Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

(Several days ago I was taking out my anger on my nearly 8 foot tall weeds several people promised to take care of for me. I was mindfully and angrily chopping those weeds with all the people in mind who have abandoned me in illness and for trying to protect my son)

If you know me or anything about my trauma history, my setting foot in a spiritual anything, let alone a Christian Church would be unheard of. I was abused in the name of god. Told god could never love someone like me, so why would I give it a chance?

I gave it a chance as I was lucky to meet a wonderful young woman who has taught me more about what it’s like to be a regular human, a good friend, and how it’s ok to struggle just as much as it’s ok to be joyous. She has stuck by me as I’ve made mistakes as you never learn anything overnight as a trauma survivor. It’s a lifelong process and finding people who are true friends who will sit with you as you laugh as much as sit with you when you are sobbing in desperation and fear are rare. I never really had a friend like her. I never really got to know someone so emotionally healthy.

She’s been introducing me to her community and makes time for me as she can with her busy schedule. I appreciate that she makes time for me. I’m coming to realize that friends who do make time for you despite being busy are your inner circle. There are periphery friends that go in rings as you go out further and further. I’ve also realized that if someone is too busy to see me for months or years, perhaps it’s their way of saying we aren’t really friends. The best recommendation she made for me was to see the counselor at her church.

I’ve been reluctant for months as a counselor at a Christian Church felt a little strange to me considering my history. I have also run the gamut of therapists on my insurance who didn’t really understand chronic illness and didn’t want to discuss the situation with my son as who his dad is makes it sticky. I also spent 3 months with a therapist who was probably one of the craziest people I ever met and managed to make me feel worse. I think she came into my life so I could feel empowered to terminate with her as I recognized that it was abusive for me. So I gave up on therapy. Now I couldn’t afford my therapy copay regardless.

I’ve been really lost without my son. Seeing the oncologist and the implications of that and all the other illnesses I’m managing all while knowing a bunch of crappy people who can’t spare a minute to stop by has had me totally overwhelmed. There are also other people I have had to cut out as their energy was so intense it made me almost jittery. I don’t do loud well right now. I can’t handle drama right now. I’m having to focus on me and give back to others in ways I can beyond just being an ear.

So I went to this counselor at this Christian Church without trepidation at all. I knew my friend wouldn’t lead me astray. I loved that she didn’t ask questions about my trauma history. Most therapists can’t get past my horrific childhood and just want to focus on that despite me telling them it’s not my main issue. My trauma will always color my world a bit, but I recognize it. I worked very hard on it to move through it.

I gave her the quick history about my son and his other parents who they were and how I was blocked from all communication a little over two months ago. I knew I liked her when she said, “you got totally screwed”. So nice to hear.

I told her I’m crying all the time, like constantly and this morning as I was getting in the shower, I was sobbing and screaming over and over, “WHY ME???” I did it so much I scared the dogs (they got lots of treats and cuddles. They are content). I was so upset as I miss my son terribly. I’m getting up ultra early for a scan reserved just for cancer patients and had barely eaten the day before due to the dietary requirements of the scan.

I told her I feel like I’m going totally crazy. She said my crying all the time and sobbing and screaming were great and needed to do it more. I explained to her as an extreme trauma survivor, I vowed close to two years ago that I wasn’t stuffing my feelings or dissociating from the pain anymore. I cured my anxiety by actually feeling my feelings. I think I’ve been home from my trip for 3 weeks now. All I have done is sob. The counselor was proud of me. She said what huge progress that is for a person like me. She congratulated me on feeling my feelings so intensely.

She said it was like I was grieving a dead child, except I know he’s only a few miles away. She said my intense grief is totally valid. It felt so good to hear as pretty much everyone in my life has told me that I have to appreciate this time to work on my health. No one seems to get the intense stress of grief is making me worse, not better. She got it though. She so got it.

She told me “I must walk through the shadow of the valley of death, but I must walk through it, not stay in it”. She didn’t give me a timeframe. She recognized that I AM walking through it. It’s going to be incredibly painful, but I will find I will get through it. Will the pain of losing my son always be there? Absolutely. I will come out though.

I also told her I’m usually this very positive and optimistic person. I told her I’ve lost it. She told me if I was seeing silver linings right now that, “that would be weird”. What a wonderful validation that I don’t have to be perky and optimistic. She said it will make me look more authentic if I share my pain. She didn’t even know about my blog about being authentic.

I wheeled into her office feeling like I was going crazy. I wheeled out confident that I’m actually being very emotionally healthy in dealing with this. I did shed a few more tears today. They were tears of feeling heard and validated. No one has called me crazy except my sons other parents and my own inner critic.

The truth is the more emotionally healthy I become, the crazier I will look to people who are not choosing to try or even work a little bit towards wellness. Or their trauma has them lost in bitterness and hate they might not even recognize. Recognizing you are hurting but continuing to keep going in a manner working to be a better person than you were the previous day is emotional health. I don’t care if you’re lost, feeling suicidal, see no end to the misery, but you continue, with kindness and compassion for yourself and others, I’m proud of you.

Trying yelling and sobbing, “WHY ME??” just a few times. It’s extremely cathartic as life isn’t fair and sometimes it’s really fucking painful (I never swear, so you know it hurts right now).

So I was happy to tell her I’m continuing with my mindfulness, gratitude, meditation, and yoga practice. I am taking care of myself. Apparently crying constantly is taking care of me too.

What a relief to know I’m normal (yikes! I never thought I’d call myself that). So perhaps I’m ending the constant cycle of hell in relation to missing my son. There will always be a sadness that hangs with me without him, but I will NEVER allow anyone to destroy me, even if you take away the little person I love most in this world.

I hope my authenticity about how rough it’s been and how I fight to take back my life everyday no matter what is thrown at me will inspire you to continue to as well.

And if my precious little boy ever gets to read my blog, I love you more than I can express and it hurts how much I miss you. I hope our paths cross again someday.

Love

Lizzie

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