The Freedom to Fall Apart

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I thought I was doing much better. Whatever doing “better” means, after you lose a child. I had a few weeks in the beginning where I was completely in survival mode, but then I did the opposite. I kept filling my schedule. I stayed busy. I cleaned and I cooked and had play dates and activities planned out for Riley. I saw friends and had girl’s nights and laughed. This past week, I filled my schedule so that I had something planned for every single morning before Riley’s nap time, and every single afternoon once she woke up. Jordan and I booked so many of our evenings that when someone asked me if I could hang out one night, the first open date I could give her was March 16th.

It was keeping my mind off things. I never wanted to sit in the quiet or slow down, because as soon as I did, the tears would start and I was afraid they might never end. So I tried to avoid them as much as possible.

I could only keep this up for so long before it backfired on me.

I was hanging out with a friend last week, it was the first time I had seen her since the miscarriage. As we were catching up she said something along the lines of, “I’m surprised you’re even here right now. If I were you, I would probably be curled up in bed. I probably wouldn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone. You seem so strong!”

She probably doesn’t know how freeing that was for me to hear, or that it was a turning point for my week.

Because that is actually what I want to do most days. I want to curl up and not see one single person. I’m not really that strong. But I keep trying to move on. I keep saying “yes.” I keep forcing smiles, only to start weeping once I get back into my car and drive away.

It is so refreshing to have a friend point out that she wouldn’t expect me to be doing much else than curling up in bed. I had to realize that people aren’t expecting too much of me right now, and maybe I need to stop expecting too much of myself. If I burn out or just need to stay home and cry, then I need to let myself burn out and stay home and cry.

Another thoughtful friend of mine sent me a link to a book she saw called “I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy” by Angie Smith. In a perfectly timed reading, I highlighted these quotes that spoke exactly to the place that I’m in right now:

“It’s life after loss, and it’s not going anywhere. I have to learn to go easier on myself and back down off my expectations because I am setting myself up for failure.”

“I am daily battling an enemy who would love nothing more than for me to shove all my baggage into the crevices of darkness, slam the doors, and pretend I have it all together while I secretly fall apart.”

“Instead of booking every minute solid so that I can make sure everything was taken care of for everyone else, I have made a point to have time to just sit in my sorrow. That sounds strange to say, but whenever I am in a hard place emotionally, my first instinct is to fill up my calendar and make sure I have another person beside me at all times. There are certainly times when being in community is necessary and beneficial, but for me it became a way to run from being alone with the Lord, and I began to suffer because of it.”

I think Angie must have known that I would be reading that chapter on the day that I did, because I swear she was speaking directly to me. Which I take to mean that The Lord knew exactly how to speak to me and show me what I needed to see.

I have the complete freedom to fall apart right now.

I’ve been busying my schedule trying to avoid the pain, but I’m having bad insomnia, daily headaches, and an eye twitch. When I wake up in the morning or if I pause during the day, my bones feel like they are aching with sadness.

I finally came to terms with the fact that my body is telling me that perhaps I’m not doing as well as I’ve been trying to convince myself I am.

It’s easy for me to come up with quick fix solutions for myself: “I just need to exercise more.” “I just need to stop eating dairy and grains, and I’ll feel better.” “I just need to stay busy.” “I need to come up with more hobbies.” “I just need to get out and get fresh air.” “I just need comfort food.” “I just need _____.”

No, I just need Jesus. And I need to let myself be sad and allow Him to meet me in that.

So this week (and next week, and hopefully I’ll allow myself more time than just that), I’m going to face what I’ve been trying to avoid: the silence. The aching. The “why’s” and the “what if’s” and the longing. I’m going to remove some of the things I’ve been turning to, so that I will have to turn to Jesus. He is no stranger to pain. And He is no quick fix. He is the God of the Universe, familiar with suffering who meets His children in their longing and is present there.

I’m not going to fill Riley’s nap time with things to get done and people to get back to. I’m going to fill it with prayer and tears and the living Word that comforts those who mourn.

I’m going to make sure I have at least a couple of mornings open each week, for the sole purpose of having the option to just lay in bed, if that’s what I need to do.

I’m going to give myself the freedom to say “no” to invitations when I need to, even if they sound wonderful and I love the people who extend them. I’m going to remind myself that my friends understand.

I’m not going to force a smile in the presence of others, if tears are threatening to betray me. I’m going to let them fall instead.

I’m not going to keep worrying myself constantly with what everyone else thinks. Especially when I don’t even know what everyone else thinks. I just assume what they think, and try to live up to that. I’m going to stop doing that.

I’m going to fill our freezer with easy meals, for when I happen upon those evenings where I suddenly don’t feel up for cooking.

I’m going to take people up on their offers for help, instead of insist I can keep holding it all together by myself.

I’m going to hurt some days, and I’m going to feel normal on others. But I’m not going to try and predict when each will happen, nor will I “assign” days to either. I will give each day the freedom to be what it needs to be.

And I am going to praise Him.

Some days, I’m just falling apart. But that’s ok. I know One who can pick up the pieces, and never expected them to stay intact in the first place.

KM.

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