Another End of the Year
With each ending of the school year, so many emotions play out. I am so thankful for the healthy three children that I have. I don't ever want to sound like I am not here or not present celebrating them, but the longing for Adeline to be growing up with them doesn't end. I feel this stronger when I am in the position to have to go through another milestone that she is not a part of.
(This will forever be the last comparison that I have of my girl from the first and last days of school. Of course, it has to be the one where I forgot to make the posters and asked the kids to make their own first day of school papers. Adeline was proud of that sign though, even if it was a paper she ripped from a notebook, so that is cute in itself.)
The past few weeks have been incredibly challenging. I was subbing at the high school that Adeline would have went to. Althea and her friends came and ate lunch with me in my room each day which was so much fun. I even treated them all to some Monica's the last day of school as I had enjoyed their company and getting to know them better.
Althea is now officially ready to start her sophomore year of high school. I can't believe that there are just three short years left until she will graduate from high school and move on to college. Andrew is now officially ready to start his junior year of college. I can't believe that he will be a real adult in just two years and that he will be supporting himself. I really can't wait to see where life leads the two of them, but there are days that I recognize how different time has become since I lost Adeline. Some days seem painfully long, but others seem to have stopped in time and it's as if I our lives are on fast forward.
Huxley will finish the 7th grade this week. I can't believe that he will be going on to 8th grade, such an important year filled with the last memories of childhood school and before he enters high school. I feel like I have missed out on the past few years of junior high with him. I have missed out because there is so much going on and I haven't been present in his school because of situations that are outside of his control. I am vowing to be better and to be more involved as he is in 8th grade. I want him to have a mom that is present and involved for his last year of junior high.
(The very last last day of school picture that I will ever have with all of my children. Something about this breaks my heart, but most of all it is a moment that I am so thankful that I got to experience and have.)
Losing Adeline changed me in so many ways. At times, it is painfully hard to be in the schools, to think about the things that she should be here for and to think about the things that she is missing out on. I hate that I can't have these memories with her and then I am reminded of the mom that I was when she was alive and that is painful too because I know that I have changed. I have changed in profound ways and I know that I can never be the same. I will carry this devastation forward, but I am trying to learn how to live.
Journaling is something that has always helped me to be better, helped me to look forward to things and helped me to process the things that have been hard for me or the things that I can't control or do not understand. I have been back and forth with my journaling and writing since I have lost Adeline. Some days, I write until my hands cramp and I am physically incapable of writing more. Other days, I feel as though I can't put pen to paper and I want to live in my sorrow and devastation. I am learning that I can't do this, that I have to be dedicated enough to write each day. I am also learning how much sharing my life and my stories on this blog means to me. It is something that really does help me to process all of my feelings and it makes me feel good to think that in some way, my processing could potentially help someone else.
Maybe my writing helps another child to understand after sibling loss what their parents are going through and that their parents still love them as much as before but they don't know how to handle all of their big feelings. Maybe it will help them to know that they are enough and that no matter how it feels, their parents are trying in the best way that they can to love them completely like they did before, even though they are not the same person that they were before.
Maybe my writing helps parents who have lost their children, maybe it helps a mom who has recently lost her child understand what is to come in the coming months and years. Maybe it helps them to see that they can have a future and that they will continue to have happy moments, even if their happiness will never feel the same. Maybe it helps them to understand that they have to push themselves in new ways, that they have to be the best parents that they can be even when they feel like laying down and crying and not getting out of bed. Maybe it helps them in ways that I don't understand because their experience is different than mine.
Maybe it helps a friend or family member who loves someone who has lost a child. Maybe it helps them to know that there are no right words and that the only wrong words are those that do not include the name of their child. No matter how sad they might look, every single parent that I have ever met wants people to remember their child. They want to continue to hear stories about their child even if they are the same stories and when they hear a new story, it means so much more than anyone could ever know. I long for the stories that get shared with me about my girl. When her friends share something about her still, it is the absolute best feeling in the world. It means that her life truly meant something in ways that extend beyond her family.
Then there are the struggles. I recently was made aware that my cousin and aunt who hurt me so badly that I chose to sever ties with them, continue to talk about the situation and tell people that they have done nothing wrong. There still has NEVER been an apology. My cousin who demanded my kids' iPads be returned to her after she bought them after our fire, still continues to share with the world, even publicly on social media that she did nothing wrong when it comes to my daughter. How can people be so cruel and awful? How can my family treat me in ways that I would not even treat my own enemies? Let's be honest, I share these things because they are truth. People need to know truth and need to know that even in these horrible circumstances there are sometimes going to be people who try to make life worse for you. There are going to be humans who are so selfish and uncaring for others that they will go out of their way to say things about you and to hurt you in ways that you could never imagine. I share these stories that some might think should not be shared, because other people living in this same reality need to know that we all have these demons in our life. They need to know that not everyone supports me and that I am still making it, even when these awful things that could break me present themselves.
