Today some of the same sense of despair I felt last summer started creeping back into my life.
A year ago I was more than beside myself with every emotion imaginable over Ella's diagnosis and everything else that was going on in life. I was hurt and sad and sensitive and denying it and I ended up emotionally isolating myself. From everyone. I felt like I couldn't connect with anything, like all of a sudden I was different, our lives were different, and I couldn't relate to anything "normal" anymore. I didn't fit in with the "typical" world, yet I didn't want to join the CdLS world. I didn't want to learn more about it. I didn't want to get to know anyone because this truly could not be happening to us.
I remember having a really hard summer, being home with all 3 kids, Ella being so gassy and fussy and us not knowing why, the boys being sick ALL THE TIME for some reason and crabby and fighting and every day was such a struggle. It was hard to get out of bed, to shower, to think of one freaking thing to make for supper that night..
And like so many of us do, during my free time I would log on to Facebook. And there I would sit, in my ratty sweatpants and sweatshirt, makeup-less face with huge bags under my eyes, my children coughing and sneezing and whining and crying in the next room, and I would see on my computer the smiling, happy faces of everyone else's kids. I would see the adorable craft projects I just could not muster up the energy to do with my own. The fun, creative lunches others were making while my poor kids got a slapped together pb&j. For the 26th day in a row. I would see the vacations others were taking, the sun and sand they were enjoying, while the only sand I saw was tracked all over my kitchen floor and clogging up the bathroom drain. I would see the "perfect" "healthy" babies being born and wonder what I did wrong? I would see the fun play dates and mommies getting together while I felt stranded in my house and could not think of a single friend I could call.
I felt like a completely incompetent mother.
Everyone else's lives were perfect. Everyone else's babies were healthy. Everyone else's houses were clean. Everyone else's barns were not blowing over. Everyone else's marriages were like their honeymoons. Everyone else's kids played nicely together all day.
Everyone else, except me.
I began to feel more and more isolated, and instead of realizing that Facebook time was NOT helping me, it became more and more of an unhealthy addiction. It was sortof like seeing a train wreck but not being able to look away. (I don't know why I used that old line.. Honestly.. how many people have really seen train wrecks??) I started obsessing about checking my Facebook every day, every few hours, the inadequecies of my own life piling on top of each other, weighing me down even more day after day after day.
It was like I wanted to prove how much better everyone else was than me. I wanted it to be some kind of competition where I always came in last. I wanted to make myself feel worse. I just couldn't stop.
Why? I don't know.. It sounds awful...
But eventually I did get past that. And the good that's come from it?
This blog! Right?? It's a good thing....... right.....??? anyone out there?
Anyways, I went through that whole unhealthy Facebook phase and eventually found myself reading everyone else's updates (without going into a mental breakdown), but was unable to post about ANYTHING in my own life for a long time. At first it was because I felt so lousy about myself, but then I started to realize that everyone else's lives are NOT the way they look on Facebook. It took me a really long time to understand that (apparently I'm kindof a slow learner). I was actually shocked when I was telling a friend of mine this and she said, "Yeah... Facebook's so fake," like it was no big deal. I didn't know what to say.. I honestly had not considered that before! I was taking everyone's posts and pictures and updates and blogs to heart and only seeing what was on the page in front of me. I wasn't thinking that this was only a small snapshot into people's lives. I was seeing that snapshot as representative of everything good that they had and I didn't.
When I really started to look around, everything just seemed so phony all of a sudden. Why would I post the picture of the 1 minute of fun we had that day and make it look like our whole lives were full of sunshine and rainbows? Why would I post the funny thing my kid said at supper when immediately after that he was sent to the laundry room for disobeying?
Note: Please don't think if you've posted anything "good" about yourself or your kids on Facebook the past year, that I think you're "fake." It was definitely more of an issue on my part than anyone else's..
But part of my honesty
I want to be super conscientious to not only blog about the ups, but also the downs. I never want to make others believe my life is perfect. I never want to give others a reason to be jealous or feel bad about themselves. We all have special talents and I love that about the world. There are so many things I wish I was good at: singing even remotely close to on key, picking up after myself and my projects, staying focused on one thing, homeschooling (wouldn't that be great??), running, keeping house plants alive, planning things more than one day in advance...
I've had a lot of nice comments lately on this blog about my adorable kids (true), my perfect house (ha!), my "talents".. And honestly? It makes me a little uncomfortable. I hope everyone out there reading this knows no one (especially me) is perfect. We all have things we're good at and not good at, and God made each of us special and unique and in his own image. What more could we ask for?? Sure, I could spend a lot of time dwelling on the gifts I don't have. But that would completely impair me from using the gifts I DO have. Like building Board Holders!! a.w.e.s.o.m.e.
We've gone through a lot in the past year to get to where we are today, and I feel so thankful for that. I feel thankful that we've been able to take painful, heartbreaking things that have happened to us and rise above, turning them into good. I feel thankful that I've gotten to the point where I can honestly be happy for people when good things happen to them instead of feeling jealous. I feel thankful I am a stronger, more compassionate person than I was before.
I just wish I could go back in time to last summer and give myself a big hug, look into my tearful eyes and tell myself what I know now. (Or maybe post it on Facebook since I might believe it more that way..) I wish I could tell myself that it will be okay. That it will be more than okay. That Ella will bring so many blessings and friendships into your life that you never dreamed possible. That the boys won't be sick forever. That you'll build a new barn. That you'll grow closer to your true friends and family.
And I hope anyone who might be reading this, struggling with issues of your own, knows that it will be okay for you too. More than okay.
As for me? Be thinking of me tomorrow morning when the only crying and screaming I hear will be my own... I really hate the dentist.. :(