Denial Keeps Me Stuck [Part 2]

In Part 2 today, I continue with another way I have been in denial lately.

As an Adult Child from a dysfunctional family, denial was one of my many childhood survival traits. I believe that all individuals who come from abusive, dysfunctional homes learn to behave in such ways to survive that environment growing up. It is amazing what our bodies go through to keep us alive! Denial kept me safe, but it no longer fits my life in a helpful way. I have outgrown it. But now as an adult, when my entire being experiences a potential threat to my very existence, I so easily revert back to those original survival traits…like denial…. especially denial!

Here is my most recent example of denial in action in my life…

In addition to denying my grief feelings recently surrounding my miscarriages, I have been denying some of my feelings toward a family member who has recently revealed their “SECRET” to me. While I am grateful this secret is out in the open and no longer being kept from me, I have had many feelings surrounding it but kept them at bay until now. The secret was revealed several months ago and at first I was in shock (the first stage of grief). After the initial shock, I was not yet ready to deal with my emotions so I minimized the behavior, denied how it truly effected me, excused it, and normalized it as being part of our ever changing culture…BUT THE TRUTH IS… IT REALLY HURT ME DEEPLY AT MY CORE.

It was time and safe now to finally deal with my feelings. AND so I am. The revealing of this secret has caused me to question my very purpose and role in life. There is shame, embarrassment, confusion, hurt, anger, and pain among other emotions. My emotions are really raw right now because I am allowing them to come. And it is ok for me to be in this place. While I am not able to share this secret yet here on the blog, I continue to process it with safe mentors in my life. I feel compelled and know that I must feel my feelings around this secret because if I don’t I will head down that dark spiral again. I will lose my clarity, serenity, and sanity.

Is it time to get your secret out in the open? AND/OR

Is it time to feel and express your emotions around something that has eaten away at you for years?

I encourage you to find a safe person, place, or support group to share it.

Until Part 3 on denial…Bethie

Denial Keeps Me Stuck [Part 1]

Wrestling…this is what I have been up to lately. Wrestling with feelings of confusion, thoughts, my grief….my denial.

I have been stuck in my writing and wondered why.

With much gratitude, I am aware that I am in this strange place. I believe that my stuckness has been mostly around my grief and denying my feelings. Let me explain…

Recently, I felt a nudge to re-post my miscarriage stories but I kept putting it off. I avoided re-publishing these stories because I was afraid of revisiting my grief feelings. Fearful to re-experience the pain. Afraid to sit in the discomfort of my emotions. What might happen, if I go there… again?

Can you relate? Do you fear sitting with uncomfortable emotions?

You might think by now, especially as a therapist, I would understand that avoiding my feelings only brings more pain. So I decided to face that fear and re-post my stories. I was able to remember my sweet, sweet kiddos, Sage, Cruz, and Zane, who are with me always in spirit. And it was good to remember. Good to grieve my losses some more. I chose to sit with the pain…again. And I am not only ok, but more free for doing so. I feel lighter, less stuck, more connected to the world around me again. I am letting go of the denial.

OH how I miss my kiddos and grateful for the ones who are with me face to face.

You see, I have 5 children dearly LOVED…Remy, Sage, Cruz, Zane, and Hugh. I am overwhelmed with an indescribable love and connection for and to them. So deep words lack the ability to truly explain.

What pain are you ignoring? Feelings you are denying? What is eating away at you that needs to come out.

Until the next story…Bethie

Miscarriage: My 3rd Story

Today, I remember my 3rd child lost in miscarriage, Zane Barrington. My three children who are not here with me will always be remembered. I will never forget them. This post was originally published on March 30, 2016 and remembered today April 23, 2019…

Yes, it is true. I am here again. SHOCK. DISBELIEF.

A third miscarriage in two years. It feels like TOO MUCH to handle. 

Here is an excerpt from my journal: 

“Sunday, Sept 27, 2015, 3:55pm…It is happening again…our now 3rd miscarriage. I am 1:3 with having children, not a good ratio when I desperately want more biological children. It SUCKS! And that does not even describe it. I am tired and have low energy. I feel unhealthy and sick. I am tired of going to the doctor. Having miscarriages is zapping, draining, and disruptive to my life. My confidence goes away. It becomes extremely difficult to make even the smallest decisions like where to go out to eat or what ice cream flavor I want….

