Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Days and Days

....that I am behind in the whole MEME thing. I keep envisioning a lightning round where I just stuff you full of everything and anything you wanted to know about me in one fell swoop. Maybe that will happen.

Right now I am holding steady. Steady through the days.

Wondering who that delusional idiot was the other evening that said to her husband, you know, I think I'm going to be OK this holiday season. I think I may even be looking forward to it.

And I am - some pieces. Like our first vegan Thanksgiving feast. (hint: if you ever want to minimize your numbers for dinner, say the word "vegan") And the impromptu trip up north that we just might make to see friends and family. Getting a live tree. Seeing lights. Plotting trips down south to avoid Xmas day....All of that - that sounds nice.

The anxiety that crept up on me last night and hasn't left....the anger rising inside of me when people asking things of me, wanting me to function like I did yesterday or the day before when now my mind is squarely stuck on other moments (don't they know? can't they see? isn't it obvious that the eve of my daughters' deaths is soon upon us?)....the simple injustice of all of the "this time last year"s....Those things = Not So Nice.

And the answer to all of the previous questions is, of course, no. They don't know. They can't see. It isn't obvious. Why would it be? And even if it were, newsflash, we all have an ache to bear. This is something I keep trying to remind myself.

We all have an ache to bear.

I am not the only one with a gaping hole in my heart and a truth that makes me gasp if I allow myself to think about it. I am not the only person who walks into the holidays feeling anything but thankful. I am not the only one who is trying to get through.

And, as M put it so eloquently: even if you were, you will die holding your breath waiting for people to think about anything other than themselves.

Well, yeah. In some cases, yes. (in some cases, no. We'll get to that in a minute)

I guess I was just empowered, strengthened, encouraged by this great letter that My Infertility Woes wrote to her family and shared on her blog yesterday. I thought, oh my gosh, this is so gentle and so true and states so clearly what she and her husband could use to get them through the season. Wow. Wow.

And I thought, hmmm.....I wonder what would happen if I asked for some help, some understanding? Because as the sage M also pointed out last night when I was freaking out about an exam I will soon take, it is rarely evident when I need an extra hand. He was clueless that I was at panic point, and readily lent a hand (literally, to hold cue cards and quiz me) when he realized I needed help. He simply had no idea.

Along that line of logic and spurred on by the responses M.I.W. received from her letter, I tried the asking thing out this morning with a little text:
"Dear family: asking for your patience over the winter holidays. This is a hard, hard time of year for us. Thanks."
I thought that handful of words might minimize the fuss when M and I stop by to say hi but don't sit down or linger at the other Thanksgiving feast. Would alleviate the need to feign happiness and delight upon seeing my pregnant cousin's belly move. Would grant us at least a little repreive from faking our way through the holidays. Might help explain the unpredictability of us - honest to pete, 24 hours ago I was FINE. This morning, I had to brace myself and de-tear before a morning meeting around people that I do NOT want to appear teary around. Right now, a break in the clouds is appearing. I bet by evening I will be fully present again.

Still waiting for the full results from the morning text to come in. One has been disappointing but predictable. The other kind. A 50/50 split isn't terrible. But in the mood I am in right now at this moment, these words bring me up to a steady seethe:

I understand
beautiful lives and memories
a place far better and safer than this world
continue fighting
don't give up

I find comfort in none of this. None of these concepts work for me. And the fact that they were tossed out, one after the other, like sprinkling holy water, confirmed for me where I do NOT want to be for more than 5 minutes this Thursday.

So then what, exactly, was I anticipating? What did I WANT from that family missive?

I think I would like quiet. And an understanding for when we are quiet. I would like some room to breathe and grieve if those feelings come up on us as they seem to be. I would like the ability to be angry without someone rushing to comfort. I would like to be alone with my thoughts and not have someone else define them for me. I would like the ability to switch gears and not have to explain it. I would like a quiet acceptance of the idea that I can be sad in the morning and happy at night. And vice versa.

