I've noticed a huge pattern in attacks.
What is an attack? That may be a better place to start....
I think when you have had a devastating event horrible thoughts and mental pictures assault you. This is where I go out on a limb a bit. Sometimes it is your own mind you are fighting, but sometimes these thoughts can seem to come from outside. While reading "The boy who went to heaven", the father stated that sometimes it seemed the the worst spiritual attacks come at night. Now, do I believe everything in the book? I guess I'll find out when I die, but the part about attacks... It's true. I know myself, and some of these very deep dark thoughts are not in my normal character.
Before you turn me in, thoughts of harming myself or others physically has never been an option to me. Perry dying is beyond a doubt the worst I have encountered, but I walk and live in submission. Part of that submission is accepting that it is not my time, so right and then left foot (repeat as often as needed). It's not an incredible victory, but it is a small start. When I have a hard time praying I start by thanking God for my children and my family. He may be gone, but he continues to be a blessing to me that I held him. I know I was given a lot, and still have a lot that I love here. I can't throw all this away.
I don't know that I will go into a lot of detail about them, but I'll share a little. The first type of attack is one that focuses on causes. I am convinced that the devil will use truth as easily as lies to get to you. The lies are easy to see, but the truth out of context can be a great tool. Any time something bad happens, there are a series of holes or actions/ coincidences that need to line up for it to occur. At times, I see the holes I could have closed, at others the times Chris might have, and as odd as it sounds even the part Perry played in it. Sometimes holes are added that really aren't there.
The second is images (imagined and real). I'm not seeing illusions, but my memory can be a horrible place and my imagination devastating. Up until Christmas, all of Emily's dolls were not life size, and she only wanted two small things for Christmas, so we got them for her. One was a more realistic doll, and I have to admit that the adults in the family dislike it a bit. It just segways into our worst memories, and I find myself coming back into her room to turn it over so it faces up or to uncover the face from blankets it as if it was an infant, a little nervous for a brief second. I didn't understand why it made me anxious until my husband explained why he didn't like it. But Emily loves her baby doll, and so here it is.
One imagined hole that I have trouble with, and can share with you is related to my job. I'm a firefighter, but in this day and age you run more medical calls than anything else, so I am also an EMT-IV. I always seem to wind up in the back of the ambulance on medical calls and have done a lot of chest compressions. I have this horrible fear that I should have worked him. That my husband should have told 911 to come emergency... That they should have at least run an EKG strip.
And this is how I was finally able to beat it back.
While searching for "The Boy Who Went to Heaven", I noticed a couple books by Max Lucado and just felt that I ought to look inside. There was a small section on grief, and I almost put it back, thinking that was what I was meant to see, mission accomplished. But I didn't, and I thought, 'Ok then, it's a free library book' and drug it home. It was about baggage.
So what section helped me? The one on pride, oddly enough. It's not something I struggle with too badly, but I read it. I started at the front and read everything in order. I figured I can always get better, and if I have been crushed by Perry's death, now is the time to rebuild and hopefully come out a better person (not better for it... if that makes sense?).
It talked about pride in accomplishments. This got me thinking about awards, and with awards about the life saving award I may get this year from the department for helping with a CPR call that resulted in a living patient. I sort of smiled with amusement at it. Of all the awards this is the most out of our control... I have done CPR just as correctly on lots of people. In about 11 or 12 years as a volunteer and as a career firefighter I have done CPR so many times I can't really remember them all. We sometimes get a heartbeat back with the AED/monitor after many drugs, sometimes they come back for just a day, but very rarely on any of these calls do we get a save. It is wonderful, but the results are largely out of our control. It depends on the definitive care they get at the ER/ the surgeon if they make it that far, and quite bluntly that isn't even really it. I think if you were able to ask a surgeon they would feel almost as helpless as the EMT's, with good surgeries resulting in losses. That's up to God if they live, we are just tools. Up until this year, I had never been part of a lasting 'save'.
"So Katie, if you think you don't determine if they live, you are just a tool... what makes you think you determine if they die?" So I know it was already done when I walked in the door. I think I just sort of knew... I think that if I was meant to, I would have been able to. Shock is a horrible thing, but I am not so sure it really was shock. I was able to hold him, do a few compressions, but it felt useless. I had to triage and my thoughts went to the little girl on the floor crying.
At least that helps a little. When the thought creeps up in the dark, I have a baseball bat now that I can beat it down with. Hopefully this doubt will eventually fade and then leave completely.
I guess what I have learned is that you can be given more than you can handle in life on your own.The attacks come pretty regularly, although sometimes they fade only to come back with a forcefulness a few days or a week later. They usually come with the dark... Sometimes I wake from a bad dream, surrounded by fear and shadows, only to find Emily and Chris thrashing beside me with their own. And then I pray and they seem to fade a bit, the thrashing stops.The prayer is what seems to help, I guess the trick is that you can get help but you, or others, have to ask for it.
We tried to put Emily to bed by herself for one of, if not the first time since Perry died. Putting her to bed was incredibly tough, I could tell Chris was having flashbacks after I told him she didn't need any more blankets. We had to skip the goodnight song Chris has sang to her since she was born. It is something he made up to the tune of the Barney song and ends with "it's gonna be okay, gonna be allright, time to go to bed tonight." He hasn't been able to sing it since that night. We will have to make up a new song to sing, one without promises that we no longer feel we can keep... although what a sad thought. Innocence has been lost by all three of us forever.
Eventually I told him to go get her. I hope that with time, after putting her to bed in her own bed repeatedly, one of this nights she will remain safely in her own room. I might even buy a small cot for her to use in our bed, to transition us all.
I still didn't get a lot of sleep.