Friday, April 22, 2011

I'm trying to pretend I'm a normal person...

...and failing miserably.

I'm not sure what I was thinking a couple months ago when I registered for two classes (instead of my usual - one) and decided to get a part-time job. Most of the students in my program take four classes at a time (though they're all working toward a degree and I'm not) and work jobs, some of them full-time. I thought, "two classes and 20 hours a week - no big deal, right? Any normal person can handle that."

That's where I went wrong. For a moment I lost sight of the fact that I'm no longer a normal person at all. I don't know what I am exactly, I just know I'm not normal.

I love this metaphor written by another grieving mother and blogger, in which she compares the loss of her daughter to losing a limb, and her resulting state to that of an amputee. I don't want to convey that she means losing a child is like losing a limb - I can safely say both of us would've rather lost all of our limbs than our children - however she so clearly describes the fact that losing a child is a wound that will never completely heal. Though we may try to move forward, we will be forever impaired.

When I registered for my classes and applied for my job one of the thoughts I had was, "it will be good to be super busy in April." April is such a difficult month and I thought that by filling it with things to do I would be able to make it go by quickly, without having to dwell on the anniversary of the accident or Peter's birthday or Easter (the day of my kids' wake). Wrong again! No matter how I try to distract myself, I can't hide from or escape those difficult days. I spend just as much time grieving, only now I have 800 other things I should be doing.

What a mess I've gotten myself into. I'm not exactly sure how to get out of it.

What I've learned is that I can't take on as much as other people. Two classes and a part-time job may not seem like much, but for me it's more than I can handle. I just don't have the mental energy or life force or whatever you want to call it to get things done. So much of my energy goes into holding myself together so I'm not crying all the time, there isn't a lot left for everything else.

I hate admitting this. I hate feeling like I'm using my kids as an excuse for not being able to get things done. But it's the truth. No matter how much I hate it, it just is. I am impaired and I imagine I always will be.

I'm a perfectionist in a way - in the fact that if I can't do it perfectly, I won't do it at all - and I don't want to become a quitter. I will get through these classes (though I may not get A's -ARGH!) and I will not quit my job. I will, however, try to find ways to not get myself into this situation again. Maybe I'll ask for a reduction in my work hours and be more mindful when planning future classes. Maybe the title "grieving mother" would qualify me as a student with a disability and I could have extra time to finish my assignments. Probably not, but you never know.

For now I need to go finish an assignment that was due yesterday (as I mentioned in my last post, I didn't make it to class because I was too sad) and start a project that's due this coming week.

There is one small thing I have gained as a result of losing my kids that "normal" people may not have. That thing is perspective. I know that even if I dropped out of school today and quit my job tomorrow, none of that really matters. The only thing that matters is being with the people you love. Unfortunately, I learned that too late. I'll never forget it.

26 comments:

  1. I love you Amy. Thank you for being you.
    JennyK

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  2. I'm so sorry. No one deserves to hurt so much.

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  3. Amy,
    You are an AMAZING person.
    Dawn

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  4. Amy, your doing great, and normal is as different as every person on this earth. Thank you for letting us all join you on your journey. I hope you know how much you help us, as you write to help yourself through these events. Your a very loved person. :-) Have a good holiday weekend.

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  5. Your attitude in everything you do is so admirable. Just do what you need to do to get through your rough spots. Truly thinking of you during this, probably your most painful time in the year....

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  6. I'm with you on this. Make it through this if you can and from there, take on less. In my opinion, you are probably doing the most reasonable wonderful way of living - the rest of us are the ones overdoing it. So definitely don't compare yourself negatively. You have the most beautiful perspective! I love you!

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  7. I suppose the point about our dismemebered metaphorical bodies is that we are behaving perfectly normal for a bereaved mother ... other intact families may think we look like them and should be over it and functioning - but instead what we're experiencing is a normal reaction to an extremely traumatic event.

