Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great Expectations

so this is kindof a sad post. I'm just warnin ya - i don't necessarily enjoy sharing personal details - especially in writing - especially when they aren't cute or funny - but I've kindof gotten into the blogging thing and it seems like it might help.

See, I've been wracking my brain - trying to understand why I would discard three years of grad school, three more years of supervision, a year of test taking and licensure craziness (in three different states, mind you) and then a bunch of paperwork to be able to accept insurance. Why won't I practice? I thought I would love being a therapist. Even though I chickened out and applied for my MSW instead of a PhD in clinical Pych, I thought all along that I wanted to be a therapist. I knew clinicians with social work backgrounds and couldn't wait to get to that point. Family therapy, couples counseling - it all sounded facinating and helpful and lucrative.

I guess the long and short of it is that I didn't know my sister would die.

That's awful, isn't it? But the truth is, I've pretty much always had to work at staying above the depression line and all the pain shared in the course of therapy - combined with my own grief - made it really difficult. Pain doesn't always remind me of her - but it reminds me of the feelings I feel about her; because of her death.

My friend Jenny just wrote a book about parents grieving the death of their children - thru miscarraige, stillbirth, or infant death. She talks about grief - the kindof pain that hurts so bad at first - she compares the initial pain to labor - it's that intense. But later - weeks, months, years later - the pain hangs around. It levels your insides and although you can rebuild them, they show the cracks. I'm much more fearful now. I know how bad things can get and there's never a day that I don't recognize what's possible.

The gift in this - and I know this doesn't happen for everyone - is that I feel desperate for Christ. There was some weird comforting peace I experienced in the midst of Tiffany's death - especially in that first week - like someone was helping me hold up my head. It was God, I have no doubt.

But without that - without God - it would have been torture. That veil between heaven and earth seems thin to me now - and so to go to Church - to participate in the Liturgy - to remember all of those who have suffered - to be reminded of a purpose! That's really what keeps me above that depression line.

So how could I practice therapy and see people in that despair and not offer them that life raft? What other hope is there? Friends definitely help as does my wonderful family - but if you feel life is meaningless, they only go so far.

Ok - so I realize now that I can't be a therapist. But, even that makes me sad. The truth is that I really love people and wanted to be able to sit with them in that painful place. I thought that was my gift - I thought my grief would help! But I can now admit that despite the time and money invested, it is not the career for me - at least not now. And not without being able to offer the Church as a refuge!

So... I embark on a new career. One in which I have no schooling or experience - but one that I enjoy. I want to promote books. Specifically, I want to promote my husband's books. And those of precious sister-in-law - and hopefully more. I've asked my genius brother to move up here temporarily and help me get started. I've asked my artist sister for graphic design input, my business sister for contacts, and for advice from my other sister who just has an eye for beauty and balance.

Anyway - I write this, I guess, as a turning point. The permission to officially let go of the guilt and weirdness tied up in not practicing therapy. I thought, for a while, that I just had a problem "working." That I just really wanted and needed to stay home. This is in part, true. But it's also true that having something else besides parenting to think about seems to help me think about parenting (and actually parent) better. Anyway - I'm going to give it a shot. And I'm thinking about calling it, "Great Expectations."


So on February 25th, Tiffany would be 34. A healthy Tiffany would have had kids near my girls' age. We could have called each other and laughed about the ridiculous things our 2 year olds did today (mine refused to wear a coat, boots, and seatbelt - despite doing these things no problem everyday for the past 40 days). I like to think what I would have gotten for her for her birthday - morbid, I guess - but I know she would have loved Anthropology.

But even as I write this sad post, I feel a little bit grateful - that I got sick and had to rethink things. That I'm not sitting in a therapy office with people I don't know - but am instead at home, with my family, a part of my church, closer to my friends, more full of love and respect for my precious parents and in-laws. I also think that this time in Bobby's and my life is kind of exciting. It's fun to start a new business - Bobby's new job with AFR is amazing. The girls are growing and learning. In many respects, It is a hopeful time.

I guess it's just that, as the years pass, the pain of grief - although lighter - comes along, too. And while I am no longer a therapist - perhaps because of that sting, I can be a bit more present to friends/family/neighbors in need than I otherwise would have been.


Chris, Erin and Knox said...

the most perfect blog you have ever done. thank you sweet pagie for letting us know your feelings. i, myself, could not go into counseling as i had planned for those very same reasons. weird, at one point we think we know the direction god wants to take us....situations happen... and the path changes direction. i love you so much...and i love "great expectations".

paige maddex said...

thank you erin - I love you guys.

Kelleylynn said...

Dearest Paige,

Tears well up as I take in your emotional words; relating more than you know; for I too lost a beloved sibling and the saddness comes and goes, lessening year after year and then all of a sudden it's smack in front of me as the very day we lost my brother, Jack, those many many years ago.
Ah...Paige, I offer you my poor prayers, my huge hugs and all my love in Christ.
I admire your strength...Great Expectations mingled with joy and sorrow.
Have you ever read "Hinds Feet in High Places"? Possibly one of my painful-favorites. Although it is not "Orthodox", the allegorical story is beautiful.
You are truly beautiful! Therapy...well, I received some today :D thank you!

Kelleylynn said...

May the memory of Tiffany be eternal!!

Unknown said...

I am so sorry and sad to hear you lost your sister. I lost both my parents, and the grief never goes, it just does get a bit less shocking as time goes by. I am interested in your book promotion business however, and am publishing a novel in June in the UK. Would love any tips if you happen to be imparting them. We are way behind you here in the UK!

paige maddex said...

Dear Kellylynn - Thank you for your encouragement - you have no idea how comforting it was to read your comment this morning. I didn't know you had lost a brother. Truly looking forward to your visit to the midwest.

paige maddex said...

Hodmandod - I would definitely be willing to talk more via email. Please send me your email address and we can discuss the type of book you are publishing and what type of marketing services you may need.

I am sorry about your parents - may their memory be eternal!


Jenn said...

Absolutely beautiful...
and so transparently honest, it is refreshing!
I love how articulate you are in pulling together so many feelings and ideas.
I am so very happy for you, Paige. It makes me happy to know that you are happy!!! I think this is a perfect fit for you, Bobby and your sweet girls.
May Tiffany's memory be eternal!
Love and so appreciate you!!!

Unknown said...

My email address is My first novel is being published by E&T Books, a company that is relaunching itself at the same time. This means, that unlike being published by a big corporate, I have a lot of hands on influence on things. I am trying hard to get myself up to speed on US style techniques of book marketing, which are well ahead of ours. I was reading your blog because it was on my Google alerts, but any advice gratefully received.

paige maddex said...

Jen - thanks for your sweet comment - you know I'm hoping for a business partner someday!

just a sidenote - erin has had some fun times talking to you on fb!

Jenny said...


Beautiful! I am so grateful for your courage and honesty, and for how clearly you express this process. And I am so grateful that you have found your niche--the thing that gives you energy rather than exhaustion. People will respond to that energy...I'm sure of it.

guydalf said...

Paige, this is Guy. Tyra said I should read your blog. I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face. That was one of the most transparent, heartfelt, sad and yet hopeful pieces of writing I have EVER read. With the grief over the loss of Odus still twisting its way through my soul, my heart reaches out to you. My Christ continue to cradle you and your family in His precious nail-scarred hands. Thank you for sharing your soul. That is a precious gift. In His Love, Guy.

paige maddex said...

Dear Guy - thank for your encouragement! Grief is so painful - yet thru it God has felt the most real!

Our prayers are with your precious family, as well. Odus was a amazing man.

bethany said...

this is my favorite blog