Monday, November 2, 2015

11/2/15: With Gratitude...

I've been feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my life lately.  I know this sounds weird since I'm on the "can't eat anything fun diet", as my doctor calls it, but really, I just keep reflecting on how lucky I am to be in the place I'm in, doing the things I'm doing, with the support I'm getting.  I feel so blessed, and I honestly feel like Heavenly Father has placed angels in my life specifically for this time when he knew I would need them most.  

I'm grateful for:

Friends who live thousands of miles away, but still text almost daily and check in on my emotional and physical well-being.  Who know my deepest flaws and insecurities, along with my greatest strengths, and never let me forget either of them ;) 

Siblings who keep me in the loop about their lives and spend some of their precious time looking up ways I can sweeten my food with natural sweeteners allowed on the Candida diet.  Who've been kind and compassionate towards me about all of the pain I've been in the last 2 months.  And who even from miles away have supported me emotionally this semester.  

Classes that invigorate me and remind me why I love what I do.  

Clients who teach me more about pain and suffering as well as love and healing than I ever imagined possible.  I've been particularly blessed lately with a great batch of clients who have opened my eyes to some deep and powerful spiritual truths in addition to temporal ones.  

Friends who live close and walk with me, who aren't afraid to be authentic as we talk about hard and important things together and try to be better every week.  

Ward family who keep checking in on me--even though I'm over in YSA-land for the time being.  And who banded together to support me with cookbooks, recipes, supplements, and ideas on how to manage the candida diet last week when I reached out for help.  

Chronic pain sufferers who provide the outlet I need when things get to be a little too much, and who understand when I can't manage to find any hope that things could get better.  Their strength is a constant inspiration to me, and their empathy and understanding are irreplaceable.  

Professors who care about me, my life, my pain, my growth, my thoughts, my ideas, and my aspirations.   Who tell me, "Take care of your health first, school will work itself out." and continue to support me and believe in me when all the evidence says they shouldn't.  

Utah with it's beautiful rivers and colorful mountains in the cool, crisp, fall air that rejuvenates my soul.  I live in such a beautiful place, sometimes I think I forget that.  

Dave, who committed to eating only things I could eat while I'm home, to make this all easier for me.  And who cooks for me when I'm too tired, and tells me to stop when I'm pushing myself beyond my energy capacity, and who reassures me that I am not too much for him because he loves me, even with all the caretaking he's had to take on.  (and about a million other amazing things about him)

Young Single Adults who give me the opportunity to feel like I can make a difference when I teach them about marriage and relationships and build friendships with them.  And who also rallied around me in an overwhelming way when I asked for help with the candida diet.  

Doctors who have been my angels through all of this. I am so lucky to have more than one doctor who is genuinely concerned with my recovery, who listens to me when I have ideas and thoughts, and who crafts my plan of care to my specific needs and lifestyle.  

Hope.  For the first time in years, I have real hope that this might go away.  That I might have a chronic pain-free future someday.  As terrifying as it is for me to write that sentence, I've been carried this week by the feeling of hope that this doctor is right and that we might have finally found the underlying cause of all of this.  

And finally... 

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  I have never felt their influence in my life as strongly as I have throughout last year.  I know with a surety that my Father in Heaven and his Son are aware of my every struggle, and that they are directing my path and others' paths to create the most supportive environment possible right now.  I have felt their love for me more strongly than I ever even thought possible this last year, and without their unconditional love and acceptance, I don't know how I'd be managing the emotional roller coaster of this life.  I'm also incredibly grateful for the Atonement and the opportunity it provides for me to change and grow and become a better person every day.  


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Life hasn't been perfect or particularly easy lately, but I've been overwhelmed by the support I've felt whenever I have reached out for help, and even when I haven't reached out.  So thank you for being a part of my life, and thank you, friends, for lightening my load a little bit with your empathy, meals, conversations, cookbooks, comments on my posts, text messages, phone calls, or whatever other way you've touched my life.  It has not gone unnoticed, and it has helped me more than you know.  



