Running from Something
I can honestly say that I wasn’t the most compassionate person prior to losing my children. I am not saying I didn’t care about people, I just didn’t give it much thought.
I was generally focused on my task at hand and what I was trying to accomplish. I wasn’t a good listener and certainly not someone that felt someone else’s pain.
Compassion wasn’t something that came naturally to me and it just wasn’t one of my personality traits.
Some people are wired to be naturally compassionate and others are not, I am the later. Although I am a very matter of fact and direct person, I generally operate from a jovial position. I like to laugh, and I like to make other people laugh and feel good.
I’ve come a long way in the area of compassion since losing Katie and Noah, but it still isn’t something that is at the forefront of everything I do.
I never understood the need for compassion until I was the one who needed it. I now know it is a wonderful gift that you can give to another human being (or animal) that is hurting. I was personally on the receiving end of a lot of compassion from people that didn’t even know me. I will always be grateful for those people.
One of those people was Sarah, the chaplain at the hospital where we lost Noah. Truly an angel. Her compassion and love for the people she works with goes beyond her “job” responsibilities. It is certainly her gift that she selflessly shares with others.
As you can imagine, I hear from grieving dads everyday from around the world, each with a heartbreaking story. I do my best to provide them with compassion and insight into their pain and what this journey looks like that sits ahead of them, but I know I fail in comparison to what others with the natural gift of compassion can provide.
As I write this, I am sitting on my couch, where I’ve been for the most part of 5 days fighting the flu. I generally do a good job of avoiding the flu, but this year it hit me even after getting the flu shot. I hate the feeling of being sick for obvious reasons, but the primary reason is, I become emotionally vulnerable.
Yep, that’s right. I become depressed, sad and filled with anxiety along with all of the other symptoms of the flu. All a bad combination. I often time feel like crying for no other reason than I am just sad. I’ve noticed this also happens to me when I work out and really push myself to physical exhaustion.
A few examples of this that has happened to me this week include a short visit to Home Depot, a dream and general thoughts about my life direction:
I stopped by Home Depot earlier in the week when I thought I was starting to feel better. I was looking for something and approached an elderly man who was wearing the orange Home Deport apron. As a I approached him, I notice he didn’t move very quickly. He turned to me with a smile and said something I didn’t understand, so I smiled and proceeded to ask him my question. I realized right a way that he must have recently had a stroke or something because his speech was slurred, and he was hard to understand. Normally I wouldn’t think much about it, but because of being vulnerable, I had this overwhelming feeling of sadness come over me for him. I wanted to put my hand on his shoulder and ask him how he was doing, I wanted to cry for him. Of course I didn’t, I just smiled and nodded my head like I knew what he was saying and thanked him for his time. Was this a logical response, no, but I just wanted him to know I cared. He seemed fine, and he certainly wasn’t looking for compassion, it was just my illogical response.
I don’t remember a lot about my dream from last night, but I do remember that my wife and I were heading into Chicago to attend some event and we were taking a shortcut because we were late to the event. In my dream we realized the shortcut had taken us to the hospital that we lost Noah and where we met Sarah (chaplain from above). We some how went from driving to walking down a busy hallway in my dream. My wife says to me, “I think that’s Sarah up ahead.” At that time, I took off to catch up with her and when I did, I said, “Hi Sarah, it’s me Kelly Farley.” She then said, “Hi Kelly, how are you?” At this point I hugged her and started to weep uncontrollably. It was just the fact she asked me how I was doing triggered this release of emotion that has probably been building up in me for some time and it decided to come out in a dream.
I’ve always been a restless soul, but it has gotten much worse since losing Katie and Noah. My tolerance for bullshit, the corporate world and trying to impress others has become very low. Although I’ve done the corporate world for nearly 24 years I haven’t enjoyed it, it’s a paycheck, that’s it. I’ve been working on changing that for a while and I am very close to making it a reality as I approach my 50th birthday later this year. But when I am sick or down, I always go back to the idea of finishing my master’s in education to become a counselor. This career path wasn’t something that I even considered prior to my losses, but I decided to start the program in 2007 as a way to provide me hope during my grief. I decided to stop pursuing it once I published my book in 2012. I felt like my book could do more to help others dealing with the death of child than me being a counselor. Oh yeah, not to mention, compassion for others isn’t a natural trait for me and I knew over time that this fact wouldn’t allow me to be the counselor that my non-childloss clients would need and expect.
It’s been almost 14 years since I lost Katie and 12 years since Noah and these experiences prove that the pain of losing them is always just below the surface and I can always count on it revealing itself once I become emotional and physically exhausted.
I generally operate from a position of emotionally exhausted because of the losses, it has just become a normal operational position, but when my body becomes stressed from illness or physical exhaustion, it all rushes to the surface. Not to mention it forces me to sit still and think, which isn’t always a good thing.
No matter how much processing and grief work I’ve done, I will always be running/hiding from the pain of losing Katie and Noah.
I’ve come to learn that we are all running from something.
What are you running from?