The inclination to reflect on our lives, and ourselves, is an integral part of human nature for almost all of us. To reflect and sometimes also to judge, especially at this time of year. Despite my efforts in recent years to be more present, it still feels impossible during this period of calendar change. 2016 is drawing to a close and that always forces me to consider the kind of year I’ve experienced. What’s happened? What have I achieved? And, most importantly, what have I learned?
My immediate, gut reaction is to rage against 2016, to bitch and moan about how it’s been a dreadful year and I can’t wait to see the back of it. We had big plans for this year, the biggest being to add another member to our family. When I fell pregnant in March I felt incredibly lucky that this plan seemed to be falling into place fairly effortlessly. But with May’s miscarriage the exciting future was dragged out from under us and I found myself falling and flailing a little. My negative, pessimistic side began to prove it’s dominance and, in some ways, it’s grip on me now is greater than it’s been in almost four years.
Months later and with still no sign of reigniting the future we had hoped for, I find it increasingly difficult to stay upbeat. My default setting of perpetual worrier is boosted by the current uncertainty, and the stroppy and noisy inner child I historically attempted to quieten during therapy thrives on stress and apparent unjustness. She rages that “life isn’t fair” and feels anger and fear that we are “being punished” and all other kinds of unhelpful sentiments. Many days she consumes me again; she tells me I can’t cope with not getting what I want, that I won’t be able to cope with the future’s frightening possibilities. She shudders and cowers at how little control with have over our life. She fills me to the brim with anger and jealousy at others who have achieved what we want with a lot less heartache. And she ignores the poor souls who have experienced so much more.
I have to squash her, I know this. Or, more lovingly, I must reassure her. I must help her to feel safe before she takes over and those negative feelings of fear and anger are all I can feel once again. And I know I have the tools, I just hope that the new year brings me the energy to use them.
Grief is a funny thing. Ironically, it’s almost alive in it’s constant fluidity. In it’s ability to rise loudly to the surface one day and slumber quietly in the dark the next. The grief of miscarriage is a particularly unique beast. The line between grief for the soul we lost and frustration with not being able to get that chance back right now is continually blurred.
But I do have one extremely powerful weapon in my arsenal. One ally alongside whom I can face grief, frustration and the frightened little girl: gratitude. Practising gratitude is the most powerful thing I’ve learnt in the years since my son was born. Counting every single blessing and feeling thankful for every positive aspect of our worlds can have more control over our mood than almost anything else. So I try to nurture that. I try to fight back against grief and the uncertain future with the sheer bloody relief and joy I feel for everything I currently have. My son, my husband, my family, my friends, my home, my job and my creativity. Big things, enormous things that not everyone is fortunate enough to posess.
Keeping myself accountable, keeping myself focussed on the facts instead of the fears and letting gratitude for all that I have wrap around me like a blanket keeps those anxiety demons at bay.
When I was recovering from PND I thought a lot about blind faith. Everyone tells you you’ll be fine but your unwell mind will simply not be convinced. So, eventually, all you can do is have blind faith that everything will work out. So just as I did back then, and just as everything has 100% worked out for the better, maybe I need to adopt that attitude again and have blind faith that 2017 will bring me what I truly need – whether that’s what I think I need or not.