It has been an intense week already and it’s only Wednesday, but as it so often happens with intensity comes the opportunity for great learning. As of late I have had a couple of encounters that have left me uneasy. As I explained to a friend today, I think part of the reason I found both the experiences upsetting is they caught me off guard on a very sensitive topic and each time, the element of comparison was heavy in the air. And there I found myself, backed into the corner of relativity, a place I don’t like to be and don’t believe should exist.
Yesterday, we went in for another VCUG for Q. If you aren’t familiar, it’s essentially an X-ray of the urinary tract system and for little Q it seems to be his monkey, the monkey on his back. Each time he gets the test, he gets catheterized. The last time as I wrote about this experience, I felt as if I had failed him as I held him down and he looked at me accusingly me as he wailed in pain. This time, he had words. He can now say, “no, no, no!” “Mama, all done” in between grasping for breaths of air.
As I lay my head on his, nearly in tears but retaining control and whispered, “I am sorry, I know it hurts bug, almost all done,” I could see the tears pooling in his ears after they had spilled from his red eyes and made their way down his ruddy cheeks. He writhed in pain as they readjusted the catheter and screamed. To find the words, to tell him it’s almost done, it won’t take long pulled from the reserves of strength that you can only find when you know you are doing what’s best for your baby, but there is no way he can know.
When it was over, we walked hand in hand to the Urologist’s office as he pointed out leaves and bushes and birds in the sky. He counted the floors in the elevator and repeatedly said “down” as I told him floor by floor we were going up. People around us chuckled and laughed as he provided his color commentary on the world. They could have never known what we had just been through.
Several weeks ago, I sat at a table with a group of women who I was just meeting as introduced by a dear friend. It was a lovely evening but just at the very end, one of the women started talking about her perceptions of the school system which of course she is entitled to do. She went on to talk about Special Needs children and their inclusion in her child’s classroom. She had no idea of my experience or anything about me for that matter, but as she spoke, the hair on every part of my body stood at attention. I could feel the cool wave of anger wash over me. Her experience was her own and she had every right to say what we she felt. But, as I sat and listened I heard the subtext that she had no idea really of what those families had gone through, go through or face daily. That perhaps their apparent lack of consideration for what was happening wasn’t that at all, but the continued hamster wheel of trying everything and anything to get you what your child needs met in a system not necessarily designed for them. My blood was boiling but my experience was not her experience and she was perfectly lovely, but our experiences were not relative, I had to remind myself. My dear friend who sat next to me could feel without a word my feelings and simply put her hand on my back as the woman got up to say goodbye. It was perfect. I could say nothing. I was angry which I was entitled to feel just as she was entitled to feel and advocate for her own child.
Today, I was reminded of this again in a conversation. I won’t recount it, but again I was caught off guard. As if I was being pulled into a comparison of who’s child was worse off when while certain elements of our scenario were similar, they were by no means the same, just as the end result, whatever that may mean will be very different.
As I told my friend about this today, she rightly pointed out that the person sounded angry. And like a light bulb popping on over my head, that was the word that came to mind, “angry.” And although I wished I hadn’t been pulled emotionally into that situation, this women was certainly entitled to feel angry. To deal with her emotions however she wanted or needed to deal with them. Because, her situation is hard. Had been hard and will continue to be hard. But like everyone else, who has been presented with experiences and situations we never thought possible or considered, she is so strong on the inside.
We all have this strength. We find it in the even the weakest of times. Times when we are compromised. Caught unexpectedly in life. When confronted with our pain it is good to have perspective of course, but as my friend and I discussed today, it’s absolutely important to acknowledge your own emotions. How you feel, what creeps over you. To be in touch with this is to let yourself acknowledge and begin dealing and healing. To shove it down in the “this person has it way worse than me” place is a good reality check but not a good barometer for your own emotional health.
So whether you life feels crazy and in transition, you are somehow confronting your own mortality or of those close to you, you are having problems getting pregnant while it seems everyone else is, your child or someone in your family requires all the strength you have, or everything is not how you thought it would be and that in and of itself can be the most challenging situation, take the time to be ok with the fact that you feel like “it’s not fair,” “why is this happening,” “this sucks,” “can I do this?”
The answers of course are always, “no,” “you probably won’t know until later and even then it might not be clear,” “yes it does,” and “yes, you can although it will suck at times, but you will be amazed at your own strength.”
As Q and I walked back to car with him proudly holding his new Dr. Bear and his Superhero sticker, I looked up at the hospital we had spent so many days in, 113 to be exact. I no longer felt anxious here. The sun was shining and 9 floors up I saw a figure in a hospital gown looking down on us. He was on the inside looking out. I felt the perspective wash over me. I thought about 12 weeks the doctors had hoped to keep me on bed rest in this hospital before I delivered the minis. I thought about what that would have been like. I thought about whatever that person was going through in that moment. I felt grateful to be outside in the sunshine. Feeling Q’s chubby hand in mine. His small voice saying “home, eat, bye bye.”
It can be hard to feel our feelings but today, feel a feeling, even if you somehow feel like you “shouldn’t” feel that way. Say it out loud to yourself even if you aren’t ready to say it to someone else. Feel it and then feel forward and remember what lies inside of you is beyond measure and is a force to be reckoned with no matter what the situation. Feel the joy, the pain, the sadness, the disappointment, the hope, the faith, whatever it is, feel. Life is not a relative experience.
Here we can learn from our minis. They feel their feelings when they feel them and then when it’s over, they move on. They do not compare to others and their feelings are their own, and sometimes this moving on can most definitely make a day like yesterday and today ‘mynewfavoriteday.’
Are there things you have dealt with that you feel like you had to come to this realization? Are there people in your life you wish would understand this?