Sadly, no. I am not talking about the mythical creature all parents have heard tales of that sleeps for hours at a time – uninterrupted. Sadly, the slumber I am talking about is more metaphorical than actual.
I have come to the realization that I have been sleepwalking through the past five years of my life.
Don’t get me wrong. I have been present and participating in life events, but I have also been completely and totally shut down inside. This started as a defense mechanism after my second miscarriage. I had been through a ton just to get pregnant with the twins, and those fourteen weeks of being pregnant had not been easy on me and my body.
But to then lose them the way I did was more than my brain could take. Having twin one “self-abort” in my workplace was awful – but it paled in comparison to seeing twin two lying in a toilet bowl in the emergency room.
After that experience, I did what I knew I was supposed to do. I got a therapist. I talked about my feelings. I grieved my loss. Or at least, that is what I thought I was doing. I think, deep down, I went through the motions. I knew I was supposed to cry. I knew I was supposed to grieve. I knew this is what everyone expected of me. So I did it.
Problem is – it was just on the surface. Inside, I did none of the work I needed to do. I turned everything off inside. I held back. I stopped leaning on the people around me. When friends or family would ask me how I was doing, I would tell them “I am doing my best”. What I should have said was “I am dying inside”.
As time went on, and my infertility struggles continued, this repression of emotion deepened. I held back more. I shut down more. I built up more walls.
This manifested itself in many ways. I stopped talking to Peter about anything that mattered. I stopped being the fun mom who would play with Irene for hours. I stopped calling friends and isolated myself in my own thoughts.
When I became pregnant with Sam, I started to slowly wake up. I figured now that I was pregnant, it was safe to come out of my insular world and open myself back up to life.
As anyone who has read this blog knows, that didn’t go so well.
With Sam’s premature birth, by emotional retreat was deeper. I didn’t just go back to where I was, I went further. I totally shut down to any and all emotions. As opposed to screaming and crying about the situation I was in, I closed myself off. I didn’t allow myself to feel what I was going through. I couldn’t. I had to survive. I had to be warrior mom. I had to stand strong and fight.
Even after Sam came home, I stayed in survival mode. I didn’t have a choice. Sam may have been home, but he was still fragile. We ended up back in the hospital for a head injury and for RSV. Aside from Sam, I was dealing with my mom’s triple bypass surgery and her heart arythmia that decided to show up while she was driving a car.
And if all of that was not enough, about a year ago, I was hit (hard) by Sam’s autism diagnosis.
All of this has added up to a Melissa sleepwalking through her life.
But, I am happy to say, I am starting to wake up. I am starting to take some control of my life back. I am starting to allow emotion back into my world. I have found myself crying – not just sad tears, but also tears of joy.
What was it that triggered this change? Was it seeing Irene blossom this year into a confident kid? Was it hearing Sam tell me he loves me? Was it listening to Sam and Irene sign “Let It Go” together?
I don’t know what it was exactly, but I do know that I am aware of a shift. I am aware of the events happening around me. I am feeling my life for the first time in five years, and it feels good.
I am slowly waking up and similing all the way down to my core and moments like this: