Monday, July 13, 2015

No Regrets

While I was pregnant with Ezra, I had a really hard time with hormones.  I felt slightly crazy - OK, completely crazy - all the time.  It was a horrible place to be in and it was't easy for anyone around me.  I could feel it then, but I honestly just couldn't get out of it.  It was also the hardest part of my grief journey - year 2-3 were by far the worst for me as far as anencephaly and losing Rachel goes - and then I compounded it all with pregnancy.

I expected that this would continue to get harder with each pregnancy for me, which is one of the major reasons I wasn't ready to be pregnant again when I got pregnant this time.  I'm thankful and relieved to say that this is not happening to me this time!  I feel almost like a normal person!  (I'll never be completely 'normal'!) I'm not sure if it has to do with being on the right vitamins and diet for the first pregnancy ever - or the fact that by the time I got to Ezra, I had been on 4 mg of folic acid a day for YEARS, (per the wonderful doctor's orders based on having a baby with Anencephaly) which I now know is really bad for me with the MTHFR gene mutations... maybe part of it is because I've come to a better place in my grief and healing, but whatever it is, I feel great this time around - minus all the other real life trials I've had to walk through with sickness and death - my hormones aren't making me any more crazy than I am by birth.  Thank You Lord!

One of the things that we did back in my time in AA, was what is called the 9th step... it's where you make amends for your side in any and every relationship you have, and expect nothing in return when you do, even if that person has also wronged you. AA is smart in a few ways and this is one of them.  See, they understand that in order to heal, in order to be healthy inside, you can't hold onto crap from the past - and they understand that apologizing isn't only for the person you have harmed.  Now, don't get me wrong, this IS a Biblical principle and even a command from the Lord to have a humble heart before people you have offended or hurt.  Unfortunately though, a lot of people who grew up without ever needing AA - which *seems* like a good thing - never learn the desperate nature of being clean before people as well as God.  It seems they can run through life oblivious of the damage that does to their heart and their relationship with God. Back when I did my 9th step, it was literally a matter of life and death...and more importantly, which I didn't know back then, a matter of a right relationship with Jesus Christ.  It was shortly after I finished my 9th step that I began going to church and a few months later that I was saved.  I don't think it's a coincidence.  Making my side of things right before everyone (and this involved a formal, sit down conversation that I called to schedule and then went through a list of everything I ever did to hurt them, even if it wasn't something they really cared about and it took me MONTHS of constant work to complete)  was what got my heart ready to meet Jesus.

I stopped going to AA years ago, not long after I became a Christian, but some of the things I learned there shape who I am.  Like it being a good thing to be open and vulnerable and share my story in hopes of helping others... but also in being up front with how I feel about things so that no roots of bitterness grow in me.  And I think people either love that or hate that about me.  I think there are a lot of people who prefer to go through life without being bothered by how someone else feels about something.  I've seen this in my journey with Rachel for sure - people who wanted me to shut up and smile 6 months later - some that let me 'go on about her' for a year or even two, but now?  Over 4 years later?  Isn't it about time I focus on something else?  I've never cared too much about that because honestly, anyone who thinks that way is just clueless and lacking compassion and I feel bad for them.

But, where I find myself now.... I find myself in this place where for the last 8 months, I've been trying to do a '10th step"- not in the AA kind of way, but in the Biblical, this is what I need to be close to Jesus, kind of way.  It's where you continue to take personal inventory of your life and when God shows you that you are wrong, admit it - and I like to add actually CARE about it.  I can't stand insincere apologies (which I don't consider an apology to begin with because those two words can't go together).  I don't accept them and will never give one.

So, I've reached out to a few different people who hurt me over the last 4 years - some that I in return wasn't nice to verbally.... and some that I wasn't in the wrong, but just cared about the fact that they were hurt and that in their minds, had a reason to believe I caused the pain.  Sometimes you hurt people without meaning to, just like kids might run past and knock down another kid without meaning to... but we still expect the child to say "sorry, I didn't mean to" and help them up.  Somehow children are held to higher standards than adults hold themselves most of the time.  Adults will say of themselves, that their intentions were all that matter... but if our kids say "I didn't mean to" we without fail will say "Right, but you hurt them so you should say you're sorry."

So far, every person I have contacted to try to make things right, has either straight up ignored me or refused to continue a friendship - all the while with a smile and a "don't take it personal" and apparently forgetting that I had real and valid reasons for being upset with them to begin with!  Well, it is personal.  That's obvious.  It's about me.  I'm not sure how much personal something could get for *me*??  But what do I do with that now?  I felt like God was leading in every one of those attempts.  One was from year one without Rachel, one from Ezra's pregnancy, and one was someone who was a very close friend, or so I thought, who was very involved in Rachel's Legacy and then just pulled away.  I hadn't been able to get much of a response for a couple of years, so I unfriended her on facebook and all heck broke lose and I became the bad guy. I guess Facebook friend status matters more to people than real life friend status. And one just recently got upset with me unjustly and honestly, I didn't owe her an apology, but I gave one anyway for the fact that she feels hurt by me. And I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it, I'm really sorry I hurt any of these people in the midst of whatever emotions I had going on.  It's not what I want to do.  Ever.

