Invisible mother

 

William, 10 months old x

William, 10 months old x

On Sunday I went to the beach with my nephew Rowan, he is 6 months older than William and turns 2 next month. Standing at the water’s edge, with his toes curled up in excitement, he would steal backward glances to his dad to make sure he was safe. When the waves had receded he would throw his ball and run away, stamping his feet from side to side, impatient for his ball to be returned by the tide. William would be walking by now, and I’m certain would be playing with his big cousin, both working each other up, both screaming in glee at what seems a tidal wave to a small person but gentle breaking waves to me and you. The magnitude of William’s absence overwhelming. To watch the way that Rowan would wait for his dad’s words of reassurance, the trust so deep-rooted, Rowan hanging onto his every word.  The bond so inextricably woven into their eyes. I miss that. I miss having a little person being unconditionally dependent on me.

There was not a moment that passed without me thinking about what William would be doing, would William like the water, what would he be thinking. It’s moments on the beach that drive home the loss. Other parents playing with their children, building sandcastles, exploring rockpools, I want to do all of those things with William, but I can’t. To everyone on the beach that day I was a twenty something woman taking pride in observing her nephew overcome his fear of the “bubbles” getting closer. Edging a little bit closer to the waves with every throw of his ball, being careful not to let the “bubbles” roll over his toes. After all, it was a Sunday, the weekend, surely if she had a child they would be with her on the beach. The ‘people watchers’ who’ve decided that Paul and I are a childless, young couple, enjoying our weekend off. I know I am a mummy, but I almost want to broadcast it to the world, a big sign above my head which explains in big bold letters “I am a mummy too, I didn’t choose this, my baby is in heaven, we are a family.”

It is very hard to distinguish between love and grief, because they are one of the same thing. Grief is all the love you want to give but cannot give, the more you love someone the more you grieve. The happiness and joy love brings turns to sadness and despair when unspent. Grief is just love with no place to go. Missing William and grieving for William is not about not moving forwards or living in the past, it’s about me loving him in the present.

The moment those words were spoken “I’m sorry my love, but he’s gone” just like that, it was over. William was gone. In that moment, my soul died too. Leaving behind a broken shell to walk this earth. I feel like I’m stuck in purgatory, somewhere between heaven and hell. Since losing William I have read a vast amount online from similar bereaved parents, not wanting to go on, not knowing how. Finding that their surviving children, the only reason to put one foot in front of the other. Some of us in this club don’t have other children, trying desperately to find another reason amongst the pain to forge on an impossible task. My only drive is to get to the inquest, to be William’s advocate, to be William’s voice, to not just tell people how losing him has impacted our lives but to make them feel it, feel it for just one moment, the enduring pain that we feel, that we will be feeling for a lifetime. Beyond the inquest is a black abyss for me, not wanting to stick around the most desirable choice, to be reunited with my baby again. See, it’s very hard to understand these feelings, unless you’ve felt them. Some may say that taking ones life is selfish, but step back for one second and think; it is selfish to ask me to endure a life sentence, a life of pain with no desire in order to save the heartache of others. What you are asking is ‘please put up with your pain, because if we lost you, our suffering would be unbearable.’ To be there for me, to listen, to love, to help guide me, and sometimes just to know that you love me and that you would miss me is ok. But to say it’s selfish is not something anyone else can judge. You do not feel my pain, you do not feel this pain. You do not have to live through the agonising seconds, minutes, hours and days waiting, waiting for this to all be over.

I’m not asking you to accept it, to like it but just try to understand it. Suicide is the most significant part of my care plan. Knowing that I can do it tomorrow, discourages me from doing it today. My get out clause. My safety net. I know this will sound alarming to you, but try to understand. If you don’t want to know the real answer about how I am, it’s probably best not to ask.

I do not want to hurt, I do not want to die, I did not want William to die. It would be a waste of my life, but it was also a waste of William’s life. I know all of this, but mostly I know that I cannot live without my beautiful little boy. I did not choose this, it has been chosen for me.

