I’ve been thinking about my post last night and a talk that Leah and I had following that post. Shortly after I finished writing, I had to go back downstairs and finish the awful chore of laundry I started. I had a few shirts and a few pairs of pants that all needed to be ironed. One of the things I miss about being on the production floor is wearing whatever I want every day. Jeans, shorts, t-shirt… didn’t matter. Those were the days. I got maybe halfway through my ironing and then Leah came down and said she would do the rest. It was a nice break and very nice of her to do for me. I am a bit of a perfectionist so when I iron, it can take a while.
We had this discussion later on about what my whole grieving process was like and how I felt. It’s hard to know when you are blocking things out to the point of avoiding things and when you are just acting like yourself. Whatever yourself is now. Leah told me she didn’t believe that shutting things out was the right thing to do and that I could be setting myself up for a dangerous future if I did that. But, she also said she really didn’t think I was shutting things out. Simply telling myself that I didn’t want to go somewhere emotionally was okay. Simply getting triggers and finding the right way to handle them is also okay. To her, as long as I wasn’t walking around believing everything was fine and nothing happened, I was doing okay. Even if I didn’t cry as much or wasn’t expressing things the same way it was still more than obvious I was going through a lot.
I think my biggest worry as I was saying last night was that I was handling things wrong. And I also didn’t think that my starting to get more irritable or angry was okay either. I have read stories about dads that get really ticked off and have issues with anger that create a lot of problems. I definitely don’t want to see that happen. I remember I was telling Leah I was irritable last night and I said I just didn’t get why because in my mind there was no explainable reason. But then she said, “You lost your baby.” It’s insane how quickly I can dismiss that I am bothered in less obvious ways by the loss of Ava. Leah was right. There probably are times when my mood shifts because I do miss her and I need her. It can just be something more subtle and not so right in my face like crying.
I tend to believe that what she said about handling everything makes sense. There really isn’t a playbook for this. I wish that there was one. But I am often reminded of the correlation between my recovery and the loss of Ava. Now I will say that comparing the two, I would stay on crack for 10 years and then quit cold turkey before I ever went through losing Ava again. No, I didn’t really smoke crack, but given enough time I may have. The point is, recovery had no rule book. There was no way that anyone was going to give me some detailed explanation how to stay off drugs and alcohol and get to a point where I didn’t hate myself so much. The only thing that really gave me any sort of hope was sitting in meetings seeing how other people had done it. Don’t ask me why, but just knowing I was in a room with many people who had the same issue I was brought me some sort of comfort. There were people who were worse off than I was and there were people who had similar stories. I heard people who really seemed to get it. They went through hell and got their lives together. The same applies to what I am going through with Ava.
I find comfort in reading about other people’s stories about their own loss and I often try to put myself in their shoes. I look for where I feel like they have it worse and where I sometimes feel like I have it worse. I look for the examples of how people manage to make it to a point where it isn’t survival and it is actually living life. That’s what I want for myself. I don’t ever want to reach some place where I don’t talk about Ava. I don’t want to reach a point where my family doesn’t want me to talk about Ava. I want her to be a central part of my life. How that appearance of central looks can change over time I have no doubt but the principle remains the same. I believe wholeheartedly that there is a way to reach a point where everything isn’t as awfully painful. But in order to do that, I have to make sure I address my emotions when I need to. That’s probably why Leah asks me how I am or if I want to talk… a lot. But I love her for that.