28 Lessons in 28 years

For as long as I can remember, my birthday has been my favourite day. I’ve always been the kind of person who craves being the centre of attention, so it’s only natural that a day focused solely on the celebration of me would be my most favourite holiday (yeah, it’s a holiday in my mind). When I turned 27 last year I lamented on how my birthday would never be the same again. I remember Darcy telling me that the day would no longer be all about me anymore, that next year I would be a mom, and the day would inevitably be about doing something with our child.

How little we knew.

Yesterday was incredible. The best day I’ve had since last year, easily. Darcy gave me at new smart TV for my birthday (I can finally watch the news and On Point! It has an antenna so I can pick up CBC). I got two bouquets of flowers, a bottle of champagne, a bottle of wine and a Starbucks card at work. A very dear friend took me out to lunch, I went to the works for supper and an amazing friend called into the restaurant and picked up the tab (so incredibly sweet!!) , Got to talk to my family in Ontario and my God baby and her brother (and their lovely momma) and ended the evening with some champagne. It was just an amazing amazing day. THANK YOU to everyone who took time out of their day to help make my day so special. I am so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life.

I’ve always liked to reflect on things that a new year of life has taught me, and this year, more than most, I have learned some of the harshest lessons that reality has to offer.  But, I have had 28 years to learn all kinds of valuable life lessons, and in the spirit of beginning another trip around the sun, here are 28 things I have learned at 28.

 

  1. Happiness is a choice. The past will hurt you if you choose to let it. You can grow stronger from pain if you don’t let it destroy you.  This has become my everyday reality for the last 9 months. I constantly have to remind myself that I can choose to be happy. That I have to take everything as a bump that will make me stronger. Even in my sadness I can find moments of happy and it’s one of the hardest things that I have ever done. 
  2. When you change it doesn’t mean others are changing with you.  I have been blessed to have some of the most amazing people in my life. The saddest part about growing apart is that people seldom do it at the same time. For various reasons people come and go in life, but what’s important is never forgetting what those people taught you.
  3. If you love someone, tell them. You never know when it might be your last chance. Love without fear. Your heart won’t lie to you. 
  4. You can never take too many pictures. Someday you’ll long to have evidence of those memories you hold dear. There are periods of my life that I wish I had more pictures of, even now. My time in England, high school, my pregnancy. Take the time to stop and smile. You’re beautiful. 
  5. Never let making a living get in the way of making a life.  A lesson taught to me early in my university life by the incredible Tom Brophy.  I am not my job. 
  6. Learn when to say, “no”. If you are always agreeable, people will take advantage of you.  Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person, sometimes it just makes you a realistic one. 
  7. Stay true to your friends ALWAYS.  They’ll save your life in more ways than one. 
  8. Some people are jerks.  They’re not worth your time so don’t waste your breathe. Sometimes you have to give up on people. Not because you don’t care, but usually because they don’t.  
  9. Always wear incredible underwear. Even if you’re the only one who will see it that day. Good underwear make you feel like you can take on the world. 
  10. Don’t let comparing yourself to other people steal your joy.  I am not anyone else. They haven’t walked in my shoes. We haven’t had the same experiences. I will never be them. They will never be me. 
  11. Try not to be so hard on yourself. If someone talked about you the way you talked about yourself, would you be friends with them?
  12. Care about your appearance. This might go against every other “life lesson” list that you have ever read, but it’s completely ok to take pride in how you look. Do your hair, put on your makeup, and always dress up instead of dressing down. You’d be amazed what it does for your confidence, and you’ll never know who you’ll impress that day (especially yourself!) 
  13. Never let anyone borrow money. Give it away if you must, but don’t expect it back. Too many friendships have been sacrificed to unpaid debts. 
  14. Be thankful more often. Saying thank you, and honestly meaning it, is one of the most important interactions you can have with another person. 
  15. You don’t need everyone to like you. If everyone likes you, you’re doing something wrong. 
  16. Believe in something.  God, science, humanity, yourself; we all need something to believe in.
  17. Bad things happen to good people. Believing anything else will cause you to lose faith in the world. Everyone has their own pain. It’s what you do with the pain that matters
  18. Take time to step out of your comfort zone. That’s where you’ll shine the most. 
  19. Speak when you’re angry and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret. Calm down. Think before you speak. 
  20. Sometimes people thousands of miles away from you can make you feel better than somebody right beside you. You know who you are.  Some of the best and most amazing people I know are the ones I have spent the least amount of physical time with.  Sharing physical space with you is amazing, but it’s not needed to make you the most incredible friends. 
  21. No relationship is ever a waste of time.  I have been in some REALLY shitty relationships.  I don’t regret any of them. They taught me exactly what I needed to know at that moment. I could have been spared the pain and heartache, but I will forever be indebted for those lessons. They have made me the fiercely loyal and assertive person I have become.
  22. Winnie the Pooh holds many secrets to life. Seriously. The bear is WISE. 
  23. Open communication is key. If you have a problem with someone, tell them. Don’t shy away from confrontation. Passive-aggressiveness will get you nowhere. 
  24. Friendship is not a conditional thing. If you’re my friend, be my friend, do not be my friend under certain circumstances. If you decide to do that, you were my never my friend to begin with and I do not need you in my life.
  25. Just because is the best reason to do something nice for someone else. 
  26. Words to live by:  Picture yourself as a cup and Love as water. First you must fill the cup completely and it will overflow and spread around you. If you just spill it everywhere, you’re left empty. A dear friend taught me this when I was 15 and it literally saved my life.
  27. Beauty comes in all sizes.  Not just a size 5, or 12, or 16 or 22. ALL  SIZES.  Scales belong on a  fish. Health. Health is what’s important. If you’re not healthy you’ve got nothing.
  28.  Love yourself. Above all else. Love yourself. 

