Sometimes I’m just sitting there and all of the sudden I miss Maddox so much it feels like my heart stops and the world freezes. I will go from feeling my new normal (which is still weird AF) to the overwhelming aching of missing him in the blink of an eye.
Today I was sitting in a waiting room and one second I was fine. The next I was wiping back tears, wondering if I’m going to be able to pull myself together or if I’ll have to leave. It’s all so unpredictable.
It’s as though for years I’ve taken the same roads every day like clockwork and then, suddenly, all of them are closed and I have to discover a new route, a new way to do everything in my life that once felt normal and easy.
Nothing feels easy now. Four months have passed since Maddox was here with us and I still wake up every single day feeling like my heart is no longer whole.
Anyway, I’ve talked a lot lately about how I’m feeling. And that’s cool, but it’s time for something (only slightly) different.
Today, I wanted to share what Steve and I are doing to cope. I know we’re not the only ones who have been in this situation or any insanely tough, life-changing situation. When we first lost Maddox, all I could think is
How does anyone go on after this? How am I going to do this?
I lean on my people.
At Maddox’s celebration of life, my mom spoke. She reiterated that question I had asked her no less than 20 times. She said, “You are going to continue to put one foot in front of the other and lean on your community.” And she was right.
For the first time in my life, I’ve let go of worrying about being a burden and started being honest about how I’m feeling. Maybe not with everyone, but I have a really great group of people I know I can share with anytime. And I unapologetically let them be there for me.
Because I definitely do not have everything together right now. And that’s okay.
I lift heavy things.
I get up every day and go to the gym. Sometimes I have a terrible night and I go in the next morning on 4 hours of sleep with my eyes still red and puffy feeling too weak to lift the bar, let alone workout.
But I show up and I see my people and I do the best I can. And ya know what? By the end of the workout, I always feel better than when I came in. Even if it’s just a little bit.
For me, physical strength translates into emotional and mental strength. The more I can achieve physically, the more I feel like I can take on whatever life gives me.
Right now, it’s hard to see any real progress in my life. Honestly, I feel like I’m in a constant state of reverse, waking up every day as a less awesome version of myself.
But in my workouts? I am the strongest I’ve ever been. Like, seriously, ever.
And I had major surgery just 4 1/2 months ago. And before that, I gave Maddox a free ride for almost a year. The fact that I am already not just back to where I was before but better – it’s pretty damn amazing.
Now my endurance and cardio are another story… But, one thing at a time.
I’ve got a good thing going at work.
Seriously. I have the most incredible support system there.
I have 3 amazing friends that I know will drop everything in their work day to go for a walk and listen when I’m down or send me dachshund videos or knock on the bathroom door and follow me in if I go in there to cry.
Getting out of the house and going into the office every morning gives me purpose. It keeps me busy and gives me something tangible to focus on rather than dwelling on how I’m feeling.
I 100% would not be able to do it without my girls, but going in and seeing them every day and being able to be productive makes an incredible difference in how I’m feeling.
I’m not messin’ around with this whole mental health thing.
I’m seeing an amazing psychologist.
Listen, I am not above admitting when I’m out of my element and I need help. I am literally in the middle of what has to be the hardest thing I will ever go through in my life. I have no fucking clue what I’m doing here.
Having a place to talk it out is great, but more importantly, I have someone to give my achievable goals and things I can work on to help me get through my grief. It’s not like if I just sit here and don’t put in the work I will magically feel better one day. Healing is hard work and I have to put in the effort every single day if I want to see a difference.
We’re prioritizing our marriage.
Remember when I said I was going to talk about both me and Steve and then talked only about myself for paragraphs on end? Yeah….clearly I’m excellent at this whole being a couple thing.
One of my biggest fears after we lost Maddox is that I would lose Steve, too. The statistics don’t look so good for couples who go through such a profound loss. I knew immediately that if we were going to make it, we’d have to fight every single day.
When I got pregnant with Maddox, Steve and I were in the absolute best place we had ever been in our relationship. Throughout my pregnancy, our relationship only got better and better. And the moment I saw Steve fully become Maddox’s dad, I felt my love for him more deeply than I even knew was possible.
We went through a time after we lost Maddox that our relationship felt kind of shitty. We were both irritable all the time and often took it out on each other. We were each probably the worst versions of ourselves, which made us both less than awesome partners.
But we just continued to talk about it. To touch base and assess where we were and if we thought we needed additional help for our marriage. We agreed that if things didn’t improve, we would find a couples counselor in addition to our personal ones.
And ya know what? We got through it and figured out how to be there for each other. We’re constantly working on how to listen and help each other when we have completely opposite coping strategies.
I spend my time doing as much as I can, trying to stay as busy as possible and, probably, avoiding. He takes time when he needs it but sometimes disconnects so much that it’s not healthy either.
We continue to challenge each other and push each other to slow down (me) or get the fuck out of the house (Steve). Sometimes it’s annoying (like when I’m not the one doing the pushing), but honestly, I would not be anywhere near okay if I didn’t have him.
Then there’s that whole writing thing.
Having this space to share my feelings has been incredibly therapeutic. I kinda figured after the initial week or so anyone reading would get bored and go back to their normal life.
I mean, how much grief can one person read about?
And honestly, I didn’t expect anyone to read these anyway. I haven’t kept up on this blog for over a year. And, really, anyone reading wasn’t the point. The writing was just something I felt the need to do for myself.
But I have to say, as a person who loves feeling loved, it’s felt pretty damn amazing to not only share the darkest pieces of my heart but to receive so much love and kindness.
There is good in the world. And you people are it.