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Torture? Yes Please....

I always used to think masochists very weird and strange. I mean really, who would go out of their way to inflict pain on themselves? Well, as I have grown older and wiser (that's still up for debate) I have realized that this self infliction of pain is not so simple. First off, there are many different degrees and manifestations of masochism and it is not limited to actual physical pain. Sometimes it's a habitual emotional response to an outside stimuli. Like a sad movie that we watch over and over again just so that we can shed those bittersweet tears. Or thinking about something that made us mad before, just so that we can get outraged all over again.  Maybe it's supposed to be a way for us to deal with whatever issues we have and when we fail, we have to keep going through it again and again. Hopefully by the umpteenth time we will finally get it and change, before the cycle becomes habitual because once that happens, you're heading for serious trouble.
I realize that lately that I have become a type of masochist, and unless I find a way out, things are going to get ugly. Sure it's all just an emotional temptation that gets justified by fancy names etc, but sometimes it's all you can do to hold on to your sanity. Take for example, our situation with Leo. Every day that goes by, though of course precious, is just one closer to the end. Of course one can argue that is the same with any child, however most people think in terms of lifetimes, as opposed to months or (if you're lucky,) years. So lately I've been feeling really tortured, and the torture is of my own devise. I find myself automatically comparing Leo to other babies, worrying about his weight, buying him cute outfits, in other words, trying to make him normal. And then when my self-constructed reality of normalcy doesn't stand up to scrutiny, I fall apart along with it. Again and again. I have nightmares of myself as this tortured soul who is completely unapproachable and an outcast. The mad woman wailing at the moon. There really is no grief like that of a mother's for her child. I remember sitting in the ultrasound room after the doc told me my baby had no brain and will probably die at birth. I remember sitting there and screaming at her that I can't watch my baby die. Poor woman probably had to take an antacid after she left us. Yes, Leo is still alive, and right now, gloriously healthy, so what is my problem? Well that's just it. Torture me, torture me, as they say in Russian... Hopefully this replay of all my fears and heartbreak is so that I can "get over it," as they say, and stop trying to make Leo fit into my old self. My old self is gone, along with what I thought was a pretty normal and rational world. Now I am a mom of a very different baby, in a very different and scary world. But we all sign up for this in some way, when we are in a position to have kids, even though most of us don't ever think about it. This could be you, and how would you deal with it??? And if it has to come with a spoonful of torture just to see my son's precious smile? Give me more, thanks!


  1. Oh, what a love! That is an ear-to-ear grin!

    You are all still in my daily prayers.

  2. wow. That's a kick in the teeth (in a good way). I really value your reflections here. What a beautiful boy. We love ya'll.

    dn john for the Coxes

  3. We love you Anna. You have entered a realm that most of us could not bear, and you are truly crucifying your passions. This morning our Ethics professor said that we all claim to be willing to lay our lives down for another - but that we want it to happen instantly. It's the long, drawn-out slow-motion process of struggling against our passions that we hate and that is so hard. And that's exactly what you are doing every day with such grace and love. God bless you.

  4. Thank you for sharing with us. Leo, Nika, Justin and you are in our hearts and prayers. Leo has had such an impact on my family. Much love to you from your spiritual family at St. Gregory's.

  5. His new title pic is just so handsome. I'm rarely sappy about babies but if I was ten years younger Leo would make me want to rush out and find a husband and have one.

  6. Dear Anna, Thanks for sharing your heart with us. I have no idea how I would deal with it if it were me. I wish there was more I could do to help you carry this heavy load.
    Love and prayers,

  7. Dear Anna,

    Your words hit close to home.
    No, I am not struggling as you are with Leo. Yet, there are struggles when these babies, oh-so-cute-babies, grow into adolescence, soon-to-be teenagers, and hopeful responsible adults, one discovers, well I have-anyway, that I've had to learn to love them all over again when they aren't so cuddly, so cute, etc. When their run-away back-talk, rebellion, and disobedience smacks you right in the eyes, torturing your heart. Then, I learn (learning not mastering this) to love unconditionally...thankful that I am given the chance bestowed by God's grace; needing to give His mercies.
    However, your pain today is my pain...I can remember all too well those screaming, tearful cries...torture.
    Even if we are given but a brief interlude, parenting is much joy mingled with pain...I truly believe the two are not separate. It's the piercing arrows in our hearts. Love you so very much.
    We still pray fervently for you all. Please pray for us too.

  8. Dearest Anna.You are absolutely right there is no bigger grief than that of a mother for her child.I could not even begin to imagine all the struggles and turmoil that you and Justin are going through.Your old self is gone because it is being crusified through your acceptance and simple "Yes". I pray that in the midst of all your trials God will give you strength,
    unwavering faith and His peace.
    What a stunning smile!For a smile like this a cup of torture would'nt be to much.Every cell of Leo's body is beaming and celebrating life. What a challenge for the rest of us! Love to all.

  9. Anna, you are all remembered on the diskos at every Liturgy I am blessed to serve. God guard you!

  10. Anna and Justin,

    We are honored and blessed to know you.

  11. Dearest Anna,

    I was touched by your post on my blog -- and I'm touched by Leo's smile -- he's got my heart, I can only imagine what he's doing to yours! What a handsome little boy. Thank you for your prayers for Lucia, will be sure to pray for Leo too.

    You're right...words do only go so far, but I have to say that there is almost an instant connection to someone that knows exactly what you're going through.

    God bless your family, especially Leo, and give you and your husband the strength and faith you need. Lately, I've been low in these departments so I know how important prayers of others are at this time. Sending one up right now for what it may be worth. With much love and thoughts for you as his VERY special and wonderful mom, and for your Leo,


  12. A friend of mine (Joe) died a week before our wedding, and in the many months afterward, his widow wrote about how so many people try to offer something but often end up saying something stupid or awkward. When she met other young newlywed widows, they had a term that they called "DGIs". It referred to all the other people who, however well intentioned, just Don't Get It. She wrote (also here on blogspot) about the support that she appreciated and also the strange things that people would do or say with the best of intentions. It wasn't a judgment; it was simply a fact.

    Last year a distant nephew of mine was killed right before Christmas, and my dad, as the most senior member of that branch of the family in the US had to handle a lot of the arrangements. He was 23, and it was his mother who called my parents to tell them. The very next call my parents received was from Joe's mom, and all she could do was wail that no one else can possibly understand what it is to lose a child. That until one loses a child, one can't understand it. She shared the grief of my nephew's mother, and she grieved for his mother for the grief she would now have to endure.

    It has haunted me all along, and now, reading your musings, I feel that same tug at my heart: that I don't know and can't truly understand, however much I may try. I am a DGI in this situation.

  13. As usual I am moved by what you write and your beautiful photographs of Leo. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  14. Thanks for sharing with us. I keep you and Leo in my prayers.


    michelle from seminary


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