Stuck somewhere I don’t want to be

This photo was taken just over a year ago, the flowers are in bloom again, the grass is loving the warmer weather of Spring and the sun is shining. But you’re not here. I stand at the window and look at the pathway where you once sat and it’s so empty. How can a pathway be empty? Well ours is. It looks like something is missing, and it is. Mummy had to mow the lawn the other day mostly because I couldn’t find the hole to put the washing line in, but the whole time I remembered the days we spent together on maternity leave. You happily watching mummy whilst she mowed the lawn for you to practice crawling on. You were so content, so calm and so happy. You didn’t cry or whinge, you didn’t get upset because mummy put you down, you trusted me. Trusted that you were safe with your mummy. Your eyes the picture of innocence.

Instead today I spend my time biting my nails, itching my hands, picking at my skin, sitting on the bed, twiddling the cotton in my fingers, laying down, turning over, sitting up, laying down, turning over, sitting up and getting up again because I’ve exhausted all possible positions. No position is comfy, I am constantly agitated. I go to the toilet for the fifth time in an hour, either because I’ve forgotten I’ve been or because the anxiety forces me too. My tummy rumbles constantly, I’m sure I’ve eaten, I’m sure daddy made dinner, even my tummy is crying for you too. I don’t want to ‘do’ anything, but I can’t sit still either. So mostly, I sit on the bed, looking out the window and twiddling the quilt. This somehow passes the time, part of control. I can sit for hours, although I have no concept of time. The only difference I notice is when the sun sets over the rooftops, the street lights flicker on, and I know that it’s now time to get in bed. You see, if I go to bed before it gets dark it messes up what routine I do have. If I could stay in bed all day then I would, but I can’t, so darkness is the signal I wait for. I don’t really know what I expect from getting into bed, because it’s no different from sitting on it. I don’t sleep, I lay there twiddling the quilt, cuddling your teddy and thinking of you. When my shoulder starts hurting I turn over, then when that shoulder starts hurting I lay on my back. There is no relief from the relentless torture of knowing you are not in the next room sleeping soundly. It hurts, mentally, emotionally and physically. I don’t just miss you, I yearn for you, I need you. Every muscle and fibre in my body is screaming out to embrace you, feel your warm skin on mine, lose myself in your sweet smell when you bury yourself in my neck, just to love you, physically.

When I step over the threshold and stand on the carpet in your nursery it feels different. Different than any other carpet, I somehow feel rooted to the floor, the last room you ever saw. Your beautiful darkwood kub walda sleigh bed that mummy took so long to choose, making sure it was the right one and perfect for you. It’s beautiful, the wood almost warm to the touch. I sit on the floor hold on to the bars and peer through, I sat in this exact same spot the evening before you went to heaven, cradling you in my arms, soothing you with mummy’s touch, whispering in your ear and cocooning you in my love, you calmed down, you fell into a deep slumber in my arms. As I laid in bed last night, my body crying out for sleep but my mind not allowing it I got out of bed and walked into your room and I immediately feel a sense of calm, this is your sanctuary, your warm and cM osy safe haven. When daddy came to get you up in the morning you would be all sleepy, not quite awake and wanting to snuggle. You’d grab your little reindeer so as not to leave him behind, pop your thumb in your mouth, nuzzle into daddy’s neck and come into mummy and daddy’s bed for cuddles.

I feel trapped here without you. I don’t feel like this is my life anymore, it’s not the one I wanted, this is now a life sentence. A cruel existence. As every day passes I can feel myself detaching from life. I am physically the same person, but really I’m not. I feel no better today than a week ago, a month ago, or the day after I lost you. People treat me as if I am, if they asked themselves truthfully, they know that life isn’t any easier, but it is easier to talk to me as if it is, everything to me seems so petty, I am virtually irritated by everything. As everyone around me deal with their grief differently, I feel like I am bringing people down when they are having a good day, but I can’t help it. I’m not happy, I’m not jolly, I smile but it’s forced, i laugh but it’s fake. I don’t feel real without you Grumpus, I’m just stuck here without you, paralysed by my love for you.

