I have a confession to make. Well, some people already know this, but to the general public it might be a confession. Up until a few months ago, I took doctor-prescribed anti-anxiety drugs. I started taking Sertraline in 2009 after struggling for almost a year with irritable bowel disease. I realized that anytime I was anxious or stressed my gut churned and burned. I was extremely sick for many months and was at the end of my rope, treatment wise. My doctor and I agreed that an SSRI (anti-depressant or anti-anxiety med) might help my mind from sending my body the message to go nuts every time I felt a little nervous or afraid. Thankfully, the medication, along with going gluten and dairy free, helped. I have been in remission from Ulcerative Colitis since August, 2010.
This winter I decided to go off of the anti-anxiety drugs because, thanks to more dietary changes (Paleo!) and making time for some self-care, I felt I didn't need medication to feel peaceful and at ease. Besides, the medication made me feel totally numbed out and exhausted. At times it even made me feel suicidal. Believe me, the last thing this busy, grieving mama needs to feel is suicidal. It was so scary!
So, the reason I'm sharing all of this is because for the first time in over four years, I'm feeling my feelings. For real. Since 2009, I've been numbed out on anti-anxiety meds. I haven't had a deep sense of compassion, empathy, sadness, or joy since before we conceived Mila. When I woke up from my coma, after Mila died, my doctors made absolute sure that I took my Sertraline every day. Not only was I in a state of complete physical and emotional shock, but I was taking meds to make sure my body didn't freak out after so much trauma. Today, off of my anti-anxiety meds and feeling my feelings, I wonder if I haven't finished grieving because, for the two and a half years after we lost our baby, my true emotions were somewhat inhibited.
My mom cries at everything. My sister cries at everything. Now that I am off my meds, I cry at everything. I cried at Sofie's dance recital this spring, and she wasn't even on stage yet. I cry at commercials, while listening to Disney's Frozen songs in the car, and when I think a child might be the victim of bullying or discrimination. I've never cried in front of my kids, ever! Now, I can't control the water works!
Sometimes it's funny how sensitive I've become, how real I feel now. It's actually refreshing. But the reason I'm writing, the reason I'm going to hit 'publish' and then say, "Crap! What was I thinking?" is because I need people to understand that I'm not amazing, brave, or inspiring.
I don't know how I'm going to handle Mila's birthday this Tuesday with all of these emotions. I'm feeling overwhelmed. I don't want to celebrate and smile and take the kids to the zoo. I want to crawl under my covers, scream and cry for as long as it takes, and then sit quietly with my baby girl in my heart, listening to her tell me that she's with me, that she's always with me. I want to listen to the songs by Ingrid Michaelson and Mat Kearney that remind me of the permanent emptiness and survivor's guilt I feel. I want to punch my pillow and pull out my hair in anger and disbelief that this happened to me, that it could happen to anyone. Then, maybe later in the day, I can get a hug from my caring husband, smile at my sweet kids, and thank God for the life I have, that I have life.
To the world that sees me now, I'm the mom with two sets of twins. No one who has just met me knows about Mila, about our pain and struggles, but every time someone asks me how I ended up with two sets of twins, or marvels at the uniqueness of our family, I think of Mila. It's all because of her. I just wish everyone knew about her, about how she is the connection between the first and second sets of twins.
She is the reason we are who we are. It is her name that is always on the tip of my tongue.
Happy birthday, my sweet girl.
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)