On Sunday, I posted about how I have an opportunity to take a long-term Language Arts position. I tried to end it on a positive note, because it’s a good opportunity to get me out of the house for more than a couple hours a day. It’s a good way for me to start reintegrating into society.

On Monday, I had myself a little breakdown and cried away a couple hours because I’m terrified of spending an entire working day away from my comfort zone. I am, daily, going to be surrounded by people, and not just children. Adults. Other teachers. Fellow human beings. People who I will have to talk to. People who might not understand why I am the way I am. People who will be happy and perhaps wonder why I’m not interested in their happiness.

In other words, I’m not looking forward to socializing again.

I’ve never been a people-person. It takes me a while to warm up to people, to become comfortable with them. This has become even more true since Lauren died. And as with so many other things that have changed about my life, I can’t explain it. All I can say is that I don’t feel connected anymore. I feel like I’m in limbo, stuck in this place between Motherhood and Childless. I can never go back to being Childless, but I can’t move on to Motherhood; it’s too heartbreaking there. No matter what I do or where I go, I’m reminded of what I don’t have. Even when I’m just sitting alone at my computer, I’m painfully aware that my life is missing something important. When I wake up in the morning, the only thing that feels right is that I’m waking up next to Geordie. Everything else is just . . . wrong.

Sometimes, it’s overwhelming. But I’m able to curl up on our bed and read or cry or just relax and let go of myself. I can’t do that out there. I can’t protect myself the way I want to – I can’t just shut out the world if grief hits me suddenly in the middle of a class. I can’t take a time-out just because I need to have a cry and get it out of my system.

And I feel bad about that. Teaching is a serious job. It takes focus and dedication, and even if I’m only going to be a sub, I don’t want to do a half-assed job of it. Those kids deserve more than that. But I don’t know if I can give it to them. I don’t feel like I’m living a full life right now. And I have days when I feel that will never change. And I’ll admit, I have days that I don’t want it to change. If that happens, does it mean that’s the day Lauren is gone from me for good?

It’s hard to find words to express how I feel. I know some people will understand without me having to explain it. From what I read and see, I don’t think I’m alone in the way I feel, like I’m caught between parenthood and chosen childless-ness. There’s a middle ground here, where we’re stuck – those of us who have lost, those who have tried and keep trying. Here in this middle ground, there’s not much room for anything else. I want to be able to be a grown-up again, I want to be able to pull my own weight and be productive and reliable and “normal.”

That’s the hardest part. Even if I find that I can hold down a job and do it well and not go crazy, I’m still not going to be “normal.” I’m not going to go back to the way I was. Experience can’t be lost; innocence can’t be won back. All I can do is walk forward, all the while knowing that each step I take is a victory.

For the past three days, I’ve been able to sit down and write 1000+ word of creative writing. Victory.

I’m nearly finished with another scrapbook, this one about 2011, the year we dreamed, only to lose the baby we wanted. I’ve been able to assemble these happy moments onto blank pages and though I miss Lauren as much as ever, I can think back on these happy memories and be glad that I have them. Victory.

I take the stack of baby clothes we had for Lauren, trace hearts upon them, and cut them out. I do this without falling apart, without becoming overwhelmed by grief. True, I hold these little articles of clothing in my hands and think about all the love wrapped up in them – in the selecting of them, in the giving of them – and I imagine what it would have been like to dress her. But it doesn’t break me. I’m doing something for her. Victory.

I can’t even make a simple phone call to follow-up on my sub-position application, to find out the next steps I need to take. The thought of making a phone call paralyzes me; it destroys me. I have always hated talking on the phone, and this has only gotten worse since Lauren died. I can’t explain that. I also can’t get over it.

I take my victories where I can find them. My failures – I take them too. If losing Lauren has taught me something, it’s that I can’t do everything, no matter how hard I try. That’s not how life works. We do what we can, and that’s all there is to it. So, for now, I’ll take my half of a life, my incomplete life, and make the best of it. Maybe one day I win, maybe I lose. I’ll have another day to try again.

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