Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dark Places

Blogzilly left me a comment recently that got me thinking about how I cope with Charlie's disability. . .

This blog is rarely a dark place.

I have a couple of reasons for that. First and foremost is because I feel a great responsibility to the parents who may come here after being told that their child has suffered a brain injury. I want parents to come here and see that a child with disabilities can be beautiful and magical and that your life doesn't have to end because you've been given something you didn't expect.

But there was a time before I felt as much hope as I do now. A time where fear just crushed me into a puddle of mush. In those early days, I would sometimes find an entry on some one's blog that would scare me so much that I would just weep on the keyboard. Blindness, deafness, medical bills, uncontrollable seizures--it was all so scary. Charlie was so young there was just no way to know how bad his disabilities would be.

So I decided to see somebody. I went to a counselor and cried and snotted in her office for an hour. I used an entire box of tissue and half of a second one as I told the story of my son's birth and subsequent brain damage. I told her that I missed my old life, that I was scared of my new one, and that I was SO angry with my doctor.

And she told me that she thought my feelings were normal and justified. She said that, in her opinion, I was dealing with the whole thing pretty well.

And she was right.

Every parent whose child has been injured has a right to grieve. They have a right to be scared. Whether it was malpractice or mother nature or just freakish bad luck, our children have been injured. Grief is normal. Fear of the unknown is normal. I believe that grief is cyclical and it will come and go from your life. Months may pass and one day it hits you again and you must deal with it all over again.

But and some point you have to make a choice. You have to decide to move on. I'm not saying forget--you can't forget--but get on with the business of life.

We all carry scars: death, disease, addiction, war, abuse, poverty--any number of things can touch our lives when we least expect it. I also know that I have never, ever felt better dwelling on it. I may let myself roll around in it for a little while, but in the end I have to kick that crap to the curb or it will rule me; swallow me whole. I've never been good at moderation.

And so I celebrate what I do have: a happy child, a delicious dinner, a new pair of shoes; a really big diet coke, a country with fabulous health care, a shady front porch. When my thoughts get dark, I re-route them--focus on something else. Am I always happy? No, but I wasn't before Charlie was born either. I'm just a regular person who copes with life the only way she knows how.

I thought there was no better picture for this post than this one. I'm trying to give Charlie a lesson about cooking and he's giving me the stink eye--he did NOT care for it. Things are far from perfect, but probably pretty close to normal around here.

Next post I promise to get back to some of those awesome questions about education