I’m lost too

I have been attending therapy. I have been diagnosed with PTSD now by one medical doctor, two therapists, and one psychiatrist, although I tend to disagree. I think it is more like OTSD, ongoing traumatic stress disorder. I mean, there is nothing “post” about it, is there? Not only is Michaela still gone, she is still missing. And while I am ever thankful that her case is still active, that there are people still looking for her, that there are still leads to investigate … well, perhaps you can imagine the ongoing stress of this. Or perhaps you can’t. I myself have a hard time imagining it, and I live it. This perhaps is part of my problem. I find it really difficult to face these things directly. Instead I take an oblique approach. I deny and distract, and that leaves all the “stuff” still there to leak out all over the place.

So I am going to therapy. I have tried this here and there over the years, sat in a chair and talked and talked, but it all just seemed to go in circles Talk doesn’t fix this stuff. I’d kind of given up, but I decided to go back because I am having a hard time doing what I need to do in life, or even doing what I want to do. Time just seems to slip away from me, and I can’t seem to grasp it, hold it still, make it work for me. I’m not even going to go into the details of what this means in my life. I’ll just suffice it to say that it is frightening.

Anyway, I’ve done a fair amount of talking in therapy this time, but this therapist also does somatic work, including tapping and EMDR. In what we have done, I have closed my eyes and I have sought out the emotions and where they reside in my body and what they are doing. I look to see what comes up in association with the various issues and emotions. That allows some connections to be made that I hadn’t otherwise considered, perhaps. Yesterday I was dealing with feelings of guilt and anger. I know I have both of those feelings regarding not only Michaela, but also my mother, who passed away 12 years ago. There are people who like to receive visitations from their loved ones who have passed on, but not me, and that is probably because there are so many negative emotions tied up here. With Michaela, even though I don’t feel actual guilt over allowing her to go to the store that morning, I do feel the general, more overpowering and all pervasive guilt of a mother whose child desperately needed her help when she was completely powerless to do anything. Yes, there are a lot of superlatives there. It is absolutely an overwhelmingly superlative feeling. You could never pile together enough words to reach the top of it, or to begin to plumb the depths of it.

And I’m a person who feels a lot of obligation to those I love, which is how I come to have guilt regarding my mother. It’s just little things, a day or two here or there that I chose to spend alone rather than with my mother, and because my mother was never one to voice her needs or complaints, just having a general imagining of what those needs might have been that I failed to fulfill.

The anger … well, I had to acknowledge that I am also a little bit angry at both Michaela and my mother for leaving me. We’re talking about my own rotten feelings here, not what’s right or even what’s real. And, well, I feel that rotten feeling.

The guilt and anger are part of what prevents me from properly entering into and processing the grief, and this is on top of the inability to complete the grieving process with Michaela because I don’t know that she is dead. For all I know she could be out there somewhere this minute, alive, possibly suffering terribly, because when she needed help I couldn’t help her. I failed her.

Seriously, how can I live with this stuff? What can I do with it?

I thought it was interesting that yesterday while I was following feelings in my therapy session, that at one point I found myself at church. It was my church, the one I belong to and used to attend. I was not in the sanctuary. I was in the hallway on the other side of the building, in between the children’s rooms and the bathroom. I thought it was really weird that I should be there. I connected it at the time with my feelings of being unacceptable. This hallway was a place I often visited right after the service ended, because it was where the bathroom was, and also where an occasional class might be held. People tended to congregate there a bit, to gather in groups of friends to chat. There were people there that I knew kind of superficially and I might say hello, who all seemed to have in depth relationships with each other. I didn’t, for probably a lot of reasons, but beyond all that was the thought that if those people really knew me they would not accept me. I had too many questions that would not be stilled. I was too much of a political and social liberal for their taste.

