Bridging the Gap

via Daily Prompt: Record

I had an amazing dream Saturday night. I’m writing about it in conjunction with the daily word prompt because I want to remember this, I want to record it, so I’ll have it always.

I normally remember my dreams and they are always vivid and detailed… they were nothing compared to what I experienced Saturday night.

It started with me waking up (in the dream) in my bed at my parents’ house because I was going into labor.

I ran up the stairs to Natalie’s room because she’s the loudest. I whispered her name as I shook her shoulders.

“Nat… Nat… Hey, wake up. I think I just went into labor…”

She layed there, unaffected.

Then her eyes opened wide and she flew out of bed.

“Ok, ok, don’t panic. I’ll tell mom and dad, you get to the hospital.”

Next thing I knew, I was in a bed in the hospital with a doctor who bore a striking resemblance to George Gaynes (the dad from Punky Brewster and Cmdt. Eric Lassard in the Police Academy movies).

Everything I did was wrong. I showed up to early, then I was too late. He wanted to do surgery, he wanted to send me home… I was so stressed out and overwhelmed. Luckily, Shar was there and she took me and my bed for a stroll around the hospital. I called my therapist and weighed the pros and cons of each possibility and by the time we hung up, I felt much better.

Then it was time to go back into the room. I felt sick.

By the time we got there, though, it was time for shift change! I didn’t see the same doctor. This one was much younger and looked a little like David Caruso, from CSI Miami. I don’t even watch that show so I don’t know why he’s making a cameo…

Anyway. Doctor David did an ultrasound. Because the previous doctor did not but knew enough that my baby had no heartbeat.

“Here it is, see? That pulsating color around his body, that’s his heart beating.”

I started to cry.

“Would you like a picture?” He asked

“You can do that?”

“Sure, let me show you.”

He connected a small camera wire to one of my IV’s (?) and feed it down through to my stomach.

“There he is, see?”

And I saw him. Tiny, pink and perfect.

“He just waved at you” the doctor said.

“Now, for a more serious subject. Do you want to have another C-Section or do you want to try to give birth to him naturally?”

I’m sure there are not a lot of people who sign up for going through childbirth when given the choice but I’ve always felt cheated, I guess by Tayla’s birth being an emergency C-section.

“If I can, I’d like to try to do it naturally” I said

He smiled and said he’d get a couple of nurses to help. As he turned to leave, I grabbed the sleeve of his coat. He turned around and sat down next to me.

“I just wanted to say thank you. You are the complete opposite of my previous doctor and exactly what I need right now.”

He patted my hand.

Then, I had to pee.

I hopped down and waddled off toward the bathroom. I don’t know how long I was gone but when I came back, he’d been born! Sort of.

I hopped back up onto the bed and the doctor asked if I wanted to see him.

“Yes!”

Shar gently picked him up, he was still in the amniotic fluid, the sac was still sealed and she placed him on my chest.

I could make out facial feature and then I felt something wet. The water had started to leak. It was draining so fast… I screamed for the doctor who reassured me it was ok.

“It will only break when he’s ready”

I tried to slow down my breathing and within a few moments, there he was. We were touching skin to skin. He started to wiggle and without using his arms, just arching his back, he looked up at me and smiled.

I lingered in that moment for a long time. Everyone just faded into the background until it was just the two of us. I remember thinking (in the dream) “is this Noah? If it’s not, can I still use the name Noah? Has he been reincarnated? Come back to me?”

I was pulled out of this dream state fogginess by Don asking me where the car seat was. People were coming and going and at one point I looked down into his blanket and he was gone.

I was hysterical. I looked all over for him and when I finally found him, he was in a hospital crib, where he was supposed to be.

At this point, I think I was starting to wake up because I had the thought that he was safe and where he was supposed to me and would be waiting for me.

