Grief has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. It finds you even when you should be happy; it finds you even when you should be celebrating.
It was announced this week that I have been named this year’s Vancouver Mom Top Blogger! Needless to say, it was a very exciting – albeit overwhelming – Monday for me. Actually, saying I was overwhelmed with the response to the news and all of the comments and messages would be a serious understatement. Insecurity tends to take over me when the spotlight shines in my direction. Saying “thank-you” feels overdone and insufficient but I find myself unable to come up with anything more creative and hope beyond hope that nobody thinks I am inconsiderate or aloof. I spent the day second-guessing my responses while also trying to give myself space to feel proud of the accomplishment. By the time the kids were in bed and I had a moment to reflect, I was left with a feeling I couldn’t quite name. But I’ve got it now. The feeling was guilt.
Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic about winning! However, that was the problem. I felt guilty for allowing myself to feel happy and accomplished. My blog – my writing – was being recognized (how amazing is that?) but it’s a blog that only exists because a part of me does not. There is a version of myself frozen in time and it can sometimes feel like I’m being cruel to her when I find fulfillment and joy in my current reality. It feels cruel to be letting her go.
It’s as though I am betraying her by moving on from who she was. However, when I’m being honest with myself, I have done more than she ever would have expected. I have taken this injury and integrated it into the life she was living. Maybe she would even be proud of me. Sometimes, when I’m trying something new or writing about an experience, I almost feel like it is to prove to her that I’m okay. In my present, I know I’m okay. But the woman locked in my past knows nothing about this life. She knows who I was then and who I imagined I would become had I found myself in this reality and – this I know for sure – she did not think I would be okay.
It’s been over two years since I was that woman – the woman I imagined I would be forever. Even though I feel like the transition from her to me has been slow, the moment of impact is when we left one another. I left her standing on top of that hole as I lay down at the bottom. That is how I often imagine her – staring silently down at me, and me back up at her, neither one of us knowing how to say goodbye. I imagine her stuck in that moment, forever pining for the future she had planned and forever wondering what would come of it now. In saying that, I now realize that the cruelty is not in letting her go, it is in forcing her to stay.
It’s time to set her free. I will smile up at her from the bottom of that stupid hole and give her a sense of peace that her future is still intact. And I will set myself free from the guilt that she is waiting for me to come back for her. This future was never meant for her and she would not want to hold me back from getting the most out of it.
This week, getting the most out of it meant celebrating an accomplishment. Yes, this blog exists because of my accident but I have used it to help find my voice and I’m glad it’s being heard. Finding enjoyment and release from my injury is not something to feel ashamed of, it is something to be proud of. It is time to give myself the freedom to be happy without guilt. It is time to give myself the freedom to celebrate.