But the stonewalling had been driving me crazy.  I was feeling like I wanted a response... ANYTHING.  Tell me I suck and why.  I just can't stand the dishonesty.  Don't tell me everything is fine when I'm not stupid, I can clearly see it isn't.  And although I have definitely done my share of being self-focused - or focused on Rachel, which for some reason everyone considers focused on myself - I guess dead babies aren't acceptable children to focus on.  We do it every day for our living children and that is considered good and unselfish.  But I put the same loyalty or protection into Rachel and it's looked at as selfish and wrong.  I still find it very hard to believe that anything I have done, especially given the circumstances around all of it, which happens to be Rachel's death and legacy, calls for shunning me completely, especially if I am sincerely asking for forgiveness.  At least not from a believer.  But that is between them and God.

Because of how I'm made up, I start to feel like everyone hates me... like I'm just not a person that people like to be around... I start to feel like a kid in grade school wondering why nobody likes me.  I'm not making excuses for any of my actions when I say this, but if I've made it through the last 5 years, given the amount of attention my life has had and the amount of people who have been in and out of it, with only a handful of people who don't want to be my friend, I don't think I'm doing as bad as I feel some days.  Because I'm not sure if people think I actually LIKE this aspect of my life, but there seem to be lots of people who don't understand that I didn't WANT to do ANY of this.  I didn't want to blog and often wanted to stop because of the extra pain caused to me by people who read my words.  I didn't want to allow all these new people into my life at the absolute most difficult and vulnerable time EVER - and then watch them leave one by one as their needs were met here and they moved on.  I didn't want to make new friends or lose my old ones because I'm now a dead baby mom.  I didn't want a legacy to keep for my baby.  I didn't want a nonprofit, races, or to help buy headstones.  I didn't want to minister to thousands of others while my own heart was left breaking, all the while under criticism and abandonment.  This is NOT the life I wanted.  But it's the life I got and I'm doing my best to allow God his way in it all.  I fail.  Often.  And I hate that more than you do, I can assure you of that.

I think when all is said and done... what these last 10 months (and 5 years, really) have really shown me is that people we love die - and much too soon.  And people we love won't get enough of our time before we die.  Because we could die much too soon. Watching both my Papa and Grandpa die in these past 6 months, and having regrets over how much I wished I had done, how many times I ignored my desire to visit with a "I'll go tomorrow" or how many questions I wish I had asked them, just to know them better...

And then finding out about my aneurysm and knowing that at any moment, my life could suddenly end (which honestly scares me less than slowly dying from cancer after what I've seen) - that all my future plans might never come to be... that what my kids, husband, family and friends get from me TODAY might be the last they get and I want it to be good... to know that when you die, people will either come to your funeral - or not.  And they will either have great memories of you - or not.  And your eulogy will be read and people will either cry over the void you will leave - or not.  You know how long people miss you when you leave facebook?  Maybe never. They might not even notice, unless you unfriend them and they are offended.  But the people who you interact with in real life, they will feel your absence.  And not that I'm looking for people to be sad should my brain explode, but I'd be lying if I said I don't want to be missed when I'm gone.  And not because I want it for me... but because if you are missed, it means you were loved and also that you loved well.

This all has me in a place where I just want to love and be loved.  It's all I ever wanted before, but before I needed everyone to like me too and agree with what I do or don't do - or at least validate my feelings.  I'm sure there will still be times I ache for that.  And I might just have to go without and trust God with my heart in it.

But, I don't need hundreds or thousands of facebook friends - I just need a few true real life ones.   I need real.  I need honest.  I need true.  I need love.  I need to be able to give all these things in return...  I can't do fake anymore.  I can't do drama anymore.  I can't do hidden agendas and dishonest motives.  I can't do lies.  I can't handle having to wonder where I stand with people. And I promise, if you are a friend of mine, you will get honest, true, real, straight forward friendship.  I am far from perfect, but I will never pretend to be.  Some people find that refreshing... others would prefer a fake perfect person who just goes out for a drink and smiles.  I have had to smile through some very hard times - and I will, but I will never be fake.

