Monday, May 21, 2007

The "get on with it" method and why it doesn't work

I'm writing a book. I didn't think it fitting to mention until I had accepted it myself. But it's fact now, I've started. And I've got around 20,000 words. I'm compiling bits and pieces from things I've written in the past three years and I'm trying to make it all work together now. It's hugely intense and emotional, gives me searing headaches sometimes when I read certain things and yet I can't deny the messages any longer. I had to get going on it. So last week, I did.

Not entirely off-topic, as I've been surrounding myself with all this over the weekend and it's put me in a funny (not ha-ha) place. I believe that being in a place of acceptance that all is as it is for a universal reason (the end-point of which no one knows until it goes sailing past and then another life lesson comes up, they're like waves) is the main key to the healing I've made over the death of Ellanor.

I was struck again last night by correspondence from a dear friend that had me thinking all night. She has inadvertently helped me realise where all my energy is going (not that it helps me curb the drain, that'll take some work): I have been hellbent on "fitting the mould". Seeing my words through her eyes - the sucker for punishment read my entire blog in one sitting yesterday, can you imagine? - really helped me bring it all back in again.

Quite coincidentally, yet perhaps not at all (the symmetry of universal process never ceases to excite and delight me), I was also trawling through my whole blog yesterday for a different reason. I was struck by not only how much more light-hearted yet deep my writing used to be *sob* but the positivity that innumerous people have thanked me for in the past was actually evident to me. I've not seen it before. It was a sombre realisation. It showed me in black and white just how far down I've come, if I could see it for myself and think of it as the "me" from before - strange then, that this has come at a time when I *should* be so much happier.

But therein lies the issue. And what a biggie it is.

I'm placing an ideal on myself subconsciously. It's one I've actually made mention of here and also to various people as the conversation arises in my life off-line. I'm going to Playgroup this morning, for instance. I could choose to let them in on where I am today (in a different headspace totally, surrounded by thoughts of Ellanor), I could vent a bit about how hard it is to try and juggle being Mum to two girls, one of whom is obviously not here; I could shut up about all of that and just focus on Lolly and get carried up by the day to days of all their lives; or I could just as easily not go, so avoiding the predicament altogether.

I say it's a predicament because I've done (and am living) the "get on with it" method, prescribed by family, friends and wider community alike. Why did I rush to get to this point though? Did I do it to reassure people I am capable, I was ok, I could do it all after I had Lolly? I recall telling various friends, relatives, health professionals, that I was NOT ok. When mention of Ella was made by me, I was moved along by and large (not by all, but when it comes from those you highly respect the opinion of, and you're feeling on the back foot, out of your depth, sleep deprived and very lost, hell yeah you use someone else's "trusted" judgment).

Yet, as this friend last night confirmed it is for her too, to live this way is to deny your lost child. And what would ANYONE who gave me the suggestion to move along know about that?? It's proven to me I still haven't quite got the balance right and maybe I never will. Days and weeks go by and I don't even notice that I haven't mentioned my dear cherub. I know on another level, though, that our connection is on a far more organic level. It's almost cellular. I don't always need to mention her or bring her into conversation now, as I used to (especially just after the LGBB made her entrance to the stage), because to do so and have conversations changed or be offered polite but very clear messages that I needed to "move on" and "let go" now that I had another daughter was actually more painful than the realisation that if I didn't say her name out loud, nobody would. Certainly they weren't mentioning (and don't mention) her to me. Here, right here in this blogspace, is about the sum total where consistently I've had only thoughtful, encouraging back-rubs from readers. That and a tiny online "mothers group" of my four non-blood related "sistas" *index and middle finger tap to heart* which has been my life blood for a couple of years now. I really have wound it right down, though, my expression of thoughts about Ellanor and the tough gig I've got keeping myself buoyant (no easy feat with an extra 20kg still to go, let me assure you) for Lolly day to day.

We just went on holiday. Every single day, I was thinking of Ella. This outdoor balcony would have been an issue with a 3 year-old, getting the LGBB off to sleep would have been hard with Ella here too sleeping in the same room, what would she have been like - would she have been into all the drawers and cupboards, would we have had to pack far more frugally in order to take her favourite toys (answer: Yes, undoubtedly). I could go on and on, the wonders I had in my mind. I do it all the time. Often, when I'm not talking and sitting feeding Lolly, I will be thinking about Ella. Wondering about her like she's still on her travels, wondering how different our house would be, my relationship with Steve would be. Would we be happier now if we hadn't had the struggle we had with Ellanor?

Yet, still I don't want to see her death as a tragedy. Her not being here as a gaping empty hole in my life. To do that is to negate the time she spent here.

And what of the LGBB? How does how I am with all of this affect her? I never want her to feel she is living in the shadow of a baby, an older sister, who can do no wrong. I need to do right by her too. How do I properly compartmentalise my ongoing healing and growing and accepting that Ellanor is not here, how do I weave that into my life, our lives, now, all the while maintaining an honest balance? How do I do it and keep the impact on Lolly to a minimum? When do I even get the time to regularly take my thoughts and energy to a space where I can continue this healing?

Therein lies another pressure not familiar (thank God for them) to most other mothers. No Playground floor play talk would ever be able to touch on how you balance giving yourself a break about giving in some days to the immense yearning for a child you will never see change in those photos, while still trying to put on a happy face for the achingly gorgeous grizzle-bucket now asleep (finally, damn those goddamn teeth - about 8 of them I can feel coming all at once, oh my poor Lolly!). How do I manage sitting here reading the diary I kept each day while looking after her sister in the NICU, keeping myself together even though my head feels like it's exploding? And then I have to go in to her when she wakes but it's like trying to flip a switch in my brain: this is not Ella. This is another baby.

Oh that's right. This is the Bliss Bomb. This is a totally different, unique person. I know that. But because Ella will always be a baby when I physically put myself back in time to where I was with her in the physical, it's still difficult while Lolly is also a baby to separate the two girls.

Feel a tad nauseous. Better stop and regroup before my young charge takes charge and yells out.


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