Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Fresh Start

"Has it been a good Christmas?" Jason asked me as we were driving home after spending Christmas day at my parent's home.
I nodded but had a hard time speaking.
My throat was clogged and my eyes were misty.
After a minute I cleared my throat and said, "I've never had a better Christmas - but not because of the gifts."

* * * * *

Two days have passed since I wrote that first paragraph, and I've spent the last two days thinking about how to write this post - how to put into words the thoughts that have not left me alone.
I feel like my vocabulary is inadequate for the task before me.

About two months ago I stopped taking the medicine my doctor has had me on to help with the lingering effects of PTSD and depression.
I felt ready to face the world without it, and I felt strong enough to battle whatever I would encounter in the days to come.
Not too many days passed before I realized that while the medicine had been helping with the negative emotions, it had also been masking the good emotion.  And to feel emotion again, the kind that warmed my soul, made me take deep breaths and soak it all in.

I felt like I had been looking at my world through a window, and for a little while after I stopped taking the medication, I felt like that window had been opened.

One night before Christmas I was walking through the mall and stopped to watch a father reason with his little boy.
They were sitting outside of Bath and Body Works and the little boy was crying.
"Look son.  Look how many men are in that store," the father said.
The son shook his head and refused to raise it.
"I promise this is not just a girl's store.  There are lots of boys in there, and we need to go in to find something for your mom."
The little guy shook his head again and looked up to his dad with a pout.  Just then a surge of men walked into the store and the dad convinced his son to watch them.
"See.  There are lots of boys in that store, and we will fit right in.  Can we go now?"
The boy reluctantly gave his dad his hand, and the dad pulled him up and put his arm around him as they walked into the store.
I passed that dad a little while later, and he gave me a knowing smile as I watched his son happily walking next to him.
I don't know what it is about this scene that touched me so much, but I had a smile in my heart the rest of the night, and I was grateful that I could feel it.

On the day of my sister's wedding I had a small moment where I felt close to my grandpa - closer than I've felt to him since he passed away.
As I shared the experience with my sister, and then with my mom, and later Jason, I cried.  
It had just been days earlier that I had told my mom how much I missed my grandpa, and how he seemed so far away.

Other moments - small and seemingly insignificant - filled my heart and soul and I locked them away where I knew I could find them again, if and when I needed a reminder of the good in my life.

Just a few weeks after the metaphorical opening of my window, I felt the heaviness seep in.
I felt the sadness outweigh the joy and the reality of my life seemed too heavy once again.
I fought it - I fought it with everything I had inside of me, but one Sunday afternoon I had to leave church early because of the overwhelming hurt and sadness I was feeling.  I sobbed as I walked the short distance home, and when I walked in the house Jason took one look at me and wrapped me in his arms, where I continued to cry and cry.

A little while later I looked at Jason with tears still in my eyes and said, "I don't think I was ready.  I think I have to keep taking the medicine."
He hugged me again and said, "It's okay - take it, and you can try again in a few months."

Later that night I talked to my mom and told her the one thing that has been harder than all of the other hard combined.
"I can handle Emily's broken heart," I told her.
"I am learning to deal with everything else that comes with Em's syndrome."
"I trust that God has a plan for Em's life, and I believe that He trusts Jason and me to help Him with that plan."

"But why did this have to break me in the process?" I asked her, and I was crying yet again.
"Why can't I be strong enough to do all of this without stupid pills," I said.
"Why did it break me too?" is the question that I ask over and over again in my mind.

* * * * *

When I told Jason I've never had a better Christmas, I meant it.
Christmas this year represents the end of the longest and hardest year and a half of my life.
It represents a closed chapter - and while I know we have hard things ahead of us, they won't be hard like the last 18 months have been, and I'm so grateful for that.

It's 1:30 in the morning on January 1st and I'm listening to fireworks going off outside.
I've never been more ready to start over, to start fresh, to leave the past behind.

The last 18 months have made me a much different person that I was before.
They've strengthened me and exposed my weaknesses.
They've caused me to draw closer to God, and at times they've caused me to question my faith.
They've made me vulnerable and unsure, but they've made me rock solid too.

I'm closing this chapter of the story of my life with an added bit of emphasis, and as I walk forward into  the next chapter, I'm filled with gratitude that these two will be a part of it:


elizabeth said...

I can't explain why we have to be 'broken' but it is all in god's hands. And that has to be the safest place to be. You are an amazing mother and wife. x

Karen Mortensen said...

Beautifully said. You have expressed some of the feelings and emotions that I have/had. I have a son with Fragile X and I found out that I have a mild case of it. It has also done the same things to me. But I am eternally grateful to God for this because what I got/get out of it is truly priceless. Happy New Year.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Noelle. You know that I struggle with the same sort of never ending "hard" stretching out in front of me. And I've struggled with exactly the same feelings of inadequacy. I do most of the time. What you have to remember is this; if you fall out of a tree and hit the hard ground, you're probably going to break a bone. Hitting something hard in your life is equally likely to break you in some way or another. It doesn't mean you're weak any more than breaking a bone when it comes in contact with something hard means you're weak.

The trouble with this kind of broken is that you can't take an x-ray to see what the damage is. There's no way to measure exactly what is wrong and there's no way to know exactly the best way to treat it. If your meds are making you a little foggy, ask your doctor for something different. There isn't a way to know exactly the best treatment/dose for this kind of broken except for trial and error. Pray for your doctor to be inspired to now how to help you. It works. Trust me.

And stop beating yourself up for needing treatment. Your body can no more heal a broken bone on its own than it can heal this kind of damage on its own. Don't get down on yourself if you have some rough patches. Be gentle with yourself. You need some TLC, too.

xo -E

Dazee Dreamer said...

You are a wonderful woman.

Mom on a Line said...

This is a beautiful post. I wish nothing but good times and health for all in the new year. I do have one thing to say about your strength though: taking pills to help you past the hard parts does not make you weak and it does not mean you are broken. It means you were strong enough to seek help when you needed it. That can be the hardest step to take. Holding you all close and hoping you got some sleep after writing this late night post. Happy New Year!

Lisa L. said...

I have been there. Trying to get off a medication after 25 years. Realizing that I was not strong enough. Then realizing I was strong enough despite it. That it was necessary. That it was okay. Thank you for sharing and being so honest. You are strong. You are not broken. Hugs.

Jaime Barnhart said...

Beautiful post. Written by a beautiful mother who has a beautiful daughter and a pretty awesome hubby from the sounds of it all!!!

I know that broken feeling. It sucks. Nothing else to say about it but that it sucks.

Hang in there. Emily is a lucky little girl to have a mama like you --- and you WILL make it, broken or not, you WILL make it to a happier place for yourself.

Happy New Year to you ---- I am grateful that I found you and Emily and Jason online in 2012 and can't wait to read about the amazing things in store in 2013.

Lalis said...

Happy New Year, Noelle!

Remember that being broken isn't so bad... We're all broken one way or another and maybe it takes something to makes us realize it... That's why we have a Savior.

If you feel like your meds are blocking all emotion you can always talk to your doctor and bring that up. Perhaps you can find something better.

Love you and keep your chin up!

Beth Zimmerman said...

Aw Noelle ... I love you! I want you to know that when my life kind of fell apart right before Christmas ... you were one of the people that I wanted to call, and cry, on. BUT - I chose not to because you already have so much on your plate and I wanted you to enjoy Christmas without feeling MY pain. I'm better now ... though like you ... I still need my meds. Someday, when He makes all things new, we won't need them anymore! Love you!