The Steadfast Warrior has started a project called The Friday Photo Challenge. The first topic is "Strength".
Work has been all consuming for the last few weeks but I was really looking forward to finding and taking of picture of something that made me think of strength, so I'm a day late but I'd still like to give some thought to "Strength".
Yep, that's a photo of me and a pair of shoes. Honestly I'm not sure if I can find words to explain how this makes any sense but here goes nothing...
In my second post ever I talked about how I didn't like being called strong.
"Friends have called me "strong"; my psychiatrist called me "resilient". Instead of feeling complimented, I feel offended. I don't feel strong, I am not exhibiting behaviors of a strong person. By saying "strong" and "resilient" it feels like people are telling me "you're doing great, keep up the good work"."
During the first year after Toren died I barely made it through many days. During the first 9 months or so I cried everywhere. At work I cried at my desk and spent hours on the forum for A Heartbreaking Choice instead of doing actual work. Nighttime's were spent drinking, smoking, and numbing. It wasn't like living, if that makes any sense. I didn't make any tangible progress in "normal" life.
That year culminated with my husband deserting me and my being involuntarily admitted to a mental hospital after a suicide attempt. Yeah, real strong.
The first 9 months of year 2 were spent in relative isolation. I went to work and went home and rarely saw any friends. Things thankfully improved last summer.
But the point is that I felt so weak and felt like this level of dysfunction and depression meant that I was just one huge fuck up. However, in hindsight the "strength" part makes sense... but maybe not exactly in the way that people throwing around the term "strong", just because they see you dressed and out of the house, had in mind.
What does it mean to be strong after your baby dies? Is it getting out of bed everyday, going to work, paying some bills, buying groceries, smiling when it's socially appropriate, saying that you are "fine" or "good" instead of saying that you don't know if you can make it through another night alone in your empty house? Those saying I was "strong" didn't know that I bought dinosaur pajamas for Toren months after he died and they didn't know that I would drape the jammies along my left forearm, in the place they would have been so that Toren's head would have rested on my left bicep as it did when I rocked his body in the hospital, and that I rocked the pajamas to sleep. It's like you are called strong for keeping the trips to the cemetery, the memory box, the MEMORIES, the ruined hopes and plans to yourself.
Sitting here now, two years, two months, three weeks, and on day later I think I have been strong. Facing your grief head on is being strong. Struggling, crying, screaming through every day while your soul learns how to live without your child is strength. Not believing those who insist that you did not suffer a real loss since you never even "got to know" your child - loving your child who was very sick or suffered a fatal accident before or at birth or just died for unknown reasons - cherishing those too malformed to survive is courageous.
I've always wanted to be taller.
I used to wear platforms and heals almost exclusively - so much so that other people would be taken aback when I wore flat shoes, making me 3 inches shorter then I normally appeared. I used to dance; defying gravity was never a concern. Even while I was pregnant I wore tall shoes, but thought as my center of balance altered with a growing belly some flat shoes would be a good idea. Toren never got big enough for flat shoes. It wasn't until after Toren died that I lost my balance.
For over 2 years I have primarily worn Merrell's or Dansko's. Comfortable, sensible, close to the ground, day after day.
I'm scared of heals. Ease of movement has been replaced by wobbles and clumps. Pretty, healed shoes are showy and don't fit well with being invisible. All of these thoughts made me realize, I mean really realize, that I'm not friends with my body. This body grew a "bad" baby and I'm not sure that can ever be forgiven.
So this week strength is seeing beautiful shoes and beginning to practice living beyond barely surviving.