Thursday, June 12, 2014

Life Lessons

A few weeks ago, after I crashed, I decided to start seeing a counsellor to work through some of the things left over from the stroke.

Initially, all I wanted to talk about what I lost. I lost the first month of Carter's life, and will never have the chance to bond with a newborn again. I lost out on a breastfeeding relationship - for a second time, and will never have the chance to have one again. I lost a month of Evan's life, and will never be there for his true 3rd birthday.

I talked about how envious I am of women who have just given birth and get to have those experiences with their babies. How I want to tell pregnant women that not everything will go as planned, and they could end up like me.

But she listened. She really listened, and validated my feelings. What happened to me was shitty. It wasn't fair. It was hard. Insanely hard. And it's okay I feel that way about that time, and that I'm not "over it".

Then she asked me how I would describe my relationship with Carter now. And I just said "normal". It's like any other mother-son relationship. I love him to death, and he drives me nuts sometimes. Then she was silent until it hit me --- we made it. We DO have a bond. A very strong one. I doubt it would be any stronger if that first month was different.

Ah....I get it, I think.

That first month was awful. It was. But (as my brother says), it is what it is. It IS part of our story, part of my life...but it doesn't define me or my relationship with Carter. We made a strong bond in spite of everything.

To heal, I need time and I need to give myself permission to feel those feelings. It's okay to be envious or to be mad or sad. And when I feel those things, I need to check in with myself to see where I go from there. Like this morning, I was sad that Carter will never be this small again, and it made me realize that means I need to be more present.

I've learned many lessons in the past few months. Some really hard ones that perhaps a 35 year-old woman with 2 small kids normally wouldn't learn at the point in life.

- I know life can be shitty, and bad things can happen. But, if it doesn't kill me (which it could have), I will triumph.
- I have a better appreciation for life and better understand what's truly important. I try not to dwell on insignificant things (but of course things still get to me!)
- I have become stronger and more confident in my actions and my decisions.
- Our family is still closer than it was before the stroke, and it's amazing how much support we do have, even if it's across the county.
- Time really does heal. Sometimes, we just need time.
- Kids are more resilient and intelligent than we give them credit for.
- I do know what I need in times of crisis to get through.
- I need to give myself the same compassion and leniency that I give to others. I need to be nice to myself.

I'm not sure if I will continue to see a counsellor, but it's nice to know that space is there for me if I need. Sometimes we need to have that appointment to force ourselves to make space and time to focus on ourselves, even for a little while.