And so a month goes by--more, even--and the blog sits neglected, because I can't manage to pull the words of happiness out of my brain and get them onto the screen.
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Like seemingly every thirty-something woman in America, I watched season two of Downton Abbey earlier this year. Between swooning and then fretting over Bates and Anna, rooting for Mary, and rolling my eyes at Thomas, a brief exchange of dialogue punched me in the gut:
Will you be happy?
I have no right to be unhappy, which is almost the same.
I have no right to be unhappy. This is exactly how I feel. There's this voice in my head positively screaming at me to buck up, count my blessings, and move the hell on with life already.
Arwen talked the other day about failing to give herself credit for handling difficult things, because there's always someone else out there who has it worse. She's always willing to give me a gentle reminder--as did A'Dell, last night--that the things I'm dealing with actually are hard, and that it's okay to cut myself some slack and just be sad.
It's one thing, of course, to acknowledge that one's sadness is legitimate, and I feel like I'm making progress on that front. Yes, life with one child is infinitely preferable to life with no children. Yes, a miscarriage at six weeks isn't as devastating as a second- or third-trimester miscarriage, or a stillbirth, or the death of a born child.** But infertility and miscarriage are heavy burdens, nonetheless, and it's acceptable--understandable, even--to grieve.
Still, it's another thing, a harder thing, to find a way through the grief and back to a place of joy. This is where I have to admit that I need some help, and that gratitude lists and mental pep talks aren't going to cut it. Why does it feel like such a failing to seek for myself the kind of help that I'd recommend to anyone I love?
Part of it may be that I manage to get through my life just fine. My son is well cared-for. My refrigerator is stocked. Dinner gets made. Laundry gets done. My house is clean (enough). I get up and get showered and put on makeup and decent clothes, and I'd venture to guess that no one who saw me out in public would suspect anything was amiss. It's just that I feel like I'm wearing this heavy blanket of sadness. I actually feel it, the weight of it pressing down on my shoulders, my arms, the top of my head. Tears well up in my eyes without warning, in unguarded moments when I get too quiet. David will call me from work and ask how I am, and too often I have to tell him I have the "can't help-its," our shorthand for feeling sucker-punched on what should by all accounts be a perfectly fine day.
I guess there's a part of me that thinks people who really need help are those who can't get up off the couch, or who can't enjoy their children, or who in some obvious, external way are completely falling apart. I don't know that I'd ever be one of those people. What I do know is that if I were a person who loved me--and shouldn't I be?--I'd tell myself to get some professional help.
Seems like good advice.
** Devastating in comparison from an emotional perspective. Of course I believe, as a moral matter, that all life is sacred from the moment of conception.