Don’t Be Afraid to Feel Your Feelings
By the time I reached 29 years old, I had only experienced the loss of two loved ones in my life; the death of my beloved Granny, and the death of my childhood friend. I dealt with both of these deaths by being stoic… which is just a nice name for stuffing your feelings.
I had no idea how to deal with feelings of sadness related to death so I just shoved them into the basement. I would stick to the facts.
Granny was old. Granny didn’t suffer. My friend Renee should have never trusted her boyfriend to drive her in the treacherous mountains of Colorado because it led to an accident and ultimately her death. He got to live she didn’t. Those are facts.
I didn’t cry over these two monumental deaths for several years. I really didn’t know how to mourn.
Life became a roller coaster.
So, here I am at 29 years old. I’m dating the love of my life and I’m still not officially divorced yet from my first marriage. I’m in the doctor’s office because my allergies are out of control. I didn’t even know I was allergic to anything and I tell the doctor I cannot stop sneezing and I cannot breath. She looks in my nose, asks a few questions then suggests I clean ceiling fans with a wet cloth to remove the dust because I’m probably allergic to dust.
At the end of the exam I say, “Oh, and I have this strange pain on the right side of my stomach… and something is sticking out when I lie down a certain way.” She tells me to lie down and feels around my abdomen.
“I’m going to give you a pregnancy test,” she says.
“What?! Why would you do that? I’m not even pregnant,” I protest. I was on the pill and there was no way I was pregnant. They take my blood, and I wait.
I started to think about what I was going to do when I left the office. Then the doctor come in with a serious yet almost pathetic look on her face. “I’m sorry,” she hesitates. “but, you’re pregnant.”
“What?!” I begin sobbing and throwing myself on the ground like a crazy woman who’s been told her entire family was found murdered. “This can’t be true!!!” I cried.
“I’m not even legally divorced!!! My family won’t understand!!! I’m one of those people you see on t.v. who doesn’t even know she’s pregnant!!!”
The doctor looked like she was considering calling 911.
“Do you want me to call someone to drive you home?” she asked.
Wow. I heard that. She thinks I’m so crazy I cannot even drive myself home. That’s when I got it together. “Um… no.” I said in between sobs. “I can drive.”
She explained that I probably got pregnant on the pill taking antibiotics recently for an infection, not knowing antibiotics reduce the effects of it. It didn’t make my shame of being ignorant go away.
I got home feeling almost numb and announced to my boyfriend, “I may be allergic to dust. And I’m pregnant.”
To hear myself say “I am pregnant” made me feel like the biggest loser ever created. The voice of judgment screamed in my head: “I am pregnant… and I’m not married!!” I wondered what my parents would think of me.
Here I was the first to get divorced in the family, and now I’m the first to be knocked up and unwed. I was so busy judging myself I never considered of how my own father came into this world to an unwed teen mother in Mexico. I was just thinking of what a loser I was.
Luckily, my boyfriend (soon to be fiancé) responded with calm and love the best he knew how; he made me a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. I remember sitting at the bar area of the kitchen crying and eating the sandwich and dipping it into the comforting warm soup, sniffing, and saying “What are we going to do?”
He said, “We’ll handle this.”
Understanding my feelings wasn’t easy
For two weeks, we were back and forth on what to do. He said he wasn’t sure if he was ready to be a father again (he had two children from another marriage). Part of me understood this and part of me was really ticked off. That part of me felt like he didn’t love me or our unborn child. And terminating a pregnancy was against my beliefs! But, if I was going to have a child I wanted to bring him/her into the world wanted and loved. Not forced.
After seeing our therapist and sharing our feelings, we decided to enthusiastically have the baby. He worked through his own fear and I worked through my fear.
When it was time for our first sonogram we were both very excited. We had accepted our situation and were looking forward to being parents.