 

 

 

 

 

Purpose

I am, and always have been, fiercely independent. But I am also terrified of being alone. I have been so lucky to have the most amazing people surrounding me throughout this nightmare. Friends who try (as hard as they might)  to pick me up. And friends who, when they discovered I couldn’t be picked up, laid down beside me to listen for awhile. You have loved me at my darkest.  But despite that, I have felt so utterly alone in all of this. Not because they haven’t been incredibly supportive, but because there’s just no possible way they could understand.

Yesterday someone I know posted this blog post on my facebook wall:

http://facetsoflifeafterloss.blogspot.ca/2013/08/dear-non-bereaved-mama-with-love.html

It’s a letter to mothers with their children from a bereaved mother.  I have read literally hundreds of articles and blogs over the last 7 months, but none of them have resonated with me the way this one has.  It’s like she reached into my soul and pulled out the ords I couldn’t find.

I am so grateful that you don’t know how life is after the loss of your child.  I am so grateful that you don’t know the pain, the heartache or the desperation that takes occupancy within my heart.

Sometimes I wish you would just “understand” me, but then again I am so grateful that you don’t.

Sometimes all I want to do is sleep and sometimes I am afraid to.

Sometimes I am so sad.

Sometimes it is too hard to look in the mirror because there I see the pain in my eyes that I feel in my heart.

Sometimes I want to tell you how hard it is but I have resorted to just telling you I am “okay,” that’s what the world thinks I should be anyway.  Sometimes it is easier to just be “okay” in society until I get home to silence and then, then I wish I had a friend.

The loneliness struck again this week. I thought back to the day we came home from the hospital after leaving Everlee.  Led through the back halls of the hospital.  Empty handed.  Darcy didn’t have to walk into the hospital with an empty car seat, and carry her out to the car for the first time. I remember that feeling of extreme isolation.  That no one I knew – not a single person – understood what it felt like to deliver their full-term baby after they already knew she was gone. 

I don’t let people in often. I may seem like the kind of person who wears her heart on her sleeve, because I have been so brutally honest with my feelings and my grief here. But believe me when I say that there is so much, and so many thoughts and feelings that I don’t share here. Fear of being judged and  fear of losing control stop the words from escaping my finger tips. But this blog has allowed me to open up in ways I never have before. I don’t let people see me like this. If I tell you that you’re my friend that means a lot. If I tell you that I love you, know that it’s not a phrase or expression and know that I actually love you in the best and most honest ways that I can. And if I tell you that I trust you, know that you are among the elite in my life. But even then, opening up is so very hard for me.

