Facing The Triggers
Yesterday was a day of triggers I did not see coming, and it was like a cruel punch to the gut. The kind that winds you, leaving you crawling on the ground and gasping for air. You know the ones…the triggers that hurt so bad there are no cries or words that sum it up. The kind that overwhelms you to spiraling and dizzying heights. I did not see it coming.
After having crippling nightmares about infant loss for the past two nights, I woke up to the news I had to go to support my sister who was facing a complication in her pregnancy. And of course, it had to be at THAT hospital. And of course, the staff coerced me to sit in THAT particular chair in the delivery suite, staring into THAT particular room. The one where I once lay flat on the bed, waiting for some sound to come from the monitor, begging despite the truth I already knew, pleading for my little girl to kick. Just once. THAT room, where all I heard was silence broken by the one apology and the escalating noise of my sobbing turned to wailing.
Then, of course, they took my sister to THAT ward, the exact same one where I spent 5 days with a butterfly on my door, holding my lifeless daughter, trying to rouse her with kisses and tears. THAT room, where there was no joy, the blinds didn’t open, and I sat in the grey of despair, disbelief and disconnection. THAT room, now filled with the sound of my niece or nephew’s heart echoing through the doppler.
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And I crumbled. I bolted from that room, even though my dear sister needed me. But despite my running away, the feeling followed. It always does. There’s no escaping it. And it got me in the guts, right where Lissie used to be, and it had me doubling over breathlessly in the carpark of the hospital.
It took every ounce of my energy to try to resist the fears and hold back the tears, to try to be there for my friend and to fight the feeling that overcame me. And in the end, that feeling always wins. So since I couldn’t run from it, I decided to honour it, observe it, and give it the time it needed. I played some music, sat in my car, and wept bitterly. I let the sadness at the reality of my surroundings sink in- this needed my attention. In the hours that followed, I mourned my daughter all over again. Yes, I relived the memories of the discovery of her death in every sterile hallway and bench seat, in every monitor and happy couple walking away with their baby. Almost four years on, yet it still feels so fresh. And it deserved this expression- she deserved this expression of my love.
Related: When Grief Takes Work And Time
I returned emptied to my sister’s room. Both she and her husband, they just knew. There was no point hiding what it was. I was triggered. It isn’t easy facing your triggers- and were it any other situation or any other person I would never have returned. But I did return, with a greater sense of catharsis, nostalgia and hope. Hope that she will have a very different experience. And love. Love for her and her baby. And love for mine too. This room, this bed, it holds greater significance for me now. Not to project or feel jealousy. Not to burden or fake the reality of my pain. But to make the air in this room thick with love and presence.
And we opened the blinds.
Photo credit: Daan Stevens, of Unsplash