Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Definition of Grief and my E

I read today, on my friend's FB post, an amazing definition of grief.  It talked about how at first the waves come crashing in on you rapidly and they feel as though they are 100 feet tall, hitting you over and over again without mercy.  It talked about how the waves eventually become smaller and less frequent, that you eventually are able to see the waves coming at you and can prepare a little more for them as they crash against your soul.

The loss of a loved one is hard and cruel, especially if that loss was too soon or too tragic.

While I have lost a dear grandfather, two wonderful uncles, and some peers from school, the pain of death hasn't stung me like it has others.  I have never lost a parent, a sibling, or my greatest fear, a child or spouse.  I have been spared this strangling pain so far and thank my Heavenly Father daily for their life and protection.  While I truly do miss those I have lost, they weren't mine to claim. Their children, spouses, and parents are the ones who have had their lives changed forever.

So while I have never felt the true pain of death, why do I still feel like I have 100 foot waves crashing down on me?

Why am I grieving?  Why do I feel the pain that seems to only define the loss of a loved one?

When I looked up the definition of grief, this is what is says:

keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.

I will say that I was grateful to see that grief doesn't just cover loss or death.

I remember the first time I felt the deep cut of grief.  I had just been through the difficult and rigorous journey of In-Vitro Fertilization.  We had traveled to California and spent two weeks there, I had met with one of the top doctors for IVF, and then after two weeks of waiting and feeling completely sure that I had one or two babies growing inside me, I got a call from the nurse saying I wasn't pregnant.

I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach.  Punched so hard my breath flew right out of me.

I didn't know this then, but I know now, that I was in the middle of complete and total grief.  Wave after wave poured upon me.  I felt cold and dark and hopeless.

Since then, I have had my share of grief riddled trials. I have come to see them as what they are and I am learning to own them and accept them.  I realize I don't need to be strong at first, I just need to wade slowly through until I can catch my breath again.

I saw this quote the other day and it sums up completely how I feel about grief:

Reactive Attachment Disorder has brought to our family a lot of sadness.  Sadness that doesn't go away.  Sadness that fills me up to the top and spills out in tears several times a week.  I feel loss of hope and a loss of self, often, like I am only able to catch my breath once in a while.

And now we have had another big blow.  When I got pregnant with our E, I was ecstatic. She was our final try of IVF and it worked!  Our L was only 18 months and we were so excited to bring another child into our home.  Little did I know that L's RAD would start to show it's full colors a few short weeks after we found out our amazing news of E.

We were knew to the area, here in Saratoga Springs, and we didn't know a soul.  I will admit, no one opened their arms to us and I started to become a recluse.  And I started to spiral fast downhill from L's trauma raging fits.

I felt so utterly alone; I wanted the earth to just swallow me up.  Looking back, I believe that is when depression had set in.

Needless to say, my pregnancy with E wasn't as joyful as I would have wanted.  Stress, anger, and complete total loneliness wrapped me up daily.  No one believed me about my L and said I was being too sensitive.  They all told me it would pass and that some kids are just hard.

I was barely able to breath at this point through the crashing waves and felt honestly as if I were drowning.

Deep down I have always known that this heartache would indeed affect my precious E.  She has always been my fire and ice child, difficult in many ways, but I held on to hope that she didn't feel the constant hurt I felt each day while pregnant with her.

I was wrong.  She felt it all.

While her anxiety will never be as severe as our L's, she none-the-less has been expressing her own disorder very clearly these past few weeks and we finally had to take her in to see what was happening.

E has been diagnosed with Hoarder's Disorder.  That is right, hoarding.

She flies into raging fits of anger and panic when we ask her to throw away garbage.  She hides it in her room and lies about how she threw it away.  She holds onto string cheese wrappers, fruit snack wrappers, juice bottles, paper towels, broken toys, etc. like they are precious treasures to her.