Sunday, October 25, 2015

10/25/15: I Have to Cut Out Sugar?!

I know there's only so much I can write about struggling with my health before people get bored and stop reading, so hopefully this will be the last post for a little while about it, but I think since I was feeling pretty good last year I didn't really feel like I needed the outlet this blog provided for me.  Now that I'm in a lot of pain again, I've turned to writing for therapeutic reasons.  So here I am, to talk about the constant struggle that is life with chronic pain again.  Except this time there's a little more hope in my words because for the first time in months, I feel like we've made another huge breakthrough!

I've been really struggling the last 3 weeks with what I now term "fibro pain" because it just feels like I have the flu, except I don't have the flu.  I've had some good days in there, which is entirely crazy-making because it makes me question whether any of this is real, but I usually wayy overdo it on those "good days" and wind up in bed recovering the next day and then I feel sad, but at least reassured that I'm not crazy.  So, I know everyone thinks that their doctor is the best doctor, but really, my doctor is the BEST DOCTOR.  It took me a few years of searching to find him, but from the first appt. I knew that he was phenomenal.  He's been the one managing all of this for me for the last 2.5 years and he's the most invested, caring, systemic-thinking, doctor I've ever had.  I seriously don't want to leave Utah until this is all resolved because I doubt I'll ever find anyone better.  So he's the one who casually mentioned fibromyalgia last time, but then he called me a week later and told me that he'd been thinking about my case all week and really felt like I should go to this functional medicine guy in Spanish Fork because he specializes in looking at the root of the problem (that's what functional medicine is, basically), and he would look at my diet and exercise, my hormones, etc--just a wholistic perspective on the issue.  The problem was that his next opening for new patients wasn't until February (4 months?!).  But my doctor had his own personal appt. with the functional medicine guy the following week and wasn't going to be able to keep it so he offered me his time slot.  He had already called the other doctor and asked if that would be alright and the other guy said yes.  I, of course, said yes because anytime I can skip 4 months of a waitlist I'm not going to pass that up and I had an appt. with the new doctor for 1.5 weeks later!!

The appt. was on Friday of this week (2 days ago) and it was amazing.  The doctor spent 2 solid hours with me--no other patients in between--just listening to my history as well as explaining his philosophy about how all of this started and why it's progressing the way it is.  I told him I was going to have a tough time feeling hope that this would get better and he told me he was 100% confident that if I followed the plan he could cure me.  I laughed out loud at that, but he was serious.   He said he's never seen a patient he couldn't cure as long as they did their part.  That's a pretty big claim when we're working with something like endometriosis or fibromyalgia.  But I went home and basically haven't stopped researching his explanations all weekend and I'm more and more convinced that he might be right about all of this.  

His basic philosophy is that there is a genetic disposition to auto-immune disorders (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto's, etc.), and then there are emotional or physical triggers that send our body into overdrive, and then with those two things our GI Tract goes into an inflammatory response for so long that it's starts to tear and we develop what's called "Leaky Gut Syndrome".  He is of the opinion that my initial trigger was probably a few years back when I was on antibiotics forever for chronic sinus infections and my body started getting chronic yeast infections (my parents and I have always thought there was a connection here).  It turns out that yeast is a really common underlying cause of every symptom I've ever experienced--even endometriosis--because my body has learned that it needs to be constantly fighting this infection, and it has caused widespread inflammation nonstop for years on end.  What happens is that eventually with the inflammation lasting so long, you start to develop one of the specific autoimmune disorders (if you have the predisposition) and until you can restore your GI tract health and get the inflammation down, you can't restore balance to your system and you will stay in pain.  Since fibromyalgia is not one of the specific Autoimmune Disorders, the doctor ran a bunch of tests to see which one we think I have, so we can at least have a starting point, and then he also started me on a bunch of supplements to start repairing the tears he thinks I have in my GI Tract and to stop feeding the yeast in my system.  Unfortunately, this also means I basically need to stop eating any and all sugar, since that's what yeast lives on, and I need to be eating lots of protein to keep my blood sugar stable.  

