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Today was a hard day.
It was good and exciting and overwhelming and happy and sad.
I had my first day of training to become a Recovery Support Specialist.
When I woke up, I had planned to get ready quickly and take the train to save myself the walk. But when I woke up I didn’t want to rush. I didn’t want to leave Willow.
This weekend, walking down the sidewalk, pushing her stroller, I had a vision of her wobbling down the street, walking.
Yesterday when I picked her up, I missed her, so, so much.
And last night, I could not pull myself out of bed to get our clothes ready, tidy the room, or shower. Instead, I laid next to her and watched her sleep.
And this morning when I woke up, I felt as though there was a strong rope connecting us, and that I would have to struggle to release it and walk out the door.
I missed the train.
I came back to say goodbye a few times.
Then I walked to the training.
When I got there it was hard to focus.
There were many people, none of them I knew, although one I had seen before and another person knew me through a mutual friend. But there was a big room, full of many people, a lot older than me and very different. Some had strong convictions and an energy to express themselves which pushed me back a little. Others were very quiet. It was a good day, but I thought of Willow often.
When we were given a break for lunch, I sat outside and looked at pictures of her in my phone.
I decided I would walk somewhere for coffee. On the way, I wondered if I would have time to go see her. I knew I didn’t.
I missed her so much, and kept yearning to see her, talk to her. I felt like a desperately homesick child away at sleepaway camp.
I pulled myself together and got through the day.
When I got home, achy back (6 hours in a chair will do that, I guess), wet socks (guess I should have checked the weather and brought an umbrella), but excited to see my girl. Her daycare worker stopped me at the door, excited to show me something.
It was a video. Willow was walking, and not just a few accidental steps, she fell, got back up and continued walking- over, and over again.
Disbelief. Shock. A large unmistakable pit, the kind that is full with half-way tears, the ones that push against your skin so hard- but don’t come out- just leave pressure and aching. Sadness, guilt, excitement, joy. More guilt, because the only feelings I should have felt were joy.
Then a spiral. Sadness, brief depressed feelings. Anger.
“I missed it. I was at that training. That stupid training. I shouldn’t have gone. I should have known something amazing would happen. I missed it. It will never be her first steps again, and I missed it. And who knows what else I’ll miss? While I’m working, when I would rather be at home raising my daughter. Teaching her. Helping her. Watching her. I shouldn’t have to work. I should be able to be the parent I want. It’s HIS fault. Her dad. Because if he hadn’t been so shitty then I would be home with her, and he would be at work. And now look at me, single mom. Pathetic. And the risks associated with single parenting? Forget it. We’re doomed. I shouldn’t feel like this. What’s wrong with me? I hate myself. I hate my life. “
Anger, shame, sadness, guilt, regret.
I had jokingly said many times out loud, “what if Willow walks while I’m at work?”
Of course I never seriously thought it may happen. Never looked at it as a real possibility. Because that would never happen!
Then it did.
But stop, Eliza. Stop.
Feel it. Feel it all. Let it soak in. Use some skills. Rationalize it. Think it through. Bring yourself through.
I’m not the only one.
Now, write about it. Because the thoughts are there, so are the words. Bottled up and banging around in your head. Release them. And move forward. Forgive yourself, even though you know you haven’t done anything wrong. Allow yourself to feel this, without guilt or shame. Now allow yourself to move on. Allow yourself to feel happy and overjoyed.
Oh my goodness Eliza, I’m in tears for you <3
I am so sorry that you weren't able to be there for that moment.. I can't imagine how difficult this is for you. Thank you for being so vulnerable and transparent by sharing all of this and letting me in on a little bit of what that was like for you.
I want to remind you that you are an amazing mother and I know this is so hard for you, and it is truly unfair.
I'm so proud of you for writing out your emotions and not keeping it inward. I'm amazed by how you were able to stay 'sober and sane' after this happened. I hope you don't continue to beat yourself up, but if you do, make sure you put the bat down and pick up the feather. It's a corny line I once heard, but it's powerful. Be gentle on yourself, love.
I came across an article that I think you would really like, and don't worry, it's a quick read lol.
A quote that the therapist says to a client who feels guilty for missing a milestone in their child’s life really stood out to me: “Did you miss this event with intent to harm your child?”… “no”… “so let’s put the word “guilt” back in the dictionary where it belongs and see if we can help you find a more accurate way of defining how you feel. Feel sad or disappointed, but not guilty over something you couldn’t control.”
You are building your child’s future by being at work.
There will be other firsts that you WILL get to see.
You will always be first in Willow’s eyes.
Remember the firsts that you were a part of.
Make a list of the firsts that you won’t miss: Fun activity (bowling, hiking, park, etc), new place (beach, restaurant, park)
Love you! So proud of Willow and can’t wait to see her walking for myself!
TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help.
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