The Let Down
"I sing myself to sleep...a song from the darkest hour...secrets I can't keep inside of a day. Swing from high to deep, extremes of sweet and sour...hope that God exists...
I hope, I pray..." -James 1989
This post is proving to be way harder to write than the ones I wrote in the earliest days of losing Darcy. It’s my default to lean toward the light and I like that about myself but today I am not feeling light at all. It’s a lil' bit shadowy up in here.
When I first started writing about losing Darcy there was something about being in shock that somehow ‘medicated’ me and made it easy to pour my heart-broken soul out into words that felt illuminating. Like those drunken nights when we muster up the liquid courage to say the things that need to be said, you know? This post is more like trying to express true feelings that might be unpopular, from the heart, in a stone-cold state of sobriety. No courage at all, liquid or otherwise. Just a deep level of acceptance of where I am today.
Today, I am let down.
So, this is kind of a wild analogy, but bear with me through the oddness and see if you can relate, kay?
Reader, have you ever had a baby? Or have you ever seen a mother in the early days after giving birth to her child? Massive disruption has occurred and her life will never be the same. There has been a birth - change is unfolding - everything is uncertain - and even though the mother’s body is struggling, it somehow fills up with the nourishment that is needed to feed this brand-new life. Nature takes over and her breasts literally swell with the perfect food to keep this fragile new life afloat in its earliest moments. This is her body's instinctual response. This is survival.
There has been pain and there is newness, a learning curve to beat them all… there is magic and beauty in this mother’s ability to navigate the pain while her body is overflowing with everything she needs to get her and her baby through it. Every part of her body, mind and heart knows instinctively how to care for and nourish her baby. Despite the trauma of giving birth, her breasts will swell with the most powerful nectar and she has the acute ability to pass it onto her child. She is suffering but she rises to the challenge. She becomes full of life-giving fuel and this has her feeling as powerful and capable as she will ever feel. Ever. She is too powerful and strong in this moment to feel anything else.
In her desperate desire to give her baby every ounce of support she can, the mother isn’t yet able to feel the deep internal wound that is the size of her baby’s protective placenta which has been ripped from her womb. She isn’t focused on the pain. She cannot see the piles of laundry or the expired food in the fridge. She doesn’t look at the unanswered emails that are getting buried deeper and deeper as the days go by. She is too busy feeling alive despite the discomfort of all that she has just endured. She is on top of her game and truly unstoppable, filled with this life-force energy – this mother’s milk - that she is brewing to steward her child into the next phase of its life. She is an animal. Nothing will get between her and that baby. There is nothing that she will allow to distract her from the task at hand. Feeding her child. Ultimately, survival.
So there is a build-up. And then there is a flood of milk. It’s called the 'let-down'. The child is fed. And the mother, she is depleted.
If you have ever experienced this or witnessed it closely, you might understand how it feels. This big confidence that comes from being able to feed another human and the exhaustion and sort of, low-grade depression that follows in the wake of that powerful moment that is now over. Now she sees the chores. Now she feels the ache in her womb. She watches her baby thrive, grow, sleep comfortably, settle in. But she is uncomfortable. There has been a let-down. And it’s, well…a letdown.
This is how I am feeling right now. Let down.
Yes, I am grateful that we have survived this loss. Yes, I am proud that I was powerful and capable and confident enough in myself to usher my kids into this next phase of their life in a new home, in a new city. I am absolutely grateful that I was able to shuffle sideways along the shaky tightrope of grief and manage to somehow keep my kids, myself, my sanity from free-falling into a pit of endless sadness. Yes, I am grateful that I was divinely gifted with the perfect circle of friends to hold that rope steady and coax us to the other side while others held a safety net below us just in case we slipped, just in case my sobriety got away from me, just in case I needed to have my strength and steadiness mirrored back to me.
Yes, I am grateful for the dedicated professionals who somehow managed to stay human with me through the legal and logistical shit show that life becomes when your partner accidentally exits the earth with no warning and leaves no trace of himself. I am grateful for lawyers that have legitimately cried with me and accountants who have held my hands and my gaze, steadily, and promised to see me through the mountains of paperwork and heartache that we were about to climb. I am grateful for the teachers and mentors who have taught me about magic and faith and unity. I am grateful for their leadership which completely shifted my values, changed the way I respond to challenge, significantly altered my parenting and ultimately taught me the greatest lesson anyone can ever learn. That I am enough. That as long as I stay connected to the oneness I am safe.
