Some people have remarked, “You must be sick of being asked how you are.” I am not. Because, surprisingly, not that many people are asking. I’ve gone back to my normal life. I get along out in the world without crying publicly. I talk about regular things like movies and the weather. I’m managing. I’m not a basket case. But I’m not alright either.
It hits me at strange times. Like after retelling my ordeal to a friend who hadn’t read my posts. Like after talking to a pregnant acquaintance and it coming up. Like being somewhere where there are a lot of kids. I love being around kids, holding babies, and entertaining toddlers but it hits me in a different way now because the “what if” hangs heavy on my heart. Sometimes I just cry because a commercial strikes me as sad and I’ve had a day where I’ve seen too many pregnant people. I don’t really understand the psychology behind it all but that’s why I made an appointment with a counselor who specializes in infertility and grief. I do not know how to navigate this.
I think the most awkward situation has been encountering pregnant people. It’s usually a situation where they don’t know what happened to me and it somehow comes up and I see their face turn to horror as the capital A Awkward Situation unfolds. How awful must it be for them to stand in front of a woman who went through some horrific “miscarriage” while they are carrying a baby inside them? I mean, I feel so terrible having them find out about what happened to me. And at the same time my heart breaks because WHAT THE FUCK? WHY IS THIS A THING I HAVE TO ENDURE? But I try to be kind and gentle and reassuring. I do not blame them. I’m not angry with them. Of course I’m envious. I’m human after all.
I wish I was the kind of person who was extremely private. But, uh, I am quite the opposite. I’m a sharer. Maybe an over-sharer. But having shared my struggles publicly has brought a lot of people into my life who are in a similar place. For that reason alone I don’t ever regret sharing because no one should have to feel alone. And I think that by being vulnerable, I’m encouraging other people to do the same.
I know it’s difficult for people to know what to say when someone is having a hard time. So many tell me they are afraid they will say the wrong thing which I think leads a lot of people to say nothing. I have totally said the wrong thing to someone. It was not the end of the world even though I felt terrible and it was absolutely not intentional. I can’t speak for every person who has had a crisis but for me, saying nothing is not the response I need. I’m publicly acknowledging that something terrible happened to me. It’s okay for you to bring it up. It’s okay for you to email, text, call, stop me in the hallway and say, “I’ve been keeping up with what you’ve been going through and I just wanted to say how sorry I am. I’ve been thinking of you.” It’s really that simple. You do not have to fix anything. Please don’t try to. You do not have to give me advice on what I should do next. You don’t have to remind me how strong I am because right now I do not feel very strong and it makes me feel like a failure. That’s not your fault! It’s just how it is. Showing up for someone is not an easy thing and there is no manual on it. But I think most people want to be reached out to, to be thought of, to be cared about on good days so it’s even more needed on bad ones.
Grief is a lonely experience as are health crises, and break ups, and all that other hard stuff. We’ve all been there at one time. We can relate. Maybe you’re the type to call up and ask for help. There are some of us who struggle doing that when we’re in a good place so think how hard it must be when you’re feeling so down. A few friends pushed through my resistance and showed up because they knew I would never be able to ask for it. They’ve admitted they worried I’d think them pushy but honestly, they lovingly forced me to connect with people at a time I wanted to crawl into a hole. Every card, call, text, email, comment on my blog, tweet, or Facebook status meant something to me. Even if you just said you were sorry, it helped. Thank you for showing up for me.
And so, here I am in this complicated place. I appreciate you listening.