I’ve been thinking about how to write this without coming across as the most unsociable and ungrateful person to ever grace the world of blogging. The truth is, I am sure there will be parts of this that make me sound like both; but I can assure you that I am not. I’m just a mother, still trying to come to terms with the unexpected death of her baby. Someone who wakes up each new day with the hope that she’ll feel strong enough to do everything she has planned for that day; and lives constantly under the cloud of doubt that they’ll be days when she simply cannot.
After Teddy died , we didn’t socialise for a long time, and for a long time after I have still felt a little like I teeter on the edge of social occasions; with last minute RSVPs and often feeling like I won’t/ can’t go right up until the eleventh hour. It’s not because I don’t want to; I’m happy to say that in most recent months I actually really do. I got my social mojo back at the beginning of the summer and started to feel like I was missing out again when I didn’t go to something; a feeling I had missed so much and longed for; a slice of “normality” if you like? Blogging and social media have brought so many wonderful opportunities and a whole new social life into my little world, and I want so very much to embrace it all with open arms. The problem I face is that, for me, with every social occasion (however big or small); with every plan that has been planned and reservation that is made, I always know that the days after will be the ones where it hits me. I used to handle over-tiredness and the feeling of having “done a bit too much” with ease; it was part of my job if anything? Now I just can’t function in those days that follow the busy ones. I find myself building up to those diary dates; gearing myself up to just “be normal me” and concentrate on not bursting into tears in public if I come to talk about Teddy. Of course holding all of that in, holding back, it doesn’t do anyone any good, does it? Least of all me. So the days that follow mean I inevitably find myself at home, tears free flowing down my face and feeling that familiar tightening in my throat and burning in my eyes as that cloak of grieving for Teddy wraps itself around me once more.
I guess, as they say, you can’t experience the highs in life without the lows; and I know this to be so very true since I became a mother. I appreciate the simplest of happy days with so much more gratitude than I ever had for them before. The problem is, I have also found that once the high days are gone, once the occasion is over, and if I push myself too hard; I come back down to that low with a deafening bump. Everyone always says things like “You have to learn to ride the waves of grief and go with it.” That does make sense, of course it does; but what about when those bastard waves are just really starting to p*ss you off? When you want (so hard) to just do life, be normal and enjoy all the cool sh*t that you could put into your diary; but you can’t. It’s crippling, it’s debilitating and sometimes it just wears me down. Now as I said at the start of this (that was my disclaimer, by the way), this isn’t me being ungrateful. The truth is quite the opposite, I am so grateful; but how can you be truly grateful for anything when you know that the reality is you’ll end up more miserable after you’ve enjoyed it? How do you allow yourself to embrace anything and push yourself to do it when it so often does your mental health more harm than good in the long run? I don’t know the answer to any of the above, but I am trying; I am trying so hard to understand and allow myself to just relax and enjoy.
The other problem that I encounter when I am tired, and when the weight of grief feels a little heavier than usual, is that I lose my focus. I think it happens to us all, but for me it means I start to lose sight of what I am trying to achieve. I want to have the time (and the energy) to write about Teddy, to continue the fundraising we have done so well with and to keep honouring Teddy in the way that he so deserves. I want to be able to get back to everyone who so kindly writes to me with words of support, or shares their story with me, or the ones who so generously want to help with our fundraising through their businesses and creativity. You can’t pour from an empty cup though, can you? When I am exhausted from all of the invites, I can’t focus on those things; the things that are the most important to me. It’s times like that I find myself reaching for my boots and coat, leaving my phone and heading out for a walk with Boris for as long as I can manage until the fog in my head eventually begins to lift. I suppose now I don’t have a conventional job, sometimes there is no escape; but my escape will always be long walks and the quiet sanctuary of our home, no matter how busy life tries to become.
As I look ahead to my diary for these weeks leading up to Christmas, I see more and more invites landing in my ever-bursting inbox; lunches, launches, pop-ups, workshops, gatherings, parties. All bloody brilliant, of that I am sure; but where do you draw the line? “I can’t I’m….. (running out of excuses)”. Perhaps I should be brutally honest? “Sorry, I can’t. I can’t risk being an utterly miserable mess the next day.” No, too direct? I thought so. As I work through my inbox I try (desperately) to politely decline with the excuse of “busy weeks’ and “lots of other events”. The truth is, I do have a handful of things from now until Christmas, but that’s it; a handful, and I am happy with that. I’ve decided that pushing myself to be a people pleaser might please the people, but I am the one who ends up paying, and I am just not quite emotionally strong enough yet to allow for that. I am sure, in time, the feeling will ease. When I think about how much stronger I feel this year in comparison to this time last year, I just know that brighter times will continue to creep in.
In saying no, am I ducking out? Opting out of life perhaps? Temporarily, maybe I am. If it saves my sanity in the long-run though, and means I get to preserve the feeling of moving forward after losing Teddy, then it’s a risk I am willing to take. If people want to see you (and I mean they really want you there); they’ll invite you next time, even if you had to say no, this time.
So for now, if anyone needs me………I can’t, I’m (not) really busy.