Through all this I have tried to stay steady and be present for my friends and family who have also had tough times. I have tried very hard to stay open-hearted and strong with my kids. I have wiped their tears in moments of despair and laughed out loud with them at their funny memories of their Dad, even when sometimes I wanted to scream out loud “Fuck this! It’s just not funny…”. I have done my best to turn moving to a new city and a new home into a manifestation adventure for myself and the kids as we dreamed and schemed about what our new life would look like, with real intention, and then brought that dream to life. We have committed as a family of three to thrive together despite our loss and we have managed to keep our chins up and keep nourishing this creation as best we can…
I am so grateful for all of this and I am committed to carrying that extreme gratitude with me forever. But I am also depleted now and, as much as I prefer to shine a light in the darkness, it feels wrong to not share this darker part of the journey with you, too. I think it’s naïve to believe that, after this two-year period of extreme change and growth, there would never be a crash. And so, I will admit… I am officially let down. I am SO let down that my kids don’t have a Dad and that my husband is gone.
I am let down that I write a blog about surviving the death of my favourite person. I am let down that his absence is amplified every time we experience a new adventure as a family of three. I am let down that I have a whole room in my home that is impeccably decorated in homage to my dead husband’s love of films and he’s not here to enjoy it. I am let down that there is no one on earth, besides me, who cares for my kids the way he did. I am let down that I have a beautiful cozy king-sized bed where I sleep alone with so much space - but he still takes up so much space in my dreams and my heart. I am let down that I am not on anyone’s radar. That I am nobody’s “person” and nobody is mine. I am let down that my kids sleep under quilts that are made from their Dad's favourite shirts. I am let down that we will never take another tropical vacation with him and bury him in the sand as he patiently basks, eyes-closed, in the sunshine, never complaining, always enjoying.
Endless beach days... Darcy looking handsome in one of the shirts that makes up Summer's memory-quilt. It's hard to make her bed sometimes.
I am let down that Darcy’s entire family is gone and we have no one to remember him with beyond our own experiences of him – no one with whom we can revisit his past life before we were ‘The Wilds’ – except for a few of his beloved film-sisters who truly show up for us and help us keep his memory alive. (This is where gratitude can’t help but creep back in for a hot minute…) I am let down that I carry this heavy emotional load of raising two kids all by myself. I am let down that when I take a cute picture of those kids, I instantly want to text it to him (my brain still goes there) and then I have to remember that he’s not there to receive it. I am let down that I have to make massive decisions (and little decisions!) pertaining to real estate, what to make for dinner, investments, which earrings to wear, finances, what to get Summer for her birthday, major surgeries to support Miller’s physical disability. It all happens without him now. It's all on me. And I can handle it. But this isn’t how we planned it.
I am let down that, while I have been SO focused on feeling gratitude, finding the gifts in this loss and staying strong through the whole experience, that some of the people in my life who I consider “close” to us cannot even understand how let down I am because maybe my strength has led them to believe that I don't have very dark and difficult days. The truth is, I have them often. I just try really hard not to stay stuck there. Maybe it looks like I am doing so well that they don’t even think to ask how we are. It’s not their fault. I have let myself down, in a way, by not necessarily sharing the darker parts of my day out loud. Or maybe just not loud enough. So here I am, sharing it.
When we seem like we have it all together and we constantly strive to put our best foot forward, sometimes our need for true support gets completely missed by those nearest to us. It’s like that brand-new mom who’s so swollen with power and life-giving energy that she perfects the swaddle, nails the baby-led-weaning and prepares the perfect casserole all while looking like a goddess in her skinny jeans. That new mom that seems like she’s on top of the world and capable of anything, handling it all and thriving. Nobody will realize she is struggling sometimes. Or maybe she is struggling all the time. No one may notice that she is let down. But to some degree, it’s inevitable. It happens to the toughest of us.
This is not meant to be a pity party (and you know me… I am always going to claw my way back to gratitude!) but if you have stayed with me this far, I do think it's time to celebrate. Time to celebrate all that we have overcome through our individual losses and allow ourselves some grace. Let’s ask for help and share the dark moments as needed. Let’s allow ourselves to be heartbroken. I am.
Let’s allow ourselves to be let down, gently.
Til Next Time,
Heal & Be Healed.