Once again, those 100 foot waves have crept up on me and I feel like my strength is waning, as I wade through knowing another child of mine will have to go through the difficulty of dealing with a rather complex anxiety disorder. I am trying to look this trial in the face, see it for what it is, and spend the time we need to with it.

I am owning my grief and I know that time will lessen the frequency and height of the waves.

But just know that if I seem down again, if I don't show up, it is because I am barely able to catch my breath right now.

Lots of love,

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Finding the Darkness in the Light

Some people have hinted that my blog is a fairly sad and negative space.  I don't mean to be the kind of person who only talks about the doom and gloom in my life, as that is not my intention.

My intention is education in some maybe not so common issues.

I have so many beautiful blessings in my life, such is my title, "Pictures of my gifts".

I talk to people all the time who go through seemingly life breaking trials, trials that would knock almost anyone to their knees.  I see what they share and don't share, I see how much they are consumed by what their life has become and then I see many loose the bands of their hell and fly in the faith of their Savior.

I know women who have lost a child or multiple children to a sickness or a tragic accident.  I have known women who have never been able to have a child of their own and those they adopt are riddled with trauma and anger and these women are left with the struggle of raising a child who only wants to hurt them.

I've known men and women who have dealt with abusive husbands/wives who have hurt them over and over again, and these women and men trying their best to keep their family together, while the spouse lies and manipulates others for their personal gain.

I have known women who have been raped, beaten, and hurt by complete strangers.

I know women who have lost their spouse to death and mental illness.  Leaving them alone and lonely.

I have known men and women who struggle with infertility, with the illness of a child, their own daily struggle of health and illness.

And I've known women who have lost their entire family in a tragic accident.  Their whole family. Their heartbreak is beyond what I can ever imagine...and yet, they go on.

Most, if not all, of these women have used the faith and strength they have needed in their Savior to bear them up, to hold on and not let go, even if they are only holding on by a thread.  And to be honest, I have learned from each and every one of them.  Their dark times and light times have taught me how to fight and how to move on in my own life.

In their story of struggle, I was made stronger.

I hope that as I share what I am going through that I will only be helping those who feel they can't cope or they can't move on.  I hope that while I may not be going through what they are going through, I will be able to be a strength of hope and faith.

Sometimes when we see that others suffer, that we are not alone in our hurt, we can then hopefully gain the strength to get up, to move forward, to see the light again in our own anguish.

I know for years I suffered alone.  I suffered deeply and it affected every part of my life.  And now I am paying for it with my health.  Getting those unhealthy cells out of my body takes a lot of effort and growth.  Moving the pain out of my body rather than further inside me has taken such hard, painful, and gut-wrenching work.  And I, as all of us, will continue to be a work in progress.

God did not send us down here to wallow in our grief.

But He did send us down here to struggle, to struggle with pain, faith, work, and life.

Struggle is key.

Without struggle we can never understand joy.  Without struggle, we will stay stagnate in our growth.

Without struggle we cannot become like God.

And while we will all struggle, God also does not intend for us to do it alone.

We first and foremost, have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who has literally felt everything we have felt.

His suffering is not symbolic, it is literal.

The Savior's ability to succor us is unlike anything else in this world, but first we must let Him.  He can be the difference between night and day between utter darkness and brilliant light.

Second, God gave us each other.  WE HAVE EACH OTHER!  I don't think we understand how great of a gift this is.

So in the end, why do I write what I write, first to educate my circle of people in some of my rare, yet very difficult struggles, and second to hopefully be the beacon of light to at least one person who may need me.

I hope all of us can reach out in whatever capacity we feel we can and be the light to those who need us.

So much love to you all!


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Speaking Out

I get it.  Some people are horrified by social media and how our lives are put out there for judgement. I get that when someone is too personal, it can make others feel uncomfortable or upset or feel it is too close to home.

I don't know about you, but I am a huge Brene Brown fan.  I have read a few of her books and each time I do I worry less about what others think and worry more about who I can help with my story, my truth.

