The Seven Year Shutout

Self Portrait - Fear-1

One of our photography school assignments this spring was to do a self portrait. I chose to do a picture that represented my biggest fear – the fear of being alone, in the dark and so insignificant and helpless that my sadness consumes me.

The days are getting darker.

I’ve been worried all week that I’m going to slip into sadness like I did last winter.

I don’t know exactly what caused it but I’m guessing it had something to do with some unsettled emotions and anxiety – much of which was born seven years ago when my baby boy died.

I’ve been brainstorming ways to battle the blues. Ways that will help me – because I know that everyone is different.

The truth is losing Luca effected every single one of my relationships. It took me until this year to realize that when I lost him I lost closeness with everyone else.

Not because I meant to.

Not because I wanted to.

But because my mind secretly wouldn’t let me get close to anyone for fear that I would lose them too.

And I knew how losing someone felt.

If it felt like my heart would completely break losing my baby that I had hardly met, how would it feel to lose someone that I’d known for years? Someone that my life revolved around?

Somehow my subconscious wasn’t going to let me find out.

So I kept myself at a distance. At a distant from friends. At a distance from neighbors. At a distant from my own family.

Why would I get close to others if they might die too?

Typing those words makes me realize how crazy it sounds. But it’s how I felt for years.

Why would I subject myself to another loss?

Why? Because if I don’t, I won’t have anything or anyone to live for.

As I laid in my bed last January I felt lost. I felt sad. And I felt so alone.

Ironically my fear of letting people in and getting close to others was causing me great sorrow. I felt like I had no one to turn to. No one who cared.

Frankly my biggest fear in life is being left alone – alone to grieve all those who leave me. But what if there is no one to grieve? What if I have no one to miss because I have no one who is close?

I had to decide this year that I would much rather feel the extreme pain of losing someone than to have never had anyone to lose.

And that has made all the difference for me.

I’ve still got a long way to go, but I feel like I am slowly inching back toward the types of relationships I had before Luca died. I am putting myself out there and caring more about people than I have for the past seven years.

I know that means that I’m going to hurt. Somehow, somewhere, sometime, someone I truly care about will have to leave me. I know it’s going to be awful. I know that it will be almost more than I can bear. But I know that I will live through it.

And hopefully I will have many close friends and family there to help me through.

I think that’s what’s going to save me this winter too. When I’m feeling down, instead of crawling into my bed and pulling the covers over my head, I’m going to reach out to those close friends I’ve been letting in.

Hopefully they’ll help me get up, get out and get going.

The truth is that grief is complicated. Sometimes I think I understand what I’ve been through. Other times it takes years to figure some things out. Some things I will never figure out. I’ve gained a lot of insight this year into what grief has done to my relationships. While I’m sad at the time I’ve lost with those I could have kept close, I realize that I was doing the best I could just surviving.

All I can do it hope for a better tomorrow. One that has me surrounded by those I love – those I wouldn’t want to live without. Those that I let in to surround me during my darkest, bluest days. Those worth living for.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jenn
    Nov 09, 2017 @ 07:11:29

    Have you ever considered finding a therapist who can help you process all of these emotions and fears? It’s not the easiest step to take…there’s definitely some vulnerability in unloading everything into someone else…but it can be an huge help!


    • Natalie
      Nov 09, 2017 @ 08:12:37

      I finally went to someone this spring. I think that’s why I’ve been doing so much better this year. That and I started taking some medication. I am a firm believer in getting help from those who have professional training. Honestly I don’t know why it took me so long to go in!


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