Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Re•building Joy - a year into healing
(Warning: this post is very personal and if you just like my blog for art and quilts, this may not interest you, feel free to skip ahead to another post. I'm not offended. However, as this blog has always been about what inspires me and my "re•building joy" journey is a large part of what propels me these days... I decided to post these rather personal musings after some careful thought - it's taken over a week to write this) I've also had more than two friends ask me lately if they'd offended me or if I had noticed that they'd sent me multiple messages I hadn't responded to. There are probably more people wondering the same thing. Ive dropped the ball on so much lately. had to let go of so many things i was good at before. So I'm writing this... Putting this out there as a year post-mortem entry. I want you all to know that I'm not personally offended at anyone. If I haven't responded this year to you, read on and hear a little about my journey and what I have been doing. This year has been the hardest of my life. The previous year was the previous hardest year... But I was running on adrenaline and a sense that I was doing the right thing... And those can give you a lot of strength. I used to have tremendous stamina, and a passion for doing good to the world. This year? This year has been filled with aftermath. And grief... Both of which highlight weakness and make you battle all your personal demons rather than ignoring them. Post-traumatic stress, perhaps? Our path in pain has confused people around us, too. It's easy when you feel sliced open to get hurt further by well intentioned people who say the wrong things.
All that said:
This weekend marks a year that we said goodbye to G.
I have a lot of questions that I ask God these days. In the past, I've felt times where I was super close to God, like I could feel His presence in the same room as me. And then there were times where He was further than the moon. But never before have I had to ask the angry questions I've had for him this year. The biggest one being, "if there's a shortage of people willing to take in foster kids and the system is desperate for good families, why would you allow us to get so abused and terrorized to the point where there was no hope of us being able to do it again?" We feel like Olympic marathoners who've suddenly lost a leg.
I wish so much that I could show you photos of him when he was in our home so you could see how much a part of life he was and how this really was like losing our own child. I cry almost every time i have to go back through iPhoto to find some old pic. Almost all of our pics from our time together had him in them. We had him from 3weeks-16months old, always with the intention of adoption. If you've been to my house, though, you've seen the pictures, you've probably heard my kids talk about him or maybe you've seen that they often write about him at school in their projects. We still mention him daily and miss him desperately. We also dealt with losing our sense of security. Having an unstable person post your address, photos of your family and death threats on the internet is not something you recover from quickly. We still have nightmares. We still look over our shoulders. G is safe and we have been too, and that helps, but we were pretty rattled. (And that was only the straw that broke the camel's back - there's so much I'm not allowed to post)
I've spent this past year working through all of these different issues. We've had a lot of ups and a lot of downs. We moved, switched schools, dealt with a lot of fallout with two kids who lost a baby brother, and we've simply kept walking. Jay has spent most of the year working three full time jobs... Which doesn't leave many easy family evenings at home.
And in the process I also lost my dear friend Yolanda.
It's been almost impossible for me to sit down and write about "re•building joy" when so much of the rebuilding has been having to clear out what was destroyed. I look at images of Hurricane Sandy and I relate. I see devastation and hopes dashed. And I realize that before they can rebuild, they have to clear out a lot of debris.
