Monday, October 27, 2008

Whose is whose?

I actually wrote this post a week ago and then deleted it off my blog. I do that. Anyone who's been reading since 2oo5 would know that by now, and anybody who uses a notifier to receive my posts would have already had this one last week, so apologies for the repeat. But I saved it, sat on it. Interesting to me to note now that I used the word "sift", for that is exactly what we ended up looking at on Wednesday during Lime Ray.... now's the time for sorting, sifting and lifting all the old crud.

Now, days after I initially burst this onto my screen in a flurry of flying fingers, I'm not so hot under the collar about it. I can read it more objectively. And I'm going to keep it posted up here because, frankly, it covers a fair few important topics with regard to coping with other mothers when you've become one yourself and then lost your child. So, without further ado, here's Take II.

* * * *

Gosh, I'm not even quite sure where to start on this one.

It's been a day of my indignation flaring, I'm afraid. Despite my better self, the one who knows better, to not get upset by an email I received, I find my thoughts pacing. I'm not. But my thoughts are.

I think it's because I've been thrown right back to the middle of 2005, the year we still had no baby. The year after four brand new beautiful babies came safely to their parents and into Steve's and my lives after we lost Ella. Six months after we celebrated with friends the first birth day of Ellanor, the mother of one of those babies (who had been invited to attend on that day but never committed, never replied to any of my emails or my phone message inviting them) suddenly contacted me with a "Sorry, but..." email.

I love the "Sorry, but..." email. And when I say "love", I mean really deeply despise.

It is the kind of correspondence that builds the sender's out-clause. Their trump card for them - I'll give you an example: "I realise you wanted us to be there and I'm sorry we weren't, but...". Normally, what happens in the dot-dot-dot section after the "but" is a long list of reasons by the sender, designed to build their case and usually comes off looking guilty as all get-out whilst at the same time is really an impassioned plea for the receiver's understanding. It really doesn't read as genuine because it jumps too quickly into the justifications and isn't that a pity.

A pity, too, for this particular sender, then, that I had by then weighed up my various duties to her and visits to her and her newborn in 2004 (not many, granted, but heck I wasn't really "up" for visits like that in that first year) and I decided I had done all I felt capable of doing for her. I didn't need that particular brand of flogging anymore, I didn't have to be there for every person who seemed like they wanted me in their life. I didn't need phone conversations whereby they were so comfortable with me now that I was told, basically, that she had never really been sure she wanted a baby, but rather she "just wanted to know I could do it and I got pregnant quickly." Ah, the old "I don't want to be a failure in the conception department, lest that make me somewhat less of a woman" thing. I get that. No, totally. I really do. However, it's not really something one wants to hear when still in the deep mourning period of losing one's own newborn. I'm talking, less than six months had passed.

But did I give her a bit of "Hang on a minute, can you hear what you're saying? And to whom you're saying it?" Perhaps stupidly, in hindsight, no I did not. I did what I always do. I allow that person to say anything because they are expressing their feelings. One thing that's most painfully obvious to me now, though, is that it's not too good if I do this and don't cross-check what feelings it brings up with me on the spot. What I would have been better off doing is simply saying "I understand this is how you feel and you most certainly don't mean to hurt me, but.. I'm not quite sure how I feel about you saying this to me. I'm going to have to go away and think about this now. Bye!" Maybe that way, it would have been flagged by them as an issue for me. Read that, though, because it's important: an issue for me. Not them. Don't need anyone to own it or change it, because it's simply my shit to work out.

Why, then, if I can see what is mine to own and sort out and work on, do others sometimes not know how to do the same? Why am I sitting here with another email burning a hole in my inbox? An email which is very clearly another attempt at providing me a list of excuses, which I understood the first time?

I fully appreciate and understand that some people, sometimes (or all the time or most of the time), were not going to be able to handle "me". Mine was/is an ongoing situation that in the beginning, very definitely required the donning of kid-gloves and a bit of taking a backseat to personal issues, particularly if those issues related to your own troubles with the bairns. However, I never asked people to do this. I simply accepted what was offered. I didn't force myself on people - rather the opposite - so I found it very poor form when certain members of my circle at that time would not only come seek me out, they'd dump on me (or overjustify themselves somewhere amongst their apology for "whatever" they felt they'd let me down on).

It's hard to be my friend, it seems.

So then we had a situation where I was diving straight into IVF after the pain of terminating a baby at ten weeks at the end of 2004 (a baby I had only told her about, by accident because I let it slip on the phone to her mere weeks before Ellanor's first birthday, and somewhat ironically, had to have that termination only three days after I told her I was pregnant again). Because of this, 2005 was pretty much taken up for us with continuing our grieving and healing and doing two rounds of very taxing PGD. Oh, and getting pregnant again towards the end of that year (more stress, stress, stress) with the good old LGBB.

I didn't know what this woman was up to. Frankly, her six-month-late apology/response for not attending Ella's birthday was not timely, to me. It was, by that stage, surely being done so that she could ease her own conscience because how could it help me, that late in the peace? Especially when it was buffered either side by excuses for where she had been. Okay, I conceded at the time, you're busy. You're "with your child". You're coping as best you know how. Okay. And it was also evident to me at the time that what I couldn't cope with was the fact that all her issues preventing her support of me were issues that, to me at the time, were not as significant. We were both in our own pain-filled bubbles for two different reasons - namely, I was depressed and grieving because my child wasn't here and she was depressed and grieving because she had a child. Something, again, with time I have been really able to appreciate more. But not back then. There was no way I could know what it was like for her. All I heard was someone who couldn't pick up and come to a picnic for a couple of hours with a 6 month-old. I get it so much more now, why that was not possible. I genuinely, sincerely mean that. When someone is consumed by what's in front of them, I perfectly understand they have to be in that place. I didn't ask any more of her, I never have. I do smart, though, at the thinly-veiled inference that what she was going through was tougher than what I was going through. That one's always very difficult to hear. But it's something that's been used to trump me (because i didn't have a child at the time and merely had to trust these mothers when they said, "Hey, you don't know how hard it is" - to me, it seemed a walk in the park compared to trying to mother without my child here... try that one on for size and see which is more difficult, I challenge any of my detractors now that I've done both).

But when I am then contacted, completely out of the blue, some three years later and told that it's "assumed" I am still pissed at her, I've gotta say... "Lady, I think there's some sifting of issues to be had here."

It seems, even in your own out-of-the-way head-down little world, you can still be sought out, contacted and had more crap dumped on you.

Eurgh. Just a big, resounding, sighing EURGH. Bitter, me? Noh, never. Although, with some things... I do have to say, I'd feel mighty justified if I was.

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