I hate to sound anything like the stereotypical millennial, but I have a trigger. Constantly I am having to block out stories on Facebook or district myself in conversation when anyone posts or says anything about a child dying. I can’t do it. To me, it’s too real. That child who was dragged into the water by a crocodile at Disney World last year. That article I stumbled upon about the fatal results of her child repeatedly getting out of the car seat. A college friend’s niece who drowned in the pool. Casey Anthony. Sandy Hook. So many more. I can’t allow myself to process these stories, or I lose myself in despair. Images that shouldn’t be in my mind return again in again, heightening my anxiety. All five of these were particularly hard on me, and in all I allowed myself to be absorbed in the story.
And so I block them out. I know they are still there. I see the article titles and hide them, trying my best to move on with my life. I still don’t know the story about that Charlie who apparently recently died. I don’t want to. I can’t.
Sometimes though, you can’t block it out.
Sometimes the story hits a little too close and you have no choice.
My best friend recently had a baby. My own Little One was born this past March, and hers, prematurely, in May. I’ll spare you the painful details, but her little Marie made it only a week. That awful series of events combined with her already existing depression and anxiety has been more than difficult. Watching it has been no picnic either.
Nonetheless, I have not turned it off. Not blocked it out. I was there from the day she knew something might be wrong with her baby, doing my best to support. Trying not to feel the awful survivor’s guilt I have at times for having a healthy baby in such close proximity to hers. There’s still something I’ve had to build up to not let it entirely consume me, but I’ve still be able to be there.
Saturday evening I spent my night painting, wanting to contribute somehow in any way I could. This painting was the result.
I am not sure I could make it if it happened to me, but at least it’s good to know I can find a way to not lose myself when being there for a friend.