I am no different. I have struggled and overcome and struggled and overcome some more. I am still learning, still figuring it out, and still trying to glean every bit of wisdom from those further along this journey than me.
Two things happened last week that reminded me that we so need each other in order to heal.
I got an email from a new preemie mom. This is not entirely out of the ordinary, but this one struck me as different. I could tell this mom was struggling with her emotional health. She mentioned PTSD. She mentioned issues with bonding with her baby. For those on the outside, let me just tell you - this is entirely normal. When you, day in and out, think your baby is going to die, it is very difficult to create a bond and let yourself go to that place of emotional attachment with your baby, because you think any moment could be their last. It takes an intense amount of trust and letting go to bond. She also mentioned that she was getting help from a professional. I responded by saying "you are so far ahead of where I was!" I encouraged the steps she was taking. I told her attachment will come. Each day is a HUGE victory. I was honored she would email me and I hoped what I wrote was what she needed to hear.
A few days later I saw something on social media, someone using the word "special" in a negative way and it didn't sit well with me. I responded with a question to other special needs parents, asking if I was right to feel hurt about the use of "special" much like the word "retard" is used. I got the most wise response. A stranger said:
"Mom of 2 kiddos with special needs here. One thing I have learned on this journey is that it is a hard, long road, and I need people on my team to help me through. And the quickest way to lose people from that team is to make them feel they can't win with me. Nitpicking every word into some imagined offensive intent will do that for sure. I have learned to extend grace when no malice was intended, and save my righteous indignation for the really big battles, because you need that energy. Sorry, but we don't have exclusive rights to the word "special." It can have positive or sarcastic connotations, and that has no effect on our kids unless we choose for it to."
Drop. The. Mic.
Hi, I'm Jessi. I'm still learning here. And I don't know it all.
Some pretty simple words were written last week, but they were profound. Yes, I'll admit some were cliché, but that's just the territory on this micro preemie journey. We need each other. We need to be open. We need to get help. We need to take it a day at a time. We need to surround ourselves with the positive. It is a long, hard road. It's not easy, but it's worth it. A rollercoaster, I'll tell ya! One day at a time.
Maybe these phrases are overused. Maybe they are stereotypes. But maybe, just maybe they have the shred of truth in them that we need to hear.
Maybe last week was filled with a bunch of clichés, but you know what? I feel healthier somehow.
P.S. I'll leave you with handsome Jack, king of the forest.