I am not ashamed…

I am not ashamed of my back rolls,
my less than perfect skin
my chipped nails, long neglected

I am not ashamed of my fatigue
or the non-stop prickly pain
of broken nerves shooting through
my left arm and leg

I am not ashamed of my lack
of patience worn away from people
being careless with my feelings and time

I am not ashamed of being open
on this here blog
because chances are someone
out there is as disjointed as me

And you know what? It feels so good to say…
I am not ashamed

Odd woman out in grief…

You know what child/baby loss groups never talk about?

What it feels like when you lost a child from an unplanned pregnancy. First, let me say that I truly respect and admire those who have the courage to write about their struggle to have a(nother) baby. However, I have realized that even within the infant/baby-loss blogosphere there seems to be a silent (though I’m sure sizable) portion of parents whose stories have been left untold.

I am a woman who was not trying to conceive a child, wasn’t actually happy when I found out that I was pregnant(I flew into panic mode), but eventually fell in love with my baby and the idea of parenthood. Like other parents, I mentally planned activities and lessons that I would teach my daughter. I imagined the beauty of her exploring her curiosity. I imagined the rituals we would share: me applying coconut oil to her hair while telling her silly made-up stories and dancing at the drop of a beat if ‘our song’ came on the radio. I imagined the conversations that we would have, the things she would teach me about humanity, the ways she would learn from my example.

And yet, when I lost her, I didn’t have this dying urge to conceive again. Sure, I worried myself with fear, thinking that I suffered from a biological issue that would prevent me from having another child in the far, far future. But then I thought about how the entire time that I was pregnant with her, I was frightened out of my mind with doubt that I would be unable to give her the life that she truly deserved. So when I read child-loss blogs of determined women who are seemingly confident in their parenting abilities, it makes it just a little bit harder to struggle with my mixed bag of grief. So here is my confession that I must make: I’m not sure I will have more children. Nor am I certain that I even want another child, even if I accidentally became pregnant. I think there is room at the table of grief for women like me but if not, I guess I’ll just be the odd woman out in my grief.

 

People like me…

I’m convinced that people like me should not have children.

People like me put up guards, wear a cloak of good humor, and fall apart behind closed doors.

People like me fool others all the time, make them believe they are functional, rational, and determined, and then do something erratic.

People like me try not to be a burden, save their feelings for a later, more convenient hour, and then lock themselves in their rooms all evening.

People like me…well, we are just tired.

Just so tired of pretending.

I am recovering…

My mother died the day after I turned 17. She was 44.

My father is still living,

but he doesn’t have time for me. I am recovering.

                 Note: if reading on phone, use landscape

Bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses have crept their way

into my family genetic code

and stolen trust, unity, and hope. I am recovering.

 

Child neglect, child abuse, no love, no love,

No one loves me, I say

Why doesn’t anyone love me, I say

I am recovering.

 

What gives him the right to beat her

Take her money, drive her car, threaten to kill her

All the while, stealing, stealing

my faith in humanity

I am recovering.

 

As she lay there, somewhere suspended between this life and the next

He whispered, just loud enough so she could hear,

“You’ll never make it up out of this hospital, B—h”

And she didn’t.

I am recovering.

 

How could this man, who is not my father,

who should barely be considered a husband,

have the right to decide where and how she is

remembered, how her spirit is set free? Why not me?

I am recovering.

 

I have flashbacks, like today, when the air is humid

My head spinning, spinning

In circles, remembering the cage that was my room.

The literal, yet symbolic bars on my window.

The anger spewing between the walls of that forsaken home,

The blood on the door after another vicious fight.

The scared dog, I consoled.

The drama, the drama—no—the trauma.

It lingers.

I am recovering.

 

On this day, I am 23 years, 6 months, and 15 days old

I don’t plan on dying at 44. It might be sooner,

It could be later. Who knows?

Every day I tell myself that I have time to get better

To do better

Even though I am often never alone but lonely,

Paying for rent with the sensibilities of being home-lessrecovery

In love with others, with none left for myself

I am in recovery.