But, as I look at this wish list, I am thinking this is not mutually exclusive to the loss or infertility communities. This is what most of us want from our families, isn't it? And not just over the holidays.

Tell me, peeps: in a perfect world, how would YOUR family support you over the holiday season? What are the things you want/don't want?

Let's build our wish list together.


jill said...

I also envision a kind of "lightning round" of spewing tons of details when I'm behind in blogging :)

While I have no clue what it's like to lose a child, I would imagine that I'd want my family to ask how I was (with a knowing look in their eye) and maybe open things up if I wanted to talk about the loss, no matter how long ago it was, or how I was feeling. If I didn't respond, then I would definitely want some space and understanding.

As an IFer at the holidays, I really just want everyone to treat me normally. I don't share much with anyone so I can't expect them to know about certain things being hard. We have 0 small children or pregnancies in our family so that is never around to trigger bad feelings (for which I'm very lucky I suppose).

I also wouldn't take comfort in the kind of comment you received but I would try to remember that the person was saying it for lack of understanding what better to say.

I'm hoping you get what you need from your family members. Sending you strength to get through the season. I'll be thinking of you. *hug*

Heather said...

That sounds like something my mom would write to me. What I don't know is why it would also piss me off so much. It it because she claims to know me so well, yet continually totally misses the mark on what I'm thinking and/or feeling? I really want to be a bigger person about it. I want to set a good example for my kids. But replies like that (and I either get that exact kind of response or nothing at all), sends my skin into a creepy crawly pissed off mode. I'm working on that.

You are in my thoughts as your girls' day draws near.

Smiling said...

I've been thinking of you.. I knew that the anniversary was coming soon and wondering how you were experiencing the calendar this year. I still remember reading your post from that day in Dec like it was yesterday.

As for the list -- I do love reliving the rituals from my childhood that I loved before any of this adult stuff happened (cutting down the tree, putting up the same decorations that we made over the years, making wassail...). But I also want this impossible mix of being treated normally -- but that is a mix of hope of things that may never be with acknowledgment of that which may never be.

This year I'm hoping for some laughs, good wine, walks in clear crisp air, and a sense of being home with people who get me. I want hot water in the sink when I need to turn my back to quietly shed a tear into the dishes I am pretending to wash, and kind friends to walk with me when I want to think aloud. I want fog and mist and frosts. And given the flights we booked -- this might all happen.

keep reaching out -- let us know how we can help. We all have an ache to bear.. but let us know how we can make yours a bit more bearable.

m said...

Jill, this is so nicely said:

I'd want my family to ask how I was (with a knowing look in their eye).

I'm trying to remind myself that the person who said those cringe-worthy things did so because who the hell knows what to say in situations like this? But if they took just a minute to remember WHO they were speaking to, they should have known their concepts of heaven don't wash with me.

So Heather, I guess that's why these things bug me so much. For EXACTLY the reason you wrote:

It it because she claims to know me so well, yet continually totally misses the mark on what I'm thinking and/or feeling?

And Smiling, oh I am wishing you hot water and safe travels and wishing just a little I was closer to where you will be. This is what I want too:

This year I'm hoping for some laughs, good wine, walks in clear crisp air, and a sense of being home with people who get me.

And you know what, M reminded me last night, WE HAVE THAT. Just not with my family right now. Not because they don't love me. Not because they don't try. Gosh I don't want to give the impression they are ogres because they are not. They just don't get me. And that's ok. Because there are many, many lovely people that we can surround ourselves with these holidays that do.

Oh, hmmm, was I just sounding thankful? Maybe I AM getting into the season.

There's hope yet. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think possibly what it is - is allowing your grief to BE. Instead of brushing it under the carpet like it never happened, because it's so threatening to their own sense of wellbeing.

Families are damn weird things. Since my husband walked out on me three months ago, I have had the sum total of ONE phonecall from my sister and probably hundreds from my friends.

I guess we don't choose our families!