Thursday, April 27, 2017

When all you can do is stop.

send away balloons with a message and see who writes back:

It was a doozy of a week.  And the different shades of "doozy" all came as a surprise.  It was a week off from school for the kids and work for me.  Expectations and hopes floated like happy brightly colored balloons in my hand. 

We were ready for this week.  It was like the air that rests just above the surface of the water that you can see from deep below.  You are swimming towards it with eager anticipation, feeling the burn in your lungs, kicking harder as the sunlight gets closer. 

One by one, I collected these hopes for my week like balloons and walked along as though I was heading to a happy little party. 

Much of the week was just what it needed to be.  Slow and blissful mornings that were unhurried and full of pajamas and reheating the cup of coffee because there is time to sip slowly.  Wandering around the house from thought to thought, task to task, not feeling the usual pressure to complete the to do list.  Little outings in our fun part of the world - taking in glorious sunshine, yummy eats, and activities like bowling (because why not?).

Then it came.  Life's sharp needle that comes from out of nowhere.  So stealthy under the radar that the sound of the "POP!" of one of those balloons you hold in your hand causes you to jump with fright.

The first pop came as we sat in a doctor's appointment to go over a recent lab test we did for our son.  We have been on a long journey of discovering what was making him sick (mold!), and even longer to discover how to help him get better.  The results stung.  They felt like a mocking voice of defeat.  An unexpected slap in the face.  A door opening to yet another set of worries.  Another set of protocols.  Another series of out of pocket expenses.  More appointments.  More tests. 

More.  More.  More.

I drove away so discouraged.  And yet, feeling that familiar feeling of accountability and pressure to respond with a plan.

"Gear up, Ali." 

"You can do this."

"Put on a brave face for Callen."

"Be grateful."

So many thoughts bubbling up in my inner dialogue.  And, like any good conversation, replies started bubbling up as well.

"I am tired."

"When is enough ENOUGH?"

"How do I pay for this?"

"Is any of this working?"

The tears began to hover right on the edge of my eyelids.  You know that feeling.  You are like a water bottle that is too full and the slightest squeeze will trigger the spilling over the edge.  Each thought, each emotion, each breath was like a band of pressure wrapping itself around me and the tears were falling.  I kept my sunglasses on and tried to answer any questions coming from my kiddos with one word answers, avoiding them hearing my voice tremble.

Keep it together, Ali.

I was able to get the kids home and get myself off to go for a walk at some trails nearby.  Except that by the time I pulled up in the parking lot I was sobbing.  The tears were a torrent and the grief was unleashed.  There was no keeping it together in this moment.  I sat there in my car letting it all out.  Riding the wave of emotion, totally out of my own control and completely at the mercy of it.  I watched as a young couple stood with a photographer in front of lovely tall wildflowers next to the winding trail.  She was adorable with her pregnant belly.  She posed so sweetly, holding her tummy with such love and protection. 

The wave of emotion rises higher because I am her.

I am taken back to that baby in my tummy growing and being cared for so automatically and perfectly.  I have hopes and dreams and longings for what life will look like for this child and it certainly does not look like a contaminated home, so much loss, sickness and a very long and winding road trying to recover.  It is maternal extinct to want to shelter and protect and nurture.  And yet, I feel that even amidst all of the effort, I am failing. 

I suddenly feel like a hamster who has been in one of those cruel mazes.  I am eager to find the path through all the tunnels.  I press on.  I keep moving.  Feeling a bit tired and discouraged, but just keep going.  Try harder. I think I have seen this corner before ... man, it all looks familiar. 

Until, suddenly, I can't go one more step.  I'm done.  I sit under the arch and I stop. 
All I can do is stop.

This, my friends, is where I sit right now.  And, here is what I am learning ... that there is a lot of grief I have not allowed myself to feel.  In an effort to get my little people out of crisis mode when our world was turned upside down by mold and sickness, I stepped into action and have been steadily plodding along.  But, grief is like a shadow, isn't it?  It will stay right there, subtly following you wherever you go.  Sometimes a bit bigger, sometimes a bit smaller.  It all depends on where the sun is shining. 

I sat with a dear friend and shared where I am at right now.  As I wiped away tears and looked up, I saw her face just as wet.  She has known soul cutting grief.  She has walked a dark valley.  She just sat there crying with me.  For a while.

Then, she spoke:

"I am so sorry."

"This is all really hard."

"And here is the thing ... Job sat in his grief for 37 chapters.  I think you need to let yourself sit in this for a while.  Talk about it with God.  Feel it.  Face it.  Wrestle with it.  Give yourself that gift."

This is new for me.  I am a "do-er." I am responsible.  I am a one on the enneagram (I think).

Sitting in a mess is painful for me.  But, it is necessary.

Stop.  Sit.  Feel.


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