Someday…..An exercise for you.

Dear parents….

When your life has been thrown into chaos, it’s hard to picture yourself on the other side, enjoying the sunshine when the only thing you can see at the moment are the dark stormy clouds.  Even after those have lifted and your days get back to relative normalcy, there are (and in my opinion will always be) those times where for whatever reason you just find yourself right back in that moment where you feel an overwhelming sense of sadness, anxiety, anger and/or loss.  I hate those moments, they make me feel small and insignificant.  They make me doubt myself and they make my heart ache for control over something which cannot be fixed.

So here I am going to suggest trying a little exercise, and I would LOVE you all to try it too when you are feeling off or when times are incredibly hard.

First things first: Figure out what things are difficult for you at the moment and why. Write them out. These may be things that are hard to do or that you avoid like the plague.  Next, below each one, write “Someday……” and fill it with your goal.  Finally, write a line below it that says “my child would be proud of me for…………..”.  

While the goals can be general, the accomplishments should be specific when they are written.  They can be something you’re planning to do in the future to give yourself something to aim for, (for you planners and list-maker types) or they can be left blank and simply filled in when you have done something that fits the goal.

I know my own personal hurdles, but where you are and what yours are will depend on your situation. For instance a parent who came to the NICU recently will look very different from one who has been in and out of it visiting their child for months, and a newly bereaved parent will look different from one who lost their child years ago. 

Here are a few examples:

[fear/anxiety] I can’t Leave the hospital room/ Go home – [reason] I don’t want to leave the room/hospital because something may happen to my child and I won’t be there. 

[goal] Someday, I will leave the room for an extended amount of time.

[accomplishment] My child would be proud of me for leaving for 10 minutes to get some coffee

…..for leaving for 30 minutes to eat in the cafeteria

…..for returning home for a few hours to see his/her sibling(s)

 

[anger] I have a hard time seeing other happy couples with their “normal” pregnancy/baby {reason] because mine is suffering and its not fair.

[goal] Someday, I will be able to be happy for them. 

[accomplishment] My child would be proud of me for attending a baby shower for a friend

…. for sending a card/ note to my pregnant cousin

…..for asking that woman at the grocery store her baby’s name

 

[sadness] I am having a hard time making it through the day. I don’t feel like getting out of bed.I am missing my baby so much it hurts [reason] because he/she has died

[goal] Someday, I will smile again.  Someday I will be able to think about him/her without a complete breakdown.  Someday I will start to rebuild my life.

[accomplishment] My child would be proud of me for answering a call from my mom/friend/etc.

…..putting his/her picture on the wall

……visiting his/her grave

……donating to a charity in his/her honor

…..going back to work

……laughing at a comic /tv show /video/ story

….cooked a meal for my family

 

What’s the point of this you may ask? its simply to put some of the control back into your hands and to provide proof to yourself that you can and will make progress through even the toughest of times. You will be able to identify the whirlwind of emotions that are occurring.  Sometimes just separating them out helps because you can tackle one thing at a time and it may feel less overwhelming. Additionally, it may pinpoint some triggers for some of these emotions should you find you feel off balance. Look for patterns in what you’ve written. Plus, If you can see the things you think your little one would be proud of. Wherever you are at that point in time, there was a worse time before that, just look at what you’ve been able to do since you started! Are these jedi mind-tricks?  Perhaps.  But if nothing else, it’s a throwback to recognizing how you can help yourself.

For me these days, the most frequent emotion is being sad she’s gone and the goals are trying to do positive things in her name. My someday is “Someday others will find support and comfort from our work so that losing you will not have been for nothing”. And my accomplishments?? Well, most of those bigger ones are yet to be determined, but as a start, “my Delilah would be proud of me for sharing her story with others at the Promise Walk and connecting with parents who experienced similar situations”. I’ve come a long way from “Someday I will be able to hear that damn Plain White T’s song without crying”.  To be fair, at the time I didn’t think I’d be starting an organization devoted to her legacy either…

Someday is out there for you too dear readers, whether that is leaving the NICU with that teeny tiny preemie and starting a whole new ride, moving forward from grief, or something else in between. So the next time that uneasy feeling hits, take out your list, and find something you can do to help calm it and move towards your someday, step by step.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s