“Memory is not what the heart desires. That is only a mirror.Gimli, The Dwarf. Lord of the Rings, J.R.R Tolkein
It’s difficult now to decide whether to write and, if so, what to write about. The ‘journey’, as it were, is still continuing, however, we find ourselves in limbo. Neither there… nor where we started…. nor where we thought we would be at this time.
My last post made mention of our decision to break from our path of trying for a couple of months to recharge, relieve some anxiety and pressure and hopefully remember what a routine is and gain some grip on the reality that has been so tumultuous. In this time, I have tried to remember what life was like…. before all this… and my vision is blurred with memories of myself before the anxiety and before the grief, memories of times when I was struggling with what seems like mediocre challenges, memories of times I felt strong, memories of looking in the mirror and smiling at what I saw. Memories (as Gimli the Dwarf says to Legolas) are not what the heart desires. But sometimes it feels like they are.
I have found a new psychologist, one who specializes in working with women, men, couples and families who are dealing with pregnancy loss, fertility issues, post natal depression, anxiety associated with having a baby and many other ‘baby’ related issues. We have only had one session but she seems helpful. I guess I am continuing to be honest about this stuff as I don’t see any difference between seeing a doctor for a chest infection and seeing a psychologist when your brain is a little sick. I like that the stigma that I once had towards psychologists and asking for help as a teenager has been torn away. I am hoping she will help me to organize my thoughts and help us to feel stronger for the journey as it continues.
But that will take some time as initial sessions usually only paint the outline of the pictures – we haven’t started colouring in yet…..
I sit and write this with strange motivation. I had ummed and ahhed about how to continue, and had the sudden urge to write as some of my murky thoughts clung together to form something I could try and make sense of. Or at least something that was substantial.
A loss of self worth is a dangerous place. Hearing someone say that they cease to ‘feel worthy’ or feel ‘useless’ is like someone handing you a 40kg weight and saying “Here, hold this for me”. It’s weighty and makes you sad that they had been carrying it around for so long. I did this to my husband the other day. Not meaning for him to carry this weight for me of course, but letting him feel it for a moment. Which is hard – you don’t want to hear that someone you love is suffering from feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.
You see, I have spent a large part of my life feeling that I don’t really belong. I have rarely had the type of ‘best friend’ that people see in the movies, or that so many of my friends have. I guess I have never felt like I was worthy of that title with most people I meet and I feel like I am generally forgettable enough that I fade into the background of peoples minds. Never a first though, always a 12th or 15th… or 30th. A lot of my friends live in other countries and other states.
PSA: to my wonderful close friends, I LOVE YOU ALL to pieces and certainly don’t mean this to ignore your messages, hang outs and general love in abundance. This is purely an ongoing insecurity.
Then, I met my husband. He is my best friend and I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to meet my best friend and get to marry them. For those who understand that – it’s just wonderful isn’t it? Mum used to have this cross stitch she created that hung in the kitchen above the phone (yeah… the landline… back in the days…) and it said “Happiness is being married to your best friend”. She was definitely right on that one. I wonder where that cross stitch is now? Maybe doesn’t go so well in the new kitchen….
Anyway, I digress.
I have always struggled with appreciating myself physically. Being teased in middle school by a group of girls who told me that my “thighs looked fat and everyone thought so” when I was in a gymnastics display. This was to the size 8 girl who won Sportswoman of the Year for representing the school in nearly 30 different sports. Maybe they were big… maybe it was just muscle that I should have used to kick their asses?
Being yelled at by a car full of men when I was 19 to “Get a tan”….. kind of weird for a wee gothic loving teen.
Being too athletic to be slim or have a waist and too flat chested to feel like a real hourglass woman. Society is a cruel beast, people are jerks and the media isn’t much better. We have all felt those pings of feeling physically bleh.
I look back and realise that for all those times I looked in the mirror and wished for new parts that I had never really let it affect my self worth. At the end of the day, I could accept myself for who I was and that was just fine. Maybe a cup of tea and couch time and a few tears helped that realisation – but it was still reached.
Now things are different.
I would give anything to go back to that person. The person who thought she was overweight 10kg ago. It’s hard to look in a mirror and really loathe what you see as a reminder of what you have endured this year. At least if I was pregnant and that had resulted in a baby I wouldn’t mind the weight gain – that would be worth it. But this… this is a reminder of loss, of grief and of feeling inadequate and less than a woman.
I know, I know. It’s not my fault bla bla bla. But unfortunately, it’s hard to be body positive when your body can’t do what it is supposed to be able to do.
I find myself looking at so many things differently now. Where I have always been used to being number 13 and 40 in peoples priority lists of friends and it has never bothered me, my brain now tells me “It’s because they don’t want to be around you because you are *insert bad vibe / self deprecating insult here*”. When I can’t fit a shirt I ordered in a M when I used to be a small my brain says “Well yeah, look at you, of course that was never going to fit”. This is why the psych has become a priority.
There was a recent article that stated that losing a baby and recurrent miscarriages can create PTSD. I am starting to believe that is true.
I often have this uncomfortable thing that happens to me.
