As you may have noticed if you are on my personal Facebook page or you are following us on the blog page, you might have noticed my absence this past week, not just on the blog but on social networking entirely. I even turned my phone off for several days and retreated within myself. It was actually a pretty hard week for me, but not for the usual reasons in a woman my age. I’m 29 years old, for the very first time, and next year I will be turning 30, not 29 again. I’ve never been one for shorting myself of years because, by the Gods, I have earned every year like a gold star. It’s not my age that is a problem for me, so my birthday is not a cause for eating chocolate and drink wine while listening to mopey music. Though the eating chocolate and drinking wine and listening to music thing sounds like something I’ve done before, quite often, just for the joy of it.
This time of year is always hard for me. This time of year is when I had my first miscarriage. I would have a toddler now.
I can see them in my mind’s eye, a tow-headed three-year old with dark eyes, their daddy’s curls and my smile. I imagine a small whirlwind of laughter and sound if they were anything like me – energy to burn and talking a mile a minute. It’s a knife to my heart and every year that my arms remain empty, it seems to get harder. No, it isn’t growing older that drives me down. It’s getting older without that small life that would have been so deeply loved by their Daddy and I. It’s going on, day by day, in a world where I am seen as a young woman still enjoying life instead of settling down, rather than as a mother who never got to hold her child in her arms.
Maybe some of that is my fault. I don’t talk about the fact that I lost a baby, mostly because it was a very early miscarriage and our society teaches that if you didn’t lose a child you can bury, it doesn’t count. If you don’t even have an ultrasound? Then you have no rights to grieve when there are others whose grief is deeper.
I felt the changes that had begun in my body to make this tiny life. They were minor things compared to what comes later in pregnancy, but they were there. And each one was faced with an optimistic smile that it would be okay, because there was a precious life within me. I wept for months. I felt the loss with my entire body. When my estimated due date came and went, I slipped away from the world and my husband as my grief consumed me. Even if the people in my life don’t acknowledge my child, I do. Even if no one else wants to talk about it, I think about it – probably far more often than anyone, even my beloved husband, realizes.
The loss of two pregnancies have affected the way I interact with the world, even if they haven’t affected the way the world interacts with me. Other changes in my life, like my promise to myself that I will no longer allow my father to verbally abuse me to make himself feel better, have changed the way I dealt with the depression when it smothered me this time. But I’ve had to force myself to turn my phone back on. I’ve had to force myself to sign in to Facebook. I had to force myself to log into my blog and talk to y’all today. Because this is blog is about joy. But it’s also about life and living authentically.
We all see those memes that pop up on social networking – those with the brightest smiles are those most in pain, et al. It’s true. Maybe these losses are a way to clarify my soul, forging me in the fire of pain, that I can better recognize the reasons to be joyful. To better appreciate the joy and blessings that I cannot deny have overflowed in my life, and continue to do so. Because I have been so blessed, and I do my best, every single day, to hold to those. But every now and then….every now and then I must grieve again. I find myself slipping into that hole that is so dark and comforting and must climb my way back out again.
But there is brightness in this. If I can do it, then so can you. Hell, if I can do it, anyone can. Because there is nothing special about me, not really. Not when it comes to dealing with sorrow and pain. I am not a miracle, any more than we all are miracles. If I can find the strength, then I believe in you and your ability to find the strength, as well.