But all of this pain has to have a purpose. If it doesn’t, I might as well wither away and die. I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say “because of you, I didn’t give up”. That thought it what keeps me going. That thought it what keeps me writing. Everlee can’t have died in vain. If she has, then I have no reason to keep going. Her life, no matter how short, has a purpose. And it’s my job to fulfill that now

Because of you,  Everlee, I’ve had to grow thicker skin and be stronger than I ever knew I could possibly be, even though most days I barely have the strength to lift my head to look at the world. I’ve had to accept that terrible things happen. To good people, even.  And there’s nothing you can do to change it or fix it. I’ve had to learn how to accept things I never wanted to accept.  I’ve had to learn to make myself laugh again. To want to live life again. To find joy again.

 

Five Months.

It’s peculiar, people often ask me why I’ve chosen to write about Everlee, our family and my feelings on being a childless first time mother. It constantly amazes and humbles me when I see people and they make reference to reading my blog. Neighbours, friends, family and colleagues, but most surprising to me, dozens of other moms that have found themselves in this very lonely and sad club that we never wanted to be a part of. I have received emails from all over the world, and have found support online where there has been a void in my every day life. In the very early days it was simply to find my lost voice. To find a way to express those most deep raw emotions that could only bubble on the surface of my consciousness.

In the last 5 months this blog has been viewed by over 50000 people, and from what I can gather, has about 500 regular readers who read every entry. At the beginning, I didn’t care if anyone ever read what I wrote, but now I see that this space has become so much more to me than a place to let my words spill from my soul.

To a lot of people, Everlee was only ever a bump on my belly. A fun little (slash not so little) roundness that I carried around and made me waddle. She was something that made my tummy go thump and made me love chicken wings and flakies. But in writing this blog, I have been able to give people a glimpse into the person she was, and could have been. She was spirited, and active and she was loved more deeply than I ever thought I was capable of loving. She made me happier than I had ever been in my entire life in her short time with us. And losing her will always be the most painful thing I have ever had to endure. But having her, even for the shortest amount of time that she was with us, was the happiest I have ever been.

And that’s why I continue to write. So we never forget a beautiful little girl who brought an unimaginable amount of joy for a much too short time.

Happy 5 month birthday, baby girl.

Set Adrift

There’s something to be said about being cut off from the world completely for a week. This post will be scattered and disjointed, much like my brain. So please try to keep up.

The cruise was really great. A new adventure every day and something exciting always right around the corner. Waking up in a new place every morning. It was a week of much needed distraction, sunshine and adventure. I had fun. I even slept a little. But it wasn’t without its challenges. There were over 700 children on the ship. A lot of small babies. It made my heart ache. The first night in the dining room we got seated with a couple who were MAJOR religious folks, and when we told them about Everlee (they asked if we had kids) they told us they too had lost a baby they droned on and on about how it was God’s will and that we might not understand, but god does. Then the other couple we were with were 20 weeks pregnant. It was just not a good night. We moved tables the next day and got seated with two lovely couples around our age. It was a rough start.

There wasn’t a moment I didn’t think of my darling little girl. Every moment. Every experience. I just wanted her there so badly it ached. I vowed to myself that I would live life to the absolute fullest, because she could only live through me now. I want her to experience the world through me, so I have to try new things and go on adventures for her. It’s a thought that’s working for now, but I still can’t shake the guilt in being here. I still feel mad at myself for smiling. I posted a picture of myself on Facebook on our formal night on the ship:

20130422-193230.jpg

The comments about how nice I looked and how great it was to see me smile made me feel awful. I have no idea why. I guess I just feel like I’m betraying Everlee somehow. Like I shouldn’t be allowed to smile yet. I miss her so much. But it’s nice to have the anonymity here. The anxiety has eased a little around crowds knowing that not everyone sees my dead little girl when they look at me here, but now thinking of going back makes me ill.

In Jamaica I found a tanzanite necklace and earrings set that I absolutely loved. Darcy bought them for me for Mother’s Day, from Everlee. I cried so hard. I will cherish them forever.

Today began another ten days in Orlando. We went to Island of Adventure in Universal. It was fun. I went on my first big girl roller coaster and survived, and drank some butter beer at Hogwarts in the wizard inn world of Harry Potter.

I’m trying very hard to put one foot in front of the other each day bravely, but I still wake up every morning not wanting to get out of bed, and cry myself to sleep every night. I’m having moments of happiness during the day, but more than anything I’d give up this entire trip for just one half a second to hold Everlee again.

