February 2, 2012

"It's funner when the froggie listens to mommy"

So today we had family therapy for the first time, with our still newly sized family of four people.  I have been seeing a most wonderful grief therapist since a couple months after ‘the incident’.   I will admit I think she is a rock star because she reminds me of myself.  It’s true.  My kids, who pretended to not realize Dave was gone until November, did not start their therapy until later. I am only slightly kidding about that observation.  The professionals have explained to me that children often wait until the surviving parent is stable before they start displaying their grief.   I was scared when it first started coming out.  My first reaction was to quickly start losing it again, surely they would stop if they sensed I was going back off the deep end.  But of course I didn’t do that.  I hugged and kissed and cried and  whispered to them late into the night, trying to help it along, trying to pull it out in excruciatingly small pieces, little by little.   But honestly, kids just don’t grieve the same.  Kids live in ‘the now’.  If they are fed, loved, taken care of and routines are consistent, then their basic needs are met.  They don’t spend time contemplating the past.  They don’t spend time contemplating the future.   There’s a lesson here for all of us, and its one I latched onto pretty early in this game.  I wanted to be like them.  I didn’t want to be the one rolling around the floor crying and hyperventilating.   I didn’t want to be the one who just couldn’t accept it.  Moving on was imperative.  I didn’t have the option of being stuck in my grief.  For one thing, it wasn’t possible due to time constraints.  Being a single mom to 3 kids, little kids, is insanely busy.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still grieved hugely.  They saw a lot of ugly.  A lot of ugly.  They saw it coming out of me like a demon.  Begging and screaming and pleading and refusing to accept my fate.  And all the while I was looking at them so curiously.  How the hell were THEY surviving?? They didn’t roll around the floor.  They didn’t scream and act crazy.  They would spurt out a little sentence during Dora, I would engage them as best I could, and then it would float away like a little butterfly.  I started realizing most of my issues centered around two things.  The past, and the future.  I was spending too much time blaming myself, analyzing every moment and experimenting with various self torture techniques, like lying in bed at night and conjuring up images of our fights.  What I said, how ugly it was, how he must have perceived it, etc.  Once I managed to get myself into a ‘I’m so sad I want to die mode’, I’d switch things up and start thinking about how I now have to feel like this and endure this for the rest of my life.  I have to be like this for what, another 40 years? For added punishment, I would then analyze how each kid is like Dave, and how I’ll likely be spending their teenage years chasing them through the streets with the police.  I’d look over at them.  Sleeping peacefully.  Seemingly not a care in the world.  Sometimes I would be mad at them.  I would even scream, “Your daddy is dead, don’t you care?!”  They would simply answer ‘yes’ with their little voices, but unlike adults, that would be the end of it.  And so in our session today, I realized how far we’ve actually come.  And how far we still have to go.  We worked with puppets today.  Our instructions were to work together to put together a little skit about the puppets.  What we got was a lot of what we get at home.  3 boys being utterly silly, talking too much about farts, and not listening to the mommy person.  Middle darling actually held his monkey up and said “the monkey only listens to daddy!”  Whoa!  My jaw hit the floor. When the therapist pointed out that we didn’t work together as a team at all, we did a second take and they followed my lead.  It was organized and fun and I think they actually “got the message”.  So much so that the second time around middle darling was a frog and he said “this was funner cause the froggie listened to mommy”.   Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Such a bitter-sweet story. As a pediatric intensive care nurse for many years, I have never been able to wrap my head around the "why"s that I've encountered, including in my own life. But this post is oddly refreshing. It's a peek at what your lives may turn out to really be one day...full of appreciation and a deeper love than may not have developed on the "other road". I'm not saying you will ever be thankful for the events that had led you here, just that there are certain people (and I've seen it many times) who know what to do with the cards they've been dealt. And often they don't even know they know what they're doing. They just push on with each new day...push through it. Those boys are so fortunate to have such an insightful mom. And I know you realize how wonderful they are to you as you get through this. I haven't read all of your blog yet, but in every post, you are moving forward. Never forgetting the past (how could you?), but always moving on. Your blogs are inspirational in so many ways, to so many, regardless of what others may have been through or may be currently dealing with. If that ass of a woman on Vets only had the insight that you have, she wouldn't be such a freaking piece of shit. I understand that people, everyone, goes through crap, but holding on to the anger and living as a miserable person helps no one. Anger is normal. It's what you do with it that can make the difference. But this is the crazy world in which we all live. I am just grateful to know that you are a part of it. Someone who will take this aweful, heart-wrenching experience and make something of it,so that your husband's death will in some weird way, not be in vain. I have no doubt you will make this. Thank you so much for sharing.