As I said before, my MIL is a genuinely sweet person who really does go out of her way to make you feel welcome, cared for and loved. So when she took the accidental leap into "Crap hits the fan" territory, I wanted her to know my broken feelings were NOT the result of her sticking her nose where it didn't belong. I love the fact that she cares enough to ask these questions.
So when I had finally composed myself and felt ready to talk without falling into a snotty mess of tears, I positioned my beach chair in front of her and had the talk that I maybe should've had months ago.
I explained, without vilifying John, that we had come to the decision that Vincent was it for us. After all, we can't compromise on half a baby, so in order to protect our marriage, I agreed to relinquish my right to more children. Yes, it still hurts when I think of all those children I will always - ALWAYS - yearn for, but there is no point in damaging our marriage further by harassing John on a regular basis about it. We spent three years that way and finally managed to pull ourselves out of it.
So I asked that she not try to persuade John. It'd just make him angry that she was trying to get involved in a decision he feels as though he has every right to make. I'm not supporting his decision as right. I don't believe it is - on any level. But that's something that most of you wonderful readers already know. No point in re-beating a dead horse.
I explained all of this to her in concise, direct language so that she understood John's perspective. My goal was to prevent John from hearing about it later. He'd only end up feeling as though I'd gone behind his back to get his mom on my side or something.
So I presented a united front to her (which I have no doubt she'll take back to his family). I said that while I'd always be open to more children, I understand John's decision and cannot do anything to change his mind. Thus, for the sake of our marriage, I've tried to put my intense desire for children aside.
That was that. She understood and she then opened up about various situations that mirrored or held similarities to mine. I know she was trying to make me feel better. Honestly, though, I felt better knowing that she knew. She might not know the depths of my pain, but she at least knows not to bring me to the precipice anymore. And I feel as though I'll no longer hold the blame for not giving her and her husband the grandchildren they, also, want.
So that was the talk - finally. Later that night I told John that I'd had it with her so he was ready for any subsequent questions he might get from his parents (though I'm pretty sure that I DID handle the issue, so he very likely won't hear anything further).
Ah well. I'm honestly glad it's out in the open now. That particular secret really is a bear sometimes...
I listened to her laugh about John’s response to her question. She didn’t understand, yet. I, however, immediately realized that my feelings months ago were spot on – he had never really spoken to her about future grandchildren. He’d very likely said something trite and expected her to “get the idea” and never broach the subject again.
So when, after laughing about her son’s silly reaction, she saw her opportunity to delve deeper into the water, she took it. I don’t blame her. Looking back, I probably would’ve done the same thing had I been in her position.
I have to admit… as she was telling the story about John and Alliya, I wasn’t sure at first where she was going with it. It wasn’t until the realization hit that John hadn’t actually spoken to her surfaced that I realized I was in very dangerous territory.
She asked, “So… I know he said he is content with Vincent, but do you not want anymore? Is Vincent just too much for you guys?”
This is what the next few seconds in my head sounded like:
Oh crap, don’t cry, Gina. Don’t you freakin’ cry. Think of something to say.
THINK OF SOMETHING TO SAY!
Is Vincent too MUCH for us?! He’s perfect, how did that even enter into her head that Vincent could be too much for us?
Oh my gosh, SAY SOMETHING! But not yet because you’re gonna cry. You’re gonna sound like you’re upset, and she’s gonna know, and it’s gonna be terrible, because then the secret’s out, and John’s gonna be annoyed because you couldn’t keep your mouth shut, and then the whole family will find out, and GEEZ – SAY SOMETHING, ANYTHING! BUT TRY NOT TO SOUND LIKE YOU’RE SOBBING!
You must look like an idiot there staring off behind your sunglasses with your mouth hanging open.
(closes mouth, absent-mindedly begins chewing on lip)
OH NO, you chewed on your lip you idiot! Now she knows for sure and it’s been too long a pause for you to have just been trying to think up a delicate excuse for not wanting more kids than Vincent. Man, you’re a total failure at this. Now you’re stuck. Way to screw that up.
And as I had the “Way to screw that up” thought flash through my mind, my MIL realized the pregnant pause wasn’t so pregnant as infertile and immediately wished she could swallow the words that had already sliced through my soul. She hadn’t even uttered her realization of “Oh Gina… I’m so sorry” as I felt the first tears start to fall. I was trying vainly to quell my tidal wave of grief so I could tell her not to feel guilty… that it wasn’t her fault I was reacting so strongly. I could only muster a shake of my head and a faltering, “No, Ma, it’s okay. It’s really okay. Vincent isn’t too much. John just doesn’t want anymore.” My MIL is a wonderful woman. She truly is. She’s probably one of the most genuinely caring people in the world. She really is happiest when she’s making other people feel at ease or cared for. That part of her personality is so attractive… so magnetic… people tend to relish being in her company. So as soon as she realized she’d caught me off guard, she felt bad. So she said, “I’ll talk to my son. That’s just not right.” I started to protest, but I was still too overcome with emotion to do more than bite my lip to prevent all out sobbing. So I just shook my head and she understood we’d talk later. She said, “It’s okay. We’ll talk later. Back at the house.”About 45 minutes later, we were alone on the beach with my neice. She was playing with some friends, so I took that opportunity to have the conversation John should have had months ago.
