I often wonder what people see when they look at me. Not strangers - I know that if they even bother looking they see a lumpy, 30-something woman with the ever-so-attractive beginnings of middle age starting to set in (wrinkles, dark circles, gray hair - all the lovely bits of old age). I'm like a million other women my age.
I mean the people who know me. What do they see.
I could be very wrong (maybe it's just paranoia - something I'm quite good at cultivating) but I have a feeling they just see the mother of a dead baby. I don't think they can see past that, at least not yet. I still catch people staring at me with looks of sadness, pity and curiosity on their faces. I see them watching me when I'm around children and their pity is so palpable I can almost grab it out of the air (and sometimes I wish I could so I could slam it in a drawer or lock it in a closet).
I'm tired of being looked at as though I'm not who I used to be, even though I fully realize I'm not that girl anymore. It's exhausting. I'm trying so hard to muddle my way through the unbearable grief I still feel and it's getting increasingly difficult to do that while swimming circles around the fishbowl I seem to be living in.
And don't even get me started on the eggshells that are apparently laying at my feet.
I understand. I do. I'm sure I'd have exactly the same reactions to a grieving parent had the gods decided to play Russian roulette with someone else's child instead of mine. But understanding it doesn't necessarily make it easier. It just makes me forgive the people who are doing it. It doesn't change how they perceive me at all.
I wonder how long it takes before they'll be able to see me instead of my sorrow. Is it a year? Is it two years? Will it be when we have another child? Will they ever look at me and just see me again?
When Thomas died I knew we had a long, long road ahead of us. I just didn't realize it would be like this. I knew there would be the crushingly dreadful sorrow that would slowly become something we would figure out how to live with, but I guess I just never gave any thought to what the world around me would be doing - how they would be coping with the loss. I didn't realize, foolishly, that there would be so much focus on me. On how I'm doing, on what I'm thinking, on how I'm reacting to every single little thing.
I love that people care so much - I'd be devastated if they left us alone in our grief - I guess I just wish they could shelve the sad-eyed glances every once in a while and just treat me like they would anyone else.
I'm also afraid of getting too used to the sympathy, the kindness and the excusing me for everything just because I'm sad.
It's wonderful to have such a supportive cushion, I just don't want to be one of those people who ceases to need the cushion but keeps their bum planted firmly on it anyway. I'll have to be extremely careful of that. There's nothing worse than someone who is so absorbed with their own woes that they can't see anything but.
I'm sure it would appear that I am that person, given that this blog is probably 99.9% about my sorrow, but this is my safe haven - my place to dump all my sorrow, anger, fear, neurosis and paranoia. I am not this person all the time. Okay, maybe I am in some ways, but I don't show this side all the time. I can have an entire conversation without mentioning Thomas - I swear it, I can.
I can't wait for the day when I start to feel normal - more comfortable with who I am. I can't wait for the time when the two parts of me (pre Thomas and post Thomas) reconcile and cohabitate happily inside my brain instead of warring with each other the way they so often do now. I've felt hints of that normalcy, and if it weren't for Christmas I think I'd be feeling it even more.
So hopefully when the holidays are over and the new buds of spring begin to appear on Thomas' tree, I'll be feeling more like the person I'm still struggling to get to know.
And maybe once I figure her out, everyone else will start to see her too.