I love my iPhone except for one thing: it does not hold its charge for long. As a result, because I refuse to buy the new and improved version, I have to plug it into the wall throughout the day. This dependence makes me mindful of its battery life. Rarely do I let my phone become depleted. The other day, I found myself questioning how I could keep this same awareness about my own personal battery. Renewing my energy is far more important than my phone, though I don’t always treat it as such.
Ever since Ty passed away, not a day goes by that I don’t wonder if one of my kids has also died in their sleep. Fearing that they won’t be breathing has evolved into a worrisome habit of checking them multiple times before I go to bed. However, the compulsive thought has become quieter and more subtle with time, especially since my oldest is four and-a-half. When my baby, Logan, transitioned into his crib not long ago, the concern intensified, but I’ve managed to work through it better than I ever have–until an incident last week brought a lot to the surface.
The day had been fueled with emotion, where I mentally surrounded myself with negative commentary. I made the choice to stay on social media for hours, filling my soul with an abundance of negative thoughts and energy. Regardless of who was right or wrong, the arguments and contention affected me deeply. Conflict and I have never resided well together, especially when far removed from resolution. By the time I tried to relax late into the evening, a mild tremor accompanied the pressure in my chest and fatigue weighed on me.
I glanced at Logan’s very quiet video monitor. There had been zero indications of him stirring for the past few hours and this was odd for him. My stomach lurched when I saw the blanket entirely covering his face. I tried to remind myself that this light weight, bamboo-material was breathable and safe, but I spiraled downwards into a heaping mess inside my head. I asked my husband in earnest to check on him, doing my best to contain my panic. I could see in his expression that he believed Logan to be just fine, but he would check for me…because he understands I have deep-seated triggers from being the one to find Ty in his crib. I couldn’t be the one to lift the blanket, not this time. My breaths became restricted as I lay my head in my hands and prayed that the vivid moments I was reliving in my mind wouldn’t come to pass. After less than a minute, Dan returned to confirm that Logan was simply deep in slumber. I apologized for feeling crazy and unsettled (an apology my husband made sure I knew was unnecessary). I sat a little stunned at my internal reaction. The fear felt so urgent and compelling in that short minute of time, and yet it was nothing. I found myself asking, “What changed? Why this time did I sink into that dark hole of anxiety and terror, a very real place I hadn’t visited in quite some time?”
I woke up the next day at the crack of dawn, unable to sleep any longer due to new thoughts of clarity swimming in my head. I knew the feelings of conflict I’d carried the night before directly related to the subsequent panic attack. My spirit had been weighed down, lacking the positive energy needed to carry me. As a result, I couldn’t combat the irrational thoughts that often emerge in this territory of child loss. That night, I didn’t have the spiritual or emotional strength it takes to be a grieving mother.
The need to maintain positive support in my life came to the forefront of my mind, not only as it pertains to child loss, but in the every day battle to feel uplifted. Living our lives in positive light is a fight we all face, whether we are in the throes of a personal challenge or because others strive to tear us down. Negativity is all around, constantly fed to us on the news and social media. People are ready to combat us on every turn for decisions we make, issues we support, and beliefs we hold dear. Or maybe we’re even the ones who feel the need to seek out contention. When we frequently engage in that negativity, we allow ourselves to weaken so that we cannot maintain the wall of light we must build and rebuild around us for protection.
Fortunately, we have the ability to choose. We can decide who we allow into our lives and who we confide in. Ultimately, it comes down to who we trust to recharge our weary souls. We will have moments in our loss or in the midst of other challenges where we feel strengthened by outside sources. If you believe in God as I do, perhaps these powerfully still, inspiring moments bolster your faith and remind you of a strength within yourself that you have forgotten. For others, maybe you are drawn to certain people who seem to know how to validate your pain and comfort your sadness. We must plug into these sources regularly to recharge, so that when difficulty comes our way, or when there is need to face our battles, we will not only have the ability to do so, but to recover.
Not one day goes by that I do not think about my son–my greatest loss. But some days, I can appreciate that in moving through grief, I have discovered my greatest sources of strength. Find those that recharge you. Surround yourself with them to sustain your battery. Rely on the people who, in dark moments in your life, will provide the light to guide your way.