Continued in Part III: The Talk
Fixed the air-conditioner, dear!
Ever have your husband say to you, “Oh honey, I’ve taken care of it. X-issue will never come up again. Don’t even worry about it!” Ever think, immediately upon hearing those words, that X-issue will most CERTAINLY come up again because your husband doesn’t “take care of things” as well as he thinks he does? Oh John… *shakes head with playful reproach* I fell victim to his version of “taking care of things” this weekend. Several months ago, John’s mother had been hinting at the prospect of John and I having more children. Obviously her intention was not to shove a sword through my heart, but given the nature of my current fertility predicament, that’s exactly what ended up happening. And really, that’s partly my fault. Never wanting to make her feel bad for desiring more grandchildren from us, I did my best to keep my emotions under control. I never let her see anything more than the carefully concocted façade that masked my deepest, most crushing grief. After this happened in December (and it was December, I just couldn’t bring myself to post about it until February), John took the initiative and assured me he had spoken to his mother in an attempt to head-off similar situations. When I pressed him to find out how, exactly, he’d handled the conversation, I could tell that he wasn't very thorough because he didn’t want to have a heart-to-heart with his mother about why he, himself, didn’t want any more children. He didn’t want to admit that to his mom because he knew she wouldn’t let the conversation end there. But I didn’t press the issue further because I figured I’d find out, myself, through future interactions with my MIL. This weekend was my reckoning. John and I took Vincent down the shore to stay with my mother and father-in-law. They were babysitting our niece, Alliya. As I was getting Vince ready for the beach in the bedroom, John watched his mother braid Alliya’s hair in the living room. Alliya didn’t like that, so John asked his mom why she was forcing Alliya (who has Rapunzel-length hair) to sit still while she braided it. My MIL responded with, “It’ll get too tangled if I don’t braid it.”Things might’ve been okay for me had the conversation stopped there. It didn’t, and here’s where my husband’s brilliant version of “handling things” come into play.My MIL continued, “Why are you asking, John? Prepping for a little girl of your own?”Cue John’s brilliant response – instead of responding to her, he simply ignores her and walks away.That’s right... he walked away.I’m actually laughing as I think about that. I have little doubt he thought he was making a very good, obvious point to his mother. He probably even thought he was deftly handling the situation and “punishing” her with the cold shoulder by ignoring the comment and walking away.But no. His mother thought he was just teasing. So when she relayed the story back to me on the beach while John was on the boardwalk with Vincent, she had absolutely no idea that she was treading on dangerous waters.
Continue to Part II: Dangerous Waters
This sculpture is the first (and as yet only) piece of art that has ever made me weep. I came across it in my travels, and the reaction was instantaneous. The tears were coming before I even understood what it was I was looking at.
The tender love and comfort extending from the child as she reached out to touch her agonizing mother is intense. That flood of intensity was then made into a deluge of sadness as I realized the child was "invisible," the symbolic soul of a child this mother lost. Then, when I realized what the title of the sculpture actually was, I just about died of a broken heart.
Though this sculpture doesn't necessarily have to speak of the post-abortion grief many woman feel, that was what I took it for at first glance. Then I realized this grief could easily be felt by women who suffered miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, or even hysterectomies before fulfilling their vision of a family. This sculpture could also encapsulate the grief of a mother denied children through birth control, social pressures or infertility... maybe even a mother who lost her child to illness, violence or trauma.
Such ceaseless pain is perfectly juxtaposed with undescribable love. This ghost child is peaceful, seeking no solace for itself; she is only looking to comfort her stricken mother. The mother, overcome by her emotions, cannot feel the touch of this angel. She wants to... she yearns to... but she cannot.
Oh my heart. I'm actually writing this entry with my "window" scrolled up just enough that the image is not visible on my screen. I can do nothing but weep when I see it.
May the Lord grant us mercy for our transgressions against these innocent babes. May those who seek reconciliation find peace, and may the Holy Spirit alight in the hearts of those who don't understand that life begins at conception.
My beloved Archdiocese of Philadelphia... what happened to you?