And so over these past few months of doing my unofficial '10th step', I'm realizing that sometimes it's okay to let people go.  Sometimes God removes them for reasons bigger than the ones that *seem* to be at hand.  And really, I don't want friends I can't be honest with - or ones that won't be honest with me.  I have no desire to waste what little time I have in my days and in my short time on earth with the wrong people.  God has shown me over these past few weeks that I did what I can, what He asks us to do, and it's okay to move on...  I'd also be totally open to it if any or all of them changed their minds.  I'm not angry or bitter, just finally at peace with it all.

My life is too heavy for some, I've realized this.  But if you know me, you know my heavy is smushed between a lot of laughs and joy...  If you don't know that, then you don't know me.  And I'm tired of having "friends" who don't even know who I am.... and clearly having a lot who I don't know either...  But I am so, SO thankful for the ones that I have that are constant and TRUE, even if behind the scenes where I don't always see them but know with all I am that they are THERE and will be if I need them.... and that if I call them for a shoulder, I can also be that shoulder for them - maybe, and hopefully even, in the same conversation!  Friends that I never share my heart with and am either left hanging or wishing I wouldn't have told them what I did.  Friends who are trustworthy and loyal. Friends who will be honest with me about hard stuff that I can also be honest with - minus all the 'christian-ease' talk that is not only insincere, but annoying. (sorry, but it is!) Friends who can go out to have fun and cry together while there if a conversation finds necessary.

I have them... and I didn't have them before Rachel, obviously, since the group of girls I was always with before her are not people I see or talk to now.  I thought they were true, but when I got hard to be around, they were gone.  I have friends now that have loved me at my absolute worst and have chosen to stay.  Thank you.  You are all gifts to me that God gave me one by one through my hardest days and I thank Him for YOU!

Now, my deepest desire is to take these days we are given and use them to invest in the people who God gave me.  None of us know the number of our days and I pray mine are longer than I think they will be - but it's a constant thought I have that most go through life without considering... I could literally not be here tomorrow... what can I do with TODAY?  Life has a way of getting in the way... appointments, responsibilities, etc... but I'm blessed to have a life that has freedom in my schedule to spend time with others and although it's hard with all my littles right now, I want to do that more.

I don't want to attend another funeral that I find myself thinking "I wish I would have...."

I remember telling Matt I loved him for the first time.  He didn't say it back and I felt really dumb.  Figuring I would scare him away, when I saw him next, I said I was sorry I said that, it just came out - and he still didn't say it back!!  He just responded "No regrets".

That has always stuck in my mind.  It's okay to love and not be loved back.  It feels dangerous, but love is a beautiful thing.  And sometimes the less you get in return, the more beautiful it is.  Like a mother for her newborn baby...

With Rachel, my only goal was to avoid regrets.  Whatever I needed to do... not do... say... not say in order to avoid regrets is what I did.  And it still is.  So, I took care of my part with these people.  If they died tomorrow, I wouldn't regret leaving that undone.  Now, moving forward, I just want to pour love into people in a way that leaves me with no regrets.  Preferably to live in a way that doesn't require me to go back and apologize in the first place!  But ultimately, I just want to truly trust God in each and every circumstance that if He wanted these people in my life, they would be.  And that the ones in my life are here for a reason and to love them well for as long as they are, always aware that they might not be here tomorrow and today might be all we have.

1 comment:

  1. Stacy, you have such a beautiful way of expressing it all! You bare your soul fearlessly and you share your faith valiantly! Thank you for being so brave and putting it all out there. You are an inspiration to so many. Never doubt that. Sometimes people don't respond or can't respond because they don't know where to start! Your words can stir so many emotions! I can relate to so much of what you talk about. Especially wanting to make peace in every relationship and letting go of negativity and bitterness. I have had times in my life where I have wallowed in both! I am so glad you are finding peace in your life, even through your darkest times. It speaks volumes about your character and faith. All I can say about people not accepting your peace offerings is that sometimes we need to focus on loving people for who they are, in the moment, without any expectations. Just as it has taken you many years to find the wisdom you have found, it may also take them many years to truly understand the value of forgiveness and honesty. Part of making peace with them, may be to let them go, with your good will, nothing held back. I have been blessed with so many opportunities to forgive and I am thankful for them because every time, it gets a little clearer, a little more real. I have relative who molested me when I was very young, and what's worse, lead someone else to me, to serve as their victim as well. For years it was all I could do just to try to forget what they did to me... and then, as time went by and I learned more and more about forgiveness, I realized that forgiveness is not always what people think it is. For me, it means praying for those who have wronged me. It doesn't mean that what they did is ok! I know that God will deal justly with all who offend him, but for me it is given to forgive all men. Let me tell you, it can be tough! Bitterness is so toxic to the soul. My advice would be, pray for those who can't forgive... their road will be long and hard and they can use all the prayers they can get. :)


We so appreciate your words of encouragement!
Thank you! ♥ The Aubes