all the time."

People keep telling me to give myself more time; grieving takes time.  I understand that but I need time to go faster.  I want to regain some control over my life.  I'm tired of waking up with a knot in my stomach every morning.  I'm tired of feeling anxious all the time.  It's time to move forward and I'm struggling with figuring out how.  The women I grew up around (my mother and her mother) were the type who could say I'm fine and bury their hurt.  Some would say that their way wasn't so healthy but they functioned in the world in a way I'm finding myself unable to. I've always worn my heart on my sleeve and I guess I still do. 

Only now it's broken.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Well, I started this blog with the best of intentions and then life knocked me off my feet.  I'm doing my best to heal after my mother's death in October.

Last night I began a bereavement support group and woke up this morning with all kinds of feelings running through me.  I composed a letter to the social worker who moderates the group but it is something I feel would be therapeutic to share. So here it is:

Dear Nancy:

I am writing this email as much to you as I am to myself.  After last evening's group session I'm having so many feelings this morning that I just need an outlet through which to channel them.

The first thing I am feeling is gratitude.  I am grateful that I have a place to go where it is okay that I "still" feel this way; someplace to tell my story as much as I need to and to cry if I need to and as much as I need to.

The next thing I am feeling is anger.  I've been thinking a lot today about my anger and what I am angry about. At first I thought I was angry that Mom didn't take better care of herself.  I realize, though, that I made peace with that fact to the extent of what it meant for my mother in terms of cutting her life short.  What I'm mostly angry about is that her behavior killed her and left me here alone and devastated.  She died and some days I have moments when I don't know how I will go on without her.  I'm angry because some days my grief gets in the way of my ability to be a good wife and mother.  Conversely, I'm angry because some days my responsibilities as wife and mother interfere with my need to take care of myself and my grief.  It is draining carrying all of this anger around.

I'm also feeling fear.  I once read an interesting take on the phrase "misery loves company" which was that misery will multiply exponentially when unhappy people get together.  I am fearful that being in a room full of grieving people will only magnify the grief as opposed to healing it.

Finally, I am feeling the tiniest bit of faith.  It is not an emotion I often allow myself to feel but in order to do this work of grieving I know I must have faith in the group process.  It has worked for so many others and I pray that it will work for me.  I sensed you saw my hesitancy about it when you encouraged me to come back next week.  I will be there because I really do need something to believe in.  I am placing my faith in you, the group (including myself) and the process to begin to bring me from a dark place to a place of light.

Thank you for all that you've done and continue to do to help me get through this tragic moment in my life.

I also want to thank everyone who has been there for me over the last few months.  Every kind word, prayer, thought and gesture has meant so much...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

On Aging, Part One

It looks as though today is not the day I'm going to start leaving funny anecdotes about my truly delicious girls.  They do figure pretty heavily in what I'm thinking about today though.

I'm thinking a lot about aging today: mine, theirs and, mostly, my mother's.  They are intertwined in a way I'd never dreamed of.

For many of us who had our children, ahem, later in life, there is a struggle on an almost daily basis; raising young children and helping with or caring for aging/unwell parents. It is a difficult, emotional balancing act that often leaves me in tears and despair...especially when someone has a health crisis (which inevitably is at a time most inconvenient for everyone).

This is my story:

I was blessed three years ago with the birth of my twin girls, Lily and Addison.  Although premature by almost 8 weeks, they were in excellent health, but they were very small.  Addison spent 13 days in the NICU, and Lily 31, getting beefed up and ready to come home.  Today they are happy, healthy, active, intelligent, inquisitive (ok, you get the picture) preschoolers.

The birth of my twins, 6 months before my 40th birthday, answered the question "How on earth am I ever going to have two children before I'm 40 when I didn't get engaged until I was 38+?" My desire to have a family completed by 40 was fulfilled but it also meant that Abe and I went from becoming engaged to becoming the parents of twins in 11 months! It didn't really leave much time for that honeymoon period which adds stress of an entirely different nature.

Now let's compound all of the above with having a mother who was diagnosed with diabetes in 1993 and began to show serious complications starting in about 2001.  I'm not going to get bogged down with all the details but there have been heart attacks, open-heart surgery, amputations (including the right leg below the knee) and multiple hospitalizations.

