The Sign I Wish I Could Wear

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It would say something like this…

Hi. My name is Georgia. And if you’re not my husband or my son and you are spending any amount of time with me… or even just corresponding with me… there’s a very good chance I’m faking it until I make it. But don’t feel bad. I do this with my husband and son at times, too. And I even have to fake it when I’m alone sometimes, which I realize isn’t a bad thing… just a sometimes necessary thing. In fact, faking it can also be called having a good attitude. Attitude isn’t a feeling. It’s an act… as in action. So, if I’m faking it, it’s my way of choosing a positive attitude over a negative one. .

But I’d need a really big sign, because I think there would be so much more I’d like to say without having to actually say it. It would just be the things I would want people to know… the facts or messages they might need access to so that who I am {or the person they see} is not a mystery. Things I wish people could understand. Things I need people to understand, but can’t bring myself to say… mostly because it’s too hard to determine who would receive it and who would not {perhaps to raw?}, but also because even if everyone would equally receive it, I’d have to be repeating myself so often with each time I had the chance to bear my heart, I’d likely grow weary from saying it.

Maybe this is what long periods of mourning and isolation were about in days of old… more about being alone until the heart is healed and the rough edges have smoothed… about protecting the broken heart of the one who has lost and protecting the hearts of others until it has become whole again.

Well, I honestly don’t know. I only know what I wish my sign could say. It would say, please see through everything you’re noticing on the outside and let your eyes pierce that facade. Please know that my heart is jagged and still in pieces… some of which might be too sharp to come close to…. .

Please know that when I lost a baby a year and a half ago… when I found out I would probably lose her six months before that… something changed in me, and I fell into a very deep pit that is hard to climb out of. It’s a pit called Insecurity. For the life of me, I can not figure out what would make me feel insecure about losing a baby, when nothing that happened was through a fault of my own, and nothing I could have done would have prevented us from conceiving a very ill child. But today, it dawned on me… maybe the insecurity is not about us creating a child only to have to wait for her inevitable death. Maybe it’s over what happened as a result. Maybe it’s because somewhere deep down, I know my heart has holes and cracks and it hasn’t felt strong for a very long time. Anything that’s broken is vulnerable. Fortresses are of no good if every crack and crevasse isn’t sealed and impenetrable. A cup can not hold water if there is any opening below the level of what it’s containing… leaving it somewhat useless. I wonder if my heart, broken as I know it, feels far too vulnerable to all things that might threaten a heart, and I wonder if that is what this new insecurity I’ve known is borne of. .

It’s not that I never had any periods of insecurity, or areas of insecurity in my life prior. But it’s like a new me has emerged out of this loss… and if I come across as secure, it’s the biggest faking-it job I can pull off. .

Please know that I don’t do well with faking anything. And though it is necessary, I think {in order to move forward and carry on until my heart can heal}, it becomes a war within. And I get confused about when it’s okay to fake it and when it’s okay to be real and vulnerable. .

Know that I feel awkward in social settings, almost always. And because of that, putting myself out there is stressful to me. The stress I feel about going anywhere or being around anyone occurs before I go for as long a time as I will be in that setting. And that is hard for me to believe {or accept}, because I used to love being in social settings. It’s some of the hardest work I’ve ever known, to now be around others. .

Please know that the isolation of losing a baby made me crave connection… almost instantly. But know that I struggled to figure out where to get it, or how much. I struggled to figure out who to be vulnerable with and who not to. Still struggle, actually. Over time, I began to get the impression that it just wasn’t cool to stay vulnerable and that my grief was too messy, so I put on a show that I was okay. .

If you know someone else who lost a baby and they seemed to get through it better… or more quickly… or with more grace or faith or progress or consistency… please know that I am not that person, and my journey is different. .

Please know that I’m progressing through grief, and that the progress might appear to be more, or even less, to others than what it actually is. Please know that I go through setbacks. And know that it takes much less to set me back in progress than what it took to set back the old me. .