 

 

The new normal

Here we are heading into the third month of 2015. Although December the 14th feels so long ago it is as raw and vivid as if it was yesterday. 79 days. 79 of the most agonising days of my life. I still don’t believe this is real, it still doesn’t feel like William is never going to be here with me, but he isn’t and knowing this, means knowing my life will never be better. All of my life I have always strived to do the best that I can, achieve the most I can, be the best person I could be. I have not always done the right things, said the right things and know I am not perfect, but I knew, I knew that when William was born my life could never be better, could never be more perfect than the moment I held him in my arms for the first time. Knowing this I feel like my life has peaked. That it can never be any better than the short period of time I was blessed to have Grumpus. It can only be different, a different kind of different if that makes sense.

The past week since I wrote my last post has been odd. I have been to see the psychiatrist again and they’ve changed my medication. They’ve assured me that everything I am feeling is completely normal. That feeling like I want to go to sleep and not wake up isn’t about suicide but about wanting to be with William. The two thoughts, that to most people are so similar are actually so different. That they can co-exist and it is ‘OK’ to have these thoughts and live alongside them, for now, for the next few months, years and even the rest of my life. I have sat and thought very clearly about these two concepts, consumed with grief, like I’m in a totally different world to the people around me. Sometimes I sit there and look at the people on the table next to me, in earshot, but I cannot hear a word they are saying, I can see their lips moving but no sound coming out. It is very surreal and it feels like I am viewing life through a window. Like a bystander. Observing what is happening around me but not taking part. Like a silent movie.

No matter what people tell me, try to help me, or even impart their own experiences this is my personal journey, I’m not choosing to process this in the way that I am. Everyday I wake up and feel different from any other day, but the same dark, black, dense fog surrounds me. This week I have made peace in my mind that it is ok to feel this way, I know I have an escape route, a safety net or a get out clause and because I have this I no longer feel trapped. Managing these thoughts is key. Key to not tipping over the edge. The only way I can explain it is that my mind is like a see-saw. Continuing to struggle on is balanced on one end, and not being here balanced on the other, not struggling on and giving up. It is a fine line, a fine line that I’m tip-toeing along very slowly, not expecting anything from myself.

I can’t make any sense of this, and I don’t think it is something that can be made sense of or rationalised. I feel like I’m in a bubble, a bubble of grief, my bubble of grief. When I do things, like go out of the house or go into the office it feels wrong, I feel guilty, guilty that I’m climbing out of my bubble of grief and doing something. But I’m not leaving William behind, I’m not betraying him, I don’t love him any less, I don’t think about him any less. In fact I miss him more, wondering what he would be babbling to me in the back seat, wondering how many times I would have to put his shoes and socks back on after he’s busied himself pulling them off. The concept of doing anything in recent weeks has always seemed impossible, now I can do things, knowing that when it becomes too overwhelming, or I cannot cope, I can climb back into the safety of my bubble of grief, too heavy to carry with me. One day maybe, the walls of the bubble might become thinner, and one day the bubble might pop and I will have the ability to live my life carrying my grief with me, not allowing myself to be consumed by it. But for now, I have my bubble. A bubble I feel relatively safe in.

Trying my best to adapt to my new normal.

Will power – so unpredictable and finite

“Will”noun

  • the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action.
  • control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses.

Will power, this is something very different to desire, or wanting something. There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you have had enough. I don’t feel any further along this journey other than the fact that the passage of time is something completely out of my control so therefore I continue to exist through the fog. I have no desire nor do I want to live the life I have been left. I haven’t written a blog for a while, I haven’t had the strength or energy but also this is similar to a diary or journal of my inner most thoughts, and they’re so negative. I cannot help the way I feel or what I think, it is what it is.

I feel totally trapped, like William is in heaven in the sky, what I have left of life is down here on Earth, but I am somewhere in between, floating in limbo. All I want is to be with William. Not wanting to be here to exist through what life is only leads to the fact that I’ve had enough; and the cold harsh reality of that is taking my own life. There is such stigma around suicide, that it is a cold, blunt act, with such finality. This is not what I want, I don’t want to ‘die’ I just want to be with William, but he is never going to be here again, he is gone. For me the acceptance of this fact only means one thing, that if I want to be with William I would have to make the ultimate choice of life, to take my own. It is very hard for me to write this, I know so many people who read this will not like to hear it, mostly because it is a subject that is not often talked about, but that is the truth, my thoughts and feelings haven’t changed; I have felt this way for a long time. I don’t feel ashamed of the way I feel, and I don’t want to hide behind the stock answers to ‘how are you?’ “well, you know up and down”. I can’t hide it. I’m terrified, terrified of being here, I fear tomorrow, knowing that tomorrow will not feel any better than today but worse, the pain intensifying alongside the bond between William and I strengthening. If it wasn’t for suicide, I would have killed myself by now. This may be a hard concept for you to understand but because I know I have that choice tomorrow, it is my safety net today.