But as I got in my car to leave yesterday, another thought came to me. I had been exploring my negative feelings, guilt and anger, and I realized that this was an area where I do actually feel a sense of anger. I left Christianity feeling absolutely betrayed. Although I had ostensibly come to terms with God’s place in what happened to Michaela, and what didn’t happen to Michaela (as in not being rescued and brought safely home), can I ever really totally get past that? If I can’t get past it with myself, a powerless human being, can I actually get past it with God, who is all powerful? All loving? Where is the love? Where where where? Lately I have been feeling overwhelmingly betrayed by that book I used to love so much, the Bible. Where is the love in there? Oh, there are beautiful soaring passages of love, for sure, but there is so much hate, so much anger, so much lashing out by the God portrayed there. I was falling asleep the other day, and I was trying to make contact with this God I don’t know anymore, and the essence of what I felt was that a God who created and/or sustained life would feel more tenderness for his creation. He would feel our hurt and confusion and would touch us softly in those places I am just a person, and I recognize that so much of bad behavior comes out of deep pain, and my God would want to put his arms tenderly around that hurt and shed tears with us. And sure, that God is there in the Bible, but the predominant God I see is not that way, The God that actually resides in the pages of the Bible did not advise the parents of a rebellious teen to try to understand his suffering and confusion and take him in their arms and love him. Nope. God said to stone him to death, to completely obliterate any chance for him to heal, to come to understand his own pain so that he could help others with theirs, to become a loving member of his community. I don’t like that God. That is not a God that I can follow. Yet that God kept appearing over and over again in the pages of the Bible, and once I saw that I felt just betrayed, like I’d discovered my spouse who I thought was one person turned out to be someone else entirely with another life I knew nothing about.

I have been feeling much like checking out lately. I’m not sure I have the true ability to do that. I mean, I can. I can lie in bed and drift in nowhere. But even when I do that my mind is telling me that there is something I should be doing. Even when I am checked out, along with the weariness there is a restlessness that fills me. Where is that restlessness leading me, what should I be doing? And second, can I get a grip on myself well enough to actually do it if I can figure out what it is?

Maybe you know God better than I do. I know there are people out there who are praying for me. I do appreciate your prayers so much. I appreciate the love, for Michaela, and for me, and for my family.

Michaela, I always hesitate to write things like this. What if you are out there? What if you are reading this? Would I even be strong enough to hold the truth if I were to be given it? I don’t know, my sweet child. I don’t know. But I love you. I love you I love you I love you. Sometimes you float in my head, an idea, a missing child. But then I feel you in my heart, my flesh and blood child who I love so much, who is a part of my own heart. I feel the joy, the warmth, the promise of a lifetime of happiness, and I am devastated by its theft, astounded that it could have actually all happened. But here I am, Michaela, almost 28 years later. I am still waiting, still longing, still aching to hold you in my arms and feel your heart beating against mine. That is the true medicine my soul needs.

I love you forever, baby girl.

18 thoughts on “I’m lost too

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  1. I love you Sharon. If you ever want to talk, I'm here to listen. You know that I wanted to once upon a time be a therapist for families of missing children. I know I'm not licensed, or practicing, or really doing anything with my degree, but I care. I feel so incredibly deeply about the families of missing children. My heart is with you every day.


  2. I don't know you, but my heart ours out to you & your pain. . I remember being a little kid & hearing about this kidnapping. It was close to my aunts house & it shook us kids up. Michaela has always been in my prayers throughout these years. . I wish you peace and comfort and the safe return of your baby girl. . There isn't anything more tragic in ones lifetime, and their are not any words to say that seem like they can ease your pain. I pray for you & your family. . I wish these kinds of people didn't roam our earth with us. . I'm so so sorry for your loss.


  3. I love you Sharon, and I truly care about you, Michala, and your family.My heart aches and cries for you 😦 and I truly wish I could fix it all for you.Love and Prayers always for you, Michaela, and your Family from Thelma ManderaPS Praying and believing for a huge and great Miracle for You!


  4. Your writing is so beautiful Sharon. I can fully understand every bit of your thoughts. Still here, always hoping and praying for Michaela Åsa in Sweden


  5. Sharon, I'm so sorry for what you've been through. I don't know why God allows things like this to happen. I don't know why He is so hard to find sometimes. I do know that He IS there. I am going through my own struggles right now, nothing compared to yours but it does involve the potential loss of a child, and I am learning that it is a process and there is purpose in it. My only advice to you is to give it over to God and ask him to show you how to find the peace He has for you. It is there, I promise. I will add you to my prayers and I don't say that casually. He is there. He is. You have to give Michaela to Him to hold for you. It is not easy. I am in a situation involving a child and while he is not missing he is in grave danger depending on what the courts decide. It's not the same but it is all consuming and I have had to work through finding God and His peace. I'm not there yet but I'm making progress. There is peace for you. He is there.


  6. From what you said I am pretty certain I have been where you are, whether it is one of several different possibilities, and I know very well how difficult it is. After Michaela being kidnapped I thought everything else would be easy by comparison but it hasn't been! I hope things turn out well for you. And thank you for your words and your prayers. It means a lot!


