I came across Pat Bertram’s blog. She has been writing about losing her partner to cancer, six months ago. I felt a lot of parallels between what she was writing and what I’ve been feeling. And I felt like I needed to write another quick post based off the thoughts her writing spurred in me. It started with this post, to which I left this comment:
23 weeks ago I lost a pregnancy. Some days it feels like years ago, some day it feels like it was just yesterday, some days I can lay in bed and close my eyes and feel like that baby is still growing inside me. “Time shrinks and expands in proportion to ones courage.” I don’t remember who said that but I think it’s true. The grief over that loss, for me, has at times felt very sharp and near to my heart, and at times healthily expanded alongside all the other unknowns that exist in a lifetime. And I think it is that way forever. Not in a hopeless way… but in an integrative way. As much as I’ve tried to set a time limit on my own recovery, I’ve been recognizing again and again that loss is not something you recover from. Yes it heals, yes it becomes more possible to live from day to day as time goes on… but the loss from my miscarriage will always be a part of me. I will never be a person who does not know the loss of a potential life. You will always have a place in your heart that is reserved for the man you lost. I’m struck by the reality of that over and over again.
I’m trying to think of a way to leave this comment on a more uplifting note… but this is still something I’m working through myself… so all I can think right now is that my hope is that for those of us who live through a loss like that… that we are able to integrate. Not sink into hopelessness, but not detach. Be encouraged into hope and love the existence that was. Still be able to see past grief and into potentiality.
And her next post starting me thinking about how easy it is to get caught up into trying to figure out the appropriate way to grieve… or for me, I’ve recently realized… it’s what’s the most efficient way to grieve. If this is what I have to do, how do I make sure that I’m healing as much as I can, in as little time as possible, using the most effective methods that consume the least amount of my energy and have the lowest impact on my ability to continue to interact in the world. Of course, this kind of approach only turns me into a ball of anxiety launching self-recriminating accusations that I’m not doing it correctly. Which is absolute insanity because this is not a test! Another person’s way can’t be my way, as much as I might like to be able to copy someone else’s answers. It’s like having a huge map to a place that I’ve never been before with no roads, certainly no highways, not even clear boundaries… and the only thing I can do is explore it. Create my own points of reference for where I am, and which direction I should go. When I need to push on and try to be courageous, and when I need to stop, rest and comfort myself. When I need to focus on making breakfast instead of the larger thoughts that are trying to cloud my head, and when I need to tap into those feelings so they don’t come rushing out in frustrated and misplaced bursts.
So much of my fears really center around a fear of the unknown. This is something that’s hard for me to admit to myself because one of the key elements that I’ve always known, and perhaps more recently clung to about myself is my comfort with change and newness. But my attachment to this previously known fact has not prepared me for the truth that I have become intimidated by those unknowns. That I’m tending more towards seeing the possible failures and humiliations in them rather than anticipating a world of potentialities. And while I’m holding desperately to my former disposition of jumping into the thrill of the new, I’m not giving myself the small bits of support and comfort that might give me the courage to walk more slowly towards those potentials. Even if that means taking steps through an unmapped world of grief. Maybe it also means making slow-paced ventures into excitement over a possible new pregnancy. And especially if it means believing that maybe all those things I’ve been afraid of and worrying over and have kept me immobile are of my own making. And that I really am strong enough and deep enough to pull out all the necessary love and forgiveness and curiosity that I need in order to keep taking steps forward.
Phew. Now there’s a lovely thought.