Pour Your Heart Out: What Matters

At this time last week, I was struggling.

I won’t go so far as to say depression, but I was having a deep case of the blues.

A heavy blanket of sadness seemed to weigh me down, making me feel like everything I was doing was in slow motion. There was the temptation to lie down under that blanket and just cry or sleep.

It wasn’t any one thing- it was what felt like a million different little things adding up and making me feel overwhelmed.

Like a bad mom, a bad wife, a bad friend.

Everything just seemed so hard. Like there was just too much to do and not enough time, energy, or money to do it all.

That there was no point in being able to check off one item on my monstrous to-do list because I wasn’t going to be able to make a big enough dent in any of it to make a difference.

Top that off with an overwhelming sense of loneliness- missing when I lived somewhere where if I were feeling like this, a friend could come over or I could go out with a friend and I’d feel better. After over three years here, I still haven’t found that. And it’s just so lonely.

These feelings had been going on for a few weeks. By last Friday, I thought I’d reached my breaking point. I was crying before 8 am, wondering if things would ever get better, if I’d ever stop feeling so alone, if I’d ever be able to do everything that needed to be done.

The morning passed. I was online but only taking care of what needed to be done for work, so I wasn’t seeing any news from twitter or facebook.

I headed out to get my youngest from preschool and then stopped at Target on the way back home.

In one of the toy aisles, two moms were blocking my way with their carts, as they talked.

One of them was on her phone- she would listen for a few seconds and then relay what she had heard to the other mom. I considered clearing my throat or accidentally clipping one of their ankles with my cart so they’d stop gossiping and move out of my way.

And then I caught some of the words they were saying… elementary school… gun… kindergarten… bullets… students and teachers dead.

I reached out and grabbed the arm of the mom who was on the phone, probably a little too hard, and asked simply but frantically, “Where?”

Upon finding out that it wasn’t here, I have to admit, I let out a huge sigh of relief.

The horror would set in later, as I sat and watched the news coverage, thinking of those young lives cut so short, those teachers and staff who died trying to protect their students.

And I found myself crying for the second time of the day. Though this second time felt so much different.

Looking back, my sobfest of the morning seemed like a self-indulgent pity party.

This. This was a true tragedy, a real reason to cry.

The families who lost their children- they had a reason to feel a blanket of sadness over them, to feel overwhelmed, to feel lonely.

Not me.

Not me with my petty to-do list.

My to-do list, no matter how long it seemed, did not include items like planning a funeral for a 6 year-old or figuring out how to go on without one of my children.

It’s a wake up call, isn’t it? To think that something like this could happen anywhere.

While I’ve shed many tears in the days since, none of them have been for me.

I’ve been taking deep breaths and realizing everything that had previously been overwhelming me just wasn’t that important.

That I really could slowly chip away at my to-do list, but I could take deep breaths and realize what was really important.

That even if I didn’t get everything done around here, it didn’t really matter.

What mattered was having all of my kids here. That whether they were laughing and smiling or yelling and screaming- they are here.

And with them and Hubs- I’m not lonely.

And when that blanket of sadness threatens to weigh me down, I’m able to shake it off, and focus on the precious things in my life and move forward.

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  1. Yes- it certainly did put things into perspective.  It is so easy to get caught up in our own troubles and they can seem and also can be so hard and overwhelming.  But then something horrific happens and we realize we are going to be okay and we are good and we can help others whose lives have reached an unbelievable at the time.   

    I hope to remember some of the shock and pain I felt that morning just so I can keep things in perspective. 
    Emmy recently posted..Hope for NewtownMy Profile

  2. I don’t think that we can minimize how life altering this tragedy is. And yet sometimes I feel guilty because I do feel so traumatized by it. It didn’t happen to me. I didn’t know anyone. It helps to read posts like yours. People who also feel as if somehow the world has shifted because of what happened on Friday.

    • You are not alone, Heather. Something has shifted, in many of us. I’ve been in tears over this as well, and not just because of the frightening realization that it could’ve been my daughter, but because I can’t shake the sadness I feel for these parents who are saying goodbye to their babies in funerals this week. Such deep grief and injustice…and I take a portion of it on as my own, because we fellow moms have hearts and it hurts to know someone in our same shoes is hurting so deeply. We need to feel for these people. They also need to know they are not alone.
      Becky Kopitzke recently posted..The Sound of Snow FallingMy Profile

  3. As someone who battles depression I really have to limit my exposure to this tragedy. Not bury my head in the sand but I can’t dwell in it. I just can’t.

