From my journal dated December 16, 2002:
I don’t know if it’s Christmastime that makes it “safe” for people to call – people we haven’t heard from in months and months – but we have had more calls than usual lately. Maybe they feel like they’re on “safer” ground to call now that some time has passed. Maybe they think of us and feel they should call since it’s Christmas. Maybe it’s that they feel enough time has gone by that we should be “okay” or “better” by now. Some days it feels like I’ll never be “okay” ever again. I’ll probably reach a point of being functional, but I’ll never be the same.
I feel like it would be hard to just “insert” people back into our lives now, especially the ones we depended on, the ones we felt so abandoned us when we needed them most. Honestly, do people think they can just pop back into our lives after disappearing and being no support for so long, and everything will be the same?
I know in my head it’s true what I’ve been reading, especially in the Ann Finkbeiner book, After the Death of a Child. People don’t want to look at mortality when it comes to the death of a child. They don’t want to “catch” it for their own kids. It’s a hard thing to look at and to think about. It’s easier to look away, pretend like it never happened, wait until things are “better.” My head knows all that; I can reason it and maybe even understand it. But my heart doesn’t. My heart hurts. It hurt my heart when they all disappeared. It hurt my heart to see my family struggle alone.
The thing about people trying to reconnect with us now is that they want to reconnect the person they are – and have continued on the same path to be – with me (or Joe or Jenna), the person they think they know, the person they used to know, the person we used to be before the accident. They have been waiting for me to “come back” to them (as someone recently said to me) as the same person I was. They’ve been waiting for me to get over or get better so we can pick up the relationship we had as it once was.
The problem is that, while they may be the same person they were, I’m not the same person I was. For the most part, she’s gone; she’s changed. We’ve been devastated by the death of our precious son. Our world turned upside down. Nothing is the same. We, as a family, have had to walk alone through so many, many things. I’ve been crushed. I’m hurt. I’m still struggling. My heart has been broken. I’m less trusting of relationships. I’m so much more guarded.
When we go to Tulsa to visit my sister, we usually hang out with her friends. Her friends feel like they know me, because my sister has talked a lot about me. They know LOTS about me; my sister is quite the talker and shares nearly everything! The problem is that it’s one-sided. I don’t know them at all. I know hardly anything about them other than a name. I’ll start to tell some story – and they’ll say, “Oh, yeah! Doris told us about that! That was so funny!” They feel a connection with me and my life (through my sister) that I don’t feel for them. It’s not equal; it’s not reciprocal. They feel like they know me, but they are total strangers to me. I have to take the time to get to know them; they have to take the time to get to know the real me, instead their interpretation of my sister’s version of me. It’s an artificial relationship in that it’s not equal. It’s not real.
The flip side is true for me now. I know these people; I know quite a bit about them. I’ve known some of them for a long time. But they don’t know the person I am now. Do they want to take the time to get to know the “new” me? Can they accept the “new” me for who I am? Or do they just want to pick up where we left off before Jason died and just ignore or skip over the past 9+ months? They expect me to be the same. I may look like the same Becky, sound like the same Becky, act like the same Becky, but I’m not the same Becky I was on March 2nd.
It’s like we have to start all over again with our relationships. True relationships and friendships take time and energy. They take concerted commitment over time by both parties. I don’t think I have the energy right now. Sometimes I think it would be easier to start over with people I don’t know. We’d start on an even playing field. That way I wouldn’t have my own abandonment issues to deal with; we could start with a clean slate. Sometimes I wish people would just say they were sorry they left us alone. That way I would know they realize and acknowledge what they had done and how much it hurt us, so I could forgive them and move on. Maybe that would help. I don’t know.
The issues are mine. I bring them along with me whenever I see the people I know. I’m trying really hard to deal with them, to get rid of the hard feelings, and keep my heart right. But it makes it hard to just “insert” people back in my life. I can’t do it. It takes all the energy I have to do what I need to do. It takes a lot of energy to grieve, to keep on keeping on, to go to school, to take care of my family.
© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney