I don’t swear often, but when I’m mad swearing helps.
I’m mad at life
I’m mad that life can be so real, so cruel at times, and cause just as much pain as joy.
I’m mad that I can’t protect my loved ones from the pain life causes.
Sometimes that pain makes it hard to find the light, hard to feel like everything will be ok. One of the biggest lessons I was thrown when Melissa died was that I am not in control of my life or the lives of those I love. Despite our best efforts, there is so much of life that just isn’t in our hands.
When Melissa died I joined the bereaved parents club. Membership to this club doesn’t discriminate and isn’t voluntary. And this club has evil friend clubs for those who have lost a sibling, a parent, or a friend. Too many of my friends are joining these other clubs.
As much as I want to shelter loved ones from these clubs, from pain and heartbreak, I can’t.
And I hate that.
I spent a long time putting back together the pieces of my broken heart. One piece will forever be missing, but the rest of it is loosely back together (still waiting for the glue to dry). I couldn’t have done this without the love and support from some amazing people in my life. I feel grateful that even if they weren’t sure how to support me, they did, and mostly with minimal effort. Seriously, sending a text message is minimal, but meaningful so don’t ever underestimate the impact that effort may have.
Supporting someone along a grief journey isn’t easy. You won’t know what they want/need and most likely neither will they. Memberships to those evil loss clubs don’t come with manuals; they don’t tell you how to grieve or how to support others grieving. I am no more an expert on grief than you. I am still the bumbling idiot that has no idea what to say when someone I love loses someone they love. I’ve heard it all and I still struggle to find the words. I don’t remember all the things said to me over the course of my journey, but I remember how much the words helped. I also remember the sadness that came from the silence of some. I remind myself of that sadness when I find myself struggling to put together words of support. It doesn’t matter what I say, but that I say something.
Letting people know you care and are sorry for their loss is what matters most.
Because you know what that support does?
It makes life suck a little less
And the less life sucks, the easier it is to find the light
And when you find the light, it’s easier to put the pieces of your heart back together, at least what’s left of it
*We are far from perfect
But perfect as we are
We are bruised, we are broken
But we are goddamn works of art
Pieces of our hearts are gravitating together but
Before we could be part of this mosaic We had to break apart like glass
Of all the shapes we MIGHT have been… I say, “HOORAY for the shapes we’re in!”
There are many life lessons to be learned from Dr Seuss. One of my favourites comes from The Shape of Me and Other Stuff: everything, and everyone, has a different shape so embrace it!
This post is split into 2 parts; both very much inspired by the book and how loving the shape I’m in has affected my life.
Something very interesting happened to me after I started having kids; I started to care less and less about what other people think of me. One of the biggest barriers I’ve had in accepting myself the way I am has always been to let go of what others think of me. It’s so freeing to not care (at least not as much) and to finally be comfortable with the me that I am.
Maybe this revelation came because I’m a mom, or because I’m a mom to girls, or because I’m just too tired and don’t have the time or energy to care anymore. I recently realized that as of July 2017 I had spent the last 51 of 60 months pregnant or nursing! That’s crazy! In the last 5 years I’ve only given my body 2 breaks – 6 months and then 3 months. My body deserves a break and a round of applause; it’s a lot of work to grow, nourish and chase after babies and toddlers!
I recently came across an old picture of me on vacation with friends and I looked amazing! That was my initial thought when I looked at the picture. Sure, I was early 20s, didn’t have kids, and went to the gym most days of the week, so it’s not a fair comparison to my body now, but that wasn’t the point. I couldn’t help but admire the body I saw in that picture and then I got sad. I was sad for the me in that picture because what you don’t see is that I was terribly anxious walking around in that bikini. I was constantly worrying what people who looked at me thought, which was obviously that I was a whale and how could I possibly be wearing a bikini like that with a body like that. I doubt if anyone even noticed me in the crowds of people also at the beach that day. But me? I was so uncomfortable in my body it was hard to enjoy the beach and all I focused on was my flaws.