I was lying on the table and was looking at the black and white image on the screen which looked like a little blob. “I’m so sorry,” the doctor said with such heaviness, “there is no heartbeat.”
I didn’t know what that meant. Was there supposed to be a heartbeat at this stage? “What are you saying?” I asked.
She replied, “That means this fetus is no longer viable. According to our calculations you should be a little over 3 months pregnant and we would definitely see a heartbeat, but for some reason this fetus didn’t form properly and there is no heartbeat.”
Wow. Let that sink in…
“So what does that mean??” I started feeling really sad. “It means you’re not having this baby, and we will probably have to do surgery on you to clean everything out.”
WHOOOA. We had just accepted being pregnant, we had just accepted this baby with love… and now I’m being told we cannot have this baby? This baby is being taken away from me? This is not fair, I thought.
I got dressed. We left. The surgery was scheduled to remove the fetus and everything the little guy came with.
After the surgery the doctor said the fetus was abnormal from the beginning. This didn’t make me feel any better. I went home feeling a loss completely different than my losing my Granny or my best friend Renee. This was my child I had felt was taken away from me. Stolen. Like God was saying to me, “Oh, so you decide you want this child? No. I’m taking this. You don’t deserve him.”
Nearly every woman I know has had a miscarriage or knows of someone who has. Doctors say it’s somewhat common. But not every woman, including myself, knows how to allow herself to feel bad feelings.
My feelings of grief were different this time.
In the weeks that followed I cried a river. I was taking a chemotherapy medicine to clot my blood because I wasn’t healing properly. I was the most depressed I had ever been in my life. I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest.
I cried for weeks. I remember one morning crying and not wanting to get out of bed, and my fiancé (he asked me to marry him at this point) standing next to me dressed in his neatly ironed shorts and tee-shirt saying “Why can’t you just get over it?”
That felt like a punch to the stomach. “Why can’t I get over it?! If I could I would!” I yelled.
It was at that point we realized we needed helping grieving. I decided if he couldn’t validate where I was, I wasn’t going to marry this guy. So, we went to therapy.
Therapy helped us to understand our own and each other’s feelings.
Our therapist (the woman I still affectionally call my Mother Guru) said to both of us, “People mourn differently. Lynn is sad and will be sad for a long time. You, as the father, may feel sad for a little bit. You both need to accept the way each mourns. Don’t judge each other. Be there for each other and allow each other to have their feelings for as long as they need to.”
She validated me and him and told us how to support each other. We mourned differently and that’s okay. I was in deep mourning and holding on to my grief because I didn’t know how to let go of it.
She suggested this technique for letting go: “When you go on your honeymoon, go to the tallest mountain, look up to the sun and say to this child’s spirit ‘I release you to the light! I release you to the light!’”
Soon thereafter, we got married and went skiing in Colorado. We went to the tallest mountain, held hands and closed our eyes… I thought of my unborn child… I felt the sun on my face and the energy of the light, and we said, “I release you to the light! I release you to the light!”
We did that a few times, and I meant it more each time I said it.
The sadness lingered. The anger lingered. And my husband was still practicing allowing me to feel sad. And I was still practicing not judging him for not being sad in the way I was sad.
But with each passing month, the sadness and pain lessened for me. And within a year and a half, we had our first child together. I never forgot our first child, and felt compassion for every person who goes through this.
Allow yourself to feel your feelings.
The lesson is: allow yourself to feel your feelings, and allow others to do the same in their way. Everyone mourns differently. We should never say to someone “Get over it” or, “Why don’t you cry like I’m crying?” because that’s invalidating their feelings.
What you might be feeling is your own sadness with someone else’s sadness.
So instead, it might sound like this: “I’m really sad you’re sad and I don’t know what to do…” Practice being okay with YOUR OWN sadness…
We all need to be okay with our own sadness — it’s a part of life.
Once we feel sadness… and accept it… we can release it into the light.
And eventually… we will feel happiness.
July 26, 2016
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