It has been said that the grieving process is like peeling an onion. As each layer falls away, it gives the gift of deeper understanding and also reveals the next level of processing. The stages don’t go smoothly from 1-5… denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. They are interwoven and revisit you many times even after the trauma is done.
Five years into this incredible journey, I continue to peel my way through pain, grief, self-discovery and healing. Although I have grown immensely through this experience, it never ceases to reveal my deeper, more conditioned blind spots, offering me my next task immediately after the last one is finished. Most recently, my quest has been to quiet the voices within and around me that tell me, “You’re not doing enough. Push harder. If you just do enough, maybe he will be ok.”
These repetitive thoughts have illuminated the fact that, for me, these notions are rooted in the denial stage of my grief. It’s the stage where I’ve spent thousands of hours and all of my energy seeking ways to ‘fix’ my broken child… A stage where everything still seems possible and probable, even, if I JUST. DO. ENOUGH.
Our world is filled with endless options. Surgeries, HBOT, Stem Cells, ABM, CME, PT, OT, Essential Oils, Nutritional Healing, Chiropractic … the list goes on. We have tried many of these and continue to work hard for each tiny gain.
But after 5 years of crushing guilt, pushing my body and mind to their very outer limits and centering our life wholly and completely around what is best for Oliver, I am starting to realize that some things just aren’t going to change no matter how hard we try. And that finally feels ok.
It has nothing to do with losing HOPE. I still have an abundance of that. It’s just that my hopes are starting to change in a direction which includes acceptance of my child as he is. And that acceptance allows a little more space to breath.
As Nicco has gotten older and begun to act out, I recognize his need for me too. As my marriage, that started out rock solid, began to unravel, I realized that my husband still needed his wife. And as my mental health inched dangerously close to the cliff from which I have already fallen once, I realized how much I still needed me. In life, there must be a balance. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that truth.
By giving every part of myself to Oliver’s care and the belief that if I did enough, I could change the outcome, I lost touch with all the other parts of my life that were important too.
This has been a tough realization because of the shame and responsibility I feel for Oliver’s injury and the resulting quality of his life. It’s like I just can’t stop until I give everything thing I can to him. And that means that everyone else around me just has to take care of themselves… because Oliver needs me most.
But when, in all of this helping, is it doing more harm to the family unit and enjoyment of life as a whole, than it is good? That’s a personal question, of course. For me, it took almost losing everything within and around me to find that line.
I will continue to devote a large part of myself to Oliver’s best care and well-being, but the last year of allowing myself space to write and heal has taught me that when I care more equally for each intricate part of our whole, everything seems to fall into place. I am happier. We are happier. And that means Oliver is happier. What could be of more importance than that?
In all that may come and all that will, I wish for our family to feel peace and love flowing through our life. So, beyond the milestones of independent sitting, or hearing the sound of my son’s voice or seeing him walk, fostering this connection is quickly becoming my greatest mission.
“Let us be willing to find the serenity
to accept the things we cannot change;
the courage to change the things we can,
and the wisdom to know the difference”