Sunday, July 10, 2011
I am not sad 24/7. For realz.
I feel a responsibility of sorts to push all the other blogposts I have floating around my head to the backburner for awhile and just say something. So here it goes: I am not sad 24/7. For realz. No joke, no fingers crossed, no bull. I remember in the early days a coworker came to visit (yes, the same one I mentioned in a previous post about over-sharing). She brought a gift for Evelyn (cute girly outfits), and she also brought a gift in memory of Elias (a children’s book. I cried.). I was still so early out that I was in complete and utter shock over what happened (this was maybe a month post-loss, if that). I said, “I think my life is going to be ruined by this.” When she asked me to elaborate on how I came to this conclusion, I simply said, “Look at the babyloss blogs. They are full of misery.” Now, this woman had no idea what I was even talking about. So I had to kind of explain what the BLM community is and how many blogs there are floating around in cyberspace written by women whose losses completely destroyed their lives. Jobs lost, marriages ruined, no future children, multiple losses, no hope for the future, etc. I had such fear in my heart and in my expression when I looked at her and said, “Will that be me?! Is this it? The best of my life is OVER, and I’m not even thirty years old? It’s just all downhill from here on out?!” She simply responded, “Everybody grieves differently.” I sighed, and let that comfort me as best it could. I moped for days thinking about how further down the road, once the shock of it all had worn off, I may be ruined by my loss like so many other BLM seemed to be ruined by theirs. One day I logged into Facebook to find this message from her: “You said that you read a lot of the blogs and women never recover from the loss of a baby. But women do recover...or at least learn to move on. The blogs you are reading are from the women who have a difficult time moving on. The women who have managed to forge ahead with their lives are busy with their families, friends, careers, etc. and probably don't visit the sites as much as the women who are having a difficult time. I am not writing this to upset you...not even a little. I'm hoping that this will make some sense and help you in some way. You can tell me to shut up if you'd like. But just know that I'm thinking of you and wish you nothing but peace and happiness.” Now, I know what some of you bloggers are thinking. And I agree, some of her words could cause offense (especially to those of us who are very raw in our pain). I don’t equate blogging with “having no life”, which is what she seemed to imply, and I recognize that part of what she wanted to communicate to me was that I need to enjoy my daughter and not spend all my time reading loss blogs. (Come on, that’s a good point, people.) But that wasn’t even the main point. She was trying to help me see that the loss blogs are only snippets and not necessarily representative of the entire loss community. Her words seemed genuine enough, and I knew they came from the right place, so I started to think it over. And while I don’t completely agree with everything she said (I think you can blog but still have a life, or I at least like to tell myself that), I have my own version of the point she was trying to make: Most BLMs go to their blogs when they are having a horrible day. It’s cheap therapy. Get online, type type type, and not feel so “about to throw someone out a window”-ish. The blogposts created from such sob-sessions are clearly not indicative of the whole person behind them. They are a sliver of that person, a snapshot in time, a moment of pain so heavy that it requires sharing to lighten, a fear so sharp it needs expression to cut a little less. I am “guilty” of this myself, in that I don’t want this blog to become where I only go to vent, cry, rage, and whine. That hardly represents my grief journey in its entirety. Yes, I mainly use this as a therapeutic tool, but I feel a sort of responsibility to say…to any future babylostmama that may come across this blog after losing her baby someday…I know I am over seven months out from my loss, but given that right now I would consider I am having a “low” point, I want to be honest about what that actually looks like. Aside from my moments where tears are falling. -I still function. -Most days, I even shower, brush my teeth, and do my makeup (still working on the whole flossing thing). -I make an attempt to find clothes that fit and convey some aspect of my personality (challenging with the weight grief, not carrying twins, has added to my body). - I do not live off of junk food and donuts, like The Secret Life of an American Teenager would have you believe. (One of the main characters just suffered stillbirth and frequents Dunkin' a bit much.) I sometimes eat breakfast. I always eat lunch. Not only do I eat dinner, but I have gotten into finding recipes to try, and we have fresh organic produce delivered every week to my husband’s workplace in an effort to learn how to be “grown-ups”. I have enjoyed cooking lately when I never cared to before, so I’d say I am developing new interests, which is not common for someone “depressed”. -I regularly go grocery-shopping and run other errands and enjoy doing so. -I recently went to a movie in a theater (haven’t done that since I was pregnant and saw Eat, Pray, Love) and saw a comedy. And I laughed, real laughs, not fake canned ones. More than once. (It was Bridesmaids.) - I have listened to people complaining about trivial things, like the weather, without screaming, "Did your baby die?! No?! Well then shutthehellup!!!" -I love Pandora radio and am a huge dork about it. I'm a big fan of trip-hop and post-punk and a variety of genres, and I sit there with Pandora open, and whenever it plays a song I love, I add it to my playlist on playlist.com. (I’m usually cleaning or something while I have it on.) I love showing off my awesome playlist when people come to visit. -I attempt to work out and do yoga, although some efforts are more successful than others. -I have composed mindless Facebook status updates (which for many months I wouldn't have cared to even try to do). - I am sometimes able to make small talk with neighbors and acquaintances (not even kidding). - I love to go shopping (which may possibly be retail therapy, I realize), and I love to kind of splurge and pamper myself after all the bedrest and…well, trauma I’ve endured. -I have held a male infant without totally losing my sh*t, and if I’m being honest here…I didn’t even think about my son when I held him. He absolutely positively was not a trigger. I had a great day that day and didn’t shed a single tear, actually. (Although if I had held my daughter at the same time, I think that would have been a trigger.) -I spend time preparing myself for novels I will be teaching this upcoming school year and am excited about the challenges that lie ahead with my career. -I am still very much in love with my husband, although we both have a lot of work to do individually and in our marriage. -Not to brag, but I am not exactly lacking in the friends / social engagements department. I am not some recluse who sits at home all day. I connect with others easily – loss and non-loss people. It's true; some friendships do not survive tragedy, but it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. If I can learn to live without my son somehow, then I can learn to live without fake friends. -I have this new ability to throw things out that before I would have become overly emotionally attached to. (goes along with my last statement above!) - 99% of people I interact with do not treat me like I have the plague. (Some might say, the dead baby plague.) -I find joy in focusing on myself as a whole person, not as just the woman who lost a baby (or the woman who just had a living baby!). -I revel in the blessing that is motherhood; I don’t take my daughter for granted; I don’t allow my daughter to be a constant trigger for my sadness at the loss of her brother. -I have learned the complicated but useful psychological art of compartmentalization, and it has helped to save my life. -I have moments where, in thinking about Elias, my heart fills with so much love for him – pure love unscathed by his death. In the early days, I did not believe I would ever find joy again. I did not believe I would ever have a regular conversation again without my mind wandering to my son. I did not believe anybody would ever want to spend time with me. I thought I was cursed and would only bring pain to everybody around me. I did not believe I would be anybody other than "that poor woman who carried twins and lost one". I realize that my loss is different than the loss of a singleton, just like the loss of one triplet is different than the loss of one twin, just like stillbirth is different from SIDS, and the list goes on. Every loss is different and yet the same. Losing one baby but still bringing another home from the hospital is different than coming home with empty arms. It’s not easier, it’s not more difficult, it’s just different. But differences aside, grief is grief, loss is loss, and I feel a sense of responsibility to say this today: I am not destroyed.