I truly and deeply love my daughter, Remy, and understand what a miracle she is! But with each miscarriage for at least a month or two I become unavailable to her both physically and emotionally as well as Adam, my husband. It is not fair to them to be so checked out in my mind because of this grief. It just isn’t!

I am really unsure at this point if I ever want to get pregnant again, honestly. It is such a scary, disappointing thing….Oh how I would love to find myself again whatever that means.” [End of journal entry]

This time after 6 weeks of pregnancy, I faced yet another loss. Another child of mine is gone.  

The name we chose this time: Zane, meaning God’s gracious beautiful gift. This name also starts with ‘Z’ the last letter of the alphabet hoping this will be our last and final miscarriage. 

All of my children are a gift, blessing, and miracle. Really each life is a miracle. It amazes me how so many little and big details have to align for any of us to be here living on earth. 

We are ALL walking miracles. 

This time, my grief looked different. This time, I avoided it at first. DENIAL. I kept myself busy with my routine, my work, my family. I was busy but not really mentally present with others. I was not yet ready to deal with this loss. 

My process was slow at first. I know I was avoiding, but the weight of losing three (3) children felt like too much to even begin to think about.

So after a few weeks of avoiding, I received an insulting email regarding how I am professionally. I was devastated. After receiving the email, I cried for 2 hours non-stop that night. My tears were telling me that it was not about the email, but about my loss. That email jumpstarted my grieving process and I am now grateful for that email. 

I needed to face my pain head on and I did from that point forward. I could not go on like I was anymore. 

I knew I would be writing about my miscarriage which allows my grief process to flow.  

Since October 2015, I have really made it a priority to grieve as needed. Sometimes that means remembering my children and crying because I miss them. Sometimes that means take a nap. Sometimes that means not going to a baby shower. I allow myself to feel whatever feelings may come up and I focus on my gratitude. These things have helped me among all of this chaos, confusion, and overwhelm.  

When feelings come up, I work toward being curious about them rather judgmental.

What about you? In your loss, what feelings do you notice? Are you judging yourself? Are you beating yourself up? Are you denying a true part of you? 

It has been 6 months since our last miscarriage and I notice that it is easier to talk about. However, we never forget. Life is never the same. We never see life through the same lenses after loss.

Please know that it is okay to sleep, rest, cry, be alone some while you grieve. Others may be scared of these feelings and behaviors, but these are all things we need to do in our grief. Our bodies must do this in order for us to move forward in life.

Be so gentle with yourself.

Take care and take time to be rather than get caught up in the doing.

Until next time… Bethie

Miscarriage: My 2nd Story

Today I remember Cruz Barrington whom we lost in May of 2015 at 8 weeks of gestation. Here is a post I originally published on July 30, 2015 and remembering today April 22, 2019…

I am here again in this grief, this pain, this SOUL-WRENCHING agony. It was not supposed to be this way….AGAIN. The suffering, the anguish, it is often too deep to describe in words and to expansive to explain.

This time, it was supposed to be different. I was hopeful. I was placing my trust in God as best as I knew how. I even tried medication this time. We had family and friends praying fervently in faith that this outcome would be different.

But it wasn’t!

After 8 weeks gestation, it happened again. We had the same outcome. The same pain as the year before.

Why? What happened? Why did this happen again? Why me? Give me just one decent reason, just one! There are so many questions and few, if any, answers.

Again… It has happened again!

Another miscarriage. Another life inside of me is gone. My dreams, my hopes and expectations for this child are no more. My heart is broken once again. Sadness. Confusion. Anger. Despair. Where is God’s good plan for me in this now second miscarriage in 2 years? There was a longing in my soul that was not fulfilled, yet again. The hurt is so deep and wide and high that words are a poor description to give an account of the pain.

WHAT NEXT?

HOW DOES ONE MOVE FORWARD?

I continue to grieve. It will be another process for me just like last time. Part of my consolation is that I do feel stronger this time around having already experienced the loss of one child in miscarriage earlier last year. In a way, I know what to expect in my grieving. I have experience with it.

While I have no sufficient answers, I have found some understanding through the lens of the Parable of the Sower found in the Bible.

