Turning off survival mode.

It has been just seventeen days since we ended our first year of grief, and I am already thinking about the second. What will happen this year? Will it be drastically different, or more of the same? I wonder if we should continue celebrating the monthly anniversary of Aria’s birth, or are we supposed to stop at twelve? I wonder if I’m going to cry less, or feel less triggered by everyday things.

I did this a lot in the first weeks after losing Aria. I kept looking to the future, wishing for time to hurry past so I could get to a place where I was able to function normally. In the days leading up to Aria’s birthday, I kept wishing I hadn’t done that. I spent a whole year on edge, anxiously waiting for the days to pass. I didn’t really live, I just moved through the motions.

My goal this year is to change that. It’s time for me to stop being in survival mode all the time. I need to force myself to get out and start overcoming my fears. My counselor tried coaxing me out of my bubble six months after losing Aria, but it gave me a ton of anxiety and I realized I simply wasn’t ready yet. Now, the thought of going back into the world is exhilarating and exciting. I feel like I am on the cusp of so much opportunity and that feels really good.

In fact, some things have already changed. I shared on Instagram earlier that we just adopted a dog named Lana. She is a one year old, German Shepherd mix, full of spunk and lots of love. She has already taught me so much more than I thought she would. Sometimes I find myself spending several minutes just watching her sleep. She makes me forget about running errands or cleaning up the house. She reminds me that it’s OK to slow down and enjoy the little things. She’s also done some remarkable things for my grief. It is often said that grief is just love with nowhere to go, and because of Lana I now have somewhere to express some of that love. It’s also much harder to have a bad day when she keeps laying next to me, begging for belly rubs.

I didn’t anticipate Lana joining our family when we rang in 2017. In fact, I was pretty against getting a dog because I am such a clean freak. But Brian did a lot of convincing, and meeting Lana allowed me to open my heart. I am wondering, “what’s next?” But I am going to do my best to just be still and wait. Most of our biggest gifts aren’t things we can predict anyways.

 

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