Please know that, from my perspective, everything has changed. Every single relationship I had going into losing a baby became different coming out of it. Please know that I don’t know if that is my fault or just the nature of it. Please know that I am aware that perhaps nothing has even changed, but it seems to me as though it has none the less, and it’s overwhelming. Where one person might be dealing with a different me in my grief because everything changed, I have to figure out how to navigate a different everyone in my grief because everything changed, and doing relationships is so very hard for me… and has been from day one, from the moment the nurse called me to tell me what was wrong. .

Know that I am aware that it may just be one of the many enveloping natures of this loss… that the changes are forever, and not just temporary. Please know that such a thought scares the hell out of me. Please know that I cling to a belief that if that were to happen, it’s okay, because all I ultimately need is God, and he will either restore or replace what is lost. But please know that it’s a very hard belief to hold… because I lost a child and she can not be replaced, and my finite, earthly mind sometimes has a hard time grasping what that means outside of my finite, earthly world. .

Please know that I have made mistakes in my grief, and that I knew I would. Please know that I want to crawl under a rock or move to a new place where nobody knows me because it seems like it would be easier than working on the rough edges or insecurities. Know that I am often terrified of being around others and I do it anyway because I feel like I need to. Please know that I walk around every day feeling like someone I am not, wondering if I’ll ever know the old me again. There are times when I feel she is still in there {the old me, that is}, but I tend to think she’s just visiting the new tenant of this house. .

Please know that there are days I go without thinking once of my daughter… almost forgetting she even ever existed. And I think my mind and flesh know to do this without me even telling them to. Know that my mind and flesh are often in survival mode, and giving- or helping-others-mode has not been activated for a while. .

My faith has been strong {a sincere one, not fake}. And it has been mightily weak. It’s in a weak state at the moment. Please know this, because I feel that if you are around me or talking to me, you should know that I don’t pretend to have anything figured out, and that if I talk as though I do, it’s just an act of faith… perhaps just a mustard seed. .

Know that I’m sorry for whatever I don’t get to blame on loss or grieving. And that I’m even sorry for the things I do get to blame on it. Know that if there is any kind of statute of limitations on that kind of thing, and if I’ve reached it, I still struggle, because I’m trying to figure out my way in this world as the different person I’ve become, perhaps resisting being that person and hoping the old person will return. Or, perhaps resisting even further transformation into yet another person… like there’s three. Me prior to June 28, 2013. Me after that date. And some unknown yet-to-emerge-at-a-date yet-to-be-determined person. .

Know that I’m not a believer in people apologizing for things that are not their fault, but sometimes it’s too difficult to determine where I’m failing and where something is just the nature of the situation, so I might resort to that even if something I did was justified or inevitable. Please don’t see that as a weakness. Rather, just a mechanism with which I can cope. But know that I am sincerely sorry {and say so privately} when I’ve been unquestionably wrong. .

Please know that I feel ugly on many levels, and I sometimes try to hide it… ’cause who wants to be ugly? Sometimes I try to mask it with make-up. Sometimes, I just let the ugliness fly. .

Please know that I’ve become disappointed in more things {even people} throughout this past year and a half than I care to admit, so I find it difficult to trust sometimes. But I want to. And I hope to be able to more easily at some point. .

Please know that I’m much more easily disappointed by things, compared to the old me… that it takes so little. Cancelled plans, not hearing back from someone, even honest mistakes, etc… And that I tend to fall into habits of the very same things that disappoint me, because I easily give up, and then in. And I easily quit the kind of work I might have done at one time to not give up and in. .

Know that it’s so much more difficult than ever before to keep a good attitude. And I fail at this more often than not. .

Also, know anger is not a stage of grief I felt in the beginning, and it’s creeping in more in these later days. But also, that it’s not a stage that plays out like I always imagined anger playing out in grief when I’ve read/learned about those stages in the past. It’s not something that shows up one day, runs its course, and then leaves. It’s something that creeps up when other things go awry. In other words, I don’t sit around all day, every day, thinking about Anysia and being angry that I lost her. Instead, things can be going along fine, and I can be feeling quite the opposite of angry, and then something totally unrelated can go wrong, and anger flares up, and I feel an underlying anger over the fact that she’s gone, even if what has happened to bring it to the surface has nothing to do with it. .