This was all preliminary hypotheses, and he'll call me on Monday with the results from the bloodwork and lab tests we did to look at more specifically what foods I'm having reactions to.  From there we'll craft a very specific food and supplement plan to start the restoration process.  

He was really hopeful (and I actually am too, at this point) that this is totally curable and I just have to be consistent about it.  But as I've done more research, I've found that for a lot of people, the restoration process can be worse than the original autoimmune disorder symptoms because as you kill off the yeast (or whatever bacteria) that's overrunning your system, it releases toxins, and your immune system is already so compromised, it has a hard time clearing out those toxins, which leads to more inflammation and pain.  In the long run, though, it seems to be a real solution to all of this (assuming yeast or some other infection is really the root cause of all of this) and I'm willing to try it.  

I was telling Dave yesterday that it feels really weird to be living this double life of sorts where I go to school and see clients and pretend everything is normal, but then at home can barely lift my arms and need help with something as simple as plugging in my laptop.  And it's weird to try to focus on stats homework, when I really just want to keep reading anything and everything about functional medicine and how cortisol and insulin interact with each other in the face of widespread infection and how that relates to lupus, and how that relates to endometriosis, and on and on and on...It feels like I'm trying to balance these two warring parts of myself that are trying to live in harmony, but the stronger one gets, the more it takes from the other.  I'm praying and hoping that this might be a solution for all of this, but scared as all get out that I'm just setting myself up for another huge disappointment.  Prayers would be appreciated right now!  And thank you to everyone in my life who has been so understanding of my recent flakiness and need to set boundaries for myself to keep my energy levels manageable.  Having loving support and understanding right now has been so meaningful and helpful through all of this.  As always, thanks for reading!  And wish me luck! (especially cutting sugar out...eek!)

Also, here's some of our life lately :) (Sorry, I'll work on taking more pics, and better pics)
Josh and Tiffany (Dave's brother and his new wife!) stayed
 with us last weekend and it was fun to get to know them a little better!

Stake conference with Emma!  We're in a bishopric in her stake and
 so we got to hear her beautiful musical number at the stake
conference where they called a new stake presidency for us!
She did great :)

One of those days I did WAY too much when I felt good.  But it was fun!

Monday, October 5, 2015

10/5/15: Finding Self-Compassion


Lately it's felt like my life is just one big loop that keeps repeating itself.  I can vividly remember a visit to my physical therapist 2 years ago after the first week of my master's program where I was on the verge of tears telling her that I didn't think I could do this.  I couldn't sit in the chairs in class for more than 20 minutes without being in severe pain and it was so distracting that I could barely take anything in.  She gave me a tens unit--a portable stim machine--and it was a lifesaver for those first few months of grad school before we found some medications that helped minimize the pain.  

Since then, we've tried about a hundred different combinations of medications, procedures, surgeries, physical exercises, mental health support, emotional work, etc., and we've seriously diminished my pain to the point where I was almost pain free for most of last year.  Unfortunately, when I started the PhD program, my pain came back with a vengeance.  It's been ramping up all summer, but it got so bad the last two weeks that I decided I needed to go back to my doctor for help.  We're not exactly sure what's going on, except that we know endometriosis spreads when you're not on hormonal suppression, and I've been off for a year now, so there's a good chance there's more endometriosis triggering the pelvic pain.  Unfortunately, it feels different this time.  I've been having serious fatigue and all-over body-aches, which are tell-tale signs of fibromyalgia.  Now, all of the conditions I've been diagnosed with so far (and there are a bunch) are in the same family as fibromyalgia--they're functional somatic pain syndromes--so when I asked my doctor about it he casually said something to the effect of, "Of course you have fibromyalgia--at least you're on the spectrum--but whether or not that's an official diagnosis won't change the way we treat it, because we're already treating you the way we would treat someone with it."  