In DBT therapy we talk about “what was the missing experience”? While my doctors weren’t quite as bad as they had been in the dream, it was so nice to get to “experience” a doctor who really cared, deeply. It was nice to have the option of delivery vs c section. It was amazing to see and feel this little baby on me, not having been taken away before I got a chance to see her. This baby was healthy. This baby was safe. This baby was… is waiting for me.

What Can I Say?

I’ve been thinking about today’s blog on and off, all day. What should I write about? What do I have to say? What can I offer? It doesn’t feel like much… In terms of writing I mean. I feel panic a lot of the day. A pressure in my chest about what’s left to do for the expo (a lot!), have I made all the calls? Covered all the bases? Weekends suck as far as trying to get anything done- few people hold business hours on Saturday and Sunday.

I am afraid. Afraid of not being able to pull this off. Of putting so much of my heart into this, at nobody showing up. Of October 16th, when it’s all over and I lose another part of Natalie, again.

I’m struggling to find balance. I’ve been run, run, running until I crash. And then start over. I need to learn organization. Time management. Meditation. Calm. I’ve worked really hard at seeing beyond just black and white.

We’re trying to get a CD put together and I’m reminded how far her talents stretched. How many genres she reached. How much she accomplished… And I think of how much more could have come.

I struggle to find meaning for her life, meaning that extends beyond her death. She brought happiness to people. Inspiration. Hope… and if that’s all I do in my lifetime? I’d consider it a life well lived.

-Photo by Kate Powell

Addiction: Willpower or Disease?

What about both? Or neither? We don’t even really need to label it, do we? Does it help anything? It seems to only divide people and that takes the focus off of recovery. Before you even get started, you’re at a disadvantage.

Yesterday I got to hear Caroline Myss speak on addiction. What I heard, blew my mind, literally expanded my brain. I felt it grow bigger (I’ll have to remember to thank her for the headache). I’m sure much of the reason is because I used to be a very black and white thinker. There was always an absolute. Until there wasn’t.

I’ve been learning the DBT skills for a number of years and if you’re unfamiliar with DBT, I encourage you to read up on it! It has helped me so tremendously. The basic principle says it is both/and vs either/or. Just because something is one way, doesn’t mean it can’t be any other way. Childbirth is a great example. Happiest day of my life, finally becoming a mother. Also, saddest day because she was very premature, was born not breathing and it was touch and go for months afterward. But just because I was sad and scared, that didn’t take away my joy.

Anyway, after being steeped in this new way of looking at life , I couldn’t believe I’d neglected to see the dialectic aspects of the willpower vs disease argument.

I learned early on that addiction was a disease. I believe that, to some extent. On the other hand, I didn’t like surrendering to a Higher Power. Not because I don’t believe in God or because I thought I could handle it on my own but simply because it sucks to feel powerless.

If I turned it over to God, was he supposed to freeze me in my tracks every time I came close to a liquor store? Sour the taste of alcohol on my tongue? Come down from Heaven to personally lecture me on the evils of drugs and alcohol? That part wasn’t so laid out for me.

In her talk, she got my attention right away by saying “there is no way we’d ever think of treating a person with any other disease by suggesting that they first admit they were powerless”. That’s not an exact quote, it was more like, if anyone suggested I treat my illness that way, I’d kick them out of the room… That made sense to me.

I didn’t like the notion that when an addict (I use the term addict to include alcoholics, compulsive eaters etc just because it’s easier for me to write) had a relapse, there was very little in the way of consequences. Sure there are the natural consequences of the behavior but as far as family and support, the reaction (if you subscribe to the notion of addiction being a disease) is mostly, if not entirely, encouraging. Just pick up where you left off. It wasn’t you, it was the disease… I’m not suggesting you berate anyone for a relapse, that won’t help… AND, drugs (or whatever the harmful behavior) does not exist without the person. Heroin has never robbed anyone at gunpoint. A fifth of vodka was never pulled over for drunk driving… See where I’m going? We do have some control.

