The hardest lessons

Ted understands.

I didn't mean to imply he doesn't.  He understands better than anyone.

I just don't always want to burden him with how I am feeling.

He misses Maxie as much as I do.  Of course.  At times, his grief is even more palpable than mine because he has suppressed it for so long, because he was busy managing my grief. But you can't hold in something that intense forever.  Now I think he is going through things that I've actually already gone through.

If anything, I fake it for Ted now so he can better deal with his own grief and not have to continue dealing with mine.  And because, contrary to popular belief, a couple in grief cannot (generally speaking - in MY experience) "lean on each other" - it is too much weight to bear.  When we do it, we risk bringing each other down.  I don't actually think I am fooling him - he sees right through me and I see right through him.  We cannot sit around our own house crying all of the time (anymore).  We would drown....we know that because we WERE drowning before Mo was born.

I have noticed, however, that I get along a whole lot better with my parents when I fake happy.  I have danced around that fact here for a long time because I wanted to preserve the image anyone might have of them holding me in their arms while I cried but I don't think either of them would argue with the fact that they don't like me very much when I let them see how devastated I actually am.  Don't get me wrong, they love me no matter what.  But, they like me a whole lot better when I am happy.  Neither of them liked me very much after Max died.  And, I don't think that I have too many friends who would choose to spend time with someone who cries all of the time either (although I do have some).  Most people don't like people who can't make small talk.  So eventually you buck up and pull out your most superficial armor and get to it.

When I say that grief is private - what I mostly mean is that if I shared it all of the time, I'd have no friends left.  When I did share it all of the time, I sure lost a lot of friends.  My relationships with my immediate family suffered a lot.  As I've mentioned before, I suppose we are all too busy taking care of ourselves to support each other much.  I once told my father that I was sad he couldn't support me (emotionally).  He said I wasn't supporting him either.  He was right.  I had nothing in me to give.  I guess he doesn't either. I had hoped that since I am the "child" and he is the parent, it would still be his job to take care of me. It doesn't work that way. My expectations of him were too high, as many others expectations were of me.  So, I've learned to cry on my own time for the most part.  It's a lesson that will keep me strong for the future.

Some of the most important lessons are hard won...this one is no exception.  Early on in my grief, people who'd been through this would tell me that this would make me a more compassionate person (which mostly just pissed me off).  I actually thought that I already was compassionate because I could honestly FEEL other people's pain - almost too much.  It was too much to bear at times and so I'd run away - as many have run away from me.  What I think I could do now is BE with another person's pain and not run away from it.  This is what I hope I can do for others and for my own children.  What I really hope though is that they can dance through life unscathed, without ever having to learn the really hard lessons. If that isn't the case though, I am not going to run away.


Nathan's Mommy said...

I have been reading your blog for a few days now. I lost my 6 month old son to SIDS (we think) 11 weeks ago. I miss him SO, SO, SO, much. He was such a happy and adorable baby boy. This past week has been the most difficult one yet. I find myself sad ALL of the time, even when I am playing with my amazingly cute two year old daughter. I have had a really hard time masking my feelings and feel like a permanent frown has been planted on my face lately. Thank you for sharing your story and your feelings.

Maxie's Mommy said...

Nathan's Mommy - I am so sorry that you lost your sweet boy. I am not surprised to hear that it is getting harder. In my experience, it got worse every week until I was 8 months in and then it finally plateaued. It stayed really hard for a long time after, but at least then I knew what I was in for. Then, eventually it got a little easier - incrementally easier. The light started to shine through again. It took a very long time - but it did start to happen. It will for you too. It will never be the same. Not it shouldn't be. But, you can find purpose and happiness again. I promise.

Em said...

You hit the nail on the head with just BEING with someone else's pain...all the compassion in the world is for naught if you're not with the hurting person.

robyn said...

i am so sorry you are even in a situation where you have had to learn these lessons. i am sorry you have to live with this grief, that you have to fake happy and most of all i am sorry that you lost beautiful maxie. he was a precious little guy and i wish he was still here with you.

i love you abs.

Jayden's Mommy said...

Abby, every word in this post resembles so much of my own experience. N it's true we try to hided and put on this mask, but our husbands can see right through us. And believe me I know I get along much better with my parents when "I'm okay". Whatever that means. I know they love me and I'm their little girl. There is just no way for them to take this pain away from us. I wish this was not our story. Much love to you and ur babies. Kira

Jayden's Mommy said...

To Nathan's mommy I'm so sorry my heart goes out to you. I hate this feeling so much to know that another family is going thru this nightmare. Since loosing Jayden I'm not the same and nothing will be the same. But Abby is right slightly little by little it does get brighter. And I'm serious is little by little. I'm sorry. Kira