Life will never be the same. I will forever long for Adeline to be shared in senior photo presentations, enjoying the big moments with her friends like proms and graduations. I will forever think about her during every dance recital, play or musical, award ceremony, or other special event. I will likely cry when I attend these events because I feel like she should be there with me. However, I will not stop supporting those in my life whom I love because something is hard for me. These things are likely just as hard for them. Her friends who still ask us to attend their events, still wish that Adeline was there among them. Other parents who reach out to me and share that they feel like I should be there and that Adeline should be there with their child continue to make me feel included in the things that I was always involved in and continue to show me just how loved she is.
Self help is a hard concept and something that I really struggle with. I tried therapy. I tried going to a psychologist to get mental health help, but in the end I knew that the only person that could me was myself. So, I sought out the things that would work for me. Grief retreats ware one of the most powerful things for me. Being able to be with other parents who are also grieving and miss their children, is something that gives me the support that I need. It gives me people to call and talk to on my worst days, it gives me people who can understand the pain that I am in and who can share their stories of their own children with me. I know that this might be more painful for some parents, but for me this support is the one thing that I can lean into on the days when I don't feel like I can make it.
I am also working my way through some self help journals. Switch Research is a company that is putting together research based practices in the format of journals. I started with their Self Love and Emotions journals. I feel like I am learning how to control mine. I realized how out of control they were when I flipped out and yelled at my brother at a family dinner when he was talking about a house he saw that he thought that my mom and dad would like. You see, their house is the place that is still here where I spent the most time with Adeline. I spent so many nights during grad school cuddled up with my little girl in their bed. I spent so many mornings getting her ready for school there. I stayed with them during their big performances like the Nutcracker and we visited during the lunch break when Adeline filmed her TV show. While I might not seem like I visit a lot, no one can understand how much I long to just lay in their toy room and feel her energy and her presence in there. The thought of them selling the house leaves me panicked, my heart racing, my hands and body shaking...in fact, it has such a profound effect on me that I am actually struggling to. type these sentences because I am having reactions as I do.
I have been using these two journals as they were meant to be, putting in a little time each day to go on a journey of self discovery. I am learning so much about myself and I feel like they are actually helping me in ways that I didn't even realize that they could help me. There are three more that they have that I would like to get and try. There is a Boundaries Journal, a Calm Planner, and set of three Self Talk Journals that I feel like I am going to need to invest in when I am done with the journey that I am on with the two that I own. I know that they are helping me.
The Emotions journal has taken me on a journey where I have to identify my triggers, where I learn why my triggers exist and what is going on with myself mentally as I am reacting to these triggers. It made me dig deeper into my thoughts and the ways that I process things to understand why. It has helped me to learn to be better, to learn to control my anger, to be quick to take accountability for my actions when I overreact to a situation, and even to be able to explain to others why I think that I reacted in the way that I did. I have learned that when I start to feel hurt or like someone is going to hurt me that I don't want them to have that power over me and that often times, I react in anger in these situations. It is really helping me to realize that these triggers are the things that are causing the reactions and how I have to learn to handle these triggers to be able to be my best and be the person that I desire to be. I continue to want to be the person who made Adeline so proud.
The Self Love journal is helping me to be able to be honest with how I feel about myself. It is helping me to look at myself through the lens of self love in a way that I did not know that I ever could. I am sure that my tendencies to be hard on myself will not end. Maybe they will lessen. That is all that I can hope for. However, I am learning the tools that I need to stop myself in these moments and to be able to redirect my feelings of self depreciation in a way that will only continue to help me. I am learning how to view myself through the lens that others see me and how to apply the lens that I give to others where I give them grace for their mistakes to myself. I am learning to accept the things that I need to change but to remove the things that I do not have control over. I am learning that others who do not care about me should not have the power to change how I view myself. I am learning so many things that are benefiting me in so many ways.
Let me be clear. This is not a sponsored post and I am not receiving anything for sharing these products with you. I have personally found that these journals have helped me in such profound ways that I think that they could be highly beneficial to others who are living in the same situations that I am. I think that they could be helpful for anyone who has ever struggled with their own self esteem or with the way that they react within their emotional being. I am simply offering you a few of the things that have helped me along my own journey.
Finally, I have some good news to share with all of you. I have gotten my first adjunct position and I will be teaching US History I in the fall. I am so excited to finally be doing what I went to school for. This past week, I even followed up with other adjunct roles that I had been accepted into the pool for or had applied for and never heard back. I am working on being able to put myself out there and know that I should be teaching history and that one day my dream to work in this field will come true. I had begun doubting myself when a year post-graduation, I still had not gotten a job, but here I am. I also landed a research assistant position where I get to read and write about history and get paid for it. Finally, I have solidified some plans for personal research in the hopes of being able to work towards further publications.
While I might not ever be able to have the one thing that I desire most, to have my family together and whole again on this earth....I do have the power to make things happen for myself in so many other ways. I have the power to make life better for Althea, Huxley, and Andrew. I have the power to make life better for Shane. I have the power to create lasting and beautiful memories with the people who continue to mean the most to me.