Monday, September 5, 2016

#Microblog Monday: This Is the Story You Get

The other day, when I was putting together my beautiful (and incredibly time-consuming) Reader's Notebooks for this school year, I decided to watch a movie.

The movie was Room. Yeah, I know, given the week I had last week, it seems like a bit of a downer...but I sort of felt it was like Cormac McCarthy's The Road. You can see it as horribly depressing, or you can see it as having an ultimate message of hope and resilience.

There's a scene in Room (not a spoiler, don't worry) where the main character, Joy, who has been locked up in a sexual predator's back garden shed for seven years, is explaining the real story of how she got there, not the fairy tale version that she's previously told her son who's now five. She explains that he was too little to understand before, but now he can get it, and she needs him to understand so that they have hope for escape.

In the middle of the story, as she's explaining how she was tricked, he gets very upset at having his carefully constructed world turned upside down, and he screams, "I WANT A DIFFERENT STORY!"

And then she yells right back,

"There isn't a different story. THIS IS THE STORY YOU GET!"

And that right there is how I feel about my story, about my seven years of trying to get to parenthood and all the twists and turns and inexplicable tragedies small and large and the huge pit of loss that lurks beneath the surface for me, always, and taints the way I view life. This is how I feel when hearing about my reality, shared as bluntly and as casually as someone might tell a birth story or share a creepy 3-D ultrasound, makes people "uncomfortable."

This is the story I got. And so, this is the story you get, because it's the one I have to tell -- the beautiful parts like my marriage and all the other parts of my life with Bryce and school, but the really, really sad parts that I never imagined, too. Sometimes I own it like the mom in Room, and sometimes I want to put my head in the sand and and insist on a different story like the little boy. I had a fairy tale in my mind of how life was supposed to be, and some parts of my life exceeded expectations: a caring, supportive, loving husband; delicious dinners we cook together; long chatty hikes; a beautiful home; a fulfilling career... and other parts make up a story I never thought would be mine but intractably is: years of injections and surgeries and cycles of hope and despair; losses and periods of feeling utterly broken; a long, exhausting adoption process; letting go of the only things we've been "parents" to in sending our embryos off to a clinic in Texas, embryos we couldn't transfer ourselves; seven years of trying to be parents and failing miserably (so far). It's not a story I imagined possible when we said our vows seven years ago this October, all aglow with evening light and the hope for a beautiful future and a family we'd have to work a bit for, but that would come because it had to, that's the standard narrative.

But this is the real story. And I'm going to tell it, even if it makes people uncomfortable, even if it doesn't support the myth that hard work and belief can gain you ANYTHING YOU WANT. Maybe in telling this story, the fairy-tale-shattering story, it will help in accepting the hard truth that what you want and what you get are two different things, and that you can make the most of it but it's okay to be upset and bewildered by the story you got, and share that so that you can find other people who understand what it's like to live in that particular reality.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

32 comments:

  1. A beautifully-written, poignant piece Jess. I hope people on the outside do someday really get to understand what it's like to live in that reality.
    I must, must get round to watching Room - I devoured the book in one sitting, I love Emma Donoghue

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    1. Thank you so much. I can only hope that by slinging my voice up against the typical I can breed a little empathy! ;) I read the book a long time ago, but the movie seemed very true to it and beautifully done. I would totally recommend it.

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  2. Our stories; the good, the bad, the real . . .

    Tell it sister.

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  3. What Middle Girl said. There is complexity in our stories, shades of gray everywhere.

    Your post also makes me think of sharing a child's story with them, especially a twisty-turny one.

    I read this book but haven't seen the movie. Thanks for reminding me I've meant to!

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    1. Absolutely. It does make me think about how to share painful details with a child, too, because of Room. It's on Amazon Prime if you have it... it was really quite good. So much complexity everywhere.

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  4. I keep coming back to my blog archipelago precisely because it is full of non fairy tale stories. Acceptance of the story I/we/you are in is an ongoing affair. Maybe one day I'll wake up and be like "I totally am at peace with my family building journey and the fact that much of it is outside my control" but I don't know when that will be (and others have even more pain to carry than I do). Some days I want to throw jars of tomato sauce at people (that's another story). Solidarity!

