In therapy yesterday afternoon, I recounted the last three days’ diatribe on the social stigmas of opening up in public, and how grief can serve as a powerful medium, allowing us to connect with other humans. And the conclusion that we came to was this:
My grief did not provide me with any human connection.
It’s not something for which I can place blame, either, because there were a lot of things going on at that period in my life that kept my portals closed. For one thing, I had intentionally shut the door on everyone that cared about me during my divorce – I refused to answer calls, made myself generally unavailable, and fled the state. (I believe that there are several ways in which my divorce and my miscarriage are karmically linked.) When I had my miscarriage, less than a year later, I was still tentatively reconnecting with a lot of my friends.
I also, at the time, honestly believed that I was going to be fine as soon as I was able to reclaim control of my body and go back to the way things were pre-pregnancy. By the time I realized, two months later (my therapist suggested there may have been a period of shock), that this was not going to happen for me, it was almost like it was too late to ask for help. The moment for the bringing of casseroles, as it were, had passed.
“If I had known how deeply it affected you,” Carrie said to me yesterday, “I would’ve been on a plane to Seattle with a bottle of Plymouth Gin in no time. But I believed you when you said you were okay. In retrospect, I should have instinctively known and come anyway.”
I don’t harbor any ill feelings toward her for ignoring those nagging instincts and believing me. After all, I’d shown so much “strength” going through my divorce entirely on my own. Nor do I blame my mom for saying she was too busy with her yoga-teacher-training classes to come be with me when I asked her to. It had been several weeks since my miscarriage, and, like they say, life goes on. It was going on all around me. Just not my life.
Before I went in for surgery, a coworker who had three little girls and one miscarriage of her own, told me to take some time afterwards. She told me I would just want to lay on the couch and cry, and she told Doug that he should just be there for me. And we ignored all this well-meant advice, because, honestly, we were fine. I went back to work two days after surgery. I didn’t cry very much at all – and if I did, it was triggered by something emotional on TV (Biggest Loser was my favorite), rather than by my own legitimate emotions.
I explained to my therapist my understanding of the act of sitting shiva. How, in the Jewish tradition, there is a mourning period wherein the family of the deceased just stays home for a while and takes time out. The mirrors are covered, people bring food, the furniture is off-limits, and everyone sits on the floor. She had never heard of this before, but said she liked the concept, especially the “taking time out” part – that people have rituals to help them live their grief and be supported, before life-going-on can get in the way of this important phase in the healing process.
“Do you think there is some sort of ceremony or ritual you could do now…” she started, and I visibly cringed, picturing a little memorial service with no pictures or happy memories to share, and, for that matter, nothing to bury.
“I think the blog is my ritual,” I told her. And that was probably accurate – that this is my taking of time, happening way too late, with life still going on around me. But it seems to be helping, or at least doing… something.
Two weeks ago, at the start of this blog, I finally, directly, asked the people around me for help. And what I’ve gotten since then is this rallying of support I never knew I had – from friends and family and a notable number of high school acquaintances. Most of the comments I’ve gotten are about the writing itself rather than the subject matter, but: if people are commenting on the writing, that means they’re reading it; if they’re reading it, that means they’re thinking about me; and if they’re thinking about me, that means that I am being held up by and carried on those thoughts as they travel through the universe.
On the other hand, there is my mother, who is on vacation at a summer cottage with limited internet access, and has therefore read approximately 0% of this blog so far. She has known all along, because I’ve told her, of my suffering, but has always responded in helpful-to-her-but-not-to-me ways, like, “God has a plan.” When I spoke with her on the phone the other day, however, she confessed that it was hard for her to be staying in the same place as her brother and sister-in-law, the soon-to-be grandparents.
“They were going around telling people that [their son’s wife] is pregnant, because there are people here – second cousins in the other cottages – who didn’t know already, and they’re so excited. And I was having a hard time being excited and happy for them, because I know how much you are hurting… It was the first time I’d experienced that.”
Now, I don’t want to sound too out there, but is it possible that all of those thoughts about me and my journey, currently reverberating throughout the universe, somehow intuitively reached my mother? And reached her in a way that me straight-up telling her about my suffering had never managed to do? I believe that it is possible, and, having no other explanation, believe that this is exactly what happened. So thank you, readers, and welcome, Mom, to my world.
Toward the end of the session, my therapist pointed out that, both weeks now, I have sat on the edge of the couch with my feet planted on the floor and my back straight, as though I’m at a choir rehearsal. She invited me to lean back against the cushions, and then, when I did, observed that it made me look almost uncomfortable.
“That’s your homework,” she said.
“To go sit somewhere?” I asked. She laughed, and admitted that there must be moments in here wherein I think she’s crazy.
“No, your homework is to think about, how do you allow yourself to be supported? Or do you?”
And a river of calm ran through my veins as I instantly pictured myself lying in bed, on my side; and Doug curled up behind me, with one arm across me, his knees fitting perfectly into the backs of mine, clutching me to his chest like a teddy bear.