I took a Myers-Briggs test once and it concluded that I am 88% extrovert, which I never let anyone forget. Never mind how comfortable I feel sharing stuff, though. My hunch is that the real reason I do it is because I am in constant pursuit of emotional help. Even when I feel completely fine! (See: Moms: A Moot Point.) I share because I will never be able to see every side of life’s coin (it is tricky and infinite) but with the help of perspectives that are not my own, maybe I will be able to see more sides.
It’s selfish, really, and I’m somewhat sorry that I subject you to it on such a regular basis. Then again, I struggle with this apology because there is a zero percent chance I will stop doing it, so how sorry could I be, really?
The reason I bring this up now, towards the end of Contradictions Month, is because following the story that ran a couple of weeks ago about the anguish of losing a pregnancy, I’ve been thinking a lot about that whole bravery thing. When I wrote that story, I was empowered. Relieved of carrying the burden of what felt like a completely unique and lonely experience that no one on earth could possibly understand. (The trouble with grief is that it is so ubiquitous, and we hear about it all the time, but it’s never actually supposed to happen to you, right?)
My knee-jerk reaction to finishing it was to send the product to my editorial team to look over and to let them know I was comfortable having it published, but when it went up the following week, my heart sunk into my knees and my gut felt like it was being punched on repeat. I wept and wept and wept inside a very ornate hotel room at The Ritz in Paris for — I’m not kidding — 75 minutes.
This is what The People must have meant by “brave,” I thought. And now I totally get it. I wasn’t ready to share my story, and some people never are.
It was (and is) still so raw and personal and for whatever reason, I didn’t want people to feel comfortable consoling me. Maybe that’s because I was still getting used to having to learn how to console myself. (You can’t take water from an empty reservoir, and the only way to fill the metaphoric ones that lives inside of us is by looking inward, not outward for help or consolation.) Of course, when I am able to step away from my upset for a moment and look at my life objectively, two things are crystal clear.
The amount of support and love that surrounds me is both overwhelming and humbling. The old me would have said that I don’t deserve it, but the new me thinks everyone — me included — deserves an infinite well of love that does not flicker.
I am lucky that I haven’t known how to manage this loss. That my arsenal of emotional tools-for-repair is not complete with the restoration weapons I am now becoming familiar with. It means I have never had to experience grief like this before.
The question remains, though, why did I share if I didn’t feel ready?
I don’t have an answer.
I do, however, know that sometimes my life feels like a Whack-A-Mole game. The more I try to keep it in, the more inevitable it becomes that it will pop out through another opening. Even if I didn’t want to share, I also don’t really know another way. And now that the story’s been up and live for two weeks and I’m oscillating more frequently to the side of hopeful and restorative as opposed to broken and regretful in the process of getting better, I feel so good that it’s out there.
You know, when this whole thing happened, I was mad at Man Repeller. I had this idea that I was being emotionally tortured because the universe knew I would talk about losing this pregnancy. I probably wouldn’t be able to shut up about it (I haven’t been able to shut up about it). It’s one of those things that happen to a ton of people, but that you never hear about. It is personal and deeply painful. It can make a woman feel so much smaller and more hopeless, bad at doing that simplest thing that she is ostensibly here to do. I keep telling my husband, in moments of weakness, that I feel like such a loser.
So I get it, and I knew that whatever I’d write would be honest and ultimately helpful. Still, Man Repeller infuriated me. Helping to ignite a healing conversation at the cost of new life, my new life? My baby? Fuck. That.
But here’s the thing. I’m going to be okay. I’m going to have kids. All fucking four I’ve always dreamed of having — take my word for it. I’m going to do it with new perspective and with patience and I’m going to let myself feel however I feel through the process. I will be compassionate and kind and I will love, point blank.
I don’t know that I would have known these things if I didn’t lose the first one. If I didn’t get to hear from so many of you, and talk through the loss. I know I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but I believe it with so much conviction: we need each other to survive. And what’s more? We’re surviving, which means we’re doing an okay job leaning on each other.
I guess that’s why I share.