With fervency I was accused of being "selfish" and having desire to "rake everyone over the coals". Selflessness is entirely subjective and can only ever be measured by others, so I suppose no matter how benevolent I believe my own heart to be, if someone else thinks I'm selfish, well then to them I must be. I could write an entire blog post or perhaps even a novel about how my intentions have never been to rake anybody over anything, but that too is somewhat irrelevant because if my words or actions can be so misconstrued as to lead someone to conclude that "all [I] want to do" is rake people, important people in my life, "over the coals" than its apparent, intentions aside, I have hurt people.
I've always wanted this space to honestly reflect my life in the aftermath of losing my daughter, and to do otherwise would only hurt myself and defeat the purpose in writing all together; but with all that has happened over the past four months or so, I haven't known how to write about my thoughts and emotions without potentially hurting anyone else.
Someone also Twittered about me recently, trivializing my hurt and causing so much more, that I wanted to be certain that by expressing my own thoughts and feelings online I was not doing the same.
This is also after all the "internets" and I can reasonably foresee that airing my metaphorical dirty skivvies out on the line for all to see could also come back to embarrass me in the long term, particularly when you have nosey neighbours if you know what I mean.
I gave much thought to going private or starting a new anonymous blog, but in part, I created this space to share my journey with others walking behind me on this path of life after the death of a baby, and to promote awareness about stillbirth and its disastrous consequences amongst people I know in the real world, so neither option worked for me.
So, I just stopped writing.
I'm hoping now that time has lapsed I can write about what life has been like the past few months for me, without a need to go into detail about the events that have actually transpired other to say that Tim and I have been hurt; very hurt by those who by biological relation and marriage we (perhaps naively) believed would be patient and kind; who would continue to abide even when unwilling or incapable of offering a shoulder or an ear; and who at the very least, would demonstrate a heightened sensitivity towards our feelings at this difficult time in our lives (even when simultaneously experiencing a joyous and exciting time in their own).
The hurt seemed to be continuous - again and again and again - and each attempt to address it directly, and even indirectly, only lead to conflict and in turn more hurt. Eventually Tim and I felt we had no option but to sever ties to save ourselves, at least for the time being. I don't have to speculate that our actions have been perceived as being "selfish", we've been told as much.
Making the decision to walk away from family, even temporarily, was not easy, particularly for Tim. But when I say we made the decision to "save ourselves", I'm not exaggerating.
I will never forget the moment the doctor said, "I'm sorry sweetheart, but your baby just passed away". I cannot allow my memory to linger their for long without instantly being moved to tears, and while that will always be a defining moment in my life, it certainly was not the most difficult to survive. Neither was birthing her dead body, or kissing her goodbye. Don't get me wrong, those moments haunt me and always will. Knowing what I know now and without the benefit of whatever it is your mind does to numb you at times like that, if I had to go back and live those moments again, maybe I would not make it through. But when I reflect on the past 7 months and 28 days, those moments were easy in comparison to what came after.
I do not believe words can do justice to describe the intensity of emotions that consume you and threaten your own life after your baby dies. There is the profound sadness and longing, that I think those who have not lost a child can almost imagine. The duration and intensity of those feelings of course greatly exceed the imaginations of those untouched by this kind of loss, but for me, what has been most surprising and difficult to deal with has been my anger.
For a long time I woke up each morning filled with anger that I could physically feel. I pictured it like a black serpent in my stomach and my throat. I was angry at the anger and I willed it to stop, but it was much stronger than my own will. Day, after day, after day it was with me.
I would wake at 5:30 a.m. and the endless cycle of thoughts would start like a movie in my mind, initially bringing brief moments of intense hurt, which were always quickly replaced with anger. I spent each morning in the shower banging my forehead against the wall, sobbing, pleading with myself, with God, and even with Isla for it to stop.
I became an expert at compartmentalizing my emotions. The anger would consume me from the time I awoke until I got in the car to leave for work. Slowly as I drove towards the office the anger would soften to hurt, and the hurt would eventually be replaced with thoughts of client meetings and filing deadlines. I would keep myself distracted throughout the day, and as I left the office and headed towards home, my thoughts about work would be replaced with feelings of hurt, and then like faithful a friend, my anger would return. I lived like this for months.
My anger was not generalized. I wasn't angry at the world. I was angry at those who were continuously hurting us, and with each new hurt, my anger intensified.
There were moments when I stared at the razor blade in the shower, contemplating how much more I could handle. Finally,one day in early December, I reached a near breaking point.
Certain things had transpired that day over Facebook and email with family members that hurt me badly. I somehow managed to keep myself together long enough to complete a full day at the office but as I drove home, I slowly began to unravel. On the highway, I drove in the fast lane and I kept glancing at the concrete center median thinking if I just swerved a little to the left I could end it all. I called my best friend in hysterics, screaming and sobbing and eventually admitting that I called her because I was afraid I may do something to hurt myself. When I arrived home, I had to sit in the car on the phone to wait for Tim to arrive because I didn't trust myself to be in the house alone.Tim eventually came home. The moments that followed are a bit fuzzy, but I remember arguing with him briefly and then I just came completely undone. I'm not sure what I was screaming at first, but eventually it was "make it stop, make it stop, make it stop" at top of my lungs and I was smashing my fists against my head. I kept hitting myself - harder, harder, harder. The physical pain felt good and temporarily distracted my mind from the emotional pain. I think Tim tried to grab my hands to stop me. Somehow I collapsed onto the floor. Things seemed to go blank for a while and I felt nothing. Tim was telling me to "get up". I could hear him, but he sounded far away. For a brief moment I thought to myself, this is it - I'm either dying or being carted out of the house in a straight jacket off to the funny farm. And then I just stopped thinking all together. I think Tim carried me to the couch, although I cant really remember. I'm not sure how long I sat there, not thinking, not feeling, not really there at all.
Then the silence in my mind was interrupted. Tim was talking to someone in his family over the phone. Another argument. Yelling. Much like I did as a child when my parents argued, I plugged my ears and pleaded to whoever was listening to the thoughts in my head to "make it stop". Tim hung up the phone. He was upset. He was crying. My wifely protective instincts kicked in. I was present again. I wanted to spare him any further hurt too. I'm not sure what really transpired next. We were both crying for a long while. I can't recall whether I said it out loud or if Tim just knew it too, but in that moment I knew that if the hurt and conflict continued any longer, neither myself, nor Tim, nor our marriage would survive. It felt as though my toes were hanging over the edge and with one more push, that would be it. Sanity lost. So Tim did what he had to do for me, for him, for us and asked for us to be left alone.
Selfish? Perhaps. I can't deny that right now it is all about me. All about Tim. The anger has subsided some and of course now guilt sometimes creeps into the corners of my mind. I'll address and work through that in my own time. Right now, I'm simply surviving.