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Falling rain splatters.
Puddles ripple and streams run
as I dodge grief, wet.
In Sanskrit, Ahimsa means non-harming- in thought, words or deeds of oneself or others. My awareness of Ahimsa began back in my first teacher training years ago. It is one of yamas (restraints) which makes up Pantanjali’s 8 limbs. The other limbs that are more familiar would be the asanas (poses), breathing (pranayama) and meditation (dyana). It had never struck me until now, to think of it in terms of myself. I usually thought of it in terms of the non-harming or non-violence of others.
These days, my thoughts are all about the self-blame, guilt, anger, unhappiness and the awful body image. I have focused my being not on healing myself, or taking care of me, but on being angry with who I’ve become since Silas has died. I judge myself in thoughts of resentment. I can barely look at my stomach and the extra skin that just does not want to disappear. I blame myself for the choices that were made and for my body failing. When I find myself sitting at my computer, unable to get work done, I feel defeated. Not yet pregnant? well, of course that’s my fault, stress is wreaking havoc on my reproductive system. Sometimes I even think that if I leave those thoughts behind, I’ll be leaving my little Silas behind too.
With all the work I’m doing on myself, the EMDR therapy, the yoga, the writing, hanging with friends, getting massages, I still manage to find time to beat myself up. It’s like double the work of just dealing with the grief and that is why I am so exhausted all the time.
Last week in yoga class, my teacher spoke about Ahimsa. It hit such a nerve with me, and I came to a very powerful realization on my mat. I will never fully heal unless I stop these violent and harmful thoughts about myself. I work on this in therapy, I talk about it with Chris and with friends who will listen. I know I am the only one with the power to stop this endless chatter going on in my brain. But it is hard. It is so damn hard to quit. It has become part of the routine of my life. I need to retrain my brain from working in this manner.
The thing is, it is not just about being sad that Silas died, that my baby, who I carried inside me for more then 9 months, is not here with us. The rippling effect of our baby’s death has caused me to suppress the parts of myself where I used to find joy. I hate that I can’t see friends babies, or pregnant friends or even talk about pregnancy or babies. This is something I LOVED. I can’t do it. I have had to tuck that away, which fills me with such enormous pain, I almost can’t handle it. Not only did I lose my baby, but I lost a hundred other things on top of it. All that stuff has just piled up and piled up in my brain, and I can’t stop it from happening.
I am working on it though. I am letting go of resentments and working on being nice to myself. Just giving myself a break from all the thoughts that keep my jaw clenched and make my brain hurt everyday is really important. It’s hard though. But it’s what I have to do if I want to keep moving forward.
Does everyone’s internal dialogue contain so many voices and perspectives? Is everyone awash in conflicting thoughts and impulses? Or is it just us, the Utterly Fucked? It’s that feeling where I want to go and do something, a hike, a few hours at the bookstore, a nice walk around the ‘hood, something I know will be good and right, and instead I can make myself do… nothing. Sit. Read the paper. Nap. Have another beer.
Sometimes I decide today is going to be a good day and then slam the door on the way out and cry in the car, pounding on the steering wheel all the way to work.
Other times I realize I can’t take any of it anymore and then I don’t have to. I end up blithely drifting through the day, smiling at the elusive sun and puddled earth. We are getting so much rain these days I’m afraid Silas’ tree is going to need swimming lessons.
Most days the cascading terror of my-life-gone-horribly-wrong churns me awake before the dawn, but often by nightfall I’m laughing with Lu or friends, surrounded by so much love I almost start to feel lucky.
I used to feel lucky all the time. I used to think I was one of the happiest people out there, despite the often intense sense of anger I have always felt at the occasional injustices of the World.
My World is entirely Unjust these days. Happiness is elusive, too.
I used to sleep well. I can still fall asleep in fifteen seconds flat and I nap as though I have a special super power for napping. But I cannot remember a time when I have had a full night of sleep. Pre-dawn is the worst. There’s no refuge there besides more sleep, and there’s just way too much to think about.
The Path of Worry is a deep groove. I slip in before I know it, and finding my way out is an ordeal. Sometimes it’s easier to just lay down amid the worn rocks and sharp pebbles and watch the vultures circle above. I try to pick out the silhouette of hawks amid the scavengers. I’m amazed by the endless sky and steep sides to this gully and I wonder, every morning I wonder, how the fuck are we going to get out of here?
Can’t climb the walls. Can’t disintegrate into the Earth. Backwards is disaster and so that only leaves forward. But sometimes I cannot move one single step. Then, sleep is the only refuge, but always I wake up wide and worn out and can’t believe it’s another day without Silas.