This was quite a bombshell for him to so casually drop on me.  I think he saw the shock on my face (he's a pretty observant and emotionally in-tune doctor) because he quickly reassured me that even though this might be something I struggle with my whole life, there will be good times with the bad times, and there are things we can do to manage it, etc.  This didn't make me feel any better, though, because I just heard, "You're going to struggle with this your whole life."  That's really different from, "You shouldn't be in this much pain, and we're going to find out why and fix it." which is what I normally hear from him.  

Needless to say, it's been a rough week over here.  He talked pretty frankly with me about making sure I only keep good stress in my life, and cut out the bad.  I've had to seriously consider my schedule and if a PhD is plausible with how much pain I'm in.  It's the most frustrating thing to be limited physically when mentally I have SO much I want to accomplish!

I'm just taking life one day at a time for now, and we bought another tens-unit to help me get through classes and homework, which is helping just a bit.  But mostly I'm working on not feeling guilty or bad for not being able to make it to all of my classes, or do all my homework, or research as much as I should.  I'm working on allowing myself to have self-compassion and sleep when I need to sleep, and work when I have the energy to work.  

Something Elder Bednar said in General Conference (the LDS Church leaders speak to us 2 weekends a year in this conference) really spoke peace to my soul yesterday--"When you cannot do, what you have always done, then you only do what matters most...Physical restrictions can expand vision.  Limited stamina can clarify priorities.  Inability to do many things can direct focus to a few things of greatest importance."  I know that I've seen this happen in my life.  I've seen SO much good come from my physical pain and limitations, it's just hard to remember it in the moments that I can't get out of bed for class, or pain is keeping me up all night, or I'm struggling to stay with clients mentally and emotionally because I'm distracted by my aches.  

Sorry for a tough post today, but this has all been dominating my thoughts for the past two weeks, and while we've also had some great days and fun with friends and family lately, I feel like this is what my life is really about right now--finding the balance.  
At Chalk the Block with my niece and nephew!
video


Also, as per request, Pepper found a jungle gym and I thought I'd share :) Enjoy! 

Monday, September 14, 2015

9/14/15 Life Update

I'm sitting here before I leave to see a client today and I'm supposed to be finding articles to add to my 50-article-long-list-already for one of my research papers, but I'm a little distracted and burnt out, so I'm going to attempt to update the blog instead.  This is just a life update since it's been forever, and I figured people might want to know what Dave and I have been up to!

Dave:  Still in his PhD program (4th year, making slow, but steady progress on his dissertation), and working full time at a new job.  He quit the MTC this spring because things got a little crazy.  He was working really intensely (LONG work weeks) towards the end on training materials for mission presidents on how to help missionaries struggling with pornography and how to not increase shame, etc.  It was actually an incredible experience for the both of us because Dave got to write and influence these materials that will help train 18 and 19 year olds how to acknowledge their emotions and think about pornography as a coping mechanism, not just a hopeless addiction.  So while that was incredible and we had a lot of really spiritual moments with that, it just wasn't possible to be working so many extra hours without getting overtime while trying to do school and being in a YSA bishopric, so right at a great time, someone reached out to him and offered him a new job doing user experience design, which was new for him, but he's really loved it and he excels at it :) 

So yeah, crazy busy, they asked us to stay in the YSA ward for another year (because Dave is basically awesome and super organized and reliable, so who would want to lose him, right?), which was a hard decision for us because with chronic pain and constant emotional work, it would be great for me to have more of an established ward for support, but in the end we felt good about staying.  

Dave also tries to get out to fish the Provo every other weekend or so and he always does great and it's really rejuvenating for him.  But it's hard to find the time with all the homework and work and church calling stuff there is to do.  

