Wishing things were different……
As I squeeze my eyes shut tight, wishing and imagining life is different. It takes me back to a place and time where I can hear those precious little footsteps making their way to my room. I see her, my beautiful girl, standing beside my bed in her flowing white nightgown. The sweet sound of, “Good morning Mommy” rolls right off of her lips. I think to myself what a wonderful, beautiful place to be. I squeeze my eyes even tighter. I don’t want to open them to my reality. I want life to be the way it used to be.
I think to myself my current life is just a dream, a nightmare. When I open my eyes, it will be just as it was, or as I planned it should be. You know, back to the days when mental illness was a foreign concept in our home. I slowly open one eye and then the other. Oh, it is the same. It is not a dream. Same house, same prayer list, same mental health books on the nightstand. This life is my reality.
It is what it is!
I think back to when the mental illness first reared its head. At first, I refused to believe in mental illness. I would say, “Pull your bootstraps up and get moving.” Then I quickly switched to spinning my wheels searching for the best treatment and the best doctors. I pushed like a mad momma to force things back to the way they used to be. I announced with clarity and confidence, “We will resume life just like it was before mental illness came knocking at our door.”
Then reality set in; that life wasn’t going back to the way it was. Life was different now. Each person in our family had been changed by this illness. So many changes and so many challenges. When I accepted our family’s mental illness, things began to get better. I started to throw myself into learning about mental illness and skills to live a life worth living for both my loved one and for me.
It works well most of the time until that sadness hits. That overwhelming sadness down to the core, when I am bombarded by reminders of milestones not quite reached and dreams not achieved. Sad for her, sad for me. I had different plans for us. I am confused; I have losses that the world can’t see. After all, nobody died. My loved one too has losses that I can’t comprehend. Yes, I am thankful beyond words she is alive. Yes, she and I have made the most of the difficult circumstances, and I am so proud of us.
Yes, I am living a life worth living, but I still I have losses that need to be named and mourned.
When I began that process to truly grieve and put away my imagining, something amazing happened. I began to embrace the new beautiful person my loved one had become. I saw someone filled with incredible strength, courage, humor, love, and compassion. I too have changed and become closer to who God created me to be.
Of course, it is a process. When I receive those college graduation announcements or wedding invitations from my best friend’s children, I will most likely revisit the losses.
I will need to recognize the loss, name it, grieve it, and accept it all over again.
Do you recognize your losses? Have you learned to appreciate the new person your loved one has become?