All of them are. From That Day until the end of my forever, it is all without my son. I feel my bones getting wobbly and sick at the thought of that. I feel my soul shrivel and hide. My mind sends me images of bright, shiny objects to distract me from the catastrophic disgustingness of a thought like that. It used to shatter me, now I just sigh and rub my eyes and wonder what I’ll do next to get by, hang on, let go or act out, depending on what I can muster for the moment.
You’d be fooled, though, just reading this. These words are the gymnastics I do in my mind day after day, moment after moment. In person I’m nothing like this. Most of the time I’m calm and pleasant. If you just met me today you might never know my son died in September and that I am still in the very taloned grasp of crushing grief.
That’s why I’ve been thinking about changing my name. “Imissilas” has a great ring to it, and that way whenever I met someone new they would know what I was all about. And that way, when my friends called out to me, they would know what I was thinking about anyway. With that name I could unify myself. Instead of being my name and missing my son, I could just be both all the time.
I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to live this life, to experience this pain, to heal, to hang on. So I’m just making it up as I go and letting the confusing contradictions of every single day and moment, of my soul and heart, of my fear and love and confusion, all of it, I’m allowing it to wake me up when it must and lay me flat when I can’t stand and crush the tears out of me when the pressure grows too strong.
Drained I find a way to pick myself up again and trudge forward, head tucked against the torrent, slowly winding my way through this shadowed, vultured valley. Silas’ heart beats in my chest. His soul fills everything within my skin.
Please send over as much love and thoughts as you can to our friends Brad and Christa and their little Carly. She’s been in a lot of pain this week and they haven’t quite figured it out. As you can imagine, it has been an incredibly tough journey for them. Lots of love and no-pain vibes heading your way little one!
I’ve been finding myself caught in the middle of 2 different worlds. The one that is the blogging babylost community and my other life. The life that allows me to fakely go forward and pretend like nothing ever happened. Where someone asks me how I’m doing and I say good. The one that allows me to socialize with friends, teach yoga to kids, manage a business, go food shopping, and just live my life.
Then I sit at my computer, and get lost in the blogs, and realize how sad my world really is. How devastating my life is and how fake most of my daily life is. I find emotions that I didn’t know were there. I make realizations I hadn’t yet come to on my own. I commiserate, I identify and I cry. I love my babylost mama friends. I take those much needed breaks from them, but then I devour their words all at once. The breaks are healthy, but something is missing from my life when I’m not immersed in them. They are the ones who understand wholeheartedly and completely. But it is a dark dark place when I go there, and I can’t always go there.
Really the only time I can be in a happy medium place is home with Chris, when we’re chillin’ on the couch with our kitties, watching t.v., eating dinner, just being real with each other. Don’t get me wrong, I do have friends and family members who allow me to be real, to express how I’m really feeling at any given moment, who let me talk and cry and just listen wholeheartedly. But that too is also emotionally draining. I don’t want to be the person that no one wants to be around because I’m always sad, or who wants to talk about Silas or getting pregnant or how unhappy I really am. That scares me. So most of the time I have to be ok.
I feel emotionally drained, almost all the time. From having to put on a happy face. From having to cry and be devastated. From having to figure out how to be in this medium middle world more often. When I can be real, happy one moment, sad the next or even just complacent and there is no one to judge. Chris doesn’t judge of course, he’s right there with me.
We spent last week doing something we love the most. The thing that brought us together in the first place. Our favorite band, Phish, got back together and played a string of shows on the East Coast. We got to hang with all of our friends who came in from all over. We drank, danced, laughed, cried and sold lots of coffee. It was a phenomenal week. There wasn’t much down time in between, and we spent a few days working, in between shows. We thought selling Bean & Leaf at the shows would be perfect, that way we can make some money, introduce B&L to a wider audience, and not have to socialize too much. That part gets tough. It worked out pretty great most of the time, we were super busy, people loved the coffee, and I was able to look out and see all of our friends around us.
I had many emotional breakdowns through the course of the week. It was fine. But again, I don’t want to be that person no one wants around because they’re not sure how i’ll be. I make people uncomfortable, I know that. I bumped into an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years. He’s a friend of mine on facebook, but we really haven’t spoken at all. He said to me “didn’t you have a baby or something?” uh oh, was all I could think. I took a deep breath and tried to tell him. He did the old looking down at his feet, backing away move, all the while saying “I’m sorry I asked, It’s ok, you don’t have to tell me.” But of course I did. If I had a healthy happy baby, I would tell you all about it. But since it was tragic, he didn’t want to hear it. This, my friends, is where it gets complicated.
This medium middle world place, I can say whatever I want, anytime. I can laugh hysterically watching The Office, then minutes later mention how much I want Silas and hate our life and just be insanely and utterly sad.
I don’t blame anyone for any of this. This is all me, trying to work it all out, to figure out how to be in these changed, devastating new worlds I find myself in.