    I also tend to think you're living in a pretty harsh culture in the States - I am following a number of US BM blogs, and am constantly surprised by how quickly mothers go back to work etc.

    I found your post reassuring, depressing and uplifting. I suppose it demonstrates how big a part of us the grief is - how impossible it is run from it - and how very normal I am - and you are - to be still distraught so far down the line.

    Be gentle with yourself Amy - I don't think you're normal - I think you're immense. You have coped with so much, and you're continuing to wade on through the pain. Sending you love and healing thoughts xx

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  8. I understand 100% what you're saying, and it's not that you are using excuses. That is just the reality of life after a trauma, mental energy drains faster and often so does physical energy. I don't know if it will ever be normal again but same as you I'm working on it, slowly but surely building things up again so maybe one day I will have a normal schedule (although that seems daunting right now)!! Not long of April left to go... I understand how the anniversary month is like a cloud hanging over you, it will be gone soon for a while. Good luck with the assignments and you should tell your school if you have to! Like I said, it's not that you're using your kids as an excuse at all, you're hurting badly and it effects life x

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  9. I see it as you are still mothering. If they were there...you wouldn't be doing two classes and working part time...you'd be parenting. You are still parenting, still mothering-to children that are not there and yet there, and mothering to yourself. So, doing a million things might just keep you from mothering the way you need to. My only comparison is depression from several years ago..they only thing I could do after work was ready Harry Potter and drink lemonade. I just had to let myself do that. Maybe you just need to let yourself be a mom, in the way that it is.

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  10. Amy-you have given all who read your blog perspective as well and it means more than you will ever know.

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  11. A friend from ECS just pointed me to your blog. You do great work, in the name of your childen and yourself. Thank you.

    Much love, from a different circumstance bereaved mom.

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  12. I was looking for a hike in the Pittsburgh area, which led me to the parks website then your treehouse project, and my curiosity led me to your blog. It takes a strong person to share their grief like you have... I will certainly be back.

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  13. Thinking of you on Mother's Day - wishing you great kindness to yourself today and every day.

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  14. Been thinking of you on Mother's Day and through out the month of April. I hope you were able to find a moment of peace.

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  15. Amy, I have always thought all the "closure" talk about loss is a bunch of cr*p. Seriously. I don't think there is such a thing. We are fundamentally changed when we go through immense loss, whatever it may be; and none of us are gentle enough with ourselves. We still beat ourselves up as if we should just carry on as if nothing happened. Well, that's impossible. I don't know if your grief will lessen, but it may change. I wish you as much peace as you can receive. I hope you have some comfort from knowing that your children have eternal life, and that you will see them again.

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  16. Amy, You are not "impaired." You are just living with a giant, life-changing loss. How you feel, how much you can do, and where you need to put your energy will change over time.

    Just remember that Peter and Kate are eternal beings, in spirit.

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  17. Amy,

    I started reading your blog over a year ago and think of you and check in often. I am so so sorry for the loss of your kids. I have never posted before but please know you are in my thoughts and prayers and I hope that your not posting is because you are busy with good things in your life. Not because you are really struggling.

    You seem like an amazing woman and I wish you only good things in your future. I know your kids are with you and I hope that you can feel them near you.

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  18. I haven't posted before but I saw the treehouse update on That's Church. It looks like it will be amazing and perfect. Thinking of you.

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  19. Been thinking about you. Hope you are hanging in there!

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  20. Amy...sending love! Check in, miss you! xx

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  21. Another anonymous reader sending love to you today. Just a reminder that we're here for you if you need us.

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  22. Just to comment on your title for this blog, it seems you are very normal. The kind of normal that if most were, things wouldn't be so bad. The problem is this life and all of its terrible unchangable consequences. Thinking of you and hoping you can find at least one thing a day to make you smile. xx

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  23. How about an update?

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  24. I think often of you and I hope you're well. many people are thinking of you. love from Mexico,
    G

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