grief & loss, Laugh through the pain, Trauma of it all, Trying to figure this all out

The Intersection of Joy X Pain

𝅘𝅥𝅰𝅘𝅥𝅰 JOY!!! And pain

Are like Sunshine!!! And rain

JOY!!! And pain

Are like Sunshine and rain 𝅘𝅥𝅰𝅘𝅥𝅰

If you didn’t start singing along w/ the Maze featuring Frankie Beverly version OR the Rob Base version, we can’t be friends!

*Abrupt change of energy starting… now*

I recently had the experience of shopping for my son’s first birthday.  I realize that some of you readers may be a bit surprised because I do not write often about my son on this blog. There are many reasons for that BUT I’m planning to shift that up a bit because so many of us are parenting other children after our losses.  These could be children that are older or younger than your llo, but either way, you still have to show up as a parent to the living child(ren) you have.  I feel like I was never confronted with the feelings of happiness and sadness as much as I have been since our son came into our lives. It came up before to a degree, but LAWD! is it ever-present now! Whether you have other children or not, this odd intersection of emotions – joy and pain – likely surfaces for you.

So while I was shopping, I had this incredible sense of excitement because our son is going to be SO CAUTE!! for his birthday! OMG if y’all could see the outfits I bought. Mama has good taste! See, I just got excited again. While having those exciting feelings, I also was reminded of the fact that the girls would have turned 1 November 17, 2018. They were born in June 2017 but their due date was in November. I was then flooded with thoughts I could not escape about all the bday’s they will not have, all the shopping I didn’t get to do for them, all the grief I feel about them not being alive. In the midst of that, my son is looking at me smiling and reaching and coming in for snuggles that I both have to and want to return. So I do. I am both experiencing the joys of being his mom and the pain of not being able to parent Aviva & Jora the way that I want to.

There are A LOT of people who do not understand how you can be both happy and sad at the same time. There are people who believe these two emotions are mutually exclusive, and honestly, maybe they are for some. Speaking from my perspective and the perspective of an angel parent, they ABSOLUTELY can exist in the same place and time. Admittedly, it makes you feel a little jacked up at times.  I think that’s because of socialization though. We are told and socialized to believe that we cannot and shouldn’t feel both because that means that you’re not really existing in the wholeness of either. Therefore, by this line of thinking, you are not really sad or happy and that is pathologized. Let’s subtract the pathology while still honoring that you may not be sad or happy but some odd combination of both.. Sappy maybe..? Had…? Happy-Sad..? Sad..Happy? Sadpy..? Ok, you get my point. You are existing in the both/and rather than the either/or.

Angel parents are OFTEN living fully in this both/and space.

We are navigating highs and lows simultaneously while still trying to function for everyone around us, and unfortunately, also trying to meet the expectations of others related to how we respond. That shit is exhausting. So sometimes we’re cranky, sometimes we skip out on social events, sometimes our fuse is short, sometimes we’re tearful, sometimes we’re stuck or have an odd affect, sometimes we’re angry (and you and at ourselves for not feeling what or how we want to feel). Sometimes we don’t understand why we can’t shake the uncomfortable feeling of in-betweenness. I’d argue that’s because we are told so often that we cannot be in-between. We cannot be both… a little of this and a little of that… a mix of things that seem opposite.

You can be whatever you feel. I’ll write it again and make sure you say it out loud this time; YOU CAN BE WHATEVER YOU FEEL!

You do not have to decide which space you want to occupy on demand. The most important thing you can do is honor that both (or however many) emotions are coming up for you and allow them to do what they do while you sort it out. Trying to force yourself not to feel things only makes you struggle with them longer. Trying to force people to feel what you want them to feel (I’m looking at you support system ) only makes people hide what they really feel from you.  I don’t know about y’all but I’m not in the business of appeasing others to my own detriment nor am I in the business of lying to myself about what’s happening for me. If you feel me on this, start honoring your intersections. In the same ways that your identities intersect and create unique ways of experiencing the world, your emotions intersect too (thanks Amandla!).

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