I am often torn between wanting to feel and be better, and wanting to and being in a state of deep mourning. Sometimes I want to just lay in bed and feel the hurt. Sometimes it feels like staying in that dark place is a way of staying connected to him. I have had thoughts that if i can’t give him love directly, well at least I can feel the pain. But mostly I want light back into my life, I want to enjoy it again like I used to and not waste a single second. I want to be the bright bubbly mum i was for my children (and not just my living ones, but for Elliott too) and not just forcing and faking it, but feeling it. I want to be a resemblance of my old self because you know what? I really miss the old me. I crave it, I seek it, I try to reach for it. Some days the pain is just so overwhelming and debilitating all I want is a moment to come up for air and I spend the whole time (between internally screaming) hoping and wishing for a better day to come.
This is where the emotional tug of war continues…I have moments, hell I might even have a whole day of light and get a glimpse of the old me for a bit and what follows is another super shitty moment or day. For me the smiles and the peace just aren’t sustainable yet. I feel like i’m holding on tight to this unpredictable roller coaster with white knuckles and my fingernails piercing my palms. A roller coaster that is neither fun or exciting, but exhausting and terrifying. The ride can be anything from ‘good’ day-bad day to ‘good’ hour- bad hour. I can spend the day smiling to walk through the doors of my house and collapse in a complete mess for the rest of the night. Sometimes there’s a trigger, sometimes there is absolutely nothing at all that changes your mood. Sometimes you can firmly attach ‘the mask’, other times if falls straight off. And from someone who felt like I was in complete control of my life and my outlook on it, now i can tell you it’s 99.9% out of my control right now and all I can do is hang on and try to manage getting through both good times and bad.
Then there’s the guilt which adds a hand to the fight on both sides. When i’m deep in the dark waters I feel guilty i’m not doing enough for my children, i feel guilty that they don’t deserve to have me like this. But often after calmer times I feel guilty for Elliott and have asked myself “How can I be ‘happy’ when my baby died a few months ago?”. Even though I know I am no where near ‘happy’ yet and even though I know he would want his mummy to be truly happy. Sometimes it can feel like i’m not honouring or respecting him by ‘moving forward with life’ and having moments of laughter. Other times I feel guilty because my anxiety plays havoc worrying about what others must think seeing me seemingly happy and (perhaps very strangely) i worry people will think i am completely OK. I worry people will see me on a good moment and question the integrity and truth of my writing, or think I am ‘over’ the death of Elliot or have ‘moved on’. All things I am so scared for people to think. For the last 5 months there been one great big battlefield playing out in my head.
Apart from just hang on, what do i do about THIS? Sometimes I really need to let myself have shit moments or days where I am a sad mopey terrible mess (like last night and now). I need to be OK with having them because it is all part of it. In those days I’ll make sure I do what I need to do to get through them, and I won’t apologise for doing or not doing what ever that may be. During these times I also need to remember that while pain is a big (and important) part of being connected to Elliott, it is not the only thing. There is something bigger, and that’s love. So in the times where i am scared to move out of the darkness or feel like i can’t, i tell myself, I can still hold the pain but move it aside for a moment and feel the love.
When i have good moments and feel guilty i need to let myself have a moment of guilt because lets be honest no matter what you tell yourself, mother’s guilt can’t be prevented. What i do however, is make sure i don’t stay too long in that moment. I keep telling myself its OK to have happy moments and be happy. I tell myself the cliche is true, he would want me to be happy. When my mind questions “how do you know that?” I answer “because your other two always want you to be happy and he is no different”. I talked to a friend about this very dilemma and she told me how she talks to her angel in her head telling her how much she loves and misses her, she tells her angel that she’ll never be forgotten. Talking to my friend and hearing how she tells her angel these things reminded me that i can live and grieve at the same time. I can be sad, broken, miss, grieve and mourn for my son AND have happy times and neither negate each other. So now when i feel guilty about being happy i’ll make sure i tell Elliott how much i miss him. Even though i know how much i miss him with every single one of my heart beats, even though i know he will never be forgotten, i’ll tell him to ease my mind that he knows.
I don’t know if it will be like this forever, if i’ll always have these up and down times but a lot less frequently, or if the down times will almost completely cease one day. No one can say for sure because everyone’s journey is so unique. For now what i do know and understand is the absolute importance of the words “be gentle/kind on yourself”. Grief is nothing but the opposite of gentle, so you really do need to do that for yourself.