Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Own Worst Enemy

Words go here. Thoughts, ideas, concepts, dreams, desires... the fabric of a world unseen except in the mind's eye.

That was a pretty self-indulgent sentence, am I right?

Anyway, I began this blog to really explore what I could do with the written word. I wanted an outlet for the inner monologue that I rarely share. I consider my thoughts and ideas to rank as a distant second to complete silence, and I wanted to break that pattern of thinking while also improving a skill I've often thought I could excel at. In addition, this was to be a place for my grief to find release. I could place here, for any who cared to read, a depth of emotion and sadness that I never fathomed I would feel.

And then I stopped. A new computer program at work caused stress to become a very regular part of my job. My wife quit her job for her own sanity, and all of a sudden a load of financial pressure was bearing down on my shoulders. I couldn't give my grief the time of day, let alone acknowledge it's effect in my life. I did the one thing I knew I wasn't supposed to do, what I had told myself I would be a fool to even consider. I bottled up my sadness and my guilt and all of my negative emotions, and I ignored they existed.

Increasingly I became angry over trivial matters. A car would cut me off on the way to work and I would flip out. A video game wouldn't go my way and I would destroy our guestroom. I began to only feel better if something was being broken or destroyed. Never in my life have I been an exceptionally violent person, but now I would go looking for reasons to get angry and I would rage at the smallest of things.

In addition to that I began to distance myself from my wife. Maybe it was resentment that she was starting to feel so much better while I still suffered. Maybe it was the incessant voice in my head telling me what an awful person I had become, and the small scrap of nobility and chivalry left inside was taking steps to shield her from the monster I saw inside. Whatever it was, that act sparked an argument between her and me that would lead to me seeking the help I needed. It's funny that I held all this useless anger, and it was actually the anger of my wife that became the catalyst of my recovery.

I won't go into detail, but at the end of the argument I admitted to her something I had been hiding for months from shame. No carnal betrayals, or anything like that, but something the that would cause sufficient friction in any relationship. At my admission she made me promise to get help, and that night we contacted her therapist.

I was terrified during my first session. I still don't know if it was just my natural anxiety of doing something new, or if perhaps I was scared to lose the guilt I had been flagellating myself with since I learned that Aiden would never open his eyes. But lose it I did. Well... not all of it, but we made great strides in that first meeting to opening the scar tissue on my soul and cleaning a wound I had thought was healed.

I've held onto a belief that I could have saved my son a week before he passed, but my ignorance, stupidity, and fear kept me from acting. I often fantasize about having that short moment back to do over, and I see my squalling, red, gorgeous son back in my arms. He's healthy and happy and we love each other so much. Even now it brings tears to my eyes to think about.

But that's not reality. In reality, I was human. And, being human, I was imperfect. I feel like I let that chance slip away, but there's no way to know if there's was even a chance there to begin with. The 'What if...?' game is almost always dangerous to play, and you can get sucked in to playing forever.

My therapist told me something very powerful near the end of that first session. She said to me, "Aiden wouldn't want you to feel guilt when you think of him." I get shivers thinking about the truth of that. I would never want someone I loved thinking of me with any feelings of guilt or regret. I would want them to remember me fondly, and I would hope thoughts of me would bring smiles and happiness. I owe that to my son, and to myself.

But I'm not perfect, baby boy. I need to hold it just a little bit longer.

Just a little bit longer...


Tiffany said...

what a beautifully and heartbreakingly written post. Im glad you are blogging again. Your posts give me a whole new perspective. And your writing is beautiful. Im very happy to hear that you are finding some comfort with therapy. I wish you and Angie nothing but the best.

Angie said...

You're an amazing man, a great writer, and a wonderful husband. I am so proud of you for coming back to this place, despite its vulnerability. I love you.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Kevin...We have missed you.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, i feel like you are in my head because everything you are writing is something i have felt or thought. My son was stillborn at 20 wks and i have a lot of guilt and what ifs. Like you i believed that i could have saved my son but i wasnt sure of things and you never think its gonna happen to you until it does. My therapist also told me the same thing that my son ben wouldnt want me to blame myself. I know that i shouldnt blame myself but its hard to let that go. How did you let go of the blame and allow yourself to "forgive" yourself. Thanks laura

Kevin said...


Positive reinforcement. I began telling myself every day, multiple times a day, "I'm not perfect, but I'm still a good guy". Eventually I started to believe it. We're terrible to ourselves in our own heads unless we make a conscious effort to be nice. I still struggle with the guilt, but I'm getting better.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this...

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