Do you know when you’re about to have a breakdown? Not the small ones that result from triggers in our daily lives, but the big, ugly breakdowns. I’m talking about the “I can’t get out of bed – there is no way out of this” breakdowns. Can you feel these coming on? I can. I can feel them physically, mentally, and emotionally. My body wears down, my mind grows tired, and my emotions become frail – these are my warning signs that the levy is about to break. The scariest thing about approaching a breakdown is that I never know how long I will be down. It could be hours, days, weeks, or more. This breakdown has stemmed from a lack of forward movement through my grief.
It has taken me a while to write this last blog in the Grief Series, perhaps because the last stage in the grief process is the Acceptance stage. However, I have since learned that birth moms don’t have a “last stage.” For deaths, grief is like a scavenger hunt. You progress through the checkpoints, following the clues until you arrive at the final destination. For birth moms, grief is like the tea cup ride at Disney World. We are twisting, turning, and spinning through each and every stage of grief in no particular order. For us, acceptance could never be a last stop. Before we know it, we’re twirling right back to depression, followed by a turbulent jerk into anger. Honestly, I’m just hoping someone stops the ride before I throw up on the person next to me.
I haven’t written about the acceptance because I had this perception that I was supposed to have my grief all figured out to arrive at the last step. Grief is not an arrival. Although, it doesn’t have to be so nauseating, right? I had my breakdown late last week, and this time it lasted for two days. It feels great to come out on the other side. During those two days, I revisited some heavy depression. But for the first time, I am going through acceptance.
What does acceptance mean for birth moms? Just because we go through acceptance, doesn’t mean we are “all better.” Acceptance will grow with us over time. My acceptance at 16 months post-placement will evolve into something different when I’m 5 years post-placement, when I’m 25 years post-placement, and even when I’m 100 years post-placement (At that time, all the major newspapers would be writing critiques about my puzzling blog that no longer makes sense.) I have been reluctant to consciously go through acceptance because I was mistakenly associating that stage with some sort of fantasy finish line, where some enthusiastic weirdo greets me with an emergency blanket and a band-aid for my emotions.
When you are ready, I encourage you to take a leap into acceptance. It can be complex to work through, so try to start by making a list of what kinds of things you are willing to accept.
Today, I am accepting three key things:
1. I am accepting my choice, and I am accepting to live with it.
2. I am accepting that my life has changed, and will never be the same as it used to be.
3. I am accepting that just because I am in the acceptance stage, it does not mean that I have to forever remain here. (I can revisit anger when I’m feeling feisty.)
Don’t accept something you aren’t ready for, but don’t let fear stop you from forward movement in your life.
P.S. This ain’t over. :)
As I continue to navigate my grief, I will add more posts to the Grief Series.