  1. Some seeds fell along the path, where the birds came and ate it up right away. In this metaphor, it could mean either an unfertilzed egg or a fertilized egg that never was implanted.

  2. Some seeds fell along rocky places, where there was not much soil, so the seed sprang up quickly, but since the soil was shallow, when the sun came, it scorched the seed and the seed withered up ending its short life. I think of this as like a miscarriage.

  3. Some seeds fell among thorns and began to grow strong but the thorns choked those seeds in the end. In this metaphor, it reminds me of a stillbirth.

  4. Finally, some seeds fell on healthy, deep soil, producing multiple crops. In this metaphor, our children live to see life on earth with us. A full-term pregnancy has ended with a healthy born child.

These are four possible outcomes of the seeds. It would be wonderful if we lived in a perfect world in which all seeds fell on good soil and produced much crop, but in the imperfect world we live our seeds, our little children, may fall along other paths.

It is so hard and hurts so painfully deep sometimes that it takes my breath away!

It has also helped once again to name our child. We chose the name, Cruz, this time. Sage and Cruz are no longer with us. I often wonder what they would have looked like, smelled like, and sounded like. What would have been their hair color? What would their personality have been like? All the great things they would have accomplished in their lives here on earth, I can only imagine.

But in all of this I hold onto a belief that there is a greater purpose in their death, a bigger picture to all of this. Now I can only see in part, but later I will see the complete picture. There has to be a bigger plan here. There has to be!

My faith and spirituality helps give me understanding and support through this loss.

Reading books on miscarriage have also helped me not feel so alone in my grief. I just finished reading Empty Arms by Pam Vredevelt which does an excellent job of describing what the experience of miscarriage and stillbirth is like and how to move forward.

Watching and hearing from other moms who have lost children in miscarriage or stillbirth also helps ease the pain. It is more common than we realize.

Moms, I just hurt for you. You are not alone. I share in your pain and your grief. 

I hope you have found some comfort and hope here in my second story. Please, give yourself an unlimited amount of permission to grieve and feel your feelings.

Until the next story…Bethie

6 Ways to Grieve Your Miscarriage or Stillbirth

Today is Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019. I am choosing to remember several deceased loved ones today and over the next several days. One being my sweet grandmother, Mama Kathlyn (whom I have been writing about recently) as well as my three children whom are with JESUS…Sage, Cruz, and Zane Barrington. My three children, lost in miscarriage, will never be forgotten. I know one day I will see them again and get to play with them, hug them, swing with them and just be with them. They wait for me knowing that I have two kiddos here on earth to care for between now and then.

So here is a post from January 11, 2015…. in rememberence of Sage…

It was 1 year ago today, that I birthed our child, Sage Barrington, whom my husband, daughter, and I lost in a miscarriage after 10 weeks gestation. Not only is there physical pain in a miscarriage or stillbirth, but there is an indescribable emotional pain that can last months or even years later [it brings tears just re-reading this now in 2019]. I miss Sage dearly. His maybe her birthday would have been in July 2014. He or she would be almost 5 years old this summer. Sometimes I daydream about what he/she would look like now. Our life would look so different than it does. Sage is always and forever in my heart.

Miscarriage and stillbirths are not often talked about. Unfortunately, there is a cultural stigma against talking about them . It can be difficult to understand how to support those who have experienced a loss of this kind. It could be because of the painful comments that are received like, "well there was probably something wrong with your child" or "he/she was not strong enough to survive." or “at least you have a healthy daughter.” While this may or may not be true, it is JUST NOT HELPFUL to hear. Implying that our children were sick or deformed and therefore were not able to survive only adds to the emotional pain of our grief. I know that these comments are intended to be kind and caring, but the truth is that these comments can compound the pain of our loss.

Throughout my year of grieving, I learned some very helpful tools. I want to share with you now what works and can help you FEEL BETTER:

SEEK SUPPORT. Find safe people to share your story with. Do not go through your grief alone. Not everyone in your family or circle of friends is safe, but safe people do exist. You may need to go see a professional, spiritual mentor, best friend, or partner.

