Thursday, March 3, 2011

Yoo hoo? Is there anybody there?

I know there are many of you who check back with my blog regularly and I think I am not only letting you down, but I have let myself down the last couple of weeks by not just pushing through. I’m not saying I feel pressure to write because I know you read, but your public and private comments have helped me not feel so alone. The process of reading and writing is therapeutic for me, but the dialogue (and even debate) that ensues stretches my understanding.

Sometimes (only sometimes) I wish I felt safe to explain my current life situations on this blog and sometimes I am grateful I have kept things fairly vague. I am also grateful to those of you who know me personally and haven’t pushed or pried.

That said, within days of my last post, my personal fears found footing in reality. Because of this, as with any type of tragedy, I have gone through many of the stages of grief … some of which I have repeated multiple times in the past weeks and over the last six months; some I have barely skimmed through and others I seem to be stuck in:  
1.      Shock & Denial
2.      Pain & Guilt
3.      Anger & Bargaining
4.      Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
5.      The Upward Turn
6.      Reconstruction & Working Through
7.      Acceptance & Hope
I am sure the last three stages will eventually come, but as for now they seem a long, impossible way off.

Knowing I’m not the only person in my world who is struggling, I scheduled to take my boys to the Center for Grieving Children. They have been showing signs of the stress: crying more, blowing up with anger, saying their tummy is doing flip-flops, begging to sleep with me, praying that, “We can have a good day tomorrow, that no one will be sad, that everyone will be happy, and that no one will be sad. Amen.”

Last week was their intake interview and tour of the facility. On our way, they moaned and groaned and said they didn’t want to go. I tried to reassure them it would be okay—that we could just check it out and see what we thought. They were skeptical, at best. After they quickly bonded with the counselor and played in the game room, they didn’t want to leave. Since that introduction, they have each asked multiple times (usually when they were having a hard day or they saw one of their brothers struggling emotionally), “When are we going back to the place that helps kids be happy? Can we go today?” While I nearly burst into tears at hearing them say this, I feel immense gratitude that such a place exists.

Emotions ran high tonight as we drove to the center. None of knew what to expect of an actual group session. On one hand, it is devastating to see the other children there who are suffering, some from circumstances much more tragic than we could imagine. On the other hand, for my boys to realize there are other kids out there, who are also feeling sad or who may be going through similar situations, is a huge blessing of comfort. I felt nervous and hoped it would be an answer to many prayers. Undoubtedly, the wonder and worry from the boys stirred their emotions to the point they were bouncing nervously, fighting, yelling, and crying nearly the entire drive there.

By the time we were in the parking lot, my middle son wouldn’t move from his seat in the car—upset about being punched by his brother. My oldest, looking forward to making new friends, was eager to start chit-chatting with other kids and the volunteers. My youngest had finally calmed down and was even willing to apologize for hitting his brother. I wondered if the roller coaster of emotions would level out and the boys would be receptive to the activities and discussions conducted by the center volunteers.

Within minutes, in walked another family, kids upset and crying. I realized how normal my boys were reacting. I also realized we were in the right place.

In addition to all of this, the same week as my last blog post, my therapist gave me the proverbial shove from the nest, telling me it was essentially time to fly … solo. He had tried to do this a couple of months prior, and I hadn’t handled the news very well. By his third attempt, I accepted my fate. The funny thing with therapy is I think many of us have the opinion that you go until you fix what’s wrong, you go until you “get better.” My therapist pointed out that all of us could benefit from therapy and that any of us have enough issues that we could spend our entire lives in counseling. He’s right. And, some people like me have a surplus of issues that weekly counseling appointments weren’t enough … I also had to blog. Honestly, I began the blog knowing full well that he was going to eventually cut me loose—I had to find an outlet and process that could be long-term. I suppose it’s a little like self-medicating. Self-counseling, anyone? (My new saying, “Just blog it out, blog … it … out.”)

So, my life is in the crapper, I’m on the verge of losing my home, my therapist broke up with me, and with the compounded stress I have been suffering from some medical-related issues. But those weren’t the reasons I hadn’t been able to blog. The real reason is because I have been working three jobs, one of which has been a step toward fulfilling a life-long dream: being paid to write.

