Pain changes your life forever. But so does healing from it. -Kayil York
I woke up on the angry side of the bed today. It happens a lot. So this is how today is going to be. Ok. But I hate this. I hate the tears that are already forming in my eyes before I even have the chance to brew my morning coffee. I hate the knot that has formed in my stomach and is twisting, turning, tearing through my insides. I hate the heaviness… the brokenness I feel in my heart. I can feel the tension in my jaw and the anxiety building in my body and I want to put my fist through a window. It’s not even 7am and I want to break something. My life is destroyed, why not punch things? But I can’t punch things, so instead I lift heavy, heavy weights, push my body physically in the gym and take ice cold showers. When the pain on the outside matches the pain on the inside, I feel better, calmer, more able to bear the burden, carry the load, play the shit hand life has dealt us. I don’t want this life.
Every day, I feel like a living example of those t-shirts that show the same person experiencing twenty different emotions. Processing all the feels so much of the time is exhausting. I just want to feel like me again… all of the time.
The events we attend to honor Lea, keep her memory alive and raise money for her cause turn me into that t-shirt and then some. I am beyond grateful for the stream of love and support, and how the troops continue to rally so she is not forgotten… but then I have to show up to these events that I wish didn’t exist because she was here with us. And every time I see her joy-filled face, or colorful, bright art attached to the event, twenty of me show up, but the loudest me wants to put my fist through a window. The loudest me is usually the angry one. The one who catches a glimpse of that sweet face and then feels the heat and anger rising, rising, rising like the tide. Look away quickly before you feel too much. I hate that it is my child, and this is my life and I have to carry this load for the rest of my life. That horrific fact stirs up all sorts of uncomfortable, dark emotions. This. Is. Forever. Give me back my old life.
So many painful contradictions in my head and in my heart pull me in all different directions. Look at her pictures but not for too long… it hurts too much. Think about the memories, but not for too long or you won’t be able to function. Sit in your grief and sorrow, but not for too long, you have things to do, a business to run, children to raise and people who need you. You can’t live covered in tears and snot for the rest of your life. My mind and heart feel like they are a split personality every day. I don’t want this life. I don’t want this story.
We have tolerated a chain of painful events since I last wrote. Moments and events that should be filled with joy and happiness are now painful and leave my insides dark and twisted.
First family trip… as four. August 2018
First Halloween without Lea
Back to school 2018
It felt like a betrayal when I finally changed the screen saver on my oversized iPhone. So much so that I had a conversation with her first. It went like this… Lea, I love you, and I will never forget you, and I can’t wait to see you again… but it hurts too much to see your bright, sweet face every time my phone lights up, and so I have to do this. Set New Image. Dry eyes. Clean face. Get back up.
That was a big moment for me. It was a turning point down yet another dark hallway. This is my family now. When people tell me “Lea will always be a part of your family. Lea is always with you. Lea will always be your daughter…” I get angry and want to break things. Those people are the lucky ones who get to tuck their child into bed each night. They get to kiss them, and love them, and hug them and get angry at them for fighting with their siblings, or not clearing their dinner plate, or for grinding bright green play dough into the carpet. They get to take them on trips, and send them off to school, and dress them up for Halloween, and buy them Christmas gifts and dream about their future and what they will become. We won’t experience any of those things with Lea. She is not with me, and no, I don’t feel her. She is gone. My normal is shattered and my life feels like it is broken into one million pieces with dangerously sharp and painful edges.
Normal died with her. So how the hell do I survive this? How do I make it feel better and hurt less? How do I live as this new person, with a life that is the stuff my nightmares were made of? How do I make this tolerable? How do I live here in this dark place? I don’t want to live here.
What I’ve learned is that I can’t fix this. Grief is not a problem to fix, it is a burden to carry. I can’t make it hurt less. I can’t “work” my way into the light. I have to figure out how to live as this new person. How to carry the load, and how to wear the scars. I have to surrender to the dark. -Christa Doran
There was a beauty and freedom that came the day I stopped fighting, and surrendered to what was, what is, and what will be. Arms tossed into the air, knees hit the ground, covered in tears and snot, I surrendered. I stopped fighting and I sat there. In the dark. In this place that felt impossible, painful, horrible and uncomfortable. It still hurts like hell, but I allow myself to sit here…to rest here in the mud and to not be ok. I don’t try to fix it. Or numb it. Or resist it. Or fight it. I sit in it. I carry it. I hold it. I feel it. I honor it. I endure it. And ok, sometimes I numb it.
Being in the dark day after day taught me that I can survive this awful place. It is less scary now. It still hurts, but I fear it less and less each time I get pulled down here. I know I can tolerate dark and uncomfortable places. I now know I can withstand the pain that results from living through my worst nightmare.The light will come again, but for now, I will surrender. I will sit in the anger and indifference and sadness. I will sit, and wait, and pray.
I never thought I would or could make it through this. Yet here I am. Not ok, but showing up. I recently told my story in front of two large groups of strangers. It was messy and raw and filled with tears (and yes, snot). The story was one of hope and resilience and surrendering to your situation. It went like this…
- It is ok to be uncomfortable. We can do hard things. Seemingly impossible things. We can endure more discomfort than we realize.
- It doesn’t have to be ok. You don’t have to be ok. We need to stop lying about where we are and start telling the ugly, honest truth. I’m here, I am showing up. I don’t look like a homeless person, I am clean and my clothes are ironed, but I am not ok. And that is ok.
- You can fight it, resist it, numb it all you want. But whatever “it” is for you, will still be there when you get up.
- There are times when you simply have to stop fighting it and surrender. I was trying to fix the pain of losing her. But I can’t. I had to surrender to it. And sit in it. And endure it.
- I never thought I would or could make it through this, yet here I am. Not ok. But here. Showing up. We are far more resilient than we know.
- Grief is not a problem. It cannot be fixed, or treated. It must be carried and endured and we need to find a way to do just that. I am doing things that help me carry this unbearable burden, and that will look differently for everyone.
- I cannot change what happened to me. But I can choose what I do, what I say and how I live my life moving forward. I choose kindness, and truth, and love, and respect, and family, and friends, and strength (and that looks different day to day) and bravery, and faith, and hope. And showing up as is every day. No apologies.
- I will take this horrific road one day, and one obstacle at a time and continue to look for joy, and laughter wherever I can find it.
I don’t want this road, I don’t want this life. I miss Lea so much it hurts, everyday, but I know, without a doubt that I will see her sweet face again soon in Heaven, and I long for that day when we meet again. 💙 Until then, I will surrender, and endure the dark.
What is your gift, he asked. I transform pain into power, she said. -Qasim Chauhan
PS- There are three ways you can help raise money for Lea’s chapter of the Cure Starts Now. See our fundraisers page for more info and thanks. You make a difference. xo