Ughhhhh, I’m supposed to be working on budget stuff, but I had a therapy appointment at 7:00am, and it was so extra draining, which usually catches me by surprise, as I’m already pretty drained and also accustomed to talking about Matthew and my issues, but my therapist has a talent for asking me questions that dig deep and reduce me to tears and heaving sobs almost immediately. Also, I learned that my therapist used to be a stockbroker, which isn’t contributing to my emotional reaction, but it does blow my mind. So I feel like I need to process some of this here before I actually go about my day – like when I spew things onto the internet I can function better…
I told him about Saturday’s party and about how difficult it was/is to see most people from my past.
“Why do you think this is?” he asked.
“I don’t know…” I pondered hard, “I mean, can you tell me? You see other patients. Have you heard this before?”
In short, he explained that my reaction seems a bit unique.
But later he noted, actually in a slightly different context, “It sounds as though, in many ways, Matthew’s death has also been the death of you.”
Well this hit me like a ton of bricks, because, all along I’ve been intellectually aware of the dangers of letting the literal death of my son become the figurative death of me. And yet, I have to admit, I think he’s right.
Much of our current therapy focuses on me beginning to envision the type of parent who I want to be (mostly as it relates to my living children), beyond day-to-day safety and survival on which I’m currently focused (and have been for quite some time now). But doing this requires me to envision a future. A future in which all of us survive in the long-term, and this is so incredibly challenging for me, because I remember a time when I did this…
But he insists that if I’m able to picture something more for myself (and my family), even if I don’t entirely mentally buy into it, there might be enough incentive for me to change some behaviors, and then potentially, down the road, changes in my state of mind could follow, ultimately leading to a better life – not one free from grief, but one more functional, free from some of my current depression and anxiety.
He acknowledges that this is a tall order seeing how I’m starting from scratch – I have no way to look back at myself as any sort of benchmark of how I’d like to parent a living child, because my introduction to parenthood was death. So I need to, with the help of him and others, construct an image out of thin air, which hasn’t been easy for me. (See above re: envisioning a future and how this is a beyond-tough exercise for me.)
But also I kind of think it isn’t easy for the same reasons that seeing those from my past isn’t easy. I truly feel like my pre 07.13.15 identity has been erased. My memories of who I used to be, the parent I wanted to be once upon a time, are incredibly foggy. I remember that when I walked out of the hospital on 07.15.15 I felt as though I had died, and I think in a sense this was true as it felt like I had to relearn everything including how to stand up and get into a car and brush my teeth.
Eventually, I became more functional, resumed a few friendships, went back to work, etc., but in some ways, in each day since, it feels almost as though I, this woman erased, was taken, my memories wiped clean. Then I was forced to watch a highlight reel of my life, as if someone were saying, “This is who you used to be,” and then I was plopped back into this world with people expecting me to be her again. And many times I just feel like such an imposter. Like some people think I’m her, but I know I’m not. In fact, I don’t know who I am at all.
It’s as though my current existence came to be only a few years ago, which is a weird feeling. I imagine normal almost-33-year-olds benefit from feeling as though they have 32+ years of a contiguous past from which to draw. Of course I do have memories of my childhood and even later and have continued some relationships as well as my career (for now), which makes this only the more confusing to explain…
Does any of this make any sense at all? Does anyone feel this? No? Okay.