Have you ever been caught in an ocean wave? A powerful force slams you beneath the water. You are tossed as if you weigh nothing. Saltwater stings your eyes. What you think is up is down and the only way to get your bearings is to touch bottom and push yourself up until you can breathe again.
Being spun around in a wave describes my journey from the moment I found my husband dead until today. And the waves keep rolling over me as I get close to shore; the only difference is that I now find my bearings more easily than before.
It is those unexpected waves that snag me around the knees that get to me these days. Recently, a family member told me that I am a "disappointment" for temporarily putting my career aside to home school my daughter when she had anxiety issues and for taking time to make sure the kids were on steady ground before piecing myself back together. I haven't lived up to my potential, according to this person, and am a failure for not getting my career back to pre-child status yet. Even me being stressed out from time-to-time has been pointed at as a sign of weakness.
Life is not a Hollywood movie. Life can be ugly. Life can be mean. It is not some sitcom where the widow brushes herself off, looks perfect everyday, juggles being an only parent with a laugh over a glass of wine, flirts easily with the single neighbor guy and lands her dream job by the third episode. To think otherwise is a sure sign of insanity, not to mention a deep lack of sincerity, compassion and empathy.
Being a mom is significant. I reject the notion that choosing to stabilize my family after a severe trauma and loss would be considered a failure by anyone. I wouldn't trade my time with my kids for all the riches or all the glory in the world. If you feel a need to criticize that, then I feel sorry for you.
When you have been this close to death, so close that its scent and chill linger in your memory whenever you shut your eyes, then you know sorrow. When you see your spouse carried out of your house by the coroner, you know desperation.
I am sure that it is the same with a child, if not more so. That immediate sense of love vanishing from your life is more profound than any other kind of loss. I know because I have had other kinds of losses--grandparents, uncles, friends--all of whom I loved and mourned; but nothing compared to my husband's suicide. Nothing.
People who have survived an intimate loss need compassion rather than judgment; understanding instead of resentment. What was said or done in the aftermath of a loss that deep cannot be held as a grudge or as 'proof' of some type of deficiency. On the contrary, what is said or done (within the law, of course) while someone is caught in the wave of grief needs to be seen within that context and dismissed accordingly.
Emotion is useful not shameful. Trauma is not drama--it is reality. It may not be pretty or easy, but it is real. Mistakes were made because decisions needed to be made--and then adjusted. Again, a consequence of reality.
The big waves come. When you are caught, you will be tossed and you will be scared. When your body touches the bottom, be grateful. Push upward. Go toward shore. The waves will dissipate, the water becomes shallow. You will make it to solid ground, even if you end up standing there alone.
About Moxie Girl Musings
Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com