Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Color My World

Today Busted has a post over at Bridges that had me nodding my head in agreement. I have actually been working on a post for a while about post traumatic stress disorder and loss, and this kind of goes along with that. In her post, Busted makes this statement, "What they don't tell, however, is how much the things completely unrelated to loss, pregnancy and babies will hurt."

In 1986, there was an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union. (See Wikipedia) The radioactive fallout was 30-40 times greater than that of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thirty people died in the initial explosion, but the greatest loss of life was attributed to the massive fallout that affected most of Western Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated. Thousands upon thousands of people dealing since with radioactive fallout that eats into their bodies and lives for years to come. People who were living their lives as normal until one day, this catastrophic event happened and things changed. Even once things returned to "normal", things were not entirely normal - because now they were living in an environment no longer like the one they had lived in before; one where they had to worry about their water, their soil, the very air they breathed. Something they couldn't even see could slowly be killing them, was killing them. This changes you - having to cope and live with some awful thing that you never had to live or cope with before.

Those who experience loss also undergo a type of fallout - a fallout that eats into their soul and makes them feel like dying, that changes everything - life as they knew it; an emotional fallout that colors your life and makes everything relative.

No one will deny that loss of a child(ren) changes you. I am a different person than the one who started down that path to parenthood and ran into recurrent pregnancy loss. Naive, bright-eyed, optimistic - I had no idea what lay ahead and how it would completely rock my world, repeatedly. Under the constant stormy onslaught - I became weathered. In many ways I have become stronger and more compassionate; in other ways - I am weaker, more fragile in a sense and afraid. An oxymoron if there ever was - fragile strength. The simple and mundane things became more simple, more mundane - and other times they were almost unbearable, if only for their simplistic nature. I cry far more easily, frequently than I ever did before and my heart hurts with the slightest provocation - tender, anxious, emotional, resilient. Even in those days when the hurt was so fierce and I wished I could just die - I somehow survived. I woke up in the morning, breathed in and out and then put one foot in front of the other and kept walking. Though, some days, that was all I could do. Then, there came a day where I could do more - where the hurt didn't consume me, where I realized that I felt better. And yet, it is still there - I feel better, and yet, it can still ache when the weather changes or the winds shift.

I check each of their beds - the ones who made it, watching, looking for the gentle rise and fall of their chests, straining to hear the sound of their breathing. Sending them outside to play, away from me is hard sometimes. I don't want to let go - I want to be able to see them and hold on to them and make sure they don't slip away. They make me absolutely crazy sometimes - days where I wonder what I was thinking, wondering if it really was worth all the chaos and mess and difficulty, and still I check every night when they are asleep; when the house is so quiet that it no longer distracts and the fear creeps in. When my dh is late from work and doesn't call - I fear the worst - my rational mind no match for a reactive heart. During the initial fallout from my first three miscarriages I worked up a "contingency plan" in the event I was left alone, widowed. I had to have a plan because in a perverse way it gave me comfort listing precisely what I would do if dh died - a guideline, a how-to. For a long time, I didn't think of it in terms of "if it happened" but "when it happened." I knew also, that if I had to endure another catastrophic event, I would need that list - I wouldn't be able to function and "do" otherwise. I haven't forgotten the list - but I no longer review it as frequently as I once did when a timely arrival was not forthcoming. Then there are the nightmares - more frequent initially, only occasional now. I am not surprised by the anxiety and propensity for panic attacks. This is the life that I live now. In a sense it has been like relearning how to live. Learning how to say, it's okay, I'm okay, and reminding myself there are some things I can let go and not have to hold everything so tight until it gets easier and easier - learning to live anyway despite the fear and memories and past wounds. Remind myself and relearn how to enjoy all the other colors too - smile, laugh - enjoy even the simplest things again, even if they aren't big things, even if frivolous; because sometimes these frivolous and simple things become the big things later on - the things I will also miss if they go undone.

As I looked for a rainbow picture for this post - I learned something new: When a double rainbow appears, the second order bow will show the same colors as the first order bow but in reverse - coming back to end with the color with which the first bow starts. Higher order bows can also exist, triple, quadruple or more - rainbow upon rainbow, color after color. Those higher order bows are also found in the direction you'd least expect them to be. To find a higher order bow - you have to look towards the sun.


Isn't it pretty to think so said...

too many tears to type...

loribeth said...

Oh wow, Julia, what an amazing post. So very, very true in every respect.

I knew double rainbows were special, but you've added a whole new dimension to that with your post!

JuliaS said...

Loribeth - are you back from vacation now? I hope it was a peaceful and nice time.

When your post showed up in my inbox I went back to the post and realized the last line didn't show up! I fixed it - some early draft save blogger thingy I guess.

The rainbow thing just blew me away - I didn't know any of that either and it just made them that much more amazing.

averyopenbook said...

Julia, I could not have said it better, but have felt everything you described.
Thank you for such an amazing post.

Searching said...

Beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Sending you extra hugs this week.

Kristin said...

Oh wow...what an amazing post. I truly identify with so many of the things you said.