    • Cyndy, I am right there with you. I have had to limit my exposure, too. I am trying to focus on the joy my children feel right now about Christmas coming up. But it can be hard. I haven’t felt this sad for so long (outside of the death of my dad) since 9/11. If I’m not careful it could spiral into depression again. Hang in there.
      JD @ Honest Mom recently posted..5 Simple Ways I’m Reconnecting with My HusbandMy Profile

  4. It’s okay to feel sad, a tragedy like this does bring some perspective though. Keep your head up, things will get better!!! 
    Sarah recently posted..I have to say this.My Profile

  5. I think most of us are changed, in some way, after this sadness. It’s inevitable. I too, have been pulled sharply into focus with what really matters. 
    Alison recently posted..The Children Who Will Always Be ChildrenMy Profile

  6. It’s gaining perspective in a way you would rather not, no? A little part of me is dreading flying home this weekend because I will be that much closer and it will be that much more real, but yeah, as I made my to-do list lat night and realized I was going to have to drag the kids to Walmart this afternoon Then I remembered that there are 20 sets of parents who would give anything to have to drag ALL of their children to Walmart.


  7. Today, I think the name of your blog is so appropriate. THANK YOU for giving us a place to say the things we can’t say…
    Barbara Isaac recently posted..With OneMy Profile

  8. I have been feeling the same thing you are. My post today is about the same topic. 
    JDaniel4′s Mom recently posted..Live Your Life- Enjoying Gingerbread Cookie MakingMy Profile

  9. Very well written Shell!

  10. Yep. This is exactly how I have been feeling. Trying very hard to keep things in perspective. You hit the nail on the head when you said, “My to-do list, no matter how long it seemed, did not include items like planning a funeral for a 6 year-old or figuring out how to go on without one of my children.” Great post. Thanks for having a place for us to come.
    AnnMarie recently posted..A Few Things to Make the World a Better PlaceMy Profile

  11. Have to say this week has put things back into perspective for me, too. I’ve said yes to the kids a lot more often lately, and given a bunch more hugs.
    OneMommy recently posted..Hand and Footprint AngelsMy Profile

  12. Yes. A wake-up call for sure. I know what a kindergarten class looks like. This is heartbreaking. For weeks I’ve been praying for my kids to stay healthy for Christmas, and now I realize how dumb that is. I’ll take them sick in bed on Christmas Day, here, safe, home with me. And I’d count it a blessing. Sad that it takes such a tragedy to bring our own lives into perspective, but I’m with you in remembering now what really matters, Shell.
    Becky Kopitzke recently posted..The Sound of Snow FallingMy Profile

  13. This is beautiful and so on target for me. Thank you for the pep talk and the reminder to focus on the good with gratitude. So much to love! 
    Mary @ A Teachable Mom recently posted..Let’s Hug a Teacher TodayMy Profile

  14. Yes. So much, just yes. I have found that the important things have been brought into focus, and everything else seems to not really matter. 
    Tracie recently posted..Not Bereft Of The Small ThingsMy Profile

  15. And now I am crying again because you are right, Shell…this is a wake up call. Things that bothered me last week are rolling off of me like water on a duck’s back this week. I’m not going crazy trying to get everything done. I’m just trying to let my family and friends know that I love them and that I am always here for them. I hope that this isn’t something that fades. The tragedy of what happened Friday touches so close to home with all of us that we can all remember what is so very important at the end of the day. Much love to you, Shell. This post spoke for so very many of us! xo
    Kristen recently posted..What I Want For ChristmasMy Profile

  16. Shell, I had very similar thoughts. Been struggling here, too. Christmas has been hard since my dad passed away suddenly in 2010. And I’ve been overwhelmed with my to-do list, also. But I’ve taken a step back and a deep breath, that’s for sure.

    I too, feel a blanket of sadness. First it was only my sadness. Now it is sadness for the lost children and teachers and administrators. Sadness about the evil in the world. But when it starts to get overwhelming, I breathe and remind myself of my blessings. And I feel better. :-)
    JD @ Honest Mom recently posted..5 Simple Ways I’m Reconnecting with My HusbandMy Profile

  17. I watched a mom of one of the slain children talking to Anderson Cooper last night and I couldn’t believe how she was able to talk to him about her daughter without crying. In fact, she even smiled through much of it. She seems to have decided she is going to remember the happy and beauty of her girl and put on a brave face in her honor. I was astonished because I was nearly crying listening to her. It just goes to show how we all handle things differently, in our own way. Even the mundane stuff of our to-do lists. I think it’s OK that we get overwhelmed by regular life stuff sometimes. Life really isn’t easy! There is always perspective to be found.