Erin:  I took the summer off (sort of) from school and only saw a couple of clients a week all summer.  At the end of my masters I was in a really bad spot emotionally.  I was having a hard time with the emotional burden of my clients and I was working through a lot of hard personal things in my own therapy, on top of a miscarriage, on top of knowing all of my best friends were moving after graduation.  So I took a break and got our house under control.  I organized like a mad woman and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned ;)  My mom would be proud!  Then I rewrote some of my articles to submit for publication in the PhD program, which was great.  And I spent a lot of time training Pepper (hence her ability to fetch!!), and intensely engaging in my own personal healing.  

Now I'm back in school again, PhD this time, in the same program, but with a new cohort and a new advisor who I LOVE.  I wasn't sure what he'd be like, which was unsettling all summer, but he has been super supportive of anything I want to study, and he respects me and listens to me, and can challenge me in a kind way and I'm thrilled about it :)  It makes researching a lot easier when it's something I can get passionate about.  

My pain was great all last year because I found my miracle drug, Gabapentin, but ever since the miscarriage it has slowly been getting worse (which would make sense because endometriosis gets worse monthly if you're not on hormonal suppression), and this month has been the worst. I'm sure it's stress related, but regardless, it makes it really hard to be productive and really hard to be patient with people--kind of a problem for a therapist, haha. We aren't doing much about it right now (other than a colonoscopy 2 weeks ago which revealed nothing) because if we get pregnant here soon, that's a whole different ballgame anyway, so there's no point messing with meds right now that I'll have to stop taking when I'm pregnant.  The plan is to go back to my doctor for help with it all once we're pregnant, and hope that that's soon so that the endometriosis doesn't keep spreading.   

So basically, Dave and I get less than half the nights of the week to actually see each other before 10 pm and we're back to the crazy schedule that is grad school life, but we're both happy and feel really at peace about what we're doing with our lives and our education.  It's been a bit of a crazy summer with traveling and being with both sides of the family a lot for Emma's homecoming, NY with Jeremy and Sierra, Josh and Tiffany's (Rackham side) wedding, Scott visiting over Labor Day, and Dave's brothers and mom here this weekend as they settled into BYU-I.  It's been great to see everyone so much, but we would be lying if we didn't say we were excited to get back to a normal routine and get our lives under control a little bit.  

Hopefully that's a good enough update for now, sorry it's been so long!  As always, thanks for reading!



Monday, August 31, 2015

Why Am I Here?

Today was the first official day of my PhD program at BYU!  But before I go into that, I just wanted to thank everyone for the support I received after posting a couple of weeks ago about our miscarriage.  It was really an amazing experience for me to be so vulnerable and see how love and support was the unanimous response from so many of you.  Thank you for reaching out to me through comments and private messages to talk with me about your own pain and loss and how you got through it.  It meant the world to me to know that people out there cared about my struggle and pain and were there for me when I reached out for support.  I also learned a lot from each of you about pain, empathy, grief, and love.  So thank you, again.  It was such powerful experience for me.  

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So today marked the first day of my PhD experience (in Marriage and Family Therapy at BYU).  It felt like a pretty big deal even though all we did was sit through a few meetings and get oriented.  But I'm starting a PhD!  How did I get here?  I never thought I'd be pursuing a doctorate.  A masters felt like more of a possibility my whole life, but a PhD?  That was never for me.  Turns out I really like school, and I especially like school when it's about mental health and how to be a more effective therapist.  So here I am.  

I'll be honest, the entire process of applying for the PhD and getting accepted has felt a little automatic and mindless.  I haven't felt a very strong push for what exactly I want to do once I get in to the PhD, I've just gone through the motions to get here.  All summer I had conversations with myself and Dave that went something like this:

"Is this really what I want to do?  I don't want to do this because it's some goal I feel like I need to achieve to become a complete person.  I want to do it for the right reasons."

"What are the right reasons?"
"Well, I think the wrong reason would be to boost my self-esteem, or to convince myself (or anyone else) that I'm good enough and worthy of love.  But if I don't want to become a professor, why am I doing a PhD program?" 