The thing is, amid all of my personal struggles, I have been blessed with some of the most amazing experiences, people, and opportunities of my life. Currently, I am working (nights and weekends) doing freelance copywriting for a local big name book publishing/distributing company. This has been a humbling, inebriating, and rewarding experience. Unfortunately, it has taken much of the “spare” time I used to have to read and write things I wanted to, and now I am reading for research and writing for pay. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. Like I said, this is a dream come true!

Additionally, the sitcom treatment and pilot my brother, sister, and I had written is getting serious attention and we are finalizing paperwork to procure a large monetary investment to film a teaser. Even as I type that, I think I should probably delete it and leave it left unsaid for fear of jinxing the project. Instead, I’m going to put it out to the blog universe and ask friends and family to send lots of positive thoughts and prayers to help us realize this dream (which is really just a version of my previously mentioned dream—getting paid for my writing).

Looking for the silver lining is something I have always struggled with and have been trying to practice daily. It is a skill I would like my own sons to develop, as well. Sunday morning, I lay in bed snuggling with my middle child. Hoping to check his barometer, I asked him, “How is life?”

“A little good,” he said, seeming a bit melancholy.

“Just a little good? Why only a little good?” I probed.

He proceeded to announce the reason life for our family has been more difficult than usual. I knew it was coming. I wondered what my new friend would say in this situation to her son. She has been an inspiration to me and I feel stronger each time I talk to her. (I need to make a WWTD ring.)

“What?” I feigned surprise, “You mean you can only tell me one thing that’s wrong in your life and that’s what’s making your life only a little good and keeping your life from being great?!” (Yes, I felt like a hypocrite telling him this—I was giving myself the talk, more than I was giving it to him.) “Let’s name all of the things that are great in your life right now!” For the next few minutes we came up with nearly thirty different reasons life is more than just a little good, it is great! As we did, the smile on his lips grew wider, his eyes brighter, and he hugged me and said, “Let’s go make French toast.” I’m not sure what French toast has to do with it, but we hadn’t made a good, hot, homemade breakfast for awhile. It was time.

So, here I sit, staring at my laptop, the upcoming blog post about Boundaries still in its skeletal form. I guess it can wait a little longer. Besides, I’ve got research to do for some television and radio ads I have been commissioned to write. Oh darn.


J said...

Losing anything sucks: homes, sanity, keys, pets, etc. I'm sorry you are losing anything. I am thrilled that you are too busy writing to blog much, that is so exciting! Keep plugging along, it sounds like you are doing such great things to look out for your boys. I am giving you my biggest proud mother smile right now!

Watson Family said...

(Last try to correct my typos, promise!) Such highs and lows! I'm thrilled to read of the wonderful opportunities you're experiencing, and I ache for the pain and anguish you and your sons are enduring as well. Sending love and prayers, always and forever!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you really have had a couple of "rollercoaster" weeks! But from what I've seen, you're handling things so well and I'm so proud of you!
Don't be afraid to "fly" on your own. "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." -Eleanor Roosevelt
You're in my thoughts and prayers. Know that your friends, family, and I love you!
Hang in there :)

kimber said...

I love you Stephanie. It will be alright.
On my mission we taught a guy who had almost every horrible thing happen to him and he said his mantra was "...just let it roll..." and it always helped a little. It helps me sometimes still.
On the bright side, some really exciting blessings coming your way! Sending prayers for you and your precious boys.

Anonymous said...

"Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend...when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present -- love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure -- the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth."
~Sarah Ban Breathnach~

Steph, I think you are embracing this quote and allowing the 'wasteland of illusion' to fall away. In doing so you are working on 5,6, and 7. Don't sell yourself short. In reading your blogs you have grown in leaps and bounds. A growth that probably would have come eventually but has been put into turbo speed because of the circumstances. Your trials have been life changing but your blessings are doing their best to keep up as well.

Your boys are lucky to have you seek out those resources that will help them along during this crazy time in their lives. And there is no doubt that your boys influence will be instrumental in helping other kids at that center.

Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing a little glimpse into your life and feelings, when the time permits. :)

Anonymous said...

The healing is happening. So sorry for all the pain that you and your boyz are experiencing. Keep the faith. Do only what you absolutely NEED to for work, and don't neglect your boyz. Immerse yourself with them as much as you can. That is where YOU will find your temporal and eternal happiness, through those sealing blessings that bind y'all forever.

Good luck with the writing gig.

Ashlee said...

thompson. youre so stong!! and your boys could not have asked for a better mother. youre amazing. keep writing. youre the best.