It has been a couple of days since I last wrote. Reality is an excellent topic of choice for discussion right now.
Leah and I had our fair share of problems before Ava was born. We were both focused on things that simply didn’t matter. At the time, we thought they mattered. My perspective shifted considerably after Ava was born and after we lost her. I told myself how much my focus would be different and just how much life would change as the result of her. For the most part, 99 percent of that has remained true. It was simple to tell myself that what I used to focus on was pointless and life should carry a much deeper meaning. That’s a good thing. It’s most likely a philosophy I never would have adopted had it not been for Ava. One of the things I have a lot of gratitude for.
Likewise, when Ava passed away, I said a lot of things about how I would be the person that I knew she would want me to be. There was even this passage in a book that Leah showed me that I have clung on to. It basically said that you are the living extension of your child. You are (or can be) the person they would have and should have been had they been here on this earth. Up until yesterday, I absolutely lived by that standard.
It is extremely easy to give people advice or walk someone through something when you yourself aren’t feeling the same thing that person is. Unless you are literally in their head, you really aren’t experiencing their emotions or living through the thoughts going through their head. That is also true for Leah and me. I can’t know what she feels and I can’t know what it is like to live her thought process. I can certainly relate to her grief at a level most people cannot, but I can’t necessarily know it. I have walked her through countless moments where she was struggling or we both were struggling. I have helped her understand a lot of things. At times it can be the same thing many times over. As many words as I have said and as much support as I have offered, I sometimes don’t take the extra few seconds to remember all the things that I say and give myself the same benefit.
This night unraveled very quickly because of the previous paragraph. I can’t always know how Leah feels and I can’t ever expect she will believe the same things I do. Neither one of us intended to hurt the other, but we did. I lost control. The normal supportive, loving and caring me was gone and all I became was angry and upset. I am deeply disappointed in myself and even more disappointed that I didn’t keep my word with Ava. This is where expectations come in. I don’t expect anyone to be perfect. Not even Leah. Even when I was mad at her, holding on to my anger and my hurt, deep down I knew she wasn’t supposed to handle this perfectly. I didn’t grant myself that level of exception. Although I didn’t really voice that to her as clearly as I should have, I am disappointed in myself as much as I am her. I completely lost my mind. I went absolutely crazy. I am beyond embarrassed.
It’s tough to figure out how you’re supposed to feel when you lose your child. I sometimes struggle just to figure out whether I am supposed to be angry, sad, okay, annoyed, irritable, lonely… each and every time I feel those things I don’t even know if I am supposed to feel that way. It’s because nothing feels right. Losing Ava doesn’t feel right. It’s not supposed to feel right. All the emotions that come with it don’t feel right either. Leah and I both have questioned whether we are handling everything the way we are supposed to. She has felt exactly as I have. Is it okay to be happy sometimes? Is it okay to feel joy?
One thing is for certain. It remains paramount that both of us understand we are different. We lost the same daughter and we may have similarities when it comes to how we feel. Once we start individualizing our emotional journey through the loss of Ava, it can get very complicated and it can get misconstrued in a matter of seconds. We both lost sight of this in a matter of seconds, or at least it seemed that way.
Leah and I both want the same thing. We never want Ava to be forgotten and we always want her to be a central part of our lives. This particular conversation was about that, I just wasn’t seeing things from her perspective. I understood what she was saying but rather than let her talk and feel how she needed to feel, I started going back and forth with her about my own opinions, which came from a different perspective than hers. Because of that, one thing led to another and we were arguing. The arguing just went on and on, getting worse and worse. We were falling apart and we didn’t stop for a while.
Once I get upset or more particularly, once I get angry I have a hard time stopping. Sometimes I can, but unfortunately I never know how or when. We were arguing about the one thing on this earth I am most sensitive to and that is Ava. I will not get into specifics especially Leah’s side of it because it’s not my place. I absolutely 100 percent embarrassed myself and did a serious disservice to my daughter by acting the way that I did. My lowest of lows so far in this whole journey was last night. I got so angry, I put a hole in the wall. Twice. That doesn’t include the embarrassing, childish remarks that came out of my mouth.
This is full transparency. It’s the purpose of writing this. Period. I feel like crap just writing this and I didn’t really want to. But it’s the truth. Even though I was angry about something that had everything to do with how much I loved Ava and the fact that I lost her, I couldn’t keep control of myself. This, everyone, is why you can’t have expectations of anyone during the grieving process, including yourself. What I don’t mean is that you should be allowed to put holes in the wall or say mean things whenever you want. What it does mean is that everyone should be allowed to navigate the loss of their child however they have to. Even more important is that both spouses respect one another and allow each other to feel whatever they have to. Leah and I probably can’t get through this on our own. We will need each other.
I am sitting at Ava’s grave on lunch writing this because I knew I belonged here. I knew I messed up and I knew I needed to get some of it out in writing. Leah and I have talked since last night and are on our way to making things right with one another and with Ava. But it’s all about learning to get through this together and without letting Ava down. I really regret my actions and I hope that Ava can forgive me.