Today is my five year blogaversary. Tah – dah!
It’s strange to think that five years ago today I clicked “publish” on this blog for the first time.
And, to be honest, I’ve found myself thinking “What sort of moron launches a blog on December freaking 29th anyway?”
In fairness to myself of five years ago, as I was dangling on the edge of our final failed treatment, I was also spontaneously combusting from many things. The lack of empathy and deluge of tone deafness my fellow humans had to offer during my baby making odyssey was one of them. Thus, I heaved my first post on this blog, “What’s the Fertile World To Do?” out into the world, and have been blogging non-anonymously straight from the trenches ever since.
Utterly unmoored with too much to process, my blogaversaries mostly fell by the wayside. There was always more healing to do, something else to say goodbye to, another slice of injustice to lament, one more piece of collateral damage to integrate.
But on this unprescribed path nothing in our society and upbringing has prepared us for, I’m feeling as though five years is a milestone. Not just five years of blogging per-say, but making it five years at all with any sort of healing trajectory.
And so I thought, in terms of writing and posting, “maybe this is where I’m supposed to reflect on my experiences, provide some wisdom and hope and all that jazz….” But I’m going to need some time and, as usual, I’m really not sure what will come out. Writing is funny like that.
I have many processes and practices that have pioneered me towards wholeness. As far as answers, I have few if any. There is a plethora of things I wish I had known “then”, but are they relevant? I don’t know. They are things that had to be learned in their own time and own way I suppose. And for me, truth is a much greater muse than hope could ever be, possessing the capability of falling anywhere really on the hope and despair spectrum.
This coming January 31 is the five year anniversary of us stopping treatments, which is bringing the realization that I’ve got a good month to hash out my reflections on this five year thing. More posts to follow on this, I’m sure. And as always, your insights are welcome.
In the meantime, in the continued spirit of “what is now”, I leave you with one thing I do know amid galaxies of that which I don’t.
One Reason Why
Santa Clause didn’t visit, but grief did
I awoke on Christmas morning shrouded in a blanket of peace. I luxuriated in the sensation of having made it this far into the season, feeling not horrible – relatively reasonable actually, all the while. I then exited the bed, took some delight in the ample sun and settled into some of my usual morning routines as my husband slept in. I had been looking forward to our “day off” together.
We went on to open a few presents, ate and showered. By the afternoon though things had started to shift. We chose a movie and sat down to watch it. I noticed an exhaustion take over, not just tired but a notable lack of life force tired. My appetite disappeared. I slept a little. The food I had planned and general engagement in the day I had anticipated seemed so…..off. I felt deflated, almost physically unable to participate as my husband started dinner.
“What’s going on?” I thought. My apparent physiological downturn had no actual emotion I could label or identify. And there were plenty of other possibilities to point to. Perimenopausal PMS. The excruciatingly dark time of year. Possible nervous system disorder symptoms.
I rallied before dinner. I had mixed feelings but pulled out the good china anyway. I changed my clothes. We had a lovely, memorable dinner with important conversation but physically, something was just astray. We watched another movie. I went to bed, drained. I slept three more hours than usual. After a day of doing what I had thought was practically nothing.
I woke up the next day with that subtly familiar “life has thrown me against the wall” feeling, that sense that bleeds through all levels of your being, from least to most dense. As the day went on, the fog slowly lifted. By that evening, and into the following day, it was all gone. There had been no weather shifts or other changes that would aggravate my nervous system disorder. I was even closer to getting my period. And there’s no reason the 37 extra seconds of light per day would suddenly make a difference when in years past they never have. Wondering about my rather quick re-entrance into the land of the living, it hit me.
GRIEF!!!! You sneaky little bastard.
Backtracking to the beginning, it all started to make sense. My sleeping patterns had been inexplicably off all week. As far as waking up Christmas morning, I’ve felt that tingly feeling before. It’s the ever fleeting high of survival. Coupled with the fact the full reality of the day hadn’t sunk in yet.