And the conversation would end there--never resolved.  Eventually I got to a place where I was about 95% confident that this program wasn't about convincing myself that I'm enough, but I still wasn't exactly sure why I felt like I should do it.  Then about a month ago I gave a lesson in our church (a ward of young single adults) all about pornography and the atonement and how shame gets in the way of healing and progressing and what pornography addiction is really about--how it's emotional, not sexual, and how there is hope, etc.  It was one of the most powerful lessons of my life--not because the lesson was particularly powerful (although I think it was for some people), but because it reminded me of exactly what I'm passionate about and it became very clear to me what I need to do in the PhD program. 

Dave reminded me that night that of all the clinical populations I've worked with, pornography users are the ones that I consistently maintain hope for, which is unique because most therapists feel more hopeless with pornography than other issues.  I think as a church and mental health community, we don't understand the issue of pornography addiction as fully as we need to, and as it stands, we don't have treatments that work.  We have treatments that can make improvements, but we're missing something.  People who really struggle with a pornography addiction have usually seen multiple therapists and each one has tried something different--usually to no avail--and most of them have ignored trauma and emotional regulation as anything worthy of attention.  

I want to work towards figuring out what we're missing about pornography addiction--particularly in the LDS culture where we're ridden with shame about it.  I'm nervous because it's going to make for a tough dissertation, and a heavy topic of study, but I'm determined to do my best to help our community figure out how to help couples and individuals whose lives are being ruined by porn.  I'm feeling pretty energized and excited about the program now because I feel very very directed by God in this feat, and I think He'll direct me where I need to go with this over the next 3 years.  I've have a fantastic mentor who's supportive and happy to help me find the answers I'm looking for, which is not always a given in a PhD program, so I feel blessed and grateful for him.  

All in all, I'm relieved to feel like I finally have a direction for my program and confident that I'm going the right way (at least for now, you never know where Heavenly Father will lead you, right?).  We'll see how long this energy lasts, since this is all pre-homework, research, and stats classes...but at least for now, I'm feeling like I finally know why I'm here and what I need to work towards for the next 3 years.  Wish me luck! 


Friday, August 14, 2015

In The Spirit Of Authenticity...



Guys, I have tried to start this post like a hundred times.  It's been 9 months since I last blogged and I feel like I'm a completely different Erin now than I was then.  I share relationship posts on Facebook at least 2x a week, but I'm sad that I haven't found the courage to really share my personal thoughts and feelings with everyone over the past 9 months.

It's been the hardest year of my life (#understatement) even though the pelvic pain has gotten miraculously better with the help of my new medicine.  It sort of feels like God gave me a reprieve from the chronic physical pain so I would have the energy and strength to tackle the emotional upheaval to come.  And tackle it I did, haha.

I really want to get on with blogging about the here and now and sharing what's happening in my life with you all, but it feels inauthentic because I really feel like before I do, I need to share the most vulnerable and painful experience of this last year.  It's changed me, and it's important to me that I don't pretend that it didn't.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In February of this year, we found out we were pregnant.  I was immediately overwhelmed with mixed emotions.  I was excited and surprised, but also filled with a huge sense of foreboding and fear that I might miscarry, or even if I didn't miscarry that I might be in chronic pain again as I'd have to stop my medicine.  And it definitely didn't help that I didn't feel at all ready to be a mom!

We only knew I was pregnant for a couple of days before I went and had a blood test done to make sure everything was alright.  As I'm sure you can guess, everything was not alright.  My numbers were incredibly low--too low to really hope that this would be a viable pregnancy.  But we just watched and waited for almost 10 days because they were slowly rising.  Dave and I were on the biggest emotional roller coaster we'd ever been on (which is saying something after the last couple of years we've had) alternating between feeble hope that everything might be okay, and suffocating fear that I might be miscarrying.  Once the numbers seemed to plateau (still in a nonviable range), my doctor did an incredibly painful ultrasound to make sure it wasn't ectopic and finally ordered a D&C.  This all happened within the span of about two weeks, but felt like a lifetime for us.

