Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Darkest before the Dawn

Once very recently and not so far away, there lived a little girl in the deepest valley of the world.  This little girl walked through this deep valley, aware that there must be a place beyond that she had never been told about.  She didn't know how she knew this, but she felt sure of it.  Every day, she would wander through the trees in the hopes of finding a path that would lead her away from the valley that enclosed her.  One day, she came upon a path that she had never seen before.  It seemed rocky and narrow and she was afraid that it might not lead her anywhere.  Nevertheless, she found her self climbing it slowly. As it grew dark, she looked back from where she'd come and knew that not only could she not find her way back but that she was perfectly sure that there was no way to return to the life she had decided to leave.  She walked on.  The blackness of night chilled her to the core, and she felt a distinct glimmer of fear well up within her.  Tears flowed down her cheeks where the grime collected from her journey turned into muddy tracks.

She walked on.

And on.

Her feet bloody from the rocks, she walked on.

It seemed that the night would never end.

Owls hooted in the trees where the wind whispered encouragement to the little girl.

And as the sun made its way into the sky once more...the little girl saw the new dawn.

The colors swirled purple and golden over the horizon and the birds sang a lullaby to the night owl that lulled him to sleep.

The little girl walked on and as the light brightened the world, she saw herself in a land that existed above and beyond the valley below where the flowers bloomed and rainbows danced in the misty air.

She was finally home. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Doing it differently

There are people who believe that it is best to forget the past.  Perhaps they feel that remembering negates any beauty of the present?  Honestly, as a person who feels that one must remember in order to fully appreciate what IS, I can't pretend to understand the desire to forget implicitly in the name of "being healed".

What IS healing, anyway?  Is it not remembering?  Is it turning the other way when the sharpness of a memory permeates the present moment?  Or is it being able to see the contrast, acknowledge the pain and longing, and then...continue living.

Once upon a time, (many times actually...) I was called diarrhea mouth. This "loving" nickname hurt me deeply.  It was an effective way to express that what I had to say was so abundant that it was sickening and uncontrollable.  Funny that I would go on to become a writer: ie: a person who has much to express.  Call it diarrhea mouth...or call it being expressive.  My parents chose the former...and as I watch my rainbow baby coo and croon and babble and chat in beloved baby expression, I am choosing the latter.  Expressive.  Not diarrhea mouth.  Beautiful.  Not nauseating. Precious.  Not dismissible.

There are those who would wish that I wouldn't think of what I was called as I give my daughter the warmth I feel she (and I) deserve.  Instead, I say to her "Sweetie!  You have SO much to say and I LOVE to listen to you!"  or "Oh Ali V.  Tell me MORE of that sugar!"  or "You go sweet Venus...tell the people what you want!"  there are those who feel, to this day, that they wish I didn't express what I feel or call it like I see it.  But...there is a discrepancy between the sentiment of wishing a person could find healing while wishing they would shut up about their pain. Diarrhea vs. Constipation??  Better out than in!!!

Oh yes.  I hear, in the words of a parent not as enthusiastic as I happen to be, the groan of "there goes diarrhea mouth again...." in the depths of my own childhood memory.  Because I love my own beautiful little girl so much, I feel the contrast, and it aches in my gut.  That I, a beautiful baby girl...a rainbow baby myself (!!!)...would not have been cherished...that my earliest sentiments would have been viewed in a similar fashion to something as wretched as diarrhea...well, all I can say to that is---wow.  I deserved better.  I'll give my daughter better.  That is my promise to her.  That is my promise to me. Healing.

As I love my daughter, I am learning that I deserved just as much love.

That is true healing.  See the now.  See the past.  And do it differently in honor of the love you honor of the love deserved by all.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Past...

This morning, I am thinking about what has been.  I am thinking about what has been in the light of what is now.

It is, surprisingly, not making me feel sad.

When I look at what has been, all by itself, I typically feel a wave of grief.  I can look behind at my footprints and see that there are so many tears about so many things.  I can find myself falling back into those footprints, wishing I could change them.  Or, at the very least, make them more palatable.  That isn't the way footprints are though.  You can't erase them, or turn them in another direction without messing up the rest of the journey.  So, as I look at my footprints, I found myself realizing that it was those very steps that have led me to now.

I found myself feeling...grateful.  Yeah.  I said it.  Grateful.

I started thinking this way because my on and off again boyfriend of middle school years found me on facebook.  I had to smile, because this boy was one of my happy memories of the past.  I remember...  I remember him passing me a note in Mr. Mormon's class in 6th grade.  I was new to the school, and had pretty low self esteem after my torture from a particularly mean girl in the school I'd been in previously.  He passed me a note.  It simply said..."I think you're cute."

Harmless enough, but...being the silly fool I was at the time, I thought he was making fun of me because I knew without a doubt that I was everything BUT cute.  I ran out of the classroom in tears because I was horrified that this very cute boy was making fun of me.  I wasn't cute.  I was ugly.  I was fat.  I was stupid.  I was....worthless.  I cried and cried until another girl came out of the classroom onto the field to console me.  She assured me that I was cute, and that if this boy, whom she also agreed was as cute as I'd thought, said I was cute, he meant it!  I was elated!  Have you ever seen Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?  The old one...with the fur-mation and the snow monster?  The scene when Rudolph leaps into the air, flying better than all the reindeer because the girl reindeer tells him he's cute?  Well...that was me.  All because of being given a letter (a confirmed one at that!) that said I was cute.  He became my boyfriend, and gave me my first kiss.  Of course, we were kids, and we broke up, he went with my best friend, they broke up, we got back together, we broke up, we got back together...and then, he met another girl.  A girl whom he married.  I remember her...she was sweet, pretty, and smart.  They were perfect for each other.  Everyone agreed about that fact.  When he told me he'd married his high school sweetheart, I was elated!  It was meant to be.  It was perfect.

