Originally posted at http://www.mops.org/blog/courage-to-stop-pretending
I could tell you stories of pregnancy and loss, and of holding a tiny lifeless baby in the palm of my hand. I could tell you about the leap of faith it took to try again and the heartbreak of losing yet again. I could tell you about months of bedrest with another baby not expected to live. I could tell you about the first time I called 911 while I watched that baby, my 1 year old son Emmett, unconscious and seizing in his crib. I could tell you about putting on a brave face for my 3 year old son Travis, trying to figure out how best to explain it without terrifying him. I could even tell you about the treadmill run in the hospital for Emmett’s first surgery, while I ran for exactly 7 hours and 26 minutes waiting and praying he was going to be ok. But none of those are quite it.
I think the most courageous thing I have ever done was stop pretending. I was a great pretender. I could smile even though I wanted to fall onto the floor and cry. I could laugh even though I felt hollow and empty inside. I could cite my strong faith while raging against a God that would allow Emmett to suffer so greatly. I could sit calmly in public when just hours before I had been screaming and breaking things up against the wall. The pain emptied my very heart and soul and hung me out to dry. The fear of the future, of the unknown, and of what would happen to Emmett ignited me with a fire so fierce, it threatened to burn me to the ground. The old me was gone, swallowed whole by this wide-eyed insomniac clutching a medical binder as thick as phonebook and pretending to be ok. My old world was gone, replaced by a new one with sterile white walls and words I couldn’t pronounce. This was the life that I pretended to live for much too long. There was no big pivotal moment that spurred me into action. One day I just woke up and said Enough. It has to get better. For me. For them. For all of us. I can’t pretend any more. I sought counseling. I learned to manage my fear and anxiety and let go of what I couldn’t control. I learned it was ok to not be ok and that I didn’t have to pretend for anyone. I learned to stay in the present and eliminate what if questions. Most importantly, I learned to live again, even happily in spite of our circumstances, and that took the most courage of all.