Thursday, November 23, 2017

Exposing Our Scars

"This too shall pass." It sounds cliché, but the truth is, it's gotten me through a gambit of hard times. An abusive relationship with my biological father, childhood bullying by peers, the near-fatal car crash of my spouse, and the death of my adopted father and infant son only one year apart. In my life, I have suffered countless losses and tragedies, but through them all, I try to focus on the positive, knowing traumas are what stick with us the most.
But our misfortunes don't have to define us. We can push through the hurt, and remember, nothing in this life is permanent. Everything is temporary, which means, the pain you are feeling right now, it won't feel this bad forever. Pain does lessen over time and you can find a way to not only survive, but thrive. Your future will still bring moments of joy: the exhilarating feeling of a first kiss, making the winning goal for your team, getting the promotion you earned, or watching your baby come into the world. Each of those life-changing moments can help you see past the pain of your difficult days. If you remember all the good times, and hope for all the ones to come, you can withstand anything.
I remember when I published my first book and I received my initial negative review. I'm not going to lie; it hurt. I cried myself silly over that first one and I had to accept it wouldn't be my last. But I had to make a decision. Was I going to let the negative people out there define me? Was I going to let them keep me from writing the truth my characters and their stories deserved? I could have stopped writing. I could have changed my name and hidden in anonymity. I could have let their brokenness break me—after all, hurt people, hurt people—but I chose to keep telling my truth. To keep telling the stories I knew needed to be told. I chose to ignore the nay-sayers and the self-appointed "critiques" who hide behind computer screens, or tvs, or other people. The ones who are too afraid to try to make anything of themselves, so out of bitterness, beat other people down who are creating. That first negative review changed me, but not in the way the person who wrote it hoped. I learned a valuable lesson. Nothing is more important than believing in what I do.
So, even though our misfortunes don't have to define us, I do think we should allow them to change us. Not into bitter people, but better people, willing to share our experiences to help others. I write what I feel. Out of my deepest pain, comes the deepest truth I can share with others. We are not alone in this world and our greatest purpose is to help others by exposing our scars.

*photo copyright

Monday, June 26, 2017

Celebrating my Son's Fourth Birthday While He is in Heaven

I woke up today feeling melancholy and I have been fighting the feeling all day. I want to be better, for this day to get easier, but I have come to realize, some days will always be hard. 

The first year, I did everything for everyone else. I was afraid everyone would forget Dylan and it scared me. I planned a massive balloon release at the cemetery and had a cake made for his 1st birthday. We spent the evening at my house, talking and sharing. It had been beautiful but exhausting as it proved overwhelming, pretending to be "alright" for everyone else. Deep down, I was anything but alright. I was broken, in deep pain and hiding it from everyone. But as women, we are taught to put our own feelings aside and focus on everyone else. And so, I did. It took the next two years for me to realize it was okay not to do what others expected or wanted from me, but to do what was the most healing choice for my family. 

This year, we kept it intimate. Besides my husband and kids, only my mom and oldest friend were at his grave. I didn't want to have to fake being happy or have my hair and makeup done. I wanted to go to his resting place and just be. Be able to miss him, to feel sad, to think about him without having to plaster on a smile for everyone else. Because I do that, often. I fake it. That old saying, "Fake it until you make it" has become my motto. I feel like I have been faking it for the past three years, ever since my son passed away from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) at almost 9-months-old. But I woke up today, and I didn't want to fake it anymore.

It had been difficult getting through Dylan's fourth birthday without him. It still feels surreal to celebrate a birthday without the person being there while you do it. I think of what I would have done, had he actually made it to four. I think this year, I would have loved to throw him a superhero party. I'm sure his dad would have bought him a ton of Avengers toys and he would have loved the idea of a superhero pizza party. We would have invited all our friends and family and it would have been a blast. But instead, I spent the majority of the day, trying to focus on anything else, besides the sadness of the day, but having my mind drift back and focus on it anyway.

As I sit next to my rainbow daughter, a gift I believe my son sent down directly from heaven, I think of how I wish she could have known her brother. My oldest asked me today, "Is Dylan her older brother or baby brother." What is the answer to that? Technically, he is her older brother but he will forever be remembered as a baby. Even she points to his picture on his headstone and says, "Baby." I reply, "Yes, that is your brother Dylan, but he would be four now." She doesn't get it yet since she is only two. I'm a lot older than that, and I don't think I get it either. All I know is today, we went and spent time thinking about the little boy that changed all our lives forever, and I am grateful, he has not been forgotten.