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

My Rainbow Baby

After years of loss, 3 miscarriages, foster parenting not working out….

We were given by GOD himself a second biological child. We had lost all hope, had given our dreams up of another child, and yet here he is, Hugh Callulm Barrington born January 23, 2019. His name means, Wise Mind. I had completely given up. NO hope. I had laid it down, gave all the baby items away. I LET GO in every sense of the word. I was beginning to experience a peace passing all my understanding and an acceptance that we would have only one biological child.

My RAINBOW Baby. He is really here… breathing, eating, smiling, pooping, sleeping. He is here. I can’t pinch myself enough. It is real. I am still in shock. What a gift and blessing he is as is my daughter, Remy. Both of my kids bring me such JOY!

I am truly grateful for this gift. This new season. WOW, I don’t really have the words.

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

5 Ways to Clear Up Miscommunication

Originally posted on May 18, 2015…revamped April 5, 2019…

What to write? What would be important and helpful for others to hear about? After some thinking and asking around, it hit me, miscommunication in relationships! Oh how this happens to us all, right!? I also thought this might be a relevant topic as my husband and I are finishing up a marriage series at church. 

Here is an example from my own life. How can you relate? 

My husband and I recently had this major miscommunication. It was on one of those days that we both had really good intentions (I mean don’t we always) where we had a date night planned and I was practicing some really good self-care earlier in the day. First, I went to get a massage, then off to go shopping for some new outfits to impress the hubby. My husband had planned a pedicure for me in the late afternoon while he was getting a massage (he was practicing good self-care too), then we would go to dinner together. 

Well, before I knew it time got away from me while I was shopping so I texted my husband and told him that instead of us riding together, I would meet him at the spa so neither of us would be late to our appointments. So I did as I said. I went to the spa and arrived while he was getting his massage. My first clue that we had had a miscommunication was that the front desk receptionist did not have me down for my pedicure appointment (strange I thought, but figured that maybe the staff who booked the appointment just forgot to put my name down), but they did have an opening for my specific appointment time. 

I went on back to get my pedicure, thoroughly enjoying it, then about the time my husband was to be done with his massage, I began to watch out for him. Nothing (my second clue), I did not see him so I thought oh maybe he is out in the waiting area of the spa. I finished my pedicure, went to the waiting area, NO SIGN of him (third clue). I was starting to fume. Where was he, what has happened!? From the waiting room, I called him (which was a big no no at the spa, no phones aloud) and he answered. He asked me if I was okay, told me that he had called me and my mom who was in town (who also became worried), and that he was worried sick about my whereabouts. I asked him where he was and why wasn’t he here. Turns out, we ended up at two different locations of the same spa. Then the blame game began. He said “Well if we rode together in the first place, you would not have needed to know which location we were going to.” I said “If you would have just told me which location in the first place (to which I was closer to when I was shopping) then we would not have had this miscommunication.”

We were on two completely different pages yet thinking we were on the same page!

What have I learned about communication from this experience and over the several years I have been married? While I write these tips from the perspective of my marriage, they can be helpful for any relationship, friendship, etc.

  • Ask questions and be clear/specific when giving information with your spouse or partner.

  • Summarize what you heard the other say. “What I heard you say was _________.”

  • Use ‘I’ rather than ‘you’ statements. For example, “Babe, I felt embarrassed when I ended up at the other spa location.” Rather than “You make me embarrassed. when ______.” The later causes the other person to become defensive which can escalate any conflict.

  • Check in with your partner every once in a while via text or a phone call. Connect with one another on a regular basis. Have date nights regularly!

  • Let your spouse or partner know what you need. Do you need them to listen to you as you talk? Do you need them to help you brainstorm ways to fix a problem? What is it that you need from them?

After hashing through this conflict, we still had our date night even though it would have been easier not too. At the end of the day, I love my husband and I am committed to keeping our marriage communication lines open. We look back on this conflict and chuckle at it now. We both learned alot that day and really each day we are married.

P.S. In wanting to be completely honest with my readers, I did have my husband read over this blog post before I sent it out into the world. Just in case you were wondering, he gave the green light to publish it!

Until the next time…Bethie

The LOVE Sandwich

Originally posted on March 11, 2016…resurrected today April 3, 2019…

Oftentimes I see clients who are interested in practicing better communication skills whether it be with their spouse, partner, coworkers, boss, family members or others.

Desiring close connection and intimacy in relationship with others will mean that we have to have hard, challenging conversations at times throughout our lives.

Conversations that we may just not want to have. I get it. I have been there too. I have had to have difficult conversations on numerous occasions.

I also like to practice what I preach. And something I preach to my clients is what I call the LOVE SANDWICH. Picture a HAM sandwich or whatever meat or middle part you like. That sandwich consists of a piece of bread, ham/meat, other condiments such as veggies or maybe chips and then you put the other slice of bread on top to finish the sandwich.

Your hard conversation is like that sandwich.

Start with that piece of bread in your conversation. The first slice of bread represents sharing positive attributes such as compliments, things done well, or things working well in your relationship.

Next THE MEAT: Then give them the meat and veggies of the conversation. This part represents the more challenging aspects of your relationship such as things not working so well, things needed different, or changes that are required for the relationship to reach is potential. THAT HARD MEATY part of your conversation might include speaking your honest truth about something. 

And the last SLICE OF BREAD: Close the conversation sandwich by putting on that top piece of bread and give them another compliment, thank them for talking, remind them again what is working well in your relationship.

And their you have it, you have just given someone “The Love Sandwich”. The whole conversation, the whole sandwich was intended and given in love, even the hard, meaty part.

Regardless of how the other person responds, when you speak to someone using this approach you are setting the example of health and maturity. You are setting a tone of intention and well-meaning in your relationship. You are being a role-model and who does not want to be a role-model, right?

Here is an example from my own life:

Recently, I had a conversation with my husband around what is working well and not so well around our morning routine. I started by sharing what is working well (the first slice). I informed him that his feeding the dogs and helping our daughter with her morning chores was incredibly helpful. Next, I gave him the meat. I stated what I needed from him which is more assistance with getting breakfast together and other food preparation for the day. Then I closed the conversation by telling him that I am not getting on to him, but I am sharing my needs with him around other ways he can support me. I thanked him (the last slice) for what he is doing around our morning routine and our conversation was done.

I have found in the years of practicing this that our conversations go much more smoothly rather than turning into a big yelling match. We both spoke calmly and were clear in our communication during this conversation.

So whether you have a one time conversation or a conversation that lasts over several days, it is incredibly helpful to use this technique when communicating with others. I encourage you to try it out and see what happens. What did you notice?

No matter how big or small the difference, you are beginning to make some headway towards healthier communication. I commend you for being brave!

Until the next story…Bethie