Since my last blog post we have been to Lake Powell, Provo, Irvine for a weekend to see Tori, home for 3 days and then back to Irvine for Bill's wedding. Todd and Ashton are staying with us this week and I feel SO lucky that they are here, it is a fun distraction and a great motivator to stay positive as we wrestle with a host of new realities.
#1) The reality of having a new mother-in-law sleeping in Christy's bedroom, eating dinner in Christy's place at the table, living in a house filled with Christy's hand-picked decorations and furniture, using a refrigerator and pantry that still hold items that Christy purchased that haven't hit their expiration date yet. The night they got married was like an out of body experience. When I am anxious my natural instinct is to become a joker, but considering I was battling back some serious angst-ridden emotions I felt like my personality came across somewhere between hysteria and mania. I had no ability to even feel my own feelings and I felt like every person there had a different set of expectations for how I should be dealing with this situation. Dawn's friends kept saying that this marriage was "an answer to prayers," which I thought was just a fantastically insensitive thing to say. So they all thought that we should be super happy because Dawn is fabulous, assuring us that this was ok--everything would be ok. It was all very irritating and patronizing--I barely made out it out of there without snapping "that is something I should be saying to you, NOT the other way around." No guest at that wedding has to live this change in our family like we do, so they can all take their counsel and advice and rub it in their hair and shove it up their butts. Then there was a handful of people so dialed in to the strangeness of the event I felt like they expected me to be super somber and grief-stricken. And then there was Will and Audra who were furious and I felt like they needed us to share that with them too. In reality I felt a flood of emotion so intense that night, I didn't even know my own name. Everything probably will be ok, Ben and I are trying to be positive without forcing or expecting ourselves to outrun our grief. It is what it is and we will do what we can to make the best of it.
#2) The reality that I am now the mother of a special needs child, and that this effects everything we do, everywhere we go, the way we parent, the way we talk, our finances, our free time and everything in between. And that this is our life for the foreseeable future--possibly forever. I've had therapists tell me they think she will be mainstreamed by kindergarten and I've had therapists tell me I need to get my head right about this because I will have to be her advocate for the rest of her life.
#3) Get comfortable holding space. I think my need for things to be ok makes me cope with things at a fairly slow pace. I drag out each phase by adding a thick coat of denial--just gut out this part and then things will be ok/go back to normal. It's hard for me to absorb things in their totality, it's piece by piece, by dimension. I thought a lot about Bill getting married and about what holidays or trips would be like, I never thought about her living in Christy's house until the morning after. I've thought a lot about what Maddie needs now, but meeting a 13-year old autistic girl made it settle in on a whole new level. It's very much a 3-steps forward then 5 steps steps back sort of process that can leave me feeling very defeated and unmotivated sometimes. Brenee Brown uses this phrase "holding space" and I love this idea, it makes me think of someone protectively stretching their arms out around someone--not touching them just holding space for them. I would love to develop this more, provide this protection for myself and others. Find ways to allow for feelings of all kinds--allow and give permission for everyone to feel what they need to feel and be who they need to be. And I know providing this--again, for myself and others, would in turn inspire kinder, more amicable, more forgiving feelings because isn't most frustrations and angst born from feeling misunderstood, unheard or denied?
Anyway, just some thoughts. I miss you both so much it hurts.