Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Healing My Heart Through Connection - #1000Speak


"The energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued;
when they can give and receive without judgement;
and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship."

Brené Brown - "The Gifts of Imperfection"

Shameful Confession: When I was in my mid-20’s, a co-worker suffered a miscarriage. No one had known she was pregnant. In fact, she had just recently returned from maternity leave. When I heard the news, I incredulously remarked to another co-worker “Are you serious? She needs to take three days off over a miscarriage??? But she JUST had a baby! What is there to be so upset about?!”

I am utterly ashamed to admit that I acted so insensitively. I’m horrified at my lack of compassion. But I was young, stupid, and clueless. In my ignorant mind, losing a pregnancy or even a baby, was like losing a jacket. If you already had another jacket, then there was nothing really to be so upset about. And if you didn’t own another jacket, you could just get a new one…Until I lost my own baby through miscarriage and suddenly I understood.

It turns out a miscarriage wasn’t just a miscarriage. Maybe for some it is, but for me it was life-shattering. It wasn’t just the loss of a pregnancy. It was the loss of my son; the loss of my dreams for that baby; the loss of my hopes of mothering that tiny bundle; the loss of my plans for the future with that child. I lost a piece of me. The loss was the deepest pain I have ever experienced and I felt the most alone I have ever felt in my life.

As the weeks went by, my friends and loved ones grew tired of my depressive state. They didn’t know what to do with me. They didn’t know what to say to make me “all better” and “back to normal”. Some thought I was seeking drama; thriving on the attention; being difficult; overreacting; not getting over it quickly enough. I felt disconnected from most of the people in my life. They simply didn’t get me.

I knew there were others out there like me. I spent countless hours, night after night, on baby loss websites and message boards where I was able to express my grief with other bereaved mothers.  But the greatest blessing of all came when I discovered Healing Hearts, a local Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Stop Shoulding On Yourself

How many times a day do you “should on yourself”? I do it more times than I can count. I beat myself up for all the things I should be doing – like mundane chores or the bigger stuff – the stuff that we are expected to do or the stuff that feels like the right thing to do – like do a favor for someone or lend someone money or take care of someone’s problems. We put so much pressure on ourselves to live up to our own expectations as well as everyone else’s because we worry about what others will say or think. We fear judgment.

It feels selfish to put ourselves first and do what we actually want to do versus what we think we should do. But the majority of us have been conditioned since birth to “do the right thing” even if it means it’s not what is in your heart. We are taught to sacrifice our own emotional needs in order to please others. We learn early on in life that our needs are not as important as someone else’s. We believe that it is better to look good in someone else’s eyes than to feel good in our own hearts. We are burdened with guilt if we choose to follow what we want to do instead of what we think we should do.

In the book “The Gifts of Imperfection”, Brené Brown addresses the need to set boundaries. She states that it is essential to have boundaries in order to successfully practice acceptance and compassion without resentment. This makes so much sense to me! Think about it…when we do things for others coming from a place of “should”, we end up feeling resentful. We feel used and taken advantage of; we become judgmental. But hey…we did what we should have done; we made ourselves look good on the outside and feel bad on the inside.

It’s not easy to set boundaries and re-train our brains to believe that shoulding on yourself is not the measure of a good person. But believe me when I say, you are not selfish for taking care of your needs, listening to your heart, and following your spirit.


Friday, May 1, 2015

The Bright Side of Life

All day on Wednesday, my beloved pug, Mimi was on my mind. I spent about two hours looking through photos of her; remembering her cuddles and warmth in my arms; remembering her funny pug-noises; remembering her silliness; remembering how much love and joy she brought me at a time when I didn’t have much to be happy about. When Mimi came to us, it had been three arduous years that we had been dreaming of having a baby. She became that baby for us. She became that someone we longed to nurture. 

I fell asleep on Wednesday night with Mimi on my mind and I awoke with thoughts of her again. On Thursday morning I wondered, “Why is she on my mind so much?” and it hit me! Friday, May 1st is her birthday. AND…It’s my blog anniversary! Isn’t it amazing what the subconscious can do? I’m a huge dates person, and frequently whatever is on my mind, coincides with an upcoming date.

I never gave Mimi a “proper” memorial on Facebook. It was too painful and sad to announce that she had passed. Mimi died on May 16, 2011 and I grieved as deeply as I would have for a child, because Mimi was my child for nine glorious years.

In her honor and in honor of my one year blogging anniversary today, I want to share something I wrote the day before we euthanized her. (It was an email I sent to a few people.)

On Sunday, December 1, 2002 DJ and I anxiously waited in a Mervyn’s parking lot in Redlands. I was nervous as could be; giddy with anticipation; elated and overjoyed. When the car pulled up next to us, I was smiling from ear to ear. Little did I know how much my life was about to change. The woman opened the back of her van and pulled out a noisy, dirty, smelly pug dog named Mimi who was approximately six-years-old. She put Mimi down on the grass and I immediately fell to the ground to greet her. Mimi gave me a thousand kisses and wagged her curly tail ferociously. I literally felt like we were a long-lost mother and daughter reunited for the first time. I scooped her up in my arms as she continued to make funny pug noises. It was truly love at first sight. I fell madly, deeply in love with my petite little munchkin-pumpkin from the moment our eyes met. There was nothing to think about – I knew she belonged with me.

We drove the whole way home with her in my lap and we laughed at her snorting and heavy breathing. She also stunk up the car. She had been kept at a kennel for over a week and wreaked of dirty dog. On the way home we stopped at PetSmart and stocked up on all kinds of goodies for our new family member. I couldn’t believe my dream of having a dog was finally coming true after so many years of thinking I could never own a dog after I married DJ (who is allergic to dogs).