Please know that I’m tired. Physically, but more than that, emotionally and mentally. Just so very exhausted. And anyone who has gone for such a long period of unrest knows how hard it is to function. Well that’s me. I don’t always function well. A lot of the time. I see signs of strength resuming. But it’s slow. And I know it is. And when I try to rush rest or strength or pretend it’s there when it’s not, I get even more exhausted. So I have let it come on its own. .

Know it’s taking me a while to get fully on my feet. I’ve been on several walks. And I’m confident they are building me up to the full strength I lack. But it’s a slower process than I thought it would be. .

Please know there is cynicism and bitterness in my heart that I am fully aware I need to surrender to God. Know that I am no longer in grief counseling or counseling of any kind to sort of help me with that. Know that I find it hard to even pick up my Bible. Know that I feel guilt for having even reached such a place of bitterness. .

Please know that I am broken, because my loss broke me. Know that I don’t know how this all works… if I’ll ever heal and look the same or if I’ll heal and look different… with a heart that looks more like a stone or a deformed face. Or if it just won’t heal, period. .

Please know that my journey might lead me away from you. Or you away from me. And that I am okay with it, not because it’s what I want, but because I know I don’t want it, so if it happens, it must be some other cause that is out of my control… and how can I not come to terms with that? Actually, sometimes I don’t. But in the end, I think I will. .

Please know that it might take me a while to learn what suffering and loss is supposed to be teaching me. Know that I want to be taught through it. Know I want to learn. Know that the vessel this loss and sorrow has carved out in me longs to be filled with joy, but that I am still walking around on shards at the bottom of that vessel, still figuring out the best way to pick up the pieces without cutting myself or others. .

Know that I long for my mess to be seen and accepted… for others to not run away from it. But know that I expect that at least some will. And know that, sometimes, this is why I fake it. .

Know that I realize that everyone fakes it until they make it on some level. It’s a part of life, and I know that. But please know that it’s my everyday default. And know that I wish it was not that way. .

Please know that, even when I get it wrong, I am working hard to survive loss, survive grief and survive this new landscape that seems like a wasteland. .

Please know that, even in faking most days {or coping in whatever ways I need to}, the love and joy I have for my husband and son… and daughter… is real. Please know that when I celebrate them, it’s real. It’s necessary, actually. It’s sometimes all that saves me from sinking lower. Know that I can even celebrate other things, beyond just them. And I do. And gratitude and joy, while evidence of them may be rare or veiled, is sincere when it’s shown. When I say “faking”, I’m talking about the part where I pretend I’m okay and pretend I don’t want to crawl in a hole and give up. .

Please know that, technically {or according to what the experts say}, I still have a month of grieving to go {if I fall into the average time frame for baby-loss grief}, and that even if I don’t seem like I am where I should be, I have grieved every day of that period up to this point, and never made an attempt to shut it down. Rush it along… yes. But not shut it down. I always allowed it. Please remember that. And know that I’ve been doing “the hard work of grieving” like an expert in this field once told me grieving would be… hard work. Know that I’m doing the best I can, and if I sense that it’s not fast enough or right enough for someone, there’s a good chance I’ll run as far as I can from that person. Know that when my dad died, it was hard. But in retrospect, it almost feels like it wasn’t, now that I’ve lost my daughter, because this is just so much harder. .

Please know I’m not hopeless. But I am still hurting. .

Please know that I write such things with a heavy heart, but somehow, it feels less heavy having written them. .

What a large sign I’d have to tote around to hold all these things. What a burden it would be to carry it. I guess there’s a reason people don’t walk around wearing what is on their heart. We all have to work through the things we each deal with… the places life takes us and the results of what we go through in those places. Maybe we’re not meant to shed light on it all. We don’t get to wear signs in life. Write blog posts… yes. But wear signs? No.

I never felt the need to wear a sign before. But maybe that’s because the view outside my heart looked much more like the view inside, and what was filling my heart was also filling my life and daily interactions.

Today, they are much, much different.

. .