 

For those that ask why I let myself go

It’s finally almost time to see my family after almost a year. Sure, they have said the obligatory:  I-miss-you, when are you coming home, and I-can’t-wait-to-see-yous. But I’m still dreading the initial moment of contact with every single one of them.This past year has been nothing short of hard.

Moving to a different state, starting my masters program, and losing my daughterchildbirth when I was six months pregnant (without their physical presence) has left me in an almost indescribable place. The idea that I will have to talk about the space that I now occupy is difficult to imagine.

My head really starts to pound when I think about how my family members will react when they see how I’ve gained thirty pounds (while my partner has probably lost that much in muscle and the barely-there body fat that he once had). Inevitably, one of them will ask me “what the hell happened” or make a joke about how I’m clearly starving my partner and keeping all the food for myself. Even if the joke isn’t as harsh, there will at least be one. In any case, it isn’t funny and the question will certainly bring on a tide of emotions that I just am not ready to feel right now.

But you know what I need to say:

My eyes are no longer filled with a glimmer of hope and my skin does not glow with youthful joy. My hair does not shine from carefully applied coconut images (12)oil and shea butter.These follicles have seen better days with less stress, less mania, and certainly more hydration. The stretch marks that trail the sides of my abdomen narrate the story of love and premature childbirth. Several months after, I remained still, adding to the flesh that now make these thighs rub. These my-cup-overfloweth breasts grew to unforeseen proportions to accommodate a hungry baby. Yet, they were never put to use. Without a bra, they hang, sadly, dreaming of the time Before. This chub that has collected at my lower belly is a constant reminder that ice cream and homemade cookies (even if they are naturally sweetened) are lovely as long as they are not consumed everyday.  So you see Family–today, I am broken beyond measure. I have sunk to my darkest depth. There are days when I believe I will make it, there are days when I simply want to die.

Yes, in your terms, I have completely ‘let myself go’. However, what you see on the outside doesn’t even bring you close to how I feel inside. So I beg you let me, let me, let me…let myself go, to make way for new beginnings and possibilities. I can no longer fixate oimages (11)n the ‘her’ of a year ago. I have to learn to love and exist as ‘me’. I have to learn to trust the uterus that couldn’t save my baby, the mind that didn’t stop me from overindulging in foods, the spirit that gave up Earthly duties in hopes of reconnecting with my dead mother and daughter. Yes, there is trust that has to be gained. Secrets that have to be shared, real feelings that have to be had, real trauma that has to be spoken. It’s a journey but I am so worth it.

 

To keep my peace, I am quiet

It happened again, the cyclical argument that we’ve had for a year.

It’s the “you don’t make enough money at your job, you need to really figure out

what career you want to build from here on out” kind of argument.

He takes great offense when I say that but  I’m just reacting out of fear.

Fear that that we will be destined for a life of misery because

his college degree didn’t land him his dream job.

What will his story be? Chronically underemployed?

A dreamer with no drive to do anything other than dream and plow

away at a job that doesn’t value his skills, hard work, and dedication.

Will he shed the remaining ounces of pride that he had left?

Finally experiencing a moment of clarity and realizing its time to make

real moves for the future.

 

And that’s when I remembered what I fear the most:

Will he be dependent on me for the rest of his life?

Wanting my support but never showing up for himself.

I don’t want to make it all about money but there is something to

be said for financial security.

 

Oh money! You are a heartbreaker. You suck the joy

and love out of otherwise happy homes.

You lead people to alleys and dumpsters for shelter.

You change hands without even a bit of loyalty.

You force the dark to derobe itself to the light.

You reveal the truth about our circumstances.

You remind us who our ‘real’ friends are and who are our enemies.

You induce fear in people like me,

who always knew ‘want’ but often lost touch with what it meant to’have’.

 

I don’t want a fancy car, a McMansion, or a house.

But I do need security. Hell, he knows that. I’ve told him so many times.

So tonight, I will remain silent, so I can keep the peace that I so desperately

desire in my life right now.