  7. Sharon, I have been following Michaela's story for many years. I know it must be the worst pain in the world not to know where your child is. But I believe you haven't been able to move on because you feel guilty. It is not your fault that she got kidnapped. You couldn't have known what was going to happen. Michaela would not blame you. I believe this is why you cannot move on with your life. Guilt is a horrible thing but Michaela would not want you to live your life like this. Letting go of the guilt is not in any way letting go of Michaela. But it's time for you to heal. Your healing is way overdue. You have other children and grandchildren that need you. They are victims too and have lost out on the real you because of this sad situation. There is absolutely nothing you can do about Michaela. It is not in your hands and hasn't been since she got kidnapped. Just remember there are millions of people out there suffering the loss of a child. It may not be a kidnapping but they are still suffering. You are not alone. Many people watch their children die of a horrible disease. It's really no different than what you are feeling. Something horrible is taking them away from their loving family. I know the wondering about what really happened to her is more than you can bear. I say all these things because I have experienced years and years of heartache due to a child. I am not saying forget about Michaela but it's time for you to be happy again. Live your life for the life that she couldn't have with you. She may still be out there somewhere. And honestly she may be happy with the only life she knows. If she is not alive well…. You giving up your life is not doing her any good. She would want you to be happy. She knew the day she got kidnapped that you loved her and would never stop looking for her. She would not want you to give up your life and be sad. You need to start living for Michaela's sake. Live the life that she would want you to have. Live for Michaela.


  8. Thank you. I really do much appreciate even being given permission to live, to be anyone or anything besides the mother of a missing child. That actually made me cry. But I'm not altogether positive I know what it even means to live the life I was meant to live. But thank you, again. ❤️


  9. Prayers, hugs, love and light to you Sharon. I wish I had more to often. I hope the time will come when you can separate God from the Bible. The bible was written by man, filtered by man and molded to fit into man's world. It might have started as the word of God but it was verbal history for a long time and then written down in the context of man's world. So, while I find the bible interesting I don't let it define God for me. Look around and think about what people would write if they were writing the Bible today — so much distruction and hate being carried out in the name of God. It doesn't mean that is God's word.Try to love yourself the way that Michaela loved you. And I pray you can find a way to be kind to yourself. Your readers all see your amazing love and talent and gifts.


  10. Thank you for writing the above to Sharon, Anonymous (September 4). I've never been able to say such things because I can't imagine being strong enough to move on after losing a child, but you're right, absolutely right, about it all. Cindy


  11. Dear SharonI often read your blog and sometimes comment, not that I feel I have a right to in any real sense as I’ve never experienced the kind of loss you have. But I always think of Michaela and you, especially whenever there is something on the news about a missing child like there has been recently. It has always been my worst nightmare to lose a child in this way (as I’m sure it is for many parents) and I struggle to comprehend how you manage to go on, to survive, afterwards.Yesterday I stumbled upon the writing of David Kushner, the brother of Jonathan Kushner who was abducted and murdered in the early 1970’s when he was only 11 years old. I had never heard of him (not living in the States), but likely you have. David wrote an article about coping with grief, and he included some excerpts of his parents’ diaries to share how they dealt with the devastating loss of their son. I found an excerpt from his mother’s diary to be incredibly moving, heart wrenching but also a little uplifting. Perhaps you have read it already. And it doesn’t apply exactly to your situation, as of course you don’t know if Michaela is dead or alive. She wrote about her son “I carry you with me forever unseen now, just as I did when you were snuggling in my uterus … unseen but filling my belly and my mind, part of our family even before you were born, part of our family now after your life. Thank you for this capacity to love and understand. Do you still know that you are loved?” This idea that your child is somehow back with you, as they were during pregnancy; present, just unseen, is unbelievably beautiful. I think of you always, and Michaela, and send much love. Bridget.x


  12. Sharon, I am sure you have heard on the news about the update on Jacob Wetterling. He was kidnapped the same year as Michaela. His body has been found after 27 years. I just cannot come to grips that the inhumane monster that took his life will not serve any jail time for murder. (due to a plea bargin). I honestly don't know what this country is coming to. I think the news said he will get about 240 months of jail time for child porn. I have followed Jacob's story along with Michaela's and other missing children. This has been a very active year for solving missing kids cases. The Lyon sisters trial is next month, also. I have been thinking about Michaela ever since I heard the update on Jacob. His parents finally have closure. (but not what they were hoping for). This is such a double edged sword.


  13. The minute I saw Jacobs face in my FB feed all the fear and heartache for your daughter and all the children missing at that time came rushing back. I had just been married, had my baby girls, and with the knowledge that your poor baby girl was missing …along with all the others… I held tight…never letting my girls out of my sight. I pray for you all…. still. My girls are adults, and I am blessed to have them with me…I know this and am humbled. God bless the missing and their families. ♡


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