This was more than 10 years ago. This was before social media exploded and we became even more bombarded with images of “perfect” bodies. I don’t want to imagine how self-conscious I would be if I was that age now, or even being a young girl or teenager growing up today.
Having girls of my own it scares me to think they may suffer the same as I did. I kid you not when I say I didn’t feel comfortable in my skin until I was 30. I don’t want that for my kids. I want them to know what I know now: Every person who looks at you isn’t judging you; they don’t see the flaws you do. Don’t waste your time worrying about it.
And if people do judge you? Who cares. I am a cushier version of the me from that vacation picture and you know what? I don’t care. I don’t care because what matters to me is the love I get from my husband and my kids. My husband loved me back then and still loves me now. My kids think I’m comfy to snuggle with. They love climbing into my lap or onto my belly for hugs and snuggles.
I may not always love the shape I see in the mirror, but my body has been through a lot and I deserve to give it a break.
Today I am giving my shape a great big, loud HOORAY!
Last week I did something I didn’t expect.
I hopped on the treadmill with no goal, no expectation, my only thought was to just get on it and see what happens, do what felt right. Side note: Can you do something you don’t expect if you didn’t have an expectation in the first place?
Anyway, I walked for 2 minutes and then ran for 13! 13 minutes straight! I ran an entire mile!!!!!
Let’s back up a little so you might understand the need for so many exclamation points… I used to love working out. I loved going to the gym (see vacation picture above), but no matter how hard I worked I could never run. My lungs always felt like they would collapse and if they didn’t, my legs would quit. Even at my best gym-self I couldn’t run more than 5 minutes straight and it took me a while to get to that.
After The Boss (my first daughter) was born, I walked a lot. She wasn’t a day sleeper, but would sleep in her car seat so I would push her in the stroller to make her nap. It helped me lose baby weight and made me feel better about myself, but I didn’t realize the impact it had until one day 3 years ago when I hopped on a treadmill. I had been involved in a conversation about running and how the biggest obstacle is mental. The next day I decided I’d get on the treadmill and see how it goes. I ran for more than 5 minutes straight and I hadn’t been to the gym more than a handful of times since The Boss was born. I couldn’t believe it! And the strangest part? I actually enjoyed it. Never before had I had any sort of positive feeling toward running or anything on a treadmill.
I started running a little more frequently and even completed a 5k a few months later. This was big for me and was something I never anticipated I would do.
Shortly after the 5k I was pregnant again and couldn’t run if I saw an ice cream truck.
After Melissa died I found it impossible to get up and move. I did nothing for 3 months. I got pregnant again and was terrified to go to the gym, but I wanted to try to do everything I did the first time I was pregnant because I needed to do anything I could to help this baby survive. I didn’t go often and when I did I lazily hung out on the elliptical for 20 minutes.
After The Peanut arrived safe and sound I once again found it impossible to get up and move; trying to get out for walks felt like the hardest thing to do. Needless to say, I’ve been to the gym maybe 3 times since she was born, that’s July 2016, for the record.
So all this to say that I think it’s freaking amazing that it’s been well over 2 ½ years since I’ve actively worked out/ran and I was able to go as long as I did and, for the most part, enjoyed those 13 minutes. Even if I don’t get the same results the next few times, I’m proud of myself.
I’m proud of myself because I was actually able to be in the moment, not thinking about the end or what comes next, and it paid off
I’m proud of myself because I took the first step (thousands, actually, but who’s counting?)
I’m proud of myself because I was able to ignore my inner dialogue that so easily fills my head with excuses and negative thoughts like “you can’t run more than a couple minutes so what’s the point?”
I’m proud of myself because I have been absolutely terrified to lose weight
Losing weight means that I am losing the last physical reminder that Melissa was real, that I carried her to term, that she lived and died. The number I see on the scale is the same number I saw when I found out I was pregnant with Melissa and, until today, I have been so scared to see it go down. But I think I might finally be ready. I think today I proved to myself my body is ready and it’s time for my mind to catch up.