Stymied? Well, yes. After all this year had been overall much “better” than previous years, in line with my general healing trajectory. I had implemented self-care and coping strategies, albeit some of them goofy, that not only were now relevant, but that actually did make a difference for the better. I had not been dreading the day and appreciated some time with my husband, daydreaming and also having concrete discussion about our future. Not something that could have been entertained in years past.
Plus, on “regular” days my husband and I have got this hanging out at home thing down. He’s a chef, I’m a good planner, decorator and right hand man, so to speak. We both love being home together. And it’s certainly not as if I’m just so dumb I forgot to tune into what I currently have to enjoy and be grateful for. No wonder the sudden feeling of “hard” and of my body straggling through a pond of molasses took a bit to unravel.
And I was no longer limping around weighted down by the ghosts of what should have been either. Sure, I thought of my children from time to time, wistfully thinking that had that last fertility treatment worked they’d be four years old now, or some other configuration of ages had things gone differently. But I was mostly aware of trying to move around in a reality beyond the dream of them.
Should we do presents, or is that just a reminder of what’s not there? Is a formal dinner set up really the right thing? It doesn’t quite feel right, but I don’t want to lose the art of making and having formal dinners together. Why am I being invaded by the intrusive sense that we “should” be doing something more when another part of my is screaming to do less? And I don’t even know what in the hell to wear. Tell me, what DOES one wear on the occasion of missing children at Christmas??
While all of this may appear neurotic to those possessing the privilege of never having to walk in these shoes, such questions in actuality come from a place of wanting to do right by ourselves amid very tough and unfortunate circumstances. Bystanders have just a few minutes of this reality to get through here and there, my husband and I have the rest of our lives.
And so that, my dear friends, is one reason why this journey is so hard. Our losses, our children are in us on the deepest and most physical of levels. They transcend well beyond thought and theory. They are not something the entirety of us ever really forgets. When an experience affects you on all levels of being, the cognitive mind often has to take a back seat at a moment’s notice as your other components bleed, breathe, heal and reprogram.
A mother’s body knows. I’ve experienced some significant shifts in my healing this year and yet, have also experienced blatant physical symptoms on the past three major holidays. You could send me to Mars for Christmas and my body would still be telling me what day it is. And that’s not a guess. Even in the face of the onset of my nervous system disorder on Dec 23 of 2016, when I was experiencing a most miserable, debilitating, scary and out of control physical state, I could still detect a physical lifting of the fog after the holidays. Even under those extreme conditions.
Why might it be harder on holidays than on “regular” days? Perhaps because you don’t live your entire life programmed that children will be an integral part of your January 17, 2019, for example. Or any other specific non – holiday day for that matter. But you do live your entire life programmed to envision that your children will at some point be an integral part of major holidays. And then there, they are not.
Though my husband and I are open to the idea of traveling during Christmas in the future, this is one of the reasons I’ve hesitated. It’s bad enough to be in your home as you’re held hostage by cellular morphings beyond your control and not of your complete understanding. But to pay money and go to the trouble to get somewhere, only to have to go through the same thing, could very well add insult to injury. Maybe not forever, but for me, up until now at least.
This is also hard because we’ve been conditioned, incorrectly, to think all of these things are “choices”, and that a “shift in attitude” is all we need to alter our “flawed perception” and get us “back on track”. The notably surfacey and under – developed “Change your thoughts, change your life” philosophy may apply to some situations, but in regards to life altering traumatic loss it may as well read “Change your thoughts, change just about nothing at all.” Our job isn’t to stand on the back of our grief, trauma and injury, crack a whip and holler giddyup!, no. It is more-so to feel, observe, accept, facilitate, and surrender when necessary. No easy feat. Personally, I’d rather be able to affect change by whipping and yelling. It’s just easier.
I have to admit, I felt a bit foolish that the roots of my recent holiday experiences eluded me, having been through so much grief already. But, as in other moments, I’ve never experienced it this way within this configuration.
It has been my honor to have you read and respond to my ever unfolding process (which I see in many ways as “our” ever unfolding process) over these past five years. You have allowed me to be seen and heard in ways I otherwise would not have been. You have generously given me the gift of witness, and for that I deeply thank you all.