Greetings, Cheerfuls and Grumpies Alike! All are welcome here.
It's 2:04 AM as I begin this post - time hit the sack. But my brain and belly are full of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, a few sips of coffee, and lots and lots of handfuls of Fritos corn chips. So once again, Kevin snoozes while Tebow and I remain awake, the living room windows looking out over nighttime blackness and the occasional whoosh of a car going by. It's OK though. Right now, I'm in the mood to spew forth a stream of honest pieces of thought.
Don't get all excited; I don't have any over-the-top, shocking things for you today that will make your jaw drop. I am not knocked up with septuplets, nor did I suddenly discover that I have a penis tucked up inside my body (I do have a small third nipple, my proudest biological achievement, but that's a separate post), nor am I becoming a vegan, nor am I about to slit my wrists because my hunk didn't win first place (DAMN YOU, SNOWDUDE!). No, no, and no.
This is more like a general observation about different ways to think about death and life, and about how blogging can symbolize which conscious-thinking route we choose to take. I should warn you, before I explain myself further, that I'm going to have to take up the persona of
for a few minutes here. But don't worry; before long, I'll alternate back to
That's right: if KuKd doesn't lead to an identity crisis, I don't know what does.
Anyway, I remember at various points in my KuKd journey coming into a conversation, a situation, where I had a choice of two paths to take. First, there was what I imagined as the Low Path, the one in which I would turn into a big ball of pissed-off sentiment, a pregnant-woman-bashing, nobody-understands-me-and-my-wretched-problems, fuck-you-for-having-a-baby-without-me-and/or-not-asking-me-enough-times-in-quick-succession-how-I'm-doing kind of person. You know, just the kind of person you want to have over for tea.
Then, there was the High Path (the more difficult one, of course), which was the route of...well...civility, I guess. Grace, calm under pressure, strength, good things, forgiveness, Mother Theresa-esque. From the very beginning I saw this High Path - literally, I could picture it in the reddish blackness behind my closed eyelids as I was lying on the futon one day, feeling pinpricks of resentment toward certain friends for ridiculously petty things like not saying EXACTLY what I wanted to hear EXACTLY when I wanted it (how dare they not predict my needs with precision, showing utmost empathy for a circumstance they knew nothing about! Assholes!). I knew I wanted to somehow get to this path, escape the dreadful self-pity and anger that was lapping at my ankles, threatening to swallow me up (can you picture it? Like dark maple syrup, but with a nasty taste).
Brace yourself - here she comes:
So I had a conscious choice to make: high path or low path. It didn't necessarily have to do with what I said or how I acted around other people. Well, that was part of it. But it more a way of thinking about the world, about death in general, and about my place in the fabric of humanity.
Taking the High Path meant forgiving the people in my life for not achieving the impossible (ie: climbing inside my brain and going through this with me). It meant viewing my losses not even really as "losses," as "unfair" versus "fair," but as just a neutral part of the great cycle of Mother Nature. Death happens. Things don't work out. I'm no less deserving of this fate than anyone else. That was part of how I viewed this High Path thinking.
Here's another part of thinking along that High Path, the part that is perhaps the weirdest: accepting that my KuKd experiences have been good for me. I know how obnoxiously Pollyanna that sounds, so if you want to smack me right now, feel free. It's taken me a while to get to where I believe this: that as we go through shit in life, the stronger and more seasoned human beings we become, and the more we can therefore contribute to the greater good. We have more to say to others who face loss themselves. We get to feel something. There are a lot of people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who never GET to experience real, hardcore sadness over something meaningful. They don't know what it's all about. And DUDE! Just admit now satisfying it is to have a good, hard cry over something meaningful, to have the world look at you and think: this person went through something and survived, and is therefore mad cool. They're so cool, I want to do shots of tequila with them right now. If they can go through a shit storm like that, I can too.
Arright, time to go back to:
Let me clarify: I'm not saying that I am Miss Queen of High Path Thinking. God no. There will be no preachy self-help book filled with bulleted Pollyanna points, my obnoxious smiling lipsticked face on the cover, with some overly long title like "Taking the High Path: A Positive Thinking Guide for People Who Have Been Bitch-Slapped By Mother Nature," or worse: "Time to Get High: A Fucked-Up Person's Guide to Making Your Thoughts Soar."
It's just something I strive for, sort of like losing five or more pounds, or eating more vegetables, or maintaining a clean car. Walking this "High Path" has been a constant, obsessive effort for me, and it hasn't come without a price. In my attempts to remain ultimately optimistic, I think I overreached - maintaining this forced wall of bravado that felt really fake sometimes. I swear, I told more dead baby jokes and dropped more F-bombs during the days and weeks after the stillbirth than I ever have in my life. I probably should have taken more time to actively confront my own pain. I should have blasted that one Aerosmith song I can never remember the name of ("don't know what it takes to let you goooooooooo") and had more emotional moments. But I was a late bloomer in that regard. It took me a long time to deal with my losses in a deeper psychological sense, to accept Zach's death as something involving a real human being, to give him a name other than "that baby."
To this day still, if somebody asks me how I am - not in a superficial way, but a deeper, "no REALLY, how ARE you?" sort of way with their eyes boring into mine, I tend to clam up and get nervous, stuttering "fine!" in a fake tone. I have trouble peeling back the layers of my own self and offering a deeply truthful answer.
* * *
All of this points to the difficulty of blogging about dead babies. A treacherous job, this is! I do write this blog - sometimes, anyway - readers in mind (that is, when I'm not just randomly, selfishly entertaining myself here with my own musings on what spooge smells like). I mean, it's about me (of course), but it's also about the people who bother to read this. When you put your thoughts out in public space, you have to have a wee bit of audience awareness; I think this just comes naturally.
So, knowing my audience, I understand that people come here at various stages of grief, at times in their lives when the last thing they need to hear is the hippy-dippy, Pollyanna shit described above. HIGH PATH MY ASS! That's what I would say if I were you. Sometimes, what you need to hear is not that somebody is doing oh-so-irritatingly-well, all lofty and sitting pretty on their High Path (or even trying to be), but that someone is just as down in the shit-filled trenches as you are. I was there for a looonnggg time, seeking out the gloomiest, doomiest, bitchiest blogs and books in the universe. Seriously, I wanted to start a KuKd goth club where we all wear black eyeliner and black KuKd t-shirts, pierce our tongues and labia and go around chanting some message of muddled negativity: "Screw you, world! You don't understand our problems, and we didn't want babies anyway!"
(Still looking into that - not sure it would fly)
Anyway. So on this blog, and in my life, and in the people I surround myself with, I'm aiming for balance. That is: balance between