September 16, 2012

on healing and heartache...

I just wish I could fix everything myself. Everything and everyone.

I said those words to Jay as we took a long walk to the park this evening. It felt good to be outside in the air, walking fast, beneath the trees, along the pavement. This weekend has been a weekend of incredible healing, with a bit of heartache thrown in there for good measure. It's sort of the way it goes, I guess.

I haven't slept a full night in over a year, thanks in part to my daughter's natural sleep patterns at night—and also because room-sharing with a baby (now toddler) is just plain difficult in many ways. I never anticipated going through something like this, mostly because my mom had all my sisters and I sleeping a full 12 hours very, very early on in our lives. (I, naturally, as well as ignorantly, assumed my daughter would be the same. And, oh, was I wrong.) The past thirteen months of highs and lows when it comes to nighttime parenting could fill a book, but suffice to say I reached my final breaking point several days ago. I decided I couldn't go another night sleeping in only 2 or 3-hour stretches, and couldn't mentally or emotionally face another week like that without completely losing it.

So, we decided to begin sleep training.

And the best part of the weekend was discovering that I hadn't really given Eisley enough credit. I have been sleeping on the couch and going in to resettle her quickly when she wakes up crying. I had anticipated she'd fight tooth and nail when it came to going back to sleep without eating, but she has hardly raised a fuss at all. In fact, I feel silly calling what we're doing "cry-it-out", because she hasn't cried more than a minute any single time. I'm realizing that she is definitely ready to get a full night of sleep,'s just a matter of reassuring her and enforcing new habits.

I haven't reached a full night of sleep yet, but I already feel so much more like myself again. I guess it's just that I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The one I stopped believing was there.

It's reassuring to feel like I'm in control of something again. At least a little bit.

Of course, in many other ways, I feel so completely and utterly at a loss. This weekend I also ended up being washed under a wave of situations that leave me desperate for the right words, yet unable to say much at all. Well, much that makes any real difference, at least.

I've always felt things very deeply, and my empathy sometimes feels more like a tragic flaw than a cornerstone of my character. When people hurt, I hurt. When someone is broken, or feeling lost, or seems unable to make a good decision for themselves, I feel this weight of responsibility that is heavier than anything else. It's not as though it's technically a burden, per se, but it's a weight that reminds me to take notice of things in front of me that I tend to ignore. To take action. To be careful to protect what I love, and to also take inventory of the things I should be grateful for in my own life.

Yet, at the same time, there is a part of me that wants so desperately to be the voice of reason at the perfect moment, saying the perfect words to the one in need...even when their struggle is something beyond my experience or understanding. That I would magically offer the insight they were searching for—making them realize it's all going to be okay. That my affirmations would be enough to realize that they are enough. That I could somehow encourage enough, hug hard enough, speak gently enough to help them through to the other side without getting hurt in the process (or hurting anyone else).

There's this voice in my head that fools me into thinking that if I say the right words (the ones that always seem lost on the tip of my tongue and just out of reach) that it will all be okay. Which is so silly, because I have yet to ever be the one who is able to conjure up the perfect phrase at the perfect time.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, but it feels good to write it out. It's much better than trying to sleep with all these thoughts swirling around in my head (especially now that I actually have a chance at a full night of sleep, right?).


  1. I know exactly where you're coming from, Kerri. I think being so empathetic with others can be a cornerstone of one's character but also a heavy burden, especially if we can't find the right words to make someone else's world right again.
    I've always been someone who was taking on the problems and pain of others and it's so hard to not completely get drained by that endeavor to make the world a better place.
    I think in a lot of ways, you felt the same about Eisley and enforcing a sleep schedule with her, maybe, because you were thinking that you were not giving her all the love and attention that she deserved... but hey, I am glad you found the courage to try and to find out that Eisley is indeed very cooperative :)

    Here's hope for a full night of uninterrupted sleep for you!

  2. San's words are brilliant. In addition to those words, I shall merely offer hugs. Lots and lots and lots of hugs.

    1. Please come visit again, because I'd like a hug in person, too. ;) Thank you for always being so encouraging and sweet!