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    1. It's so hard, right? There's this spectrum of feeling where you are in this journey, of either accepting what is or feeling doors close but trying to wedge it open justincase or fighting tooth and nail to make it be what you'd hoped for... none of it's within our control. But the solidarity is so important...the knowing that others live in this space and survive it is important. And yes! I have the tomato jar feeling too!

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  5. Wow. I love this. Never read or saw "Room," but yes, I can relate too. The story you get, versus the one you wanted. Thanks, Jess!!

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    1. Thank you, I'm so glad it resonates. That scene so got my wheels turning. The book is amazing and so is the movie... beautiful in a painful sort of way.

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  6. There is this continual myth that if you want it enough, you'll find a way to get what you desire. What people struggle with is the truth that terrible things happen to amazing people. They try to reason with it: that there's a purpose or a reason. That maybe we didn't want it enough or that we are somehow called to a different path. All of it complete BS as they need to somehow feel better.

    I don't know the ending to your story. On one end, I wish I did so I could tell you about it and help you find a way to be okay. But the truth is its not fair of me to do that to you because then I'm failing as your support system. So instead I will walk beside you, mourning with you about all the pain and what should have been while celebrating the beautiful moments too.

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    1. Yeah, that myth is hard to face up to when so many people for whom things work out in whatever arena put it out there, not knowing how painful that is when it's not your truth. It's totally about being comfortable with someone else's loss by shoving it off to "reason" or "paths." I agree with you, bunk. I so, so, so appreciate you walking beside me on this journey. There's so many beautiful moments to offset the pain, but the pain can just take your breath away sometimes. Thanks for the love!

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  7. I just want to stand up and applaud this post for its bravery and candor. I thought to share it on Stirrup Queens, but I see someone already did :) I would even post on my Facebook for all the fertiles who ducked and hid from me in my post-baby-loss grief, but I'm a big fat chicken. On a note to you in your struggle, I think of that cheesy meme that cycles around: Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, then it's not the end." Your story is still in process, and I have faith in the resolution. XO

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    1. Oh, thank you! I shared it on my facebook because you said that, not because I had certain people in mind but because I was like, "Maybe this will breed more empathy out there for stories that aren't following the standard plotline." I do love that quote about the end! Who knows what that will look like, but I hope for resolution so badly. Limbo is no fun.

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  8. I will always hear your story with compassion, respect, and love. Always.

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  9. I don't know what I love more - your wonderful, unapologetic way of presenting your story (you go, girl!), or your mother's response. I can see the apple and the tree. :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Traci! I'm lucky to feel free to speak my mind...something I got from my mom.

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  10. Yes! I remember driving home from my ill-fated ultrasound for my second loss and thinking "but I don't want this to be my story!" But it is. We don't always get to choose. I am absolutely not going to pretend my story is anything other than what it is because it makes me people afraid. It did happen to me, and it very well could happen to them too. It's not my responsibility to shield them from that.

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    1. That's it, right? Not a whole lot of choice in there. You get what you get (but you SO have the right to be upset, unlike the preschool rhyme...). I love that, the shielding is not your responsibility. Right on.

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  11. One of your best posts ever. I have chills down both arms. I love this sentiment: "what you want and what you get are two different things, and that you can make the most of it but it's okay to be upset and bewildered by the story you got, and share that so that you can find other people who understand what it's like to live in that particular reality." Always keep telling it.

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    1. Oh, thank you! That means so much to me.

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  12. For a very long time I was the son; I didn't want this to be my story and so I fought hard against is, not accepting infertility as my reality, not accepting my diagnosis, obstinately refusing to believe this was happening to me. I find this ties into Mel's post about life not being fair except that we all get one shot at it, just one life to live. As time has passed I've become somewhat more comfortable with my circumstances, but I don't think I've quite reached the stage of embracing