Taking your own life, whether it is a choice or an impulsive action is not cowardly but takes sheer will power and guts. It is not a nice place to be, a place that is so dark, so isolating. I am scared, scared because I no longer feel like myself, will power is so unpredictable and absolutely finite when it takes hold. The thoughts and feelings are involuntary, overwhelming and all consuming.

This is where will power comes into play. I can never say that I ‘want’ the life I have been left after losing William or have any desire for it, but you must have will power to allow the passage of time to make living with it a little easier.  How can this happen knowing that life will never be better. It can only ever be different. From the day that I found out I was pregnant everyday surpassed my expectations, I never knew that a love so intense existed. And with every day that passed I fell more and more in love. Losing William so suddenly and unexpectedly completely cut off my lifeline, my outlet for that physical love gone, when William died, so did I. My heart and soul went with William that day, I feel like an empty shell with a tortured soul. Everyday is total torment. I wish I could sit here and type that I ‘hope’ it will get easier, but I almost don’t want it to. I don’t want to live without William. I’m just going through the motions.

I just want my baby.

Living with anxiety

“Nobody else will ever know the
strength of my love for you.
After all, you’re the only one
who knows what my heart
sounds like from the inside.

Acceptance of where I am on this insufferable journey has somewhat given me some breathing space to not expect any more from myself than where I am and what I’m thinking. It is normal to think and feel the way I do. The thoughts about not wanting to die but equally not wanting to go on without William to co-exist is a hard concept for anyone looking from the outside in to understand, but for me it is a personal battle that I enter into every morning that I wake up, again to the realisation that William is gone.

The only change since my last post is the noticeable difference of the symptomatic side effects of anxiety. I still sit here with heightened anxiety but the medication has lifted the lid on the intensity. Sometimes it’s not enough, I become more and more agitated and what ability I did have to string my thoughts together completely diminishes. This feeling is unsettling and leaves me in limbo. Whenever I come up against something difficult I’ve always taken a very logistical and pragmatic view on how to break it down and deal with it. However, I can’t make sense of this, how can you? How can you break something down and manage it when the foundations of your life have been destroyed.

All I am doing each day is tolerating life, tolerating each day. Not wanting to or having the desire to move forward without William. I kind of feel like moving forward with life or even each day is somehow leaving William behind, leaving behind what has happened. I can hear you all saying to me ‘but you carry him with you’, ‘he’s in your heart and in your mind’, ‘you’ll never leave William behind, he’ll be with you always’, and you are right but it’s not the same as William being here, to me it feels like a betrayal to move forwards, to get to the end of each day. I now know I am not going to be moving forward knowingly, not by choice but if I do it’ll be naturally without me knowing. It doesn’t help when people point out subtle changes in my mood or something that I might do, all this does is exaggerate that it’s a ‘marker’, a ‘sign’, but it creates more of an issue for me, pointing out that I have managed to cope better with something doesn’t allow me to move forward naturally without me knowing or noticing, but just highlights that it’s happening, and that is what I want to avoid completely. I don’t want to move forward.

To even begin to entertain the idea that there is a life without William, there is another element that my mind is fighting against. That is needing William’s permission, William’s permission that it is ‘ok’, ‘ok’ to function and exist without him here. This is something that William cannot possibly tell me himself but something that I need to ‘feel’ him say or ‘sense’ him telling me. At the moment I am not ready or willing to allow this to happen. So for now I will carry on tolerating life, tolerating each day.

One thing I am certain of now is that if I carry on with this life, the life I have been left without William, I will only ever manage to live with what has happened. I will not leave it behind me or move forward but learn how carry it with me through life. Like I carried William for 9 months, like I carried him in my arms for 382 days, and now like I am left to carry him, only in my heart.