Friday, October 10, 2014

The Brutal Side Effects of Smothered Grief

This is especially difficult for me to post.  Almost all of these feelings, thoughts, insecurities, I never shared with anyone.  That would have negated the façade of the strong, untainted woman I was pretending to be.  I never even let Tom see these parts of me.  However, now that I'm moving forward in my healing process, allowing myself to grieve and hurt, being vulnerable is essential.  I'm slowly peeling back the layers of shame I've acquired over the years that created this emotional exoskeleton. 

My road through grief has been horrendous. 

I didn't grieve.  Not for years. (I am only now, after 5 1/2 years, beginning the process.) I felt abandoned by my family, friends, everyone I loved.  My husband seemed to have moved on, carefree, downright relieved and jubilant, while I drowned silently in my suffering, slowly losing everything I ever dreamed of becoming. Family and friends said, "It's okay, you can just try again."  If you've experienced this kind of loss, that sort of optimism is the absolute worst thing someone could say to you.  It made me angry.  It made me feel ashamed for pouring so much sorrow into something everyone else perceived as inconsequential.

Every life around me carried on while I stood completely still, my feet cemented in my loss.  I never even attempted to break free of it.  I resigned myself to where I was, fixed in place in sorrow.  Alone.

I didn't even trust that my husband could empathize.  After all, he had 2 children already, so if this didn't work out, he wouldn't have the giant gaping hole in his soul like I did.  He was already fulfilled. 

I watched longingly as the people surrounding me were given what was taken from me.

My sister-in-law conceived.  I was thrilled for her.  I felt pity for me.  I had so desperately wanted to give my parents their first grandchild.  I failed.

My husband's ex-wife conceived.  I was overcome with jealousy.  Then more pity. 

My other sister in-law conceived.  Again, thrilled.  Again, pity.

My best friend conceived.  Again, jealousy.  Again, pity.

That's when I started asking, "why?"  Why was everyone else having babies, but I wasn't?  Which consequently turned into, not a list of answers to the question why, but a list of reasons I believed I should not be allowed to have children.

These are the answers that manifested in the fog of depression and suffering I had inhabited:
  • I wasn't strong enough to be a mother.
  • I wasn't stable enough to be a mother.
  • I had done something to remove God's favor from my life.
  • Being a mother was the highest calling of which I am obviously not good enough.
  • I'm the family failure. The black sheep. Always the one making mistakes and causing humiliation.
  • God knew the baby would be better off with Him.
  • I'm too selfish.
  • My husband loved his 2 children and didn't want anymore.
  • My husband believed only his first wife should be the mother of his children and I wasn't worthy.
I know these are fictitious.  However, the head does funny things when it's judgment is clouded by depression.  I believed (and still struggle with) these things for years.  Undoing so much ingrained deception takes time, and effort, and most likely professional help.  Which, I am getting and it's working, slowly and painfully, but working nonetheless.

Ultimately, all of these boil down to one simple thing:  In the loss of my baby, I lost my worth.

I always assumed I'd be a mother.  A mother that conceived and birthed her own children.  I have always believed motherhood to be a divine calling, the greatest entrusted charge by God.

I wasn't and am not enough to be tasked with this vocation.  I say "am" because this is something I battle daily.  Over the past six years I have tried to find my worth in school, being top of my class, graduating with honors and a degree in Architectural Drafting.  I tried to find my worth by starting Eat.Sleep.Make. with Jen and even after rocket success, I am still unfulfilled.  I throw myself into my job, decorating my house, developing new skills and talents... but absolutely nothing fills the void, that black hole that losing my baby created in my soul. 

I feel disappointment in myself.  I wonder constantly how I could have been a better person so God would trust me to birth and raise one of His children.  I question my purpose in life... if not to be a mother... what is the point?  What am I supposed to do?  What is the point of being a woman, enduring so much pain every month, if I can't have children?  The suffering of cramps and cysts bursting every month could be tolerable if I knew it would lead to the miracle of conception.  But, it doesn't.  In fact, it seems every cycle I go through gets me further and further away from making the dream a reality.

I compare myself to those closest to me that have been granted the miracle of childbirth and wonder what they have, what they are that I am not.  I hold them so high above myself that sometimes the weight of it crushes every grain of joy from me.  I resent myself for the failure to conceive, nurture and deliver a child. 

I feel out of place at family functions.  My nieces and nephews are my parents' pride and joy, and obviously, I assume that means my brothers are the favored of the family.  I'm the failure.  I have one failed marriage and a dead baby.  I adore my nieces and nephews more than life itself, but even that can't push out the feelings of inadequacy I have when I'm with my family. I feel useless.

I feel cursed.

Honestly, as I'm sitting here writing this I'm asking myself if I should really post this.  Those last few paragraphs are so intimate, things I haven't shared with anyone but my husband and my therapist.  Like I said, though, the transparency and the vulnerability are necessary for me to heal. So I'm posting it.  There's no use in holding it all in anymore.

The Tie That Binds - Sandra McCracken

The sorrow of a friend
From a long way we stand
Grief is second hand
But I'll send my tears in a locket

Amelia smiles under lights & wires
Thorns for every flower
We number every hour
And live the days we are given

Oh, the pain
It makes you feel alive
Oh, the broken heart is the tie that binds
And I pray to God, these things will be made right

When the morning shines
On tear stained eyes
Oh we shall overcome
The Father gave the Son
To break the curse we are under

Oh the pain that no man can escape
Oh the sting of death, the empty grave,
And I pray to God where comfort has no place

When our tired eyes look through the veil
The colors are so pale but we raise high the sail
And call the winds to carry us home
Call the winds to carry us home.

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