I've spent my year filling up emotional dumpsters. Invisibly burning things that weren't critical. Saving the shreds of things that were. Hanging onto the hope that there will always be this loss, but that life carries on and someday it won't hurt as bad as it does now. It already doesn't hurt like it did a year ago, where I barely could scrape myself together to leave the house and I felt like I couldn't breathe, but I still struggle in groups. My hands don't shake constantly anymore, but I still have a hard time answering the question "how many kids do you have?" without launching into a long sad story. (Answer: 2, I have two)
I was asked today what I am grateful for. And I mean this in all sincerity, without guile or self-pity: I am grateful for my family. For kids who have learned that you can still have fun even when your heart hurts. They have expressed their angers and fears in many ways this year and they are now evening out and beginning to flourish in generosity and loveliness. Its taken almost all i have to pour myself into their healing as I myself am healing. I'm grateful for a husband who I am closer to now than I ever was before. He is a rock. We survived this in tact and just celebrated 12 years married. Most of all, I am grateful that after the hardest, worst 2 years of my life... That I haven't shut the door on God. I have my foot in the door and it's hard not to want to slam it, but its not closed. Yes, my journal has more four letter words in it than I would guess most "prayer journals" include. (I figure if He can dish it out, he can deal with my questions.) And whether God is closer than my skin or further than the moon right now, I don't know. Things are different than they used to be. My relationship with God is more complex. If I didn't believe God was actually a living entity- I'd have given up and walked away by now. Who wants to merely pretend to believe in something that hurts so bad? But if I know God is real, a real live spirit... Then whether or not I like Him right now doesn't change whether or not He made me. And that is where my wrestling lies now.. That is where I sit in my journey.
I'm weaker than I used to be. My nerves are more easily shaken. I host parties now and it takes me days to recover. I don't allow myself to cry in front of people often, but I still cry a lot at home or in my car . But I'm also more aware of the strength I have. I know how much I have to give and I give what I can. I realize my capacity for relationships isn't what it was before. I am not as good at multi-tasking. I'm even more poorly organized than I used to be. I know my kids better and I love them more. And Jay... Well, suffice it to say that there are a lot of divorced foster parents out there. And I've heard something like 75% of couples who lose a child also lose their marriage... We came through this stronger and closer and more in tune than ever before. I couldn't ask for more with him.
It hasn't been a year flooded with joy. Maybe that will be 2013. But it feels like kind of a big deal just to look back and know we made it to this point without losing any more.
And before the re•building starts after a hurricane... There's a lot of cleanup and hauling out of painful fragments. I'm starting to see glimpses of the foundation... And so far, it looks like it survived in tact.
A number of times this year, I've stumbled on old pics of myself. I look happier, lighter than I do now. Like any American president a few years into office - I've aged visibly. A friend recently told me, " you ARE different. You're not as light-hearted as you were. But that wouldn't be authentic to your journey if you were. You have good reason."
I hope someday I can feel like a kite flying high again, soaring. Maybe I won't. Or maybe I'll soar again, but the shadows in my heart will remind me to be more grateful for the soaring. I hope so for the latter, that would be nice.
For now... I'll continue to take it one day at a time. This weekend, I'm going away to sew for 4 days with my quilt buddies. These ladies helped me to laugh this year when I didn't even think it was possible. We walked through Yolanda's illness together and we will also leave our retreat to attend a service for Yolanda together as well.
Thanksgiving is coming up too. My favorite holiday... We are putting our little "I'm thankful for" cards daily in our November countdown calendar and there is no shortage of things to write.
I'm thankful for you, too. I honestly don't know the percentage of you who read my blog are flesh and blood friends vs. online friends... But you are both. And I know my blog isn't like other blogs... It's kind of all over the place (like me, really)... But it is filled with warmth and happiness and for that I'm grateful.
I try so hard to make this blog a place for beauty and inspiration. Tonight, it's more raw. Maybe you can read this and have a little more insight into the intense artwork I've been churning out lately. (Why does our best work often come in the most pain?) I literally have STACKS of those finished collages in my living room. Piles of self-expression where I am excavating all these emotions and trying to create beauty from madness, pain and confusion. Pretty soon, Libby Dibby skirts will say their final goodbye and my website will change to a whole new version... (You can see it now at www.libertyworth.weebly.com). Life marches on. Last year, our family Christmas card was the parody of Abbey Road. The reference to forward motion was intentional. We did that shoot a week after we went from a family of 5 down to 4. I wanted to say to the world that we were committed to walking on together. We still are.
Thank you for supporting us on our journey. Thank you for supporting me.
Sent from my iPhone