I saw our footprints of the past join happily, and then move apart to join other footprints.  Just as it needed to be to bring me to my husband.  Had I stayed with my 6th grade crush, the first boy to tell me I was cute, well...I wouldn't have my husband.  I wouldn't have this life. 

I saw my footprints join with the wonderful man whom I love with every fiber of my being.  I saw tiny foot prints walking beside us.  I saw tears in some of the deeper prints and sparkles in others.  The most recent footprints are filled with the light of rainbows.  Deep, sturdy prints are these.  No mistaking that these prints have been taken with determination.  With purpose.

I walk more carefully now-a-days.  I'm not as flitting and fleeting as I was once upon a time.  I feel like I know where I am going, though I can't chart the course on a map of any kind.  As I make new footprints, I realize that the past has made the present and the two combined will make the future.  We all carry baggage with us on our journeys through life.  One of the things I carry in my pocket is a little note with the penciled scrawl of a boy who gave me back my self esteem.  The boy who first told me I was cute.  And meant it.

If it wasn't for him, I might have never known that.

I might have believed a lie told by a mean girl instead.

To all the people of the all the things that have been...To all the smiles, and all the all the loss and all the gain...

Thank you.  Thank you for being part of my now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Of panic attacks and wishful thinking...

There is a sleeping bundle of girlishness on my bed.  She's sleeping in the pseudo-starlight of  her turtle nightlight.

And I...I am here.

I had a panic attack last week.  Two of them actually.  It's amazing to me that the nervous system can really get fried badly enough that it misfires even when you're feeling just fine.  Because, I really was feeling fine.  Or...was I?

Apparently...I wasn't feeling fine enough.  I get that there is this underlying anxiety that lives in my chest at all times.  I get that I'm hyper vigilant.  I get that I'm basically damaged goods.  But...I also get the psychology of grief.  I get the human psyche.  I understand what I've been through and I've been working hard to heal.  And...she IS here.  Sleeping on my bed.  Right next to the co-sleeper that she never sleeps in, because...that is too far away.  I can hear her sleepy noises from where I stand right now.  She is 10 steps away from me at this very moment.  She is here.  Alive.  A big gorgeous girl with bright blue eyes and a presence that say's "Mama...I am here to stay!"

She's vibrant.  Unscathed by life. grand-babies are within her body right now.   All the babies she could ever have....inside her ovaries.  And that was what did it.  I was holding her.  Loving her smell.  Cherishing her presence.  Knowing all too well how very very very lucky I am.  It was that moment when my heart clenched.  My breathing shallowed.  My eyes swelled with tears...and it began.

I couldn't really protect her.  Not forever.  Not in every way.  Not from loss.

As I held my tiny 2 and a half month old daughter...all 16 pounds of her...I was deeply aware that I was also holding all her babies...her future darlings...and the fear poured over me.  I quaked.

I lost it.

She slept through my jerky sobbing and my sudden fear that I might just die from the despair that was racing through my veins.   She slept through my wails.  Cuddled on my chest...peaceful.

As if to remind me that she wasn't worried.

As a have to remember not to push your fears on your children.  I bite my lip hard when I see a spider...and calmly try to act like I'm not terrified that it will run up my leg.  I feign composure when we drive on narrow roads near mountain cliffs.  (Of course...I typically lose that battle...My boys are all too aware of my fear of heights, but, I haven't passed it on.  They just think it's silly....)
I don't want my daughter to fear bearing a child.  I don't want her to fear loss.

But mostly...I don't want her to experience loss.


And that isn't something I can force.  It isn't something I can protect her from.

I can only watch.

I can only hope it isn't on her path.

And I fear that it isn't enough.  Hope isn't enough to protect her from pain and tears and loss.

It isn't enough, but it's all a mama has.

When she wants me, she calls for me.  She actually says "Ma mam! Meh Mem!"  She only says this when she wants me.  She can talk.  She's been doing this since birth, and there is no disputing the communication.  She trusts me to protect her.  She trusts me to know what she needs.
I know that she trusts me to have the answers.  She needs to know that I can help her when she's gassy or hungry or lonely or just plain...needy.  She turns to me for help.

My panic attack was over knowing that there will be times that I can't help.  Won't have the answers. Won't be able to take away the pain.

The thing that eased the second panic attack was remembering that I don't need to know the answers.  I found a peace in my being by remembering my sisters on this journey that is being a woman who has lost babies.  I remembered all you have done and all you have been to me.  You've been HERE.  You couldn't take away my pain.  But you witnessed me in it.  You couldn't change the fact that loss was part of my being.  You understood and validated my pain.  You couldn't promise me that it wouldn't happen again.  But you held my hands and gave me hope.

And in that, I suddenly realized that hope is more than enough.

Hope is everything. It's all we have.  It's not desperate and it won't change hard events.  It gives you a reason to go on. To find your path. To know that doors will and DO open, even if they aren't the doors you thought you'd venture through.  Experiencing life isn't a bad thing, though it can be a hard journey.  When I look back, I understand that there is hope.  I can give that to my little girl when she needs it...even though I hope she won't need it in the way I did.

Hope.  It saved my life.  It brought me to this moment, where I can hear her breathing.  Where she is only 10 steps away.  Where she is being watched carefully by a loving furry sheepdog who wants nothing more than to lick her tiny feet, but is resisting the temptation....for now.