Flipping Off the Guilt Switch
Long night. Really long night. Productive night, though, so yay for that.
A good neighbor-friend of mine left the house after a few hours discussing a project we're working on. We talked for a while beyond project goals, and it got messy.
Truth be told, it was also good. I had been harboring guilt over my miscarriage and she called me out on it. I didn't realize she'd had a miscarriage, herself, many years ago. When she asked me who I'd talked to - really talked to - about this, she practically smacked me over the head when I said, "I've got my blog."
She asked, "Blogs can't talk back to you."
I said, "But readers can! They've been great!"
She replied, "E-mails and comments do not a real conversation make."
Realizing I was about to be pulled over a barrel, I weakly countered, "But I can control those."
Oh dang. Fellow bloggers, you know as well as I do that sometimes it's just easier "talking" when you're typing on a keyboard. Feeling each word bounce off your fingers and into the internet is like celebrating a thousand small victories. There really is something therapeutic about venting in such a controlled (and physical) manner. I LIKE this method. It works for me, and it works in a way that allows me to avoid emotional confrontations that I'm relatively ill-equipped to handle.
"Grandma Fro" doesn't' seem to approve. In fact, I know she thinks I'm a lunatic for "shooting off my mouth" to what she deems are "strangers."
She asked me, "Don't you have any women friends to talk to about this?"
I said, "I do, but who really wants to talk about any of this? *I* don't even want to talk about it. I'm not going to make them do it."
She countered, "Friends who know you can't keep that bottled up in you want to talk about it. At least they should. It's not healthy to run around pretending to be okay when all you want to do is scream. You can scream. I won't stop you. I'll get you a bullhorn, and all your friends should be getting them, too."
I laughed. I said, "Really. I'm okay. I think I've come to terms with things, and now that I've talked to John, I really feel okay."
She said, "So you don't feel guilty at all?"
GUILTY?! That word stopped me dead in my tracks. GUILTY?!
I didn't even know what to say.
I never once uttered that word to anyone. I never once even hinted that I felt even the least bit responsible for what had happened. How did she know that? How did she even think to GUESS at that?!
She saw my dumbfounded look and simply responded, "Yes. I know you feel guilty. That's probably the worst of it. There's a part of you, deep down, that thinks you did or didn't do something right that caused that baby of yours to fly off to Heaven."
I couldn't even bother trying to hide my own shame. I cried. Dear God, I cried. How could anyone know that? I almost felt like this was God pointing a finger at me or something... letting me know that I really was to blame for all of this.
But no. She went on and said, "Gina, I know because I've been there. I miscarried three of mine. Three. And for every single one I felt that guilt eating away at me. I never wanted to tell anyone, but that guilt weighed me down to hell. All the way to hell. It'll weigh you down, too. You gotta let it go."
I was confused. I felt really angry (because anger is typically my first defense mechanism). I felt emotionally undressed, and given how good I am at keeping my emotions in stylish Victorian garb, I was none too happy about looking like a Housewife of Orange County in the middle of an Elizabethan Tea Party. My anger, however, was tempered by my sorrow at her own three miscarriages. No one should have to suffer one let alone three. My heart ached for her. Finally, my own confusion as to how to proceed kept my mouth fused shut while my tears did the talking.
Seeing I had no capacity for verbally defending myself, she kept on going.
"What is it that you feel guilty for? My first, I believed, was because I didn't eat right. It was a tough time, so when I lost him, I thought it was because I wasn't getting enough food in me. The second was because I didn't take the vitamins every day like I should have. In my mind that's what it was, anyway. Finally, my last one was lost because I thought I stayed out in the sun too much. Really. I thought I stayed out in the sun too much and my body couldn't withstand all the heat."
I looked at her. Her reasons sounded about as good as mine. For me, I was afraid I'd had too much caffeine. In fact, as soon as I figured out I was pregnant, I stopped drinking my normal two cups of coffee and immediately switched to one cup of decaf. I'm STILL drinking decaf. Also, the last time I was at the OB, she warned me to keep taking folic acid because of my age. I didn't take her advice, and I was afraid that my lack of folic acid had somehow contributed to my baby's development. Finally, I haven't been the most healthy eater as of late, so I was worried that maybe something I ate triggered my miscarriage.
Uuuugh - I just can't help it. A million times a day my mind runs through various scenarios of what I could've done differently to either prevent or fix whatever mistake I'd made. I can't help but feel responsible. Growing her a healthy little body was my ONLY responsibility, and I'd somehow messed it up. How do I NOT hold myself accountable for that??? How am I NOT guilty of losing her?
And no matter how much logic tries to butt itself into this conversation, I just haven't been able to accept that "these things sometimes happen."
I know it, I believe it, and I trust that God's Will is God's Will, but my mind will still wander backwards and try to manipulate events into making sense, and the only way they make sense is if I somehow messed something up.
No matter how untrue I logically know this to be, my heart scourges itself day after day with each new "What if I only..." scenario.
And she understood it. She understood it without me having to say anything. She understood it because she lived it. She lived it three times. And maybe she lived it three times because one day, she'd be sent to pull the guilt out of a deeply saddened neighbor who couldn't bring herself to admit to anyone that this was her reality. And maybe she's done this a hundred times before. Maybe she'll do it a hundred times more. Tonight, though, she was my bit of Divine Providence, and I thank God that she came and stymied the river of guilt that bathed my heart.
She reaffirmed that all is His Will and that my read on miscarried children is correct. These angelic little souls make the choice at conception to lay down their lives for their families. This way, they can intercede fully for us as saints in the Church Triumphant. For this, I cannot carry guilt. For this, I can only carry love and gratitude.
Little Myla, Mommy loves you very much. I know that when Daddy meets you in Heaven, he's going to love you just as much as me. Pray for us, little one. Help Vincent grow up to be strong and loving. Help Mommy be the best Mommy she can be, and help Daddy be the best Daddy he can be. I wish I could kiss you, honey. I'll send my guardian angel to yours so you can get angelic ones in the meantime. Love you, munch. Goodnight. <3
8/16/2013 07:04:32 am
8/21/2013 07:07:00 am
Thanks, Dv. I think you're right. Thanks for the link, too. I feel a little "AA" with the various steps, but they all make sense and seem like the logical path I'm on.
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