    I don’t know if I’m making any sense….
    just JENNIFER recently posted..Tainted ChristmasMy Profile

  18. So beautifully shared…such an honest and insightful and emotionally charged perspective. I too had a hard week with different circumstances, and this tragedy changes things. We must look at our blessings… we must honor them…and hold them tight. Thank you for your genuine post.
    Chris Carter recently posted..Silence and Support for Sandy Hook.My Profile

  19. I’ve cried many tears in the past few days… and like you they weren’t for myself or mine. It’s such a tragedy. Such a senseless thing. And like you, I count my lucky stars and squeeze my kids just a little tighter.
    Susi recently posted..Santa and Mrs. Claus {Wordless Wednesday}My Profile

  20. It’s amazing how a tragedy puts everything into perspective!  Speed bumps in my own life are nothing compared to what those families are going through!

  21. now Im crying again.. Ive cried everyday multiple times a day since that has happened. It really makes you open your eyes
    brittney recently posted..Getting CraftyMy Profile

  22. I’m so sorry that you feel lonely where you live. I think Friday was a wake up call for all of us about what is important. I
    Julia recently posted..Not SilentMy Profile

  23. An event like this does show us what really matters. For the past few days, every time I want to get frustrated about something I remember that I’m lucky. I have my family and that’s everything.
    Patricia recently posted..Pomander JarsMy Profile

  24. Again, another spot on post Shell…it just makes our small battles what they are…small.  It puts it all in perspective for us.
    Natalie recently posted..Trees, Trucks, and Onesies!My Profile

  25. So, so true. I’d been feeling the same way lately, and then this happens and you’re able to take a step back and look at the big picture. Thank you for sharing, Shell.
    Hannah recently posted..Loving the Little Things: Little HolyDays Link UpMy Profile

  26. Love that sweet picture! I had a hard time dealing with the sad news last week. I literally woke up two days in a row, and cried the second my eyes opened. I just wished it wasn’t true. But, you’re right. We have to move on and focus on the precious one we are blessed with. It really puts things into perspective. 

    I missed linking up yesterday, b/c that post I shared with you this morning needed some time and tweaking. The first few drafts were too invasive of my son’s privacy, but I will be back next week for sure! :)
    Adrienne recently posted..LabelsMy Profile

  27. It is so hard to grow roots in a new area- to find friends who just “get you”. It took me about five years to find my tribe and I’m so happy that I did. But I remember those lonely days too. Your perspective was spot on as always.
    NJ @ A Cookiebeforedinner recently posted..A Call and Response.My Profile

  28. Your writing about your pain is so open and yet so encouraging, Shell.  I am so sorry you felt so very alone.

    It is hard to move to a new place and find that fit. We moved to our current home 10 years ago, and I felt the same thing you did. It wasn’t until my husband and I started going to church and got involved that we created new friendships. I always knew it was hard for kids when parents moved to a new location, but this move made it abundantly and painfully clear to me.

  29. Such a well written post.  Your words are what many are thinking. 
    Leigh Powell Hines @Hinessightblog recently posted..A Ritzy Christmas: Sweet Holiday MemoriesMy Profile

  30. I have been so sad about what happened, it’s hard to think about it without getting teary.  It definitely puts our little problems into perspective, I do think it’s still legit for you to feel lonely or sad but it’s easier to ‘get through it’ when you have such a horrible thing happen to make you realize what truly matters.  Also, if my son was in school, I would have grabbed the woman too!
    Stephanie @ Babe’s Rockin’ Mami recently posted..It’s Not Just for Grandma!My Profile

  31. The events of last week really put some perspective on things, didn’t it? I have days where I feel a lot like you, but last week really hit home and made me realize how much I really do have. My heart aches and aches for those families in Newtown. I can’t even imagine.
    Rach (DonutsMama) recently posted..Little JoysMy Profile

  32. Beautiful post, Shell.   I really can’t complain about a thing when I put my life in perspective. Glad you got some, too. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.
    Mrs4444 recently posted..Mrs.4444′s Nice ListMy Profile

  33. I can’t seem to shake the events of Newtown from my memory either, especially since Christmas is just behind us. What a god-awful tragedy. 

    But you know… you are allowed to indulge in a pity party every now and then, too. And you are allowed to admit that your feelings are legitimate In that moment, you were sad for your own reasons. But I know what you mean, too~hearing things like this really does put it all into perspective, right? 

    Have been thinking of you, Shell, and hope you had a very merry Christmas with your family. XOXO
    Charlotte recently posted..Find Happiness with GaiamTV this Holiday SeasonMy Profile

  34. It’s all about perspective, right? Well written, Mama…even if I wish you’d never had to write it in the first place.
    Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 recently posted..What’s the Haps?My Profile


  1. […] with the Pour Your Heart Out writers over at Things I Can’t […]

  2. […] I’m linking up with Shell and her “Pour Your Heart Out” linkup today, 12/19. Check out Shell’s post and all the other great blog posts on Shell’s blog here. […]