The challenge of life is to keep you heart open when you most want to close it. To let life crack you open. To open through hurt and loss. To allow what is falling away to fall away.
Being human is a courageous act. A life well lived is full of losses and tragedies, as much as triumphs and adventures. Wherever you find yourself at the moment, life is coaxing you to keep your heart open no matter how much it hurts. To continually unfold. To let life crack you open… Instead of cursing the difficulty, see it as a blessing. To open yourself up to the truth that, perhaps, as hard as it may be, life is happening for you, not to you. And one day… you may just bless the thing that broke you down and cracked you open because the world needs you open.
~ Rebecca Campbell
The past several weeks I’ve turned intensely inward, in a season of deep loss and significant changes. For awhile I pulled my my grief, my anger, my tears, my longing, my despair and an ocean of fears into the pit of my stomach and held them there. My mouth stapled shut as my eyes darted back and forth from the corner of the room, hands on the wall because I felt so off-balance and everything was spinning.
I’m grateful that I’m learning when to go inside. And I’m grateful that I’m learning when to share.
Several months ago, I reconnected with my first love. The guy I fell for when I was sixteen years old. The universe seemed to think our love deserved a second chance. We fell back in love so quickly. The eyes that looked into mine were the same ones that reached straight down into my soul all those twenty years ago. Our rekindled love was long-distance for the first many months. The longer we spent apart the more difficult day to day life became, but the deeper our love grew, the bigger our dreams grew and the more convinced we became that this was destiny.
In November, as we were planning my upcoming 720 mile move to be with him, we discovered that we were expecting. We took a road trip down south over Thanksgiving, drank in the sunshine and celebrated. Elated and floating were we over the unexpected but happiest of news. Eleven blissful days I spent walking on clouds, Pinteresting my nursery and falling in love with the miracle that was so tiny but so alive inside of me.
On day twelve I learned of possible complications. By day twenty-two we lost our baby.
For weeks I could not see the sun and I became paralyzed with fear that I would fall back into the dark spiral that I did last time. Nine years ago, I had a miscarriage and my grief nearly drove me to suicide.
But surprisingly, this time, I was mostly enraged. Angry that this could happen to me for a second time. Angry that women are terminating pregnancies every day and I had longed for this unplanned baby more than I have ever ached for anything. Angry at my boyfriend because he couldn’t be with me during much of the ordeal, even though I knew that he would have done anything to have been by my side holding my hand at every single step had it been in his power to do so. Angry at people who had the nerve to walk around the grocery store with little ones in tow, flaunting their fertility in my face. Angry that I let myself get so excited, so attached to this unborn child. I was angry at everyone. And I assured myself that I was right then and I was right now. I wasn’t worthy and I would never have the desires of my heart. Forever the childless mother.
I passed days on the couch and when the holidays forced me off I begrudgingly boarded the plane and flipped the oh-so-familiar high-functioning depressive auto-pilot switch to ON. I didn’t want to go to therapy. I didn’t want to talk about it. I did my best not to think about it. I was miserable and I made my boyfriend pretty miserable by my very presence, not to mention the emotional outbursts like when I would accuse him of “not caring” as much as I thought he should because he was grieving in his own way.
In January, I bitter-sweetly packed up my lovely Austin home and finally made the long awaited moved to South Carolina to be with my man and began settling into what is quite the little modern family. He has a young child who lives with us half of the time and two teenage step-children who he spends a lot of time with. The transition has been beautiful, overwhelming and I am completely out of my element. While trying to be intentional in my new role, to establish a happy home with healthy relationships where everyone thrives, I find myself overwhelmed and out of control and thus uber-controlling, high-strung and easily angered, struggling to navigate such emotional, important milestones while still in the throes of my own grief. The grief known only to a mother who has had her baby snatched away without so much as a chance to hold her in her arms.
I wish I could say that I picked myself up, shook of the dust, got into some grief recovery plan. I didn’t. But on the other hand, I did finally end up in a place that I haven’t always allowed. Something that I haven’t always let myself do that was exactly what I needed. I finally allowed space for the pain. I finally allowed my heart to break and did not resist. I held its broken, bleeding pieces in my hands and just sat with it. I allowed what was to be so. And gradually, I began to notice that from somewhere behind the cracks of my heart, there were rays of light that broke through. Like the little girl whose peals of laughter somehow fill the entire house with sunshine. The look in my man’s eyes when he kisses me goodnight, seeing straight into my soul, all of my imperfections and weaknesses, pulling me in with an all consuming love. I’ve begun to see the sunsets again.
I’ve had moments where I found myself daydreaming the way I used to about how I could put myself out of my misery. But somehow, those moments were fleeting. And the damage I’ve done in the heat of my rage I have allowed to be exactly what it is, picking up the pieces but rejecting shame. Accepting that I am flawed and that is my human story. That is our human story. We are broken, we are flawed and we are uniquely beautiful and immeasurably precious. From the barely formed being that didn’t make it but a few weeks in my womb to the most washed up and broken amongst us.
So instead of fermenting in my own misery, I’m choosing let go. Allowing myself to be cracked open. Marveling at the miracle that life really is. Grateful that I had twenty-two days to pour love into my tiny one, knowing that she felt it, even if she was not conscious of it. Her soul knows she is loved. And that is so beautiful to me. To have had the chance to love so completely. There are parts of me that feel so empty. And parts that throb with such an ache that I feel it physically in my chest. And as tempted as I am to run, to stuff it all down, to look the other way, these parts need me to embrace them. To allow them to be because they already are. And though I don’t like being in pain, I do love those parts. Because these are my parts. This is my story. Perfectly imperfect.
For the healing of all.