I wrote this quite some time ago, and am not exactly sure why I haven’t share it before now. I have started to several times. Now the timing feels right, mostly as a reminder and encouragement to myself. Sometimes the words I need to hear the most are the ones I have already written.
My sister once said she was proud of me for opening my broken heart, to share with others as they too walk their paths of grief. At first I felt very strongly about sharing openly, and allowing others to see inside the cracks of my broken heart. As time has ticked on, it has grown harder. Not because I have no less to say, but because I feel the weight of being open. I can feel the prying eyes and the judgmental thoughts. Some are real and have been like a slap to the face, and others I imagine after enduring these negative encounters.
Vulnerability is hard because its sharing the most private, precious part of yourself - and not knowing that the recipients are deserving of it. How will they react? When you make yourself vulnerable to others, and open your heart to share your raw truth, not everyone responds appropriately. People who may have been down a similar path feel criticism if we deal with grief differently, and people who have no idea what I’m going through trumpet their own opinions of my grapple with grief.
“You make me feel guilty for not sharing my story of loss.”
“Aren’t you over it by now? I would have moved on.”
“It’s really cool that you can share like that, but your posts really depress me.”
These are things that have been said to me. I can only imagine what has been said about me. And because I have been verbally slapped, my imagination can run wild with wondering what is said when I am not there. So it is incredibly hard to be open and vulnerable. It is easier to close up, in order to protect myself, my heart, and my precious love.
Writing has been healing for me. No, I don’t share everything that I write. But sometimes I feel the desire or call to share something. You never know who may need to hear those words. In joining loss communities I have read what others have written and been relieved to know that I am not alone, my feelings are normal. So if I can pass that on to one person, I will be thankful. That sweet relief when that little tiny voice inside says, “me too”. That gives me a purpose, and helps me make sense of this senseless tragedy I have faced.
And yet now on top of everything else I am struggling with, I struggle with the one thing that has brought me peace. It is terrifying to share your heart with the world. Especially when your heart is broken and fragile and people out there will knowingly, or unknowingly, stomp on it again. It is easier to just not expose your brokenness for the world to see.
I haven’t written in weeks (scratch that, months) now. The fear of judgment and whispers has weighed heavy on my heart, and made it a physical impossibility to write, even just for myself. It is far easier to give in to fear, than it is to be brave. How can I possibly open myself up to what people might think? Well, I look for the one. The one person who is quietly thinking, “me too,” after reading something I’ve written. That one person whose heart might feel slightly less broken after realizing that they are not alone. I may never actually connect with the person, but I have faith that they are out there. I know this because of other things that have been said to me.
“I was afraid of making people uncomfortable, but now I want to share my loss.”
“I felt like I couldn’t talk about my loss because it is so taboo, I still grieve.”
“Thank you for being courageous in sharing your story, and bringing awareness.”
“Swallowing pain and trying to adjust your feelings to suit a theoretical timeline is often the root cause of mental illness/addiction. In sharing your love and loss, maybe you’ll shine a light, and give someone else the courage to do the same.”
That last one is maybe the most important. I am not an expert on the matter by any means, but I do know that when I closed my outlet, it was pretty terrible. Everything that had been released by writing was now bottled up, and needed somewhere to go. Like a balloon trying to find its way to the surface, everything erupted. And not always in controllable or healthy ways. Writing doesn’t give me control over my grief, but it allows me an outlet. If this was tamped down all of the time, over a long period of time, I can only imagine the long-term consequences on my mental health and emotional stability. All just to try to adjust my grief to fit a theoretical timeline, in order to not make other people uncomfortable.
To anyone who is made uncomfortable by my grief & the way I express it. To anyone who casts judgment on my “progress”, or lack thereof in their eyes. To anyone who thinks that they would have done better. Goodbye and good riddance. I am here for myself, and I am here for those who need a little bit of courage. These are the things I will cling to when it seems too scary or hard to be vulnerable with my heart.
It is terrifying to be open with your raw truth. Perhaps more terrifying though, is not standing up to the agenda that some have, to contain our stories to something that is less uncomfortable. The death of a baby is uncomfortable, and it should be. Hiding from it makes it no less scary for those of us who are dealing with it. The bravest thing we can do is share, and to walk this road together. Hopefully we can all find a little bit of healing on the way.