A long time ago I used to feel a lot for my friends and family. I felt happy for my friends happy and I felt sad or heavy for their heavy. I would try to support them and feed them and take care of kids when hard things happened… I would find little trinkets and quotes to help them in their hard or share in their joy. I remember the year I was pregnant with Lucy, 3rd in under 3 years. My friend, B, was also pregnant with her 3rd in under 3 years. She had a pile of boys and I had a pile of girls. We were ecstatic to be pregnant together and I remember taking turns watching one another’s kids while the other was at the doctor. After one of those appointments that I was watching the boys, I got the news that B had miscarried. It was one of the hardest moments, up to that point, that I have ever felt. I felt so guilty to still be pregnant, so sad for her and I felt her pain and loss. I felt her heavy. I did everything I could to help lift some of that heavy. I gave her quiet and made her get out. I tried to lift her, as did other friends, and get her family to a good place. Through those months we became closer and more vulnerable together. She miscarried 2 more times, both of which were heartbreaking for her and our group of friends. I saw her break over and over- it broke a lot of me. Seeing someone you love in raw pain is so hard. I felt her pain. In time I felt her joy when she became pregnant with the lovely little girl God gifted her. I felt her fear and her joy. When V was born I saw the happy and the relief, like B could finally breathe and know she was here, she was healthy and she was going to grow to be a lovely V.
Feeling the pain and joy and excitement and fear of our friends is important in real friendships and all relationships. We need to feel vulnerable, love, trust, safe and a knowledge that we can be forgiven. It is important with my daughters, my sisters and my friends. I used to be so in tune to feeling those things and good at responding. I felt for those friends, all the way inside my heart. I have missed that part of me.
When Madeline passed my body, heart and brain would not let me feel for others really. I wanted to, but it didn’t work. I went through the motions and tried to support the best I could. I did better working with families that I knew exactly what to do, arrange dinners, drop into the hospital, send cleaning businesses, mail a gift… set up best day ever’s. Inside myself though the main feeling, the ability to feel was not there. I had this patch of numb that I was mad at, but knew someday the numb would lift.
Lately I have felt some of that hurt, joy, excited, pain, loss and broken. I have felt bits of this and realized how much I missed it. My heart hurt for a friend who is going through similarish to me. She found out many untruths about her spouse and then many unfortunate and difficult circumstances happened after the truths surfaced. I felt a lot of pain and anger for her. I felt annoyed that so many people chose hurtful and mean paths that impact so many. I know in me I would never chose those things. I felt like I wanted to save her, to shield her from the days of breaking down while crying. I wanted to take away the driving and tears and need for sunglasses all.the.time. I wanted to pick her up and run her into next year… so she could be through all of this. I knew that this is part of her journey… she has to get to next year with support and finding things inside herself. That many people she meets this year will have no idea of what she was like before this… they will see a harder and maybe less friendly person. They might see her as someone who doesn’t believe in love or marriage. They will see her building the new her, that is so changed from the old her. All the parts of this are important for her, and the new her will be strong and kind and open and loving and believe in herself and love and her future. I know this because this is new me, old me didn’t know I could get here. I will feel her joy when I see her moving forward and building a new her, whatever that means for her and her family.
I felt much concern and hurt seeing one of my best.people.ever, one who supports me and carries me all.the.time, break as her son is struggling to grow up and be responsible for his life, body, mind and heart. I remind her over and over that she has raised an amazing boy, so kind and thoughtful inside. His façade right now is anything but that, but I know he is in there. Seeing her break over and over, seeing her family struggle has hurt. Sometimes we have to let people live and move and breathe and grow alone… to get to the next part by choosing to. My job is to support my lovely friend and help her maintain sanity and boundaries… and pray for her son. It was different to have that feeling that compassion for a friend, that ability to be intense and vulnerable with her. I have missed that.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not numb, have not been in a LONG time. I have felt sad, happy, missing, anger, broken, confused, joyful, excited, loved, hurting, nostalgic and new. I am moving past feeling so angry all the time. I like this part of me that is letting go of those hurts and means. I like the part of me that feels real happy for my girls- I wasted a lot of time feeling confused, broken and hurting… I missed some good memories wasting it on recent years junk. I think a better way to describe is that I was numb to others feelings while trying to figure out my own self and grief.
I have welcome this part of me back, I have missed it. I have felt like a failure for a long time not being able to be the friend and sister or family member I have known is in me. I also know I am not back to where I was, but I am closer. I am so different than before, I hope my knowledge and perspective will be gifts in supporting others and feeling solid compassion for my others. I know this is all part of the journey and the process and the building of me. I know this is all parts of the loss of Madeline and the safety nets my brain and heart have built. I love that some of the nets are loosening, knowing that my heart and brain are safe enough to feel and experience some of this again.
So much of this makes sense in the pile of grief and life and hurt… but even so it’s refreshing to feel a little bit of old me and who I was… I anticipate seeing how all of these threads weave into the me that I am building and is being molded. I appreciate all of the compassion and feeling, it’s a bit of old me I loved… it is a bit of me that I soooo missed.