Some still don't like how open I am.

I am totally fine with this.

I know who I've been able to help and I know there will be others.

Our stories shouldn't be hidden or lost, it is through others we find our strength.

I have, however, come to find that life isn't about getting everyone to love you or understand you.  In fact, when you speak your truth it is easy to make enemies.  But in that process I have found life is about finding those true people in your circle who care, those who love you for your truth, who love you within your brokenness and pain.

In my church on Sunday we discussed the topic of helping each other.  While taking dinners, helping with cleaning, or child care are all AMAZING parts of this service, I have also found that allowing others to see that they are not alone in some of live's most difficult times, has been not only a blessing for them but for me as well.  And while I share my story, I have also found strength and help as they share with me their story and how they are working through it.

I do not, in any way, share my truths for you to cry over me or to feel like I am weak or self-absorbed, I share because honestly, I have felt I needed to share.

SO as I talk about this next subject, please know, that while I am truly putting it all out there, it is only to empower, to help, to show that hiding our pain isn't what God intends us to do.  Even our Savior asked for his friends, the apostles, to please stay awake while He went into the Garden of Gethsemane, he wanted his friends to be there for him and to protect him while he suffered for their very sins.

And yet, they slept and had NO idea what their friend, their Savior, their Redeemer had done.

He needed his friends and they were not there for him.

We are all in this journey together, hopefully doing our best to be the best moms, dads, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, and children of God that we can.

But sometimes we get hurt.  Sometimes others hurt us and we need more support, we need to speak up and get help from family/friends and professionals.

I want to share something very personal; in light of all those who are now speaking up about how common it is to be sexually assaulted or humiliated, I know their pain.  I have held it in for years.  I only told my husband this past month and he was the first person I spoke to about it.  I felt weak, I felt stupid, I felt humiliated, and so I never said a word.

I want to share this as I hope to give a voice to what is too common in our world.  I want to share my story to show that it isn't those moments of hurt in our lives that define us, but they can make us grow and stand up for what is right and true!

Sometimes saying something out loud makes all the difference in the world!

When we were going through our infertility journey, we met with a doctor, who knew how broken I was, who knew how desperate I was to be a mom, and yet he used that to hurt me.  At the time I knew what he was doing was wrong, even though he said it was part of the process of IVF.  He hurt me over and over again, and I never said a word.  I trusted him.  I wanted a baby so badly, I didn't know how to speak up and so he kept hurting others, until finally other women finally spoke up...and yet, I still stayed silent.  Maybe if I would have spoke up others wouldn't have been hurt!

I could have stopped him from sexually abusing others.

But I can't dwell on that now.

In the end, he lost his license.  I tried to tell myself, he didn't hurt me, even when my husband questioned me, I lied.  I couldn't be one of those women who allowed that to happen.  I wasn't weak, I wasn't stupid.

I was wrong.  I was wrong about a lot of things, as I realized it has nothing to do with weakness or stupidity.  It has to do with self worth.  I didn't feel worthy to share my story, I didn't feel worthy to NOT be taken advantage of. I didn't feel worthy of my truth and that somehow it was all my fault for letting it happen.  There was a dark cloud that hung over me for years.

But now that I am talking about it, I can see more clearly that it had nothing to do with me...it was not, in any way my fault.  I trusted him and he took advantage of my pain.

I hope that this story will only help others see that their worth in God's eyes is still pure and beautiful after something like this happens and that it is NEVER their fault.

Again, I hope that this is all taken in a place of love and understanding.  I don't share my truths for your tears, I share them to educate, to help, to show that we, none of us, are alone on this journey.

I love this quote:

"Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

*Update: I found out that only after 1 year in jail and 2 years of probation this doctor still practices in Provo, helping people through IVF.  He is under very strict rules to help his clients be safe under his care.  If you have any questions you can ask me in the comment section and I will be happy to help you.

Lots of love to all of you.