Thursday, July 28, 2011

They walk among us

Those people with the nasty M-word in their history.

Years ago, this blog used to struggle with the minefield that was being pregnant (again.... again) after neonatal loss. At the time, I was indignant. I held on to my feelings about it all while I made every effort to safely get through (and by "safely", I also include every reader of my words).

You see, over time, I have been silenced. I did this to myself. Putting my neck out to speak up for the "club" I belong to - a complicated one - used to attract ire from time to time. Once upon a time, at the height of my "aloneness", the less I felt heard, the more I yelled into the cyber-void. It became a vicious circle. Passing through that phase, I was fortunate to come to a place where I could step outside of myself and my situation and consider others, no matter what their standing or their misfortune (or lack of). I cared enough for myself, too, and the shattered person I was, to strive for this understanding.

This, I believe, is called compassion. 
com•pas•sion –noun
1. A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

I learned and I practiced and I was diligent in seeking a way that was less and ever less offensive to anyone who happened across my words. It took time, it took years. And it took a conscious, concerted effort on my part to be responsible for my own words. I had to face the fact that although I justified my ranting writing as "my blogspace, I'll do what I like with it", I would be doing myself a great disservice if I did not grow from each and every post I chose to publish - if I did not acknowledge that my words had the potential to change someone's day or thinking, then I was acting terribly irresponsibly. I took my blog very seriously as I practiced. I still do.

My book has been written under the same protective, careful umbrella.

When I was heavily pregnant with Miss Lolly and grappling with being swallowed in the huge leveller that is Parenthood, I was confused by "the others" (parents) and their flippant attitudes towards what I was really facing. I felt very alone in a big, cold world. I became blinkered to the plights of so many millions, spread across all countries of the globe, battling their own hardships, because mine was all I could see in that instant.

My situation was equal to the girl who got the awful botch hair cut and colour. For her, as for me, she could not possibly see any silver lining and writhed and wrote her way through her situation. (This is a made-up situation, please take careful note! It's just to draw comparison...) It took me a while to accept this, but I did come to a point where I could see that even in lives that were seemingly so fine and perfect, there was struggle and strife. Whether admitted to or not. And that was how I came to my own personal peace with the situation I found myself in. In some respects, I was no worse off than the girl with the bad dye-job because, in our respective situations, we were currently in the worst circumstances we could ever be in.

So why is it that being told I have written something "depressing" grates on me so? Why do I find it almost disrespectful of someone to tell me, bold-faced, that they would not read my story because it's just too sad? Granted, there are only a few individuals who have said this to me over the years and while they are grossly outweighed by people itching to read it, I admit I'm affronted.

I have already lived with being "too hard to talk to" or deal with. I realised years ago that it was very difficult for some to be my friend (because of my history). I would like to think I have grown exponentially since thinking that about myself, while also not allowing my skin to grow too thick at the same time. It's been a tricky thing to balance.

I understand, I truly do, that it is not a book for everyone. And of course, to each their own - no arguments there. However, I think I have finally figured it out (why this sticks with me so much). 

However, there is a proper, compassionate way to deliver such an opinion to a person about their own life. If you must tell me my story depresses you and you don't want to know it/read it, please at least be apologetic about it! Or.... hey.... just don't tell me. Um, or, I know: Don't read anything I write! Pretend I don't exist, perhaps that would work better for you. For when you say that to me, you are saying it to EVERY parent who has lost a child and I find that so cold and callous and short-sighted, dismissing all the tiny little personal victories that go with moving through this most awful life event. Managing to get out of bed in those early weeks is a feat beyond imagining, let me tell you. That's just to name one achievement you are dismissing (it's so basic it would be easy for one to overlook it as important) when you wipe off our stories as too sad or depressing to warrant your attention.

Have a serious think about this, if you will:
How would you honestly feel if your life/ your story was belittled to such a pin-point that it was merely cast aside as "too depressing"? The life you have lived, the one that has saved you from yourself, inspired you beyond belief, reached and touched many and become a pillar of positivity to YOU because you lived and survived it...  To be told, without any sort of apology or tact, that your life depresses someone would put you on the back foot, no? Saying this reduces all the good, hard work I feel I have (had no choice to have) done.

The only thing that is "depressing" about it, to me, is the ignorance that miscarriage/child loss is written off so quickly as just so negative that there can surely be no positives out of it. 

THIS is why I write this blog. 

To keep myself reminded, and to inform, that there is far more to pregnancy loss than the loss itself. There ARE positives to come out of them - sure, they sometimes have to be sought (and even hunted down sometimes!), but they are there. 

I must thank those who think my story is too depressing (but who, intriguingly, still choose to read my blog) because it gives me renewed resilience to keep advocating for a huge collective consciousness - the bereaved who are mourning their unmaterialised child/ren - that have the lid put on their trials. 

Is it any wonder, really, that so many women choose to move on without more thought to what actually happened to them when they are faced with such dismissive attitudes by society? Often by other women, no less?

We walk alongside people every day who have all sorts of hardships, the depths of which we have no idea. The immensity of what some are coping with will often bely their quips, their smiles and friendliness. But it doesn't mean they are not doing an admirable job of carrying it all. 

Please... have a little heart. Consider your words and how you are delivering them on others (no matter what the justifications you can give for them). Remember your compassionate self. 

A sad story can still be uplifting, enriching and optimistic.

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