JOURNAL. Write down you thoughts, feelings, experiences, ideas, things that help you, and things that do not help. Whatever comes to your mind as in freely associating, write it down. Writing these things down frees up space in your mind to think more clearly and focus on your tasks at hand (like being able to go back to work and stay focused). It can also help you organize your thoughts and feelings as well as gain new personal insights.

NAME YOUR CHILD. I encourage you to name your child just as you would if your child had lived. It has been incredibly healing for me in my personal journey to name our lost child. We named him, Sage, because he was so spiritually 'wise' beyond his years that he wanted to skip earth and go straight to heaven. 

IDENTIFY THE LIES. There are most likely some lies that have come from your loss. You can do this on your own or with a trusted person. With the help of my therapist, I realized that I had come to believe many lies about myself around feeling punished and undeserving because of the miscarriage. It was not until I began to think through and write down the lies that I was able to replace them with true beliefs which helped me to continue to heal from the miscarriage.

HAVE A CEREMONY. Yes, have a funeral service or burial ceremony of some sort for your named child. This will look different for everyone. Having a ceremony helps bring some closure. My husband and I on Sage’s due date decided to write letters to him and read them aloud to each other. We lit candles and had the ceremony in our bathroom because this is where I birthed Sage. We cried, we laughed, we healed all the more because of this ceremony. I encourage you to have a ceremony of your creation that will help you move forward.

CRY. Give yourself so much permission and freedom to cry as you need to. If you are back at work or out in public, take a bathroom break and go cry. Call up a friend and cry with them on the phone. I found that the more I cried and allowed myself this freedom, the stronger and better I felt to move forward with my day. My daughter has seen me cry many times over the last year. Each time I cry about Sage and she sees me, I explain to her why I am crying. She and I have talked many times about what my tears mean. I will occasionally ask her, "Remy, where is Sage?" And she replies in her 2 year old wisdom, with a big smile on her face "with Jesus." And then I cry some more. Crying is NOT a sign of weakness. It is the exact opposite, a sign of strength and healing.

If you have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, you have been through a deeply emotional and painful event. It can be hard to even describe with words. I am truly sorry for your loss. I grieve and hurt with you.

Is it time to give yourself permission to grieve?

Until the next story…Bethie

Grieving & The 5 Stages

Originally posted on April 21, 2015 and updated today, April 16, 2019.

The Process:

Sad, down, low energy, not my chipper self, these all describe several inner feelings I have experienced lately. I have asked myself questions like,

What are these sad feelings about?

What is going on for me that I feel so off lately?

I know my feelings are like a signal that something deeper is going on, but what was it?

Why?

After a few weeks of pondering, I came to this conclusion: GRIEF.

So what was I grieving over after all? Well, I have experienced some loss recently. A few weeks ago, I lost my paternal grandmother to pneumonia then days later a dear friend of mine had a miscarriage which triggered my own miscarriage feelings all over again. Then I noticed that several of my clients were also experiencing the loss of a friend or spouse way too soon. So I said, “It has got to be that I am grieving over all these losses.”

And grief can feel SO HEAVY! Ughhhhh!

Grieving is a process not a one-time event. The process involves becoming aware of the loss, labeling it and then giving yourself permission to experience all the different emotions involved around it such as deep sadness, anger, uncertainty, fear, guilt, etc. It can also affect you physically (i.e. difficulty sleeping, nausea, weight changes). Grief can sometimes feel overwhelming and confusing especially if you are not aware that it may be grief. It can happen over the loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a dream or expectation, and major life transitions such as moving, getting married, or having children. Losing your pet counts too, especially when you consider them like a child to you.

It can help to seek out support persons or groups, use your coping skills, and talk with a professional counselor about your grief.

If grief is affecting your everyday life to where you no longer can keep up with your daily responsibilities, then it may be time for you to get some professional help.

I really connect well (and hope you can too) with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s explanation of the stages we go through while grieving. What is important to note is that these five stages do not necessarily happen in linear, one right after the other, order. You can bounce back and forth many times throughout the process. You may also experience more than one stage at a time. Here is how Kubler-Ross organized the grief stages:

5 Stages of Grief:

1. In her first step of shock/denial, it is as if the loss feels so unreal that it is hard to believe that it really happened. You might say something like, “No, this can’t be! This doesn’t make any sense! This could not have happened!” or “I can’t believe this.”