You see – I used to be an elite athlete. I don’t say that lightly, I was drafted into a NZ triathlon development squad at 13 years old and spent the better part of my teenage years aiming for the Olympics. I was struck down with a biomechanical knee injury at 17…. I never got there. The one thing I was really GOOD at slipped from my hands and I tumbled into a horrible place where I lost who I was for a long time. It’s partially why I became a Physio.
That is a quick summary of the whole shebang but the important thing is what it led to. It led to me trying the rest of the years up until now to find something I could excel at. Something I could be an expert in and something I felt like I was really top of my field in. I needed that feeling of belonging and worth again. So, I continue my search to this very day. I try anything and everything.
I constantly refer to myself as a ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’.
The uncomfortable thing (see, I hadn’t forgotten my train of thought) that often occurs is that when people find out I can do a lot of things they often remark (with some bite and often hints of jealousy/mild annoyance – I can’t tell these days) “Is there anything you can’t do?” or “Wow, you can do that too?” or something similar. Usually with hints of “Oh of course she can” and “Ugh, her and another thing…”
If there is one thing that this year has taught me, it’s that you NEVER, EVER know where someone is on their journey. What they have been through.
All those questions about “When are you having a baby?” or ” Why don’t you start trying for kids?” or “Oh, don’t you want children?” or “Why don’t you get your *insert various issue* checked?” or anything of that nature. Those questions, albeit coming often from a very good place, can really hurt.
How does this tie into the ‘Jack of all trades’ conversation? Well, you see, having a baby (at this moment in time) is another thing I have tried and… in my mind… failed at and realised I am just not very good at it (REGARDLESS of reasoning which I am well aware of – this is that horrible devil voice on my shoulder speaking those things). In my search to find something I can excel at…. being pregnant and having a family/baby is currently yet another Lotto ticket that scans as “Sorry, better luck next time”.
So, those little jabs at my apparent ‘do-it-all’ personality are hurting more than they should. I am generally hurting more than I should. Every little knock becomes a knock out by the time my brain analyses it.
Since the first pregnancy and miscarriage my singing voice has been hormonally unstable and also lacking as much use as it once has. I have struggled to sing for months now. Every sound that comes out feels strained, tired, horrible and weighty. I feel like my voice has changed so much and not for the better. I struggle to have range, I can’t sing songs I used to sing so easily and my upper register, mix and head voice is a shadow of it’s former self.
Nothing feels right and I am so angry and frustrated and disconnected. I just want to be me again.
I have tried getting back into exercise and am frustrated at how weak and tired I am. I wish more than anything else to just snap my fingers and lose this emotional and physical weight that is dragging me down. But, as a lot of my patients experience, that is easier said than done. It is hard work to get yourself out of a hole (even if it is one that you haven’t dug on your own). I become anxious every time I see a camera and hope I don’t have to see photos of myself at the moment. Makes me angry at who I have become.
I feel old. I feel tired. I feel frumpy and generally not myself.
Its’d hard to ‘move on’ and ‘reset’ when you look in the mirror and at photos and see a constant reminder of the struggle that 3 miscarriages in a row… in 7 months… I see overweight, I see exhaustion… I see tired and run down. I see old. I see failure and I see sadness. It’s hard. The worst part is, that the weight won’t disappear without a war and a fight and months…. so I feel trapped again… in this shell and this body that doesn’t feel like mine.
Feeling good. Feeling sexy. Feeling like a woman….. it’s all gone for the time being and I am fighting to get it back.
This has been a weird post. But, maybe there are others on this path or who know this journey from their own experiences who will tell me that they went through this too? This loss of who we are and what we thought were faults – that turn out to be insignificant compared to where we find ourselves. Even now I sit here deleting and adding, trying to not unintentionally piss people off, especially my friends. Nothing is certain and everything is questioned at least 10 times before (or after) they happen. It’s like my brain just can’t let things go. What is true? What is not? I have no idea.
It’s lonely. I feel like the one kid in the class who can’t catch a ball.
I am sick of feeling like everyone else just finds this so easy and we are trying and failing every time. I don’t understand what I did or we did to deserve this path. I am tired of being brave, tired of being strong and tired of shrugging off comments, posts and being around so many people who don’t even need to try and have no issues with having a family. This is just a shitty situation. I am trying. WE are trying. So hard. But no matter what I think or do…. it is what it is…. a year of loss.
All the messages from people who have been there certainly help and hopefully this blog is helping someone else.
For now, I am trying to walk a little more in the sun. The month break so far has been a huge help in resetting things for us. I am beyond humbled by the messages and all the support we have had on our journey. Most of which has occurred only because we choose to share our story and be open about it. I know many of you continue to walk this path alone or in silence.
I have to make a HUGE shout out again to my partner in crime, my Samwise, my best friend. For continuing to walk this path with me. For wiping my tears… for the hugs… for the cups of tea… for the frustrating and emotional talks we have.
For the love he still gives me.
Even when I can’t love myself.
I know this is both our journey, and I know he is hurting too. So I am even more grateful for the days when he helps me out. (Which is everyday).
The grief is so heavy.
If you need someone to share your thoughts with, no matter how stupid they may seem (see above!) then I am happy to hear them and sit with you or walk with you a little while. Those extra kilo’s aren’t so heavy to carry when you have someone else to help – even for a moment.