Now all of that has changed. My emotions are raw and tender, for the first time in my life I find myself crippled by one statement someone just said in passing. I lock myself in my room and cry for hours, I cry in public, I cry in the car, I cry, cry, cry. It's exhausting and I hate it. I miss the old Shannon who would say things like "I can't remember the last time I cried about something", oh how innocent I once seemed. Of course crying is just one part of the large concoction called "grief". Fits of rage, anger, disappoint, bitterness, and my least favorite lashing out on others. I have caught myself SO MANY TIMES pulling out the "verbal whip". Sometimes I am able to keep it in my head and brute over it all day like a spoiled teenager, other times the words just fall out. The worst part is the look I get after I say it. People are not use to that side of me, it definitely surprises them when someone who use to do anything to stay out of fight, now just bit their hand off for making a comment that wasn't even slightly offensive. After the "look" I instantly know I screwed up and the guilt hits hard. I try to apologize and so badly want to say "I'm sorry, grief has changed me" but never actually spit out the whole sentence, I just say I'm sorry and walk away. For some reason I have convinced myself that finishing that sentence sounds like an excuse. Like when people say "I'm sorry, I'm just being honest" but their not really being honest, they are just justifying being mean and I can't stand that!
It's been a learning experience to say the least and since I have tried so hard to be "neutral" my whole life I find myself behind the learning curve of emotions. I remind myself of a robot who has just been programmed to have "feelings". Surprisingly though there has been a lot of positives from this as well. I have learned that emotions are a great thing too and being neutral is imprisoning in a way. Emotions show who you are, having an emotional reaction doesn't mean that you are always over reacting (which for some reason is what I had convinced myself it was). Being emotional doesn't mean that you are a chick flick waiting to explode with sappiness. They are your genuine feelings, they are your pain, suffering, joy, excitement, and a sign that you are a human with flaws and beauty. I will be the first to admit that emotionally I am a disaster right now but I have seen a side of myself that was not their before... and if it was I was smothering it in the background snuffing out what I thought was it's ugly head. I have allowed myself to open up and accept that I am no longer neutral and no longer want to be. I don't want to be the person who gets verbally abused by someone else and just takes it because I tell myself "they are just hurt and taking it out on me, it's ok, they are just words and they don't mean it". I don't want to be the one who stares at people when they cry because I don't know how to handle their tears of pain. I no longer want to avoid standing up for myself because I fear that I will hurt someone else's feelings.
All of these lessons have come with a price, the good and the bad. I have had to apologize many times and show others I am not the pillar of strength that I once was but I have also had to learn that I don't need to be the person that always apologizes. My whole life I have struggled to see the line of when things where considered my fault or someone else's and would make restitution with people just to play it on the safe side and that's not ok. The reason that it's not ok is because that is a one sided relationship, if you are having to go out of your way every single time their is a disagreement to appease someone then that means you are the only one who is trying. You are the only one who cares. You are the only reason the relationship is working and that is not fair. During all this time of "figuring myself out" I of course have thought a lot about the people who have met this new me and I have changed the way I check myself to make sure I am not lashing out on others. I no longer ask myself "Are you reacting emotionally right now?" but instead say "Are you being reasonable?" That question has shifted my perspective, it allows me to still have my emotions with it's reactions but doesn't allow me to stomp all over others. This has been a helpful tool in the last few months especially in dealing with my family who has abandoned me and my family since McKenna's death.
This has also completely changed my marriage. One of the reasons I was so attracted to Zach when I first met him is because I realized that he too was a "neutral". He was always calm, he hated fighting, and was never quick to be offended. Marriage is easy when you have 2 people who are always trying to avoid confrontation. I have mentioned before how Zach is the main receiver of my full on crazy. Lucky for me he had a better handle on his emotions prior to McKenna's death then I did so he has taken me on with great stride. The number one thing we were both preached on at counseling was communication. Although Zach and I have a great relationship, we have never had to deal with such emotional turmoil before and this was new territory for both of us. Zach was so worried he would burden me with his pain that he constantly portrayed himself as this strong warrior who could felt nothing. While I on the other hand was crippled, I had never been good at expressing myself and now I had all of these new feelings that were even harder to describe and I didn't know what to do with them. For months I would wait for him to go to sleep so that I could let it all out and only show him the tip of the iceberg of anguish I was feeling. I honestly have no idea why I did that, at the time I just hated to see myself so riddled with confusion. I felt like I was back in middle school and figuring out what "hormonal" meant and why it applied to me.
