Friday, May 27, 2011

Right Where I Am: Three years Two months and Twenty Seven days

still life with circles: Right Where I Am Project: Two Years, Five Months.

I am taking part in the Right Where I Am project that Angie is hosting. Click on the link above to see the stories that others have written.

This is right where I am.

In a moment I can tap into the feelings that bring a prickling sensation to the back of my eyes, and the knowledge that I am about to lose control. I am feeling the pain and helplessness and disconnectedness to my world because I can see myself standing beside an infant crib in the neonatal intensive care unit of a very large hospital for children. My child lies there.

In the second moment I am holding my breath, with tears welling in my eyes I am trying to blink away the confusion of how that happened.

I draw a breath and blow off the disconnectedness and confusion and I feel as though those months of his life were fleeting and so brief. I am disappointed that I didn't do something differently. And I cry tears that make my cheeks wet and my nose run. Who knew that 135 days can flash past so quickly. I approached each day fairly patiently believing that the day was just one of the days that it took for him to get better, so he could come home. I didn't know each day was a day that it took to get to the point where his illness took his life. I was holding onto hope. Why would anyone want to do anything different to that?

And then he died. I am resigned to that part of the experience. It's the one solid place I can stand. He did definitely die and it was definitely 1,183 days ago. He was ready and so were we.

A few minutes later I am focussed on my life today and where I am now. Grief feels like this to me. Sudden and strong with anxiety and then back to calm and rational seeing how far away I am from those moments.

At some stage of this grieving process I feel like I passed from being a girl or woman, to being a person, I feel like I left stuff behind and that makes me feel like there is a possibility that I can be simple and free. I just don't care for superficial small talk. I don't like to talk on the phone anymore. I am much more likely to say no now that I am three years + out. At the beginning I was so desperate to have contact with people who could make me feel better, or feel nothing, or feel something else, that I said yes to stuff that was clearly unhealthy for me. Doing stuff that made me feel stressed was a way of avoiding how I really felt.

My life today is a series of reinventions. After the crisis of Thomas' death I began a search and rescue mission, looking for the pieces I left behind beneath the rocks I hid them under. Now I have collected the pieces that were most resilient and I am working with them. some might say that I am starting with the hardest ones first but I am in am in recovery mode, so I am doing the most important ones.

I am reinventing my career, studying and working with kids with disabilities. Going really well, it has taken some real courage to be able to honestly tell people (who matter) why I am doing it.

I am reinventing my body, losing weight. Going really well, I am down 31kg. And its scaring the shit out of me, I have moments of wanting to be fat all the time and its a battle I sometimes lose.

I am reinventing my relationships and marriage. Well I haven't actually got very far with this one, but my marriage has survived at least.

I didn't even know that I could work in the disability sector, I felt drawn to study so I applied, the whole time I just couldn't imagine how I would behave when I met someone who had Down syndrome. And what if they were called Thomas. How would I do a job in the disability sector if I had to avoid all Thomas' with Down syndrome? And what if they were a child? How could I cope with that?

I am starting to think that its the unfulfilled parent in me that wants to work with kids with disabilities. I never ever had the desire to work with kids before. At first I thought that the unfulfilled parent reason is a bad and unhealthy reason to want to work in this field. But now I think it makes me passionate and committed. I just want to see that anything is possible when it comes to a kid with a disability and workers that will step up to a challenge. In a placement that I am doing at a kindergarten I work with one boy with Autism, the rest of his kinder friends are kids headed towards the mainstream system. It has been my test case scenario, somewhere that I can dip my toe in the water to see if I can do it. It seems I can.

Today I had some amazing feedback. We had a meeting, a Psychologist, Speech Pathologist, the kinder teacher, me the Aide and his Mum. We had an hour of going over all the things that could be done to help this young man move towards school readyness. They acknowledged the things I am doing with this young man and all said that he has progressed because of it, they said it over and over. It's a wonderful place to work, I am loving it. Kids are great people. It's not like being a mum when you work with them.

One of my weightloss goals was to be able to ride a motorbike. This picture shows me having a go. I have had two lessons so far and I haven't damaged any property or fallen off. I look like I am doing it right, don't you think. I don't know if I will go and get my motorbike licence but I am now in a space that I can do that if I choose to. And we have a spare motorbike (now that my husband has bought a bigger one), and I have the gear (so I can go places on the back of his motorbike), I just need the confidence (it is building).

I need to see the big picture not the small scary one that sneaks up to me and tells me that I will never be skinny for any amount of time, I will never be successful, or loved, or whole. I need to see the big picture that tells me that this is just a hump that I will defeat on my way to victory. I can be a healthy body weight and I can be active and I can be successful and I can defeat that sneak who whispers to me "you can't".

That is where I am now, getting more confident, taking charge in some areas of my life, moving toward a career that I have chosen because of Thomas. And grief is still there just as strong, but for shorter periods of time, and I now accept it's arrival because its a familiar feeling now, it is a part of me that I would never wish away. It's proof that I love.