The Loss of Potential

I so desperately want to write something tonight. I’ve been sitting here looking at a blank screen for what seems like hours listening to the wind howling outside and I can hear the faint sounds of the TV from the basement where Darcy is. But the screen has remained empty for the majority of that time. Much like me. Another stage of mourning I suppose, but I feel just so used up. So empty and worthless. Not in a pity-party kind of way, but in a deeply tired in my soul way. Like a used tin can; contents emptied, can tossed aside. Of no use anymore.

These past few days have been particularly hard for no real evident reason, aside from the obvious. I’ve found myself wanting more and more to crawl into bed and cry for hours on end. My nights are still plagued with sleeplessness. I haven’t gotten more than two hours sleep in a row since Everlee died. I rarely sleep more than 3 hours a night. It’s really doing a number on my body, and it gives my mind no time to relax. It’s hard, on top of everything else that is already so incredibly hard. 

Today we started looking at headstones. I kept a brave face (I’m getting much better at swallowing my tears) but it was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve done in this whole process that has become my life. This will most likely be the last thing I ever buy for Everlee. The last thing I can really do for her. It will be her marker in the world. It’s how people will know she was here and that she was loved. How do I pick something like that? How do I commemorate the death of the dreams – first steps, words, days of school, riding a bike, learning how to swim and fish? How do I not only adequately mark the loss of our daughter, but a grandchild, a niece (by blood and love), a childhood friend for my friend’s children? How do I mark the loss of all of her potential and not just 34 weeks?

I thought Darcy and I would pick out a headstone today, I really wanted to get it done before we escaped for awhile,  but when we got there I was just flooded with all of that reality. This isn’t unfinished business to be dealt with. It’s a memorial to everything she was and could have been. I can’t rush that.  Her headstone will be simple, but I want it to be perfect, just like her. It’s worth that time. 

And for the first time I feel angry and jealous. I should be picking out dresses and hair bows. Instead I’m picking out headstones. 

Can you see that my baby is dead?

In this new life I am living, I go out into the world everyday and do my “supposed to’s”. I’ve resolved to get out of bed every morning (well mostly every morning, some mornings I just can’t), get showered and dressed and face the day. I try to accomplish something every day, despite the anxiety and the crushing grief, I face the day. Sometimes I stop in my tracks because reality hits me like a ton of bricks. I’ll see a mother with her children, or a pregnant lady at the store. Sometimes I’ll just remember something that happened the night I was in labour but had completely forgotten. Like today, out of no where I remembered that I had thrown up twice overnight while I was in labour. I have no idea why I remembered that, but the reality of it slapped me across the cheek and I can still feel the sting.  But everywhere I go there is this background music in my head, every conversation I have I hear it, every person I am with, I wonder do they know? It never stops.

“Can you see that my baby is dead?”

I look like I just had a baby. I have that telltale pooch in my tummy (not to mention my massive chest). I’ve never been one to feel particularly comfortable in my body. Truth be told, I have hated my body my whole life. I have always suffered from somewhat low self esteem when it comes to my physical appearance. I’ve never felt beautiful, not even pretty. I’ve almost always been overweight, save for the year before I became pregnant when I had actually lost enough weight to finally feel comfortable in my own skin. And now my body, my physical appearance, serves as a constant reminder of losing my daughter. I lost her and I lost all of the hard work I put into trying to accept my body again. Now when I look in the mirror all I see is failure and self loathing. 

One of the things I am struggling with quite a bit now is the loss of who I was before Everlee died. I look at pictures of myself taken in the days and weeks before we lost her and I don’t even recognize that person. There’s one in particular that haunts me. A picture taken at Christmas, about six weeks before Everlee died. We were in front of the christmas tree and in the picture I am laughing. I am looking somewhere just beyond the camera lens. I look at this picture over and over. The woman I see there is content. I see her, smiling and confident, and feel an odd sense of detachment. I stare into my own eyes looking for clues- clues to what I’m not really sure; maybe some foreshadowing of the nightmare that will shortly begin, maybe some answer to how I will continue to survive. I envy her, but also pity her- she has no idea what’s coming.

Lost

I’m not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.