  3. I feel like I am always commenting that I know exactly how you feel. This post hits so close to home for me.
    I am constantly stuggling with the fact that I want to be the "cure" for other's pain but I just can't. It's hard. I take on their pains and hurts and then when I can't help, I'm at even more of a loss.
    I want to fix everyone. I too want to be the voice of reason. I want to be their "ah-ha" moment. I want my words to make a difference. And maybe sometimes they do, and maybe sometimes they don't.
    So I totally get it. And I can't see that there's anything wrong with the way we are. Just who we are built to be.

    (hoping Eisley & you get the sleep you both need)

    1. You described it perfectly with wanting to be someone's "a-ha moment". That is exactly it.

      Thank you for your understanding, and for completely understanding where I'm coming from. :)

  4. It's been said already, but I definitely know how you feel (not about the baby part...the other one ;). I always hate seeing people, anyone, hurt and I always want to do something to fix it. It's taken me a long time to realize that I just can't help everyone, and that I need to focus on myself before I can focus on anyone else.

    Whatever it is that's going on, I hope it works itself out. And I hope that you are able to find peace knowing that you are there for someone, regardless of whether or not you have the right words.

    And while I can't send you a tissue over the internet (I saw your label for the post), I can send you a hug!


  5. Just want you to know I love you. And I'm here if you need to chat about the situation (I'm assuming I have an inkling). Love you.

    1. There is so much to catch you up on! I miss you, lady. If I ever have time to send a decent email, you'll be the first to get one. ;)

      Can't wait to see you SOON! <3

  6. I'm glad that you're starting on getting sleep! Being a Nanny, I understand how babies and toddlers can sleep, but I've never had to deal with a baby who couldn't sleep, for a full year! So it's good that problem is getting solved, little by little.
    I can relate to you on feeling things deeply. It's hard to see a friend in pain or anything. Although for me, I can never find the right words to say. I always feel like I don't say enough.
    I only 'know' you through your blog, but I'm sure you're doing the best you can in situations like that, and I'm sure you're saying the right words. And sometimes, just being there for a friend is enough.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, my friend. It means so much!

  7. Sleep training is hard. I wish I remembered how to do it.

    I, too, end up feeling what you feel when people are hurt. I so desperately want to make things better with the right words or by doing the right thing, but so often I can't. Its up to God really..and He can do so much more!

  8. I am the same way!! (As clearly a lot of people are)
    I take on other people's stressors so easily, it was worse when I was younger.
    I found it got easier to focus on myself after having a baby.
    The time I could take to nurture myself got shorter, so I needed to make sure I was doing it for the good of my own health.
    I hope the sleep training goes well, and then maybe you will find the time to sort out other peoples 'stuff' from your head, and focus on being you again, and enjoying you family :)

    1. Thank you for the thoughtful feedback! I, too, have been able to distance myself emotionally from a lot of things, now that I have a family of my own to take care of. Instead of letting it swallow me whole, it's more of a thing that comes in crazy emotional waves. :) I try to do what I can for other people, but am also trying to balance it out with the rest of my life. It's tough.


  9. Hi Kerri,

    I think we were twins separated at birth.... every time I read your blog I think I wrote it? Anyway, my little lady is going to be 13 months on Saturday and we are still not sleeping through the night. She still eats and I even though it will take a week tops to "train her" not to, I feel frozen at the thought of actually doing it. And also waking up my 3 yr old and dealing with that.....but I digress. Not sleeping more than 4 hours straight in over a year is hard. Period. I think it actually makes emotional people like us feel even deeper and sometimes unable to handle situations the way we would like. hugs to you and hope you get to catch up on sleep very soon. You are doing an amazing job and your courage is inspiring. Sometimes, I think we all we need to do is be words required :)

  10. Hi there,

    I've kept up with your blog for quite some time but don't typically comment. I just wanted to say I relate to you in many ways (plus I have a daughter born 08/14/2011). We started the habit of cosleeping because it's been so much easier with nursing but Im also at that turning point where I desperately need my daughter to start sleeping through the night (and in her crib for that matter). Thanks for being an inspiration!


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