2. In her second stage of anger, you may have intense angry feelings and ask yourself, “Why is this happening?! Who did this?” You may blame yourself, the person you lost, or someone else. You may feel angry at the person you lost or angry at yourself for not doing something differently.

3. The next stage is bargaining. In this stage, you say something like, “If only I could have ________ back, then I would do ____________ differently.” or “I will do anything to have __________ back.”

4. In her fourth stage of depression, you may feel an overwhelming sense of sadness, have low energy, and low motivation to move forward (much like I was noticing in myself). You may even have moments of intense despair when you wish you were dead just like your loved one.

5. Finally, her last stage centers around acceptance in that we come to a place of peace with what has happened. We accept the reality of the loss or transition. It can take several months and possibly years to get to that place of peace and understanding, but don’t give up hope. Healing and acceptance can and does happen.

Remember, these 5 stages do not necessarily happen one right after the other. Typically, you may experience several stages at the same time or bounce between them in no particular order. These stages are the normal grief process. You are not alone!

Who or what are you grieving today? Give yourself lots of permission to have your feelings.

Until the next story…Bethie

Grieving My Mama

IMG_0348.jpg

Yesterday, I wrote about my super creative grandmother, Mama Kathlyn. And she is still on my mind today so I wanted to write some more about her here in this space as a part of my grieving process.

I really miss her. I continue to grieve her loss and that is ok. Grief is a process and not a one time event. I think I grieve her loss even more this year now that I have come out of the denial of my abusive past. I hadn’t realized until the last few months just how safe and special my grandmother was for me during that abusive time growing up.

Ruby was her first name, but she always went by Kathlyn. I wonder why she chose her middle name to go by. I wish I could have asked her. There are so many other questions I wish I could have asked her knowing what I do now. I suspect I am remembering her at this time because our bodies never lie. My body is reminding me that she passed away 4 years ago this month…close to Easter time, her favorite time of the year.

A silent moment for Mama…tears.

So, I am going to continue to think about her today, remember her comfort and peace, and use my gratitude to thank her for all those wonderful memories which I wrote about in yesterday’s post.

I think of her every time the wind chimes sing in the breeze from the backyard tree. The chimes are pictured above. The beautiful thing is that the tree that these chimes hang from is completely dead except for the chimes that bring this tree a bit of life.

Until tomorrow…Bethie

Creative Mama Kathlyn

IMG_0239.jpg

I was born a creator and a creation by the Creator. I always had this creative spark in me from day one on that beautiful Monday, May 4th back in 1981. That was the day, I, Little Bethie came into this big spacious world. Creative Bethie.

However, some things happened in my childhood that squashed my creative energy along the way. That is another story in and of itself for another day.

With much support, I am finding that creative energy again. It is returning to me…

Recently, through a meditation and some guidance from an energetic sage in my life, an unveiling from my yesteryears occurred. In my formative stages, my paternal grandmother laid a creative root system for me that had been hidden away in my subconscious for all these years… until now.

As I went through this meditation, I was able to go back to being 3 or 4 years old. I visualized walking through the halls and rooms of my grandparents home. Several memories came whirling back…

Her name was Kathlyn (pronounced Cat-lynn). I called her Mama (pronounced Maw-Maw).

In my tears, the first thing I remembered was that I felt safe, nurtured, and valuable while in her precious care. I felt creative, relaxed, and always wanted to explore inside and outside her home. She granted me much permission and encouraged my exploration. Mama had time for me. She taught me how to sew and cross stitch things like pillows and how to embroider aprons. I won a 1st place ribbon at the Dixie Classic Fair one year because I entered a pillow she taught me how to make.

Her and my grandfather (Papa, pronounced Paw-Paw) had a fragrant smelling garden that they tended to and ate from. And OH my, Mama’s fried chicken, apple pie, and peach cobbler. Not only the taste of these amazing foods, but the smell of them filling the air around me fueled my joy. I will cook bacon and vegetables sometimes in my own kitchen and suddenly it smells like Mama’s kitchen. It just takes me back. So comforting! For breakfast we could have at times plain Cheerios with honey or some bacon, eggs, and biscuits. I can just smell and taste it now as I write. Oh how I miss her food.