―  Winnie the Pooh 

The one thing that they never tell you that happens in all of those “What to expect” books, the blogs I read, the magazines I browsed has happened to me, as it happens to an incomprehensible number of families every year. My baby died before she was even born.  Everything I dreamed, everything I had hoped for shattered like a pane of glass in hurricane winds. There are no instructions to be found to guide me and my family through this unrelenting grief. There are no contour maps anywhere to be found to tell me the heights of the mountains I have yet to climb, or how low the valleys are that I will have to traverse. There is no timeline to let me know if in six months, eight months, two years… can I expect the pain to have diminished? Even a little?

Despite what anyone says about the stages of grief, sorrow is not linear; it ebbs and flows each day, sometimes each hour, for as long as it needs. There are no road signs, no maps to warn me of slippery slopes, or dangerous curves. I have no idea how many miles I’ll have to travel before I reach my destination: the day when I can smile or laugh again. When the pain no longer cripples me in all of my waking moments.

It’s a sad and secretive club I’ve joined. It’s vastly different from the one I envisioned months ago when that little digital screen popped up with it’s positive symbol and three joyous letters, y-e-s. I was unaware of the sorrow and the grief that lay ahead of me. In that happy, easy time in my life that I now refer to as Before, I never imagined how deeply anguish could penetrate my life.

People surreptitiously glance my way from time to time. They try to gauge how I’m managing in life After and judging my pain by appearance alone. Never daring to ask. Some of them choose to tell me ridiculous things like they lost their pet a few months ago and know exactly how I feel. Or commenting on how I look since I lost “all of that weight”… that weight was my daughter. Others whisper behind my back and hope I won’t notice. I long for them to speak to me and ask me how I am, and say Everlee’s name – she had a name, and a face and she was beautiful and so amazingly perfect. And she was so close to coming home. She isn’t just a faint memory. She is a person.

Even worse, the well meaning people, woefully misinformed people.  They tell me it’s for the best, that I have an angel now, that this was Gods plan and comfort me by telling me that I can always have another. Another child will never replace the one I lost. Everlee is my first born.  Sometimes I wonder how people can be so stupid. And I’m quickly reminded that they aren’t being malicious, they’re just not a member of this horrible nightmarish club. I realize how little I knew Before. No book, no article, no well-intentioned word of warning told me that my baby could die days before her due date, after the crib was assembled and the hospital bags were packed. Nothing could have prepared me for this – so why do I expect anyone else to be any different?

My future life of living

There are so many moments when I am flooded with missing her. The shock hits me like a freight train that she’s really gone. I know that it sounds crazy, but it scares me to think of a time when I don’t get hit with how much I miss her, then she will seem farther so much farther away.

Mornings are hard, I miss her… but then again afternoons are rough, evenings difficult and night-time is downright painful. So my logical self (she doesn’t pop out too often) knows that life will start to grow around the pain and the missing, that it will be permanent piece in my new normal- my future life of living.

Do I ever hope life gets easier? Do I ever want to feel less pain? I know the answers to those questions, for me, are not the answers people would assume. I don’t really hope life gets easier. I don’t really want less pain. In a way, those are the ways I KNOW that I remember, the ways my heart knows she was so important and real. When I don’t feel pain or I start to move a little easier will that mean I have moved on? I don’t know, all these things my brain will get to, when it is ready.

Right now I’ll let the weight of the day rest on my shoulders and wait for the darkness of night to consume me and my thoughts for another sleepless night. This is a journey of me finding my new normal. I miss my old normal all of the time, my normal that included Everlee. I don’t know how this new normal will ever not be broken and in a way empty, but I choose to know that there is some path out of this darkness. I didn’t just lose my baby, I lost my whole world.

Due date

It just clicked over to midnight. Since July 15th I have been anticipating this day. 

For 8 months it was with joy and love and hope and a happiness I had never experienced before in my life.

For the five and a half weeks it has been with dread and bitterness and a hatred I never thought I was even capable of experiencing. 

March 24th is/was my due date. Now, it’s just another sour reminder that she isn’t here. She won’t be coming home. It’s another day that I’ll know there’s an empty crib behind that closed door in our house and that there’s a room full of things bought for, and given to her with love, things that she’ll never see or use. Outfits that I excitedly bought in Niagara Falls in October. A stroller that I have pushed miles around the basement and practiced opening and closing when no one was looking. Boxes of diapers I bought on sale so I wouldn’t have to worry about running to the store in those hectic first few months. And empty picture frames for those milestones she’ll never conquer. Constant reminders of my sweet Everlee and the future she’ll never have. I feel my entire being brimming with adoration and longing and wonder. Then my whole body aches by my broken heart. But I miss you, Everlee, with every breath I take.

