The Best Present I Ever Gave Myself

For Owen’s first birthday, I gave myself a present.  This blog, Ain’t No Roller Coaster.  At that point, for a year, my life entirely revolved around what Owen and, to a lesser degree, Kellen needed from me.  There was no thinking about how I did it, or really even what I was doing.  I just did it.

In many ways, my biggest outlet was writing CaringBridge (CB) updates.  CB was my connection to the outside world and writing the posts helped me process the medical complexity that was surrounding me. However, I felt like I still had so much to say.  I was literally bursting with the need to write.  Not just write about the latest medical updates, I needed to also process the emotional complexity that I had been doing my best to ignore for the previous year.

Keep in mind, in person, I’m one of the most emotionally guarded people you will meet.  I’ve always been really good at telling people what I think, but I’ve never been good at showing people how I feel.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t feel things.  I did.  However, over the years, I built Guantanamo Bay level security walls around me.  I never let people know when I was hurting and I let very few people close enough to hurt me.  Fortunately, I have two parents, two brothers, several amazing friends and a husband who have always seen through me.  I also always had my journal.  What I was afraid to show people, I wrote.  I’ve done it since I could write.  My mom still has notes that I left her when I was in elementary school.  Writing has always been my outlet.  However, when Kyle and I moved in together, I burned all of my journals.  I didn’t really need them anymore.  With Kyle I’ve always been secure enough to show my feelings (and still tell him what I think, too :-)) and so I didn’t burst with the need to write anymore.

That is, until Owen was born.

In truth, we were barely holding ourselves together well enough to give our kids and his job the bare minimum.  I couldn’t take his burden too.  And, I would never have asked him to take mine.  We walked next to each other, we helped each other over hurdles, but individually we carried our own burdens.  I still don’t know if that was “the right” approach or not, but we were in triage mode.  It’s the best we knew how to do right then.

And, I knew, I always had my old friend the pen.

However, this time, writing it for myself was no longer enough.  I started meeting other preemie moms in person and online and I heard so many similar themes about how we were feeling.  They were they same themes that I was writing privately.   Also, I saw the hurt that 36 (now 38) years later that my mom still felt.

I needed to share, I needed to feel like I tried to let others understand that this prematurity stuff is a big deal.  I could only share my story and my feelings, but I had seen enough from others, that I knew I wasn’t alone.  And maybe, if I had the courage to admit the deepest, darkest thoughts about this journey…not just in my personal journal, but out in the most public forum possible…maybe it would help me heal and maybe it’d give others the courage to do the same and maybe when Owen is older if people think, “he’s nothing like the rest of you” (like they so often say about my preemie brother who has behavioral disabilities) maybe people would attempt to understand instead of judge.

Maybe…?  What’s there to lose?  My pride by sharing my emotions?

Today is the one year anniversary of ANRC.  My personal Guantanamo Bay may have been downgraded to Fort Knox…it’s a start.  Thank you for giving me the courage to keep going.