I liked being the "stable" one, I liked always knowing how to react to situations, I liked having my emotions locked up and whipped into shape but now I was none of those things. Here I am 25 years old, 3 children, 2 alive, and pregnant with one more. I own my own home, car, about to graduate from grad school and have been happily married for 5 years and NOW I am having to ask myself "who am I?". I am having to start all over again, I am having to pick up the pieces and put them back together except now chunks are missing and I don't know what to replace them with. I am a new person, I am no longer the woman I have been and have worked so hard to become for the last 25 years. I am weak, I am unstable, I am vulnerable, I am emotional. Having to rediscover yourself is not as fun as the movies make it out to be. It doesn't get resolved in a nice hour and a half segment then wrapped up in a happily ever after. Some of the pieces you think are a good idea to replace for the missing one's are a mistake then your back to square one, some days you wake up and hate everything you have become and the reason you are here, other days you give yourself a break and finally tell yourself that you are doing a good job and come to peace with the new creation you have formed. This has been going on for 8 months, soon to be 9 and everyday is a new battle.
Zach and I are learning to watch each others back more. We both struggle approaching one another and speaking candid. What has helped the most is just asking a simple question "how are you doing?". This has taken the pressure off of pretending everything is ok because it is so rare when someone genuinely ask you this question that you can't just say "Good, how are you?". You have to stop and give a human response, admitting that it was a tough day, that you had a break down in the car by yourself, that you saw a little girl who looked like her today and it tore your heart apart. It has still been a struggle, both of us worry about burdening the other. For me, as I have stated in other post, my greatest time of trial is at night. Like clock work every time we hit the lights and say we are really going to bed she pops into my head and instantly I feel the tears wanting to come out. No matter how many times Zach has told me to wake him I just can't bring myself to do it. He is so busy, he wakes up around 5am to get himself up and drop Zoe off at my sisters. Then he purposefully gets to work early to make sure things are in order. Then he normally ends up having some crazy day and staying a little later then planned. Then he strolls in around 6pm usually after he has stopped by the grocery store on his way home and begins to make dinner. After dinner he gets the kids ready for bed, plays with them a little, reads scriptures, then a book of their choice and finally has his down time.
How can I intrude or ask any more of him? He does EVERYTHING and I know he does. What do I do all day you might ask? School. That's it. Just school! School, school, and more school! I am in a full time, accelerated graduate program that goes by trimesters so you only get a 2 week break before another semester starts. I have always struggled to keep up, especially in a medical program where I have taken more then 30 hours in just one trimester and it consumes my life. It's so frustrating when you love being a mom and a wife but are constantly being ambushed with exams, homework, and other school responsibilities. Zach has always been so kind and understanding about it. He has never treated me like I was dumb or slow, he has never called me out or told me that I am useless around the house. All he ever tells me on almost an every day basis is how proud he is of me and he wishes he could do more FOR ME! He truly is insane! So the other night I began to weep silently to myself and Zach asked if I was ok, I thought he was asleep and tried my best to hold my quaking voice enough to tell him I was just thinking about McKenna but he saw right through the charade and told me to let it out. After confessing to him why I hated to keep him up he swore on his life that he wanted nothing more then to be there for me, so I let him... I don't think I have ever cried so hard in front of another human being in my whole life. I am positive that not even my own parents have seen me so broken.