Which gets me to why I am thinking about aging today.  Mom spent last week in the hospital, was discharged on Friday and re-admitted last night. Abe and I were taking his parents to the airport when I got the text message that she was going back to the hospital. I was told that she was vomiting and that her blood pressure was extremely low but she was stable. I live more than an hour away from her so picking up and going was not an option - another source of frustration.

I know, I should just go and see her right now, right?  BUT I have been looking forward to this day for the last three years.  One day, during Lily's tenure in the NICU, the nurses (angels on earth if ever there were any) were telling me that they were hosting a reunion for prior NICU patients and their families and that the hospital hosted such a reunion once every three years.  It gave me something to look forward to when I was so worried about my 4-pound newborn.  Well, today is the day of the reunion; the day I get to go back into that hospital to truly celebrate the birth and lives of my babies.  I've been so excited to show off my girls. 

I'm going to put this out there as plainly as I can:  I resent the fact that I had to choose what to do.  I want nothing more than to enjoy this time with my girls the way a younger mother might be able to and for my mother to be able to be the grandmother I'm sure she always wanted to be.  One like her own mother: actively enjoying her grandchildren, spoiling them rotten, becoming their playmate and confidante. Instead, I have to contemplate depriving my children of a fun costume party filled with other children in order for me to go visit with my mother in the hospital. I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.

They call us the sandwich generation...stuck in the middle...raising little ones and dealing with aging ones...with very little time for ourselves.  Sounds depressing, no? It is. The emotions are endless: anger, guilt, resentment, despair, fear....

Here's what I decided to do: I checked in with mom this morning.  Although she sounds horrible and is definitely weak and miserable, she's not going anywhere.  I will take the girls to their party and leave a bit early.  We will then go to NJ to see mom and spend the night.  Unfortunately, I think we'll have to skip a hockey game tomorrow but that's a much easier sacrifice to make.

I know life is and always be filled with many challenges but right now they are verging on overwhelming.  I'm always saying "This, too, shall pass" to others so I need to keep reminding myself of that fact.  Unfortunately, I worry what life will look like when it does....

Follow up:  As I was getting the girls dressed I got a phone call from my brother (a topic for another time)that mom potentially had a bowel perforation and might need surgery.  With a little help from Abe I re-prioritized and skipped the reunion.  It broke my heart to miss it but the right place was with my mother.  No perforation thank goodness but they are continuing to run tests....

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The blank page

People keep telling me to write a blog. Well, here it is. Now the question is what to write. My kids provide plenty of material; then again, so does my family. Unfortunately the latter might prefer it if I left their stuff unpublished while the former doesn't know the difference. Hmmmm.... I've always promised myself, and my friends, that I wouldn't become one of those people who talks about her children incessantly. Which begs the question: does blogging about them amount to the same thing?

Truth be told I need an outlet and writing seems to be the ideal thing for me. Of course starting with a blank page and no real theme for this blog other than the fact that I am EXHAUSTED most of the time doesn't give me much direction...and too much leeway. The blank page is just the worst. So here I am filling it up with words that don't really amount to anything.

Wait, I think I'm on to a life! Lately, it seems like my life is a bunch of stuff that amounts to very little. Don't get me wrong - I have much to be grateful for: a loving, hard-working husband, two beautiful three-year-old girls, a roof over my head and many people who care about us. But somewhere along the line I've lost myself. Moms, are you with me?! Life stopped being about me - or even us two when it was just DH and me - and now is all about them. So maybe that's it...maybe this is going to be a blog about self-exploration and a journey back to a recognizable me.

I can fill it with cute stories about my kids (I'm unbelievably proud of them) and even some not-so-cute ones (they aren't perfect). I may throw a pity party or two but what a great place to do it. If you don't want to hear about it .... log off. What I will try not to do is embarrass or disrespect anyone. I will not use this as a forum to complain about matter how crazy they make me. I'll write about projects that I'm working on and share my moods. I am hoping that by doing this I'll feel a little more of a sense of control about my life. This blog will be the thing that I'm doing for me! (OOH, now I have a title for my next entry.....).