Life After Addie: Part 2 The Calm After the Storm

Updated on July 22, 2019
Heather Payne Allard profile image

Terribly flawed mom who has battled addiction and mental illness for over 25 years. Until 2018 this mother felt she had no purpose in life.

The Calm After The Storm

If you have experienced the heartbreak of losing a child, with you I sit in silence. I know for one, that there are no words that will make your heart better. No words can bring back your child and no words can keep your heart from aching.

After over a year of living in a personal world consumed of what ifs and what next, wrapped in medical terminology and medical providers, you finally find yourself. No, not your old self. A new self. You know, a self after the storm. Life after a hurricane, if you will. Like when the levees break and you have to learn to live in a home that was ravaged- this home though, was your body, your heart, your mind. Nothing was ever going to be the same. That's what it is like after the loss of a child.

Everything is there. You didn't lose everything. Physically you have almost everything. The only thing is, it all has to be repaired. It's all damaged and you have to surrender. You surrender to God, yourself, whatever you got to, to get through it.

My journey is not yours.

Before going forward I want to emphasize that everyone's journey is different and in no way do I believe that my journey is the way to find healing. As I have said before, there are so many ways that we can go through the journey and find support, healing, and peace after the loss of a child. It is up to us to find what works. For me, I have many layers and the loss of Addie was just the beginning for me to find inner peace in this complicated, tangled web.

Since Adeline was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 in utero, I had this deep passion for not only being her advocate, but also a passion for getting out of this hell that I had been living in for now almost forty years. I knew, that I no longer wanted to be this person stuck in the shadows. I knew someday that I was going to be a person advocating for Addie and sharing her life for many years. I felt like that person- the person I am now, if I continue to be her- will tarnish Addie’s beautiful soul.

So the work I do here for Adeline, is not only for her, but for me for me. I deserve to be proud. I deserve to be in the light and no longer hiding in the shadows. Lurching and hiding from who or what I was. Addie was my biggest fight. She was my biggest victory.

There comes a time after tragedy where you have to do a personal inventory. For me, I have alienated nearly everyone I have known. Whether it has been through the trauma of carrying a terminally ill child or old behaviors taking tolls on long term friendships. With that, there is a pain and a deep reckoning that something has got to change.

An exercise I was recently asked to complete, had me choose words that I believed outlined my character. The good, the bad, the ugly. Some that I chose were:

  • Kind
  • Empathetic
  • Caring
  • Loving
  • Loyal
  • Compassionate
  • Volatile
  • Unable to commit
  • Irresponsible

The first five I believe make me an incredible person to be with, to know and to be a part of. But the final three are the most heartbreaking. They have been taught by a life of being shamed, being taught that I was not good enough, and not having parents that understood that their child had a mental illness.

But this journey is not about what my parents did or didn’t do right or wrong. Today, I would like to discuss my experience going forward and leading up to my first Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy session, better known as EMDR.

Find a therapist who provides a safe goal oriented atmosphere.

When Adeline was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 I was referred to a Perinatal Hospice program for emotional and medical support. As you can guess, I needed as much emotional support as possible.

Over the years, I had met my fair share of therapists and had told my story more times than I wanted. Although I really didn't want to, I knew more than ever that I needed to because of the days that lie ahead.

I can't begin to thank God for this wonderful person... This woman has seen my head about to blow off like a top. She has been there where I was at the lowest of my valley, never judging me, and times she just sat with me, allowing me to feel the moments in silence. I will forever be thankful to God for putting her in my life.

That's the therapist that you want with you on this journey. You need to feel safe, be goal oriented, and have someone that you can discuss your faith with freely during this journey.

My first EMDR session.

On the day we had my first EMDR session, I had nothing planned for the day. Quite frankly, I did not know that we would have a session (although, we were building up to it). I was relaxed and dressed comfortably and I felt good. I was under no stress or trauma.

As it was decided, I sat across from my therapist. She explained the process and walked me through the steps. She explained that I would not do anything wrong and that we could stop at any time. I was ready.

If you have been following my series that I have just started, we based it off of some of my feelings from a recent event taken from "Life After Addie: Part 1". It was a very hard meeting that I thought would help me with my grief after losing Addie, but it turned into a stressful and upsetting ordeal.

I really don't recall many details of the actual process, but I can recall my therapist having me focus on the cap of her gray Bic pen. She would wave it from left to right and back again for several seconds. I recall being very calm and focused and then stopping. I was still calm and she had me take a deep breath and release. For the moment, I was calm. But then I remember being very sad. I felt lost. Perhaps, a lot like the day Addie was diagnosed with Trisomy 18. On that day, there was a lot of disbelief, and in that situation you don't know what to do or say.

When completing EMDR, the therapist is to keep the session moving, in order to keep processing emotions.

We started the eye movements again, and I was focused. As I was reminded to breathe, I was asked how I felt. For some reason I felt like I had to explain myself once again. Which in hindsight- doesn't surprise me. I was explaining how I was ready to get better, and that I had everything in place.

Then I was asked more about the emotion. But I couldn't say it.

But now I know, I was really fucking angry. How could I have let my life become so out of control?

Nothing would come out of my mouth. I can't remember a thought. My mind was blank. The only thing I do remember saying... Addie.

I know we did additional processing, but I do not remember any of it. But on the final round I can remember very well.

Alone

For years, I have always pushed people away. That was always my pride. I can get by with or without you. I needed no one. It never really bothered me. Besides, people left me, deserted me, gave up on me- so why should I be any different?

I don't build meaningful relationships, because at the end of the day if you don't leave me, I would just leave you.

So in my final round, as my therapist swayed her pen, back and forth, remaining focused. I came out of it, I took a deep breath and released.

I was alone. That was it.

All these years and I had finally realized I have been alone for a long time. Abandoned and given up on. It was a flood of emotion that was all encompassing. Then the tears came, my throat tightened, my breathing was panicked and my heart was broken.

I was broken.

As we closed our session with some positive events that had taken place in my life, I had began to calm down. My breathing began to regulate, and the pain in my throat wasn't as tight. I began to relax and I was no longer in distress. The session was much like a strong storm, packed with microbursts of emotions.

It will take many sessions moving forward, but I do feel that EMDR is full of positive processing and I am eager to do more.

In moving forward, I do feel two things:

  1. I will no longer live in the shadows of shame, just to meet bullshit expectations of others.
  2. I DESERVE BETTER!

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