Have you really succumbed so gently to the false whispers of satan? Have you become pliant through his fiery caress? Have you become so blinded by the gilded treasures of worldliness, power and carnal gratification that the Beatific Vision is completely obscured from you?
God help us. We are lost if not for Your Grace.For those of you unaware, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia - my home, my foundation, and my heart - has been reaping the fruits of a decades long abuse cover-up. We most certainly have been in the wrong for the reshuffling of priests, the silence of cardinals / bishops, the treatment of victims, etc. We have turned ourselves away from Truth and found an angry, unsettled and disordered home in the filth of sin. Oh, what agony now befits us! Due to such negligence and willful perpetration of violence against the innocent among us, we suffer! We suffer as well we should, but dear Lord - Mercy!We are being stripped of our priests. Sinners though they are, we haven't the vocations to fill the holes they leave behind. Sinners that we, the laity, are - we are left with no one to shepherd us via Sacraments and pastoral care.Oh Lord, this truly is a punishment we bring upon ourselves! Catholicism in Philadelphia is on the cusp of abolition. For years we've allowed this cancer to metastasize, invading all parts of our clergy and administration. For years we've ignored the wounds of our victims - which, left untreated, became mortal and spread to others. As a result, when the blinds were opened and the public saw these festering, horrifying injuries for what they were, trust was lost, faith wavered, and hope for healing became almost laughable.The pain to those of us who love this Archdiocese! The pain of feeling her members torn, battered and broken! The pain of helplessness as we could do nothing but watch as priest after beloved priest was targeted and accused, convicted and removed... as we saw our friends and family defect, turning away from the Church and even condemning Her due to the impossibly grotesque offenses of Her representatives! Oh the pain of listening to report after report of the ever-increasing details of the accusations... and seeing the devastating pain of our victims!This ongoing chastisement is necessary, but dear Lord, again I cry "Mercy!" I understand and trust this unparalleled "cleansing of the Temple" is something we brought about on our own, but please guide us to safer waters!
Ugh. I am so beyond heartbroken by this entire mess, and it seems like a never-ending rabbit hole.
Another one of our priests was removed today. News came out yesterday afternoon that he was being investigated for an improper relationship and possible abuse of minors. This priest was someone who mentored me, my siblings, and many of our friends.
I have no idea if the allegations are true or not, but the fact that Archbishop Chaput reacted swiftly and harshly to his case leads me to believe there is some validity to the claims against him.
My prayers are with him, the possible victims, and the families of those he may have harmed or turned away from the Church. May they all find peace, healing, love and forgiveness.
Le sigh... I truly have such a heavy, heavy heart right now. However, even in this hailstorm of folly, I recognize the mercy we've been given in Chaput.
Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Archbishop Chaput. No doubt You put him in place to steer this mostly capsized ship to harbor. May You be his strength and wisdom. May You be his beacon. May You be the wind that straightens our mangled sails.
It's been a really rough couple of days. I've been feeling very deflated - depressed, even. A friend said, "You sound defeated." I replied, "That's a good word. That's a very good word."It's one I've used myself to describe this swamp I find myself in.
I understand that sometimes, we all enjoy wallowing in self-pity or some form of "I-suck-at-life" self-inflicted abuse, but I stumbled upon some information that felt like a sucker-punch to my gut. I've been bumbling around ever since and haven't been able to shake this absolute defeat I feel. Basically, it's like I'm constantly "waiting for the other shoe to drop" I guess. I dunno.
Last night, I couldn't stop torturing myself with various scenarios that inevitably led me into a deeper sense of self-loathing. I began impressing myself with inventive ways of concluding that I was a failure at everything I've ever attempted.
Then I realized something...
I was under attack. I was willfully allowing these whispers of satan to penetrate my heart and force my mind into a state of despair. Instead of being grateful for those blessings I'd been given, I was twisting them into loathsome atrocities. I was even creating impossible scenarios in my head that ONLY served to make me feel more crestfallen. Worst of all, instead of feeling able to release the grievances and offer them up for some greater purpose, I'd retreated so far into myself that I'd refused to entertain the idea that Jesus was able and willing to remove the burden.
Like I said... sometimes we just really like sitting in our own misery, and it dawned on me why. Misery loves company, and who could possibly be more miserable than satan? Mind you, I'm certainly not blaming my bout with depression on the devil, but I have no doubt that he plants little seeds in my mind that spring to life just in time to take advantage of the crappy situations I sometimes find myself in.
So, here I am. I'm still hurt, saddened and yes, even depressed, but I'm not despairing. I'm not going to continue fertilizing those little seeds of doubt and frustration. I'm going to simply offer that which I do have (and right now, I guess it's a whole lot of blah), and gift it to God in the hopes that He does something better with it than I could. At this point, it's all I can do.