And, I get it. It is REALLY HARD. That’s why we need support groups and sponsors and activities to keep us engaged. There are far too many practicing and deceased individuals who want(ed) to quit and it didn’t happen. Natalie wanted to quit. She had quit… and, there is a reason I don’t have any regrets about how we as a family, handled “it” (her addiction). Like someone said to me earlier, “when you have the flu, that’s not the time I want to hear about how washing my hands will help me in the future”.

We couldn’t stay with her 24/7. Or even if we did, there’s no guarantee she would’ve stayed clean. I know I talked about this already and I don’t mean to ramble…

My point is, in addition to Caroline explaining her viewpoint (which by the way, odd as it may seem, really was a very non-judgmental way of looking at things. It was more just fact to her, let’s figure out where the problem is so we can find a working solution) there was an article I read that looks at addiction as a learning disorder.

Addiction is basically a maladjusted coping method. If we can look at it that way, without the shame and the stigma… acknowledge that yes, a part of the brain is affected but it’s not a degenerative illness we can focus on the recovery aspect. We can STOP debating the cause and concentrate on re-learning.

Caroline Myss has videos on YouTube, this particular one was part of a paid course so I can’t create a link to it. I will include the article about school of thought on addiction being a learning disorder though.

The NY Times “Can You Get Over an Addiction?”

What are your thoughts on addiction? Or your views on how addicts are treated? Do you have any ideas on how to make things better? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

Ps: I am still doing the GoFundMe campaign to help #EndtheEpidemic and #ShameEndsWithMe event to be held on October 15th, 2016. Time is TBD. If you can help with a donation or a share of the link, I’d really appreciate it!

EndtheEpidemic

Thanks so much! ❤

You’re Invited To My Pity Party!

I am at a loss tonight. Things are not looking better after a good night of sleep. Who’s sleeping? The longer Natalie is gone, the harder it gets. It’s difficult to even take a deep breath because grief is lying in wait. Keep the shallow breathing. Don’t make eye contact with people when they ask you how you are. Don’t listen to her music…

I do allow myself to cry, even in front of people sometimes. I can’t help it. I wish I could… Mostly though, I reserve the out-and-out guttural grief releases for my car. I see a therapist on a weekly basis and also attend a (life) skills group that teaches us how to deal with emotions and cope in healthier ways than before. I am very grateful for the people and the skills I’ve gained from that group yet I found myself holding back this week. A few tears fell but when I heard David (one of our group facilitators) ask what emotions I was experiencing… I was concentrating only on holding my breath. Holding my pain. Holding the tears in. DON’T DO IT a voice inside me warned.

But why? What’s the worst that could happen? I’m afraid I’ll open my mouth to scream and won’t stop until my voice is gone, for starters. I worried about other people in the building hearing me. I’m worried that I’ll make others uncomfortable. I’m worried about people comforting me and I’ll feel uncomfortable. That people will think I’ve really lost my shit…

But really? Within a months time, I lost my unborn son and my sister. What is that SUPPOSED to sound like? How long SHOULD that last? I guess I don’t think people won’t understand… I know there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to grief… (remember when “experts” told people just coming out of a romantic relationship that they could grieve one month per every year they spent with their significant other? I thought it was stupid in sixth grade and still do.) Aside from everyone being an individual, I know myself to be highly sensitive and I know I will never not be grieving.

I’m in a DBT program. Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, which teaches both/and vs either/or. For someone who used to have extremely black and white thinking, this has been a God send.

I am still devastated about losing my baby AND I am excited, happy and hopeful that someone I consider a friend, is pregnant. I congratulated her and I meant it. And, I anticipate it’s going to be difficult to spend time around her. I will survive. I will flex and build the muscle that has gotten me through the tough times before.

So, tonight, amidst my sadness, please enjoy some music that brings me joy. The clip below is of Melanie Martinez’s song “Pity Party”.

Enjoy!

https://www.bing.com/search?q=pity+party&go=Submit&qs=n&form=QBLH&pq=pity+party&sc=10-10&sp=-1&sk=&ghc=1&cvid=F58EE1FAAD57455AB0E7E06D3D5E8689