Papa even spent some time with me ‘teaching me how to play the piano’ with his knuckles. I can still play that little song on the piano that he taught me with his strong, manly warn hands.

I would spend the night at their house sometimes and in the room that I stayed in was a big wardrobe and I would wonder…Would this wardrobe lead me to a different land like in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?

At other times, I would sneak into Mama and Papa’s room to look at her jewelry and make-up and trying it on.

Mama loved to sing and her favorite song was the hymn “Morning has Broken.” She loved Easter time. We would die eggs, have egg hunts with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. My cousin Alison and I would laugh and giggle the day away.

She also loved flowers and she wrote poems about those precious flowers. She was a water color artist hanging her works of art around her home. Mama was a carefree, creative artist. I remember the colors, the smells, the textures, the sounds of the birds outside, the wind chimes, and most importantly the time she made for me to teach me so many wonderful things.

There were the quilts she handcrafted. The poodle skirt she made me for a dance I had. I have several treasures in my home today that she gave and passed down to me.

I remember going to magical places with Mama and Papa like Shatley Springs and drinking the magical healing water that allegedly brings health and restoration to the body. And then there was the Pollirosa Restaurant and Dance Hall which unfortunately has closed.

I could go on and on about the memories I have of my time spent with Mama and Papa, but I will stop there for now. I am reminded of her often these days especially when the wind chime rings in our yard. The picture above is of a quilt she made that I still have today.

Thanks for reading my tribute to Creative Mama Kathlyn!

Who was a safe person for you growing up? What was it like to be with that person or pet?

Until the next story…Bethie

A Moment Only God Could Orchestrate...

My Higher Power, whom I chose to call God, wanted to solidify what He has revealed to me lately about my late grandmother, Kathlyn. He did it in the most unexpected way. I continue to be in awe of how and what God is showing me.

I took my daughter the other day to gymnastics, it was her second class. She has been asking to go for months now and I have hesitated (that reason is a whole other story). While she was out tumbling around on the bouncy floor, I sat in the bleachers and journaled about the memories that have recently come back to me about my own grandmother. And the most miraculous thing happened.

There was an older woman sitting behind me. She had gray hair, glasses, and a yellow with green writing visitor tag from a school she had probably visited earlier in the day. It was after school hours and I noticed that she was reading the newspaper and watching a young boy beside her. He was playing store with pretend money that he had made from paper. I was a bit annoyed at first trying to journal about my memories with my grandmother, but something in me said ‘pay attention’ to what this lady was saying. I did. While I can’t tell you all the things the young child said, I began to notice how this lady was responding to this child. She told him he was sweet and kind. She used words like please and thank you with him. She played along with him as he was the cashier and salesman of his store. He even decided to give her some free items and then convinced her to purchase a Christmas tree for the upcoming holiday season. Wholeheartedly, she was engaged with him and his creation of this store.

What I became aware of in those moments that followed for the next hour was that she spoke to him with such respect, kindness, and gentleness that I rarely see in our world today. She was listening to him, joining him in his creativity, and showing him love in her actions and words. She was patient, kind, and loving. She was making time for him. This was a picture, a modern day real live picture of what my grandmother did for me as a young child. God wanted me to remember and I did.

I had to say something, anything to this lady. My heart was pounding, I wanted her to know how much in these moments she had encouraged me. She had given me hope that there are still people in the world who are kind to children. Who was this beauty of a woman?

I did just that…as my daughter finished up her gymnastics class, I spoke to this woman. I thanked her for speaking so kindly and patiently with this child. I wanted to thank her because in a way I was thanking my own grandmother which I did not get a chance to do before she died. I told her that she gave me hope. And she told me with joy and gratitude glimmering in her eyes that this was her grandson. He had to have been around 4 or 5 years old. What a gift to have such a delightful grandmother at such a formative age…the very same thing I had in my grandmother at around the same age as this boy. She is laying a lasting foundation with her actions just like my grandmother did for me.

I am filled, no overflowing with gratitude for this God moment. God works in big, small, and unexpected ways and He continues to do so in my life. God presented an opportunity on this day to thank my very own grandmother, Kathlyn, by vicariously being able to thank this lovely woman. I could never have orchestrated this moment…only God.

Until the next story…Beth