Finding strength in our choices.

Original post on Still Mothers.

So many people have told me “you’re so strong.” Sometimes I want to punch them, but most of the time I just shrug and tell them that I don’t have any other choice. My husband repeatedly tells me that I do, in fact, have a choice. I could choose to stay in bed all day, but I get up and go to work instead. I could choose to cry and be angry all day every day, but I choose to press forward and embrace any emotion I feel, including happiness. I could hate every other woman that announces her pregnancy, but instead I think about how lucky they are that they get to experience a part of life that I loved so much.

When discussing this with someone the other day, they responded, “You do have that choice, you’ll always have that choice, but you are not giving yourself that choice. That is not one of your options.” I had never thought it of it like that before.

There are many reasons I give as to why I don’t have the option to fall apart: I have a job, we have to take care of the cats, I have to put on a face for family…a lot of reasons that involve other people. But there are a few reasons that are just personal, and I’ve realized that I need to really take into stride just how strong I can be. Being angry and sad 100% of the time is exhausting. It’s draining, and (for me) causes more anger and sadness. I’m already tired enough, I don’t want to make it worse. And I’ve dealt with depression before; I remember how it feels. It’s a dark and lonely place that I don’t ever want to go back to. I allow myself to be sad, but I will not fall back into a pit of despair and hopelessness, no matter how much I miss my babies. As much as I want to fall apart some days, I recognize that it is not the best or healthiest way to cope (for me personally).

Of course, all these feelings, the desire to be angry and sad, are completely justified when you lose a child. You’re going to have bad days and you’re going to fall apart and that’s okay. Someone irreplaceable is missing, and there’s no way to bring them back. Crappy days are inevitable. Post-partum depression and depression from a loss are to be expected, and that’s okay too. It’s not easy, but with help, it can get better.

When you are having a bad day, and you wonder how much longer you can do this for, remember that you set your limitations for falling apart. Even on your worst day, you could always fall apart a little bit more. But at some point, we dry the tears, pick ourselves up, and keep on living in the name of our children. Even when we don’t want to, we choose to keep going. We are as strong as we choose to be, but we’re all stronger than we give ourselves credit for. So keep going, mama. Have bad days, have good days, but just keep going.