Letters to Orla

Moving forward, not moving on

Dear Orla, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment I first wrote those two words, almost exactly twenty four hours after you were born.  I woke at home and my eyes immediately fixed on the empty crib beside our bed.  Empty.  Empty crib, empty arms, empty belly.  It’s a feeling that you can only truly know if you had been though loss.  For a while, I wondered if this was just how it was when you had given birth; to go from feeling stretched and fit to burst, to utterly empty to the core.  Empty within your bones. But I can confirm that it is not.  Loss carves out something from within you that is more than the physical.  It scoops away a part of your soul that you didn’t even know existed, let alone would miss so deeply.

Dear Orla.  Two words that were written every single day from there on until your first birthday.  The letters that followed were varied; some long and heartfelt, others brief but no less meaningful.  They were words that I found grounding at a time when I felt as though my place within the real world had been compromised. Severed.  Words that connected your dad and I to each other and to you, and created a story of your existence in the space that belonged to you, and you alone, even in your absence.

Dear Orla.  Words that re-connected me with the emotions behind the writing.  Years of therapy letters had shown me the importance of words, but suddenly I was left wondering whether I had said enough.  Whether I had really been able to convey the impact that a client had on me by so bravely sharing their vulnerability.  Whether they held those words as closely to their hearts as I had hoped they might.

Dear Orla.  These two words grew into a blog that connected me with other people; others who been through loss new and old, those who hadn’t but were willing to open their eyes and hearts to the reality of a life of longing.  A space of words that enabled me to make friends, to know that I wasn’t alone and that what I felt was normal.  That it was okay.  Dear Orla gave me a purpose when I questioned whether I could ever have one again.

Dear Orla.  So much of my heart has been invested into this space through these words. New grief.  Detached denial of the reality of the pain.  A focus on doing rather than feeling.  A slow creeping in of the dark reality of loss.  The impact of this on my mental health.  The shame of admitting this as a mother and as a psychologist.  The gradual acknowledgment of help and ongoing path of acceptance and self-compassion.  I can’t say it has shown everything, because that would not be true.  Yet it has exposed all that I have wanted and felt able to.Dear Orla.  The words that provided a space to open my eyes.  That have given me the confidence for the first time to follow my heart as well as my head.  And for a while, my heart has been questioning everything I have been doing here and what I want this to be.  I have sat with it for a long while and oscillated between extremes: to stop altogether or to follow the direction that my writing has been taking.  Maybe to change the name of the blog. Maybe to delete it.

But walking away is impossible, because this is what links me so explicitly to you.

Yet I know that our connection is deeper than words alone.  And so changing the name of this space cannot, and does not, sever this.  I am not changing what I am doing here; there is no hidden agenda and life will continue as it always does.  It is just giving me a direction at a time that I have felt as though I was losing my way.  A spark of motivation where the light was dimming.  But it hasn’t been an easy decision and has been one that has pulled deeply on my heart.

Dear Orla.  I hope that you know that by letting go of these words does not mean I am letting go of you.  You are at the core and always will be.  And deep down, I know that you know that too.

All my love.  Always and Forever.  M x

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