We laid there in the dark as he stroked my hair gently, I could feel his agony, I could feel that it hurt him to see me in pain just like it would affect me if I saw him suffering that way and all I could get out was "I'm so sorry, I just want our baby girl back home, I just want her to come home." He continued to hold me as I for the first time allowed someone to see how much I really do hold back. Even in that dark moment I knew something beautiful had come from that cry. We had reached a new level in our marriage. We had seen each other at our highest high and now at our lowers low, we had discovered that we no longer had to endure this pain alone. I don't know why it took me so long to realize that, I have always trusted Zach full heartily but the idea of showing myself, admitting that I am not the strong woman everyone says I am, I am not the positive ray of sunshine that I use to be, I am lost, confused, and in pain seemed impossible. Words can only take me so far, tears are small glimpse of the reality we live in but to let the walls down, to let the flood gates open, and show one person in this universe all that I have been holding in not only with McKenna but with myself, my family, my friends, and even my faith, that is the full story. The same story that we all have but struggle to express. Since our vacation to Colorado for Christmas this year I have been slowly showing my husband these emotions and 3 nights ago in the 5 years that we have been married I gave him my all and I have never known such love.
It reminds me of what our Savior must feel for us. Just a glimpse of His love and compassion for us trying to make it on our own down here. Convinced we are alone, forgotten and forsaken. Yet there He is, the Comforter, the Prince of Peace, the Healer of all things waiting for us to open up and bare our souls to Him. Why is it so hard to do this? Why are we so protective over who gets to see what and how much they get to see. Because it feels like a freak show, at least to me it does. You see crazy stuff on the internet and entertainment media all the time but that's not how people really act. People will judge, condemn, and forever keep that image of you and the time you acted out. There is barely forgiveness or a kind notion, just empty words and something to gossip about. Everyone loves to say "Your over-reacting", make jokes that your on your "period", complain that you are sensitive. We live in a de-sensitized world. We have seen it all and can Google it in a second if we haven't. There are no boundaries and yet when real people encounter true heart ache we don't know what to do with them. We time them, give them a moment to mourn, pick and choose what we deem appropriate reactions and then we sit and wait to see what happens. I know this because I have done it. I have shown this type of judgment first hand. I never understood how difficult it is to navigate through this pain until I lost my own.
This year has been the most I have ever learned and it's not because of school, seminars, or workshops. I have learned the benefit and curse of emotions. I have learned when to show forgiveness and when to walk away. I have learned that time is not as promising as everyone makes it out to be. I have learned that the love of Christ goes deeper then anything I could ever comprehend and that I can't just sit here waiting for it to smack me in the face. I need to dig it up, study it, learn it, love it, and apply it in my own life then maybe I will get a shimmer of understanding of how much my Savior truly loves me. It is more then my husband and my children combined. His love can fill those missing pieces of my soul but it won't happen over night. It takes time, love, dedication, and patience.
I know this is true and in a way must believe it because I would hope with all of my heart that McKenna is with someone who can show her all the love in the world right now. Someone who can guide my tiny 3 year old through that heavenly kingdom never letting her feel a moment of fear or loneliness. Someone who will wait patiently by her side till I can return to my motherly duties for her. The only person I can think of who would show such genuine interest in my own child is the Creator Himself. The One who not only made me, but made her for me. He will love and cherish her in every possible way, never falling short of His responsibilities because He is perfect and I am so blessed that she has all of that and more because she deserves the very best. It's hard to believe that we are starting a year that she will never be apart of. I can't believe that she was only here from 2011-2014. Who would have ever thought it would go bye so fast and end so quickly. I wish she was here to celebrate this new year with us but I know she is where she needs to be. I love you Kenna Bear, Happy New Year baby girl, I hope you know how much we truly love and miss you.
Our Christmas trip to Colorado this year
6 months preggo
My Christmas present from Zach
(I had a weird allergic reaction to my original ring when we first got married and then lost it soon after so I couldn't wear it.)
Finally hung McKenna's painting in our hallway by the front door. I put her little face at kissing height so I can give her a peck on my way in and out every day.