After the D&C, it was impossible to ignore the intense feeling of loss and I didn't know what to do.  I wasn't that far along because I'd found out pretty early that I was pregnant, so I felt dumb feeling the grief so intensely.  Was this even considered a baby this early?  My best friend had just had a miscarriage a few weeks earlier and she'd been MUCH further along and I didn't want to add to her pain, so I didn't tell her.  I've hated myself ever since for not telling more people.  I needed support, but there was a strong feeling of, "It wasn't that big of a deal, you were only so many weeks along, and you don't want to make it uncomfortable for everyone around you."

So I pulled back.  I told my family, one of my professors, one other friend and then I shut off my emotions so I wouldn't burst into random tears throughout the day.  I completely lost all motivation to go to class, to be present when I actually made it to class, to be present with my clients, to emotionally engage in their pain, to attend choir rehearsals which I usually LOVE, etc.  It wasn't until about 2 weeks after the procedure that I fully let myself grieve the loss.  It was one of the most painful, yet bonding experiences Dave and I have ever had as a couple.  We had so many questions:  Was this considered a baby yet?  Will this baby be part of our family in the eternities?  Does this mean miscarriage is going to plague our childbearing years?  Was this because of the endometriosis?  Is it normal to feel this much pain and feel it so intensely about this? And there were so many feelings:  Sadness mixed with peace, relief mixed with guilt, fear mixed with love, anger mixed with hurt and confusion, and the list goes on.

I just sort of channeled my pain into really really working hard on my thesis so I could graduate in April and have a break as soon as possible.  It worked.  I got my thesis done, and it was a miracle, but I was broken.  I was so broken when I graduated.  I felt like a champion that day.  Like I had overcome so much and grown and changed as a person like I never believed I could, but I was hurting inside, and I was still healing.

When Mother's Day came around, I couldn't do it.  I really thought I'd be fine, but just an hour before I was supposed to run a choir practice, I fell apart--I couldn't stop sobbing.  I felt the loss so intensely--all day at church I was weepy and sad and confused about still feeling pain about this 3 months later.  Luckily Dave is super tuned in to my emotions and was able to just hold me and remind me that it's okay that I was still hurting and I didn't have to go to church if it was going to be too painful, and that there's no time limit on grief.

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It's been 6 months now since the miscarriage and I regret every day that I didn't tell more people when it was happening.  Even before I was pregnant, I was personally against waiting to tell people until your 2nd trimester because it doesn't make sense to me.  Don't we need support the most in the first trimester when we're vomiting all over ourselves and can't keep saltines down?  And don't we absolutely need support if we're in the process of losing a baby?  Anytime I've shared that I had a miscarriage since then, most women have responded with their own stories of miscarriage and how it was difficult for them too and how they understand the pain and grief.  It's SO comforting to not feel alone in this, so why did I keep it to myself for so long?

I said that this has changed me and I believe it has.  I think I'm exponentially more empathetic--meaning I understand better what it means to hold someone's pain with them and show them that they aren't alone in it.  I'm more sensitive to infertility and issues surrounding motherhood in a religious culture that celebrates motherhood.  I also took the time for myself to heal, which required some intense therapy and soul searching about how I want to be as a mother and how I can love fearlessly in this terrifying world.  I worked to surround myself with people I knew I could be vulnerable with because I trust that they love me and will support me.  I feel like I'm in a good place right now thanks to Dave, Heavenly Father, and other people who have loved me through this, as well as reading a WHOLE bunch of Brene Brown :).  But I still struggle to understand what exactly has kept me from telling my closest friends about the miscarriage until I felt like I could present it all tied up in a neat little bow through a blog post.  Any thoughts on what holds us back from being vulnerable with those we love even when we know they'll be there for us?