I've always enjoyed writing. Back in high school and university, I excelled at essays. I enjoyed using words to bring something into existence, to convey thoughts and share feelings. Since graduating several years ago, I no longer had a reason to continue writing regularly. I didn't really feel that anyone would be interested to hear what I had to say. Who am I to think that people would want to come read my thoughts? I felt that it seemed a little self-centred to have a blog - even if I made a few attempts to go along with my photography business (which you can see in the handful of older posts I have).
So I didn't write.
And then our first baby, our son Calvin, was stillborn.
I craved reading the words of other people who are going though similar experiences. I obsessed over their blogs and social media posts, drinking in their words. Filling myself with the knowledge that there are other people who feel this way...other people have these thoughts.
The knowledge that I am not alone.
There is something beautiful and comforting in being able to relate to someone else, and although I would not wish this tragedy on anyone, I am thankful for the others on this road with me.
I started writing again, as a way to process my own thoughts and feelings. Taking the words out of my head and putting them on paper helped me to feel sane again. Writing helps anchor me when I feel lost in the storm that is raging in and around me. By getting the words out, and arranging them into a somewhat coherent train of thought, I feel more capable of dealing with whatever I am facing in that moment.
I don't write regularly. To be honest, I have avoided writing in the past few weeks. I know I don;t want to hide from this storm, but the grief is scary. I've been avoiding the churning, roiling waves. It's terrifying to look into.
I know I'll make it through, but that doesn't make me want to jump in headfirst.
For as therapeutic as writing can be, it's also a catalyst for very strong, and very scary feelings. Sometimes writing helps calm me down when I feel like I'm spiralling, and other times once I start writing I can't stop because I start to spiral emotionally. It goes both ways, and for a little while I was trying to avoid putting myself into a position where I would have to deal with the scary feelings.
Avoidance doesn't make the scary feelings go away.
I soon learned that if I didn't give my grief an outlet, it would find one. I can't say that I am in charge of my grief and my emotions, but I do try to give myself opportunities to grieve. By facing these scary feelings, and allowing grief to overcome me at times, I can hopefully also function on a daily basis and do things like go grocery shopping without having to abandon my full cart because I just can't hold it together any longer.
Writing about my grief and my experiences in grief helps me cope when it all seems like too much to handle.
Back to my original question - who am I to think that anyone cares to read what I have written? Well, quite honestly, a few things have changed since those days. One thing I have learned since the death of my son, is not to apologize for my grief, or the way I grieve. I have also learned to be a little more self-centred. Hopefully not in a narcissistic way, but I have given myself permission to take care of myself first. I no longer think, "What will other people think?" but instead: "What will be good for me and my soul?"
The other thing I have learned is how important reading about other peoples' experiences was (and still is) to me. Finding out that other people have gone through this, other people have felt this, other people have thought this before gave me permission to be authentic. Authentic to myself, my feelings, and my own way of grieving. It made me feel so much less alone, and so much more comfortable in feeling uncomfortable. Reading what other people have written has let me know that its okay to not be okay, for as long as I am not okay.
So I write for myself.
And I share, because who knows... Maybe there is one person out there, desperately looking for something, someone, to connect with after grappling with a tragedy of their own. Someone like me. Hopefully my words can help someone, the way words of others have helped me. So I write and I share, because this is what I needed. Maybe someone else does, too.