There's a woman I work with who I consider my spirit animal - and my ersatz therapist here at my office. I can't say exactly how old she is (maybe 68?) but she is close to retirement (though she's been saying that since I started working with her four years ago). She has dedicated her life to improving the working conditions and lives of thousands of people in our city. She's funny as hell and often pretty cynical. We get along swimmingly despite the fact that I know for a fact she wanted nothing to do with me when she first met me. In her words, I "schooled her" on forming snap judgments about people. Anyways....
She is ridiculously jolly during the holidays, which would appear to go against the grain of her personality. But as she recently told me "I just had a battery of tests and I am definitely healthy and will stick around for at least the next few weeks - I take nothing for granted." She recently gave this sort of Holiday Season pep-talk at a staff meeting, instructing us to be thankful for what we have, given the struggles of so many. She's adopting a very poor family she met recently and not just for Christmas, because she could figuratively "smell the poverty" on that beautiful child's mother. In light of our vast riches, we are supposed to plaster a smile on our faces and suck it up (her words, by the way).
Of course, I was having NONE. OF. IT.
She knows my story. She is one of the few people who knew about Celine. She knows about all of them, and the meaning behind every ring on my right hand.
So I paid her a visit after that staff meeting, and because we love each other, I told her in my usual turn colorful turn of phrase exactly what I thought of her instruction for jolliness. About how it was asking a lot of people to force cheer. About how much of a struggle it is to sit with grief that is unacknowledged, in my case for babies who are nameless who no one mourns.
"When have I not acknowledged your grief," she said gently (after informing me that I happen to look pretty ugly when I cry). "I mourned with you and I know the grief doesn't go away. You're not alone."
I won't go into the details of the rest of this chat, but here's where I'm at: I'm gonna take on an experiment.
I am going to try to approach this season the way I used to, before my life took a dramatic turn into sadness city. I know, I'm a little late on this, as Hanukkah has just ended (don't worry, I still went through the motions for Niblet), but there's still room for some wide-eyed wonder with oncoming Solstice and Christmas celebrations.
I'll be honest with you: Thinking about how I am not pregnant right now - roughly eight months since my last D&C - wasn't helping matters this morning on my drive to the office. Even though we haven't been trying hard, the fact is that being brutally honest with myself.... I wanted to be pregnant by now. So the second I felt the tears well up I switched the radio station to NPR and actively listened to stories about carnage in Afghanistan. Look, I am not proud of my need to feel better about my own life by comparing it to the misery of others.... but this is the only tool I have in my kit right now.
I don't want any reader to think that I am in any way instructing them to put a smile on their face this season. I am certainly not suggesting that anyone who is dealing with the hell of infertility or RPL or a TFMR just "be thankful for what they have." Gah, it's nauseating when you hear it from others and I will never say it to you. I PROMISE WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING, I will never say that to you.
But in my case- and narcissist I am -I have been exactly HERE - IN THIS SPOT - for three and a half years straight. That's a tremendous amount of time to carry anger and bitterness. And it's just not working for me anymore. As my dear friend at work aptly noted, I'm an ugly crier. And I've said it before on this blog, but I am so angry. And so sad. Like, a lot of the time, more time than I care to admit (so much so, that I am afraid to calculate the actual hours in the day that I exist in this state of being).
The anger and sadness have also had the unfortunate effect of leaving me failing to maintain important friendships. Like, I feel like I don't even have the words to pick up the phone and talk with a few key people in my life (my two best friends who happen to live out of state pop to mind). And THAT makes me feel so additionally shitty. RPL and Grief have stolen my former life from under me. I have to take it back and that starts with reaching out to a few people who have given me so much of their love in my life. And say I am sorry for being so MIA. And promise that I am here for them. I want to be back.
So I am going to embark on this experiment. I don't know what to call it. "Positive thinking" sounds trite. Blech actually. Maybe it's just pushing my little demons away for a bit? Seeing what it's like to actively try to live without them on a more regular basis? I can shake them when I am exercising or in ballet class. My goal is to shake them off when I am not immersed in music, sweating. How to do this, I'm not sure. I guess I have something to discuss in therapy this week.