Darcy and I decided we’d try to celebrate this day. Odd? Perhaps. We just both had been looking forward to it for a lifetime – her lifetime. We didn’t want to let it pass. Not without some recognition. Everlee deserves that. We deserve that. We’re going to go out to dinner. We’re going to talk about her. We’re going to remember her and celebrate all of that joy she brought to us for as long as we had her, and we’re going to be thankful for everything she gave us in her much much much too short life. 

And I’ll grieve. Like I have every day since she left us. And I’ll cry. Like I have every day since she left us. And my heart will ache for my lost baby. That painful sour lump in my throat will get bigger.  And I’ll survive the day. 

I’ve felt like the loneliest most broken woman on earth. Life is in a holding pattern. I try to remind myself of all the things I have to be thankful for. My husband, my best friend. My family. My friends. My good health.  The generosity of those who have donated to Ronald McDonald House in her name. My writing.  And yet, even among these many things that I list, there is a huge, empty, void. She is gone. She is still gone. This void is here in me. Every moment. Every day. I miss her. I miss my baby girl. 

Happily Ever After

 

When it comes to the stages of grief, research and leading psychologists suggest that I am supposed to be angry by now. I should hate the world for what happened to my beautiful little Everlee. I should be mad at God, Mad at the health care system, mad at fate for giving me such a beautiful little girl and stealing her away before she ever got a chance. But I’m not. I’ve never been an angry person. I can count on one hand how many times in my adult life I’ve been truly angry. Anger doesn’t seem to get anyone, anywhere. 

The only thing I can bare to be angry at, still, is myself. I’m mad that I was so naive. That I expected everything would be ok. That I took the fragility of life for granted. I’m mad that my body failed her.  And I find it hard to understand why those that grieve my little girl aren’t equally as mad at me. My body was supposed to protect her. It was supposed to be the safest place for her. But it failed. I failed. Rationally,  there was nothing I could have done. But I’m still haunted by the the thought that ultimately, all I could be was her coffin. 

I’ve never felt old, despite having been through a lot in my 27 years. I’ve always felt youthful, things have never wearied me as they seem to with others. I’ve never dreaded birthdays, and I’ve welcomed them and celebrated them with open arms. I was married at 24 and expecting my first child at 26, but always felt that I was just a baby myself, pretending to be a grownup in a great big world.  But as I look in the mirror now I’ve aged more in the past 5 weeks than I have in the past 15 years. The world weighs heavily on my shoulders. My eyes sag with sadness and exhaustion. Smiling is a chore – The corners of my mouth weigh a ton a piece. I’ve seen the thin veil, that delicate tiny line, that separates life and death.

I’ve often wondered what it takes for a person to survive something like this. What fabric makes up the kind of soul who can stare down the deepest and darkest tunnel of despair and turn up alive at the other end? Hardly unscathed, but alive nonetheless. People say I’m strong, but the truth is, there is a distinct difference between strength and the struggle for survival. And what I am doing is not strenght. It’s survival. It only hurts when I breathe. I think about how anything could change at any moment. We go through life planning and believing that certain things will be constant in our lives, until everything that we believed in comes crumbling down and the ground beneath us shatters. I have been thinking about this so much lately, in the endless sleepless hours of the night. The impermanence of life, of our bodies. and yet we live life planning for the future, believing we will all be here tomorrow. We find support from the earth and comfort in our homes, families and friends, but they could be gone at any moment, our homes could be lost and the earth could literally break beneath us. 

And it’s aged me. I feel myself holding back from others who seem to go on blissfully unaware of all of these life lessons I’ve had hurled at my head like bricks from a runaway train in the 5 weeks since Everlee has died. Don’t they know what could go wrong? Don’t they know that tomorrow isn’t promised to everyone? Don’t they know not everybody gets a happy ending? Not every story is a fairy tale. Not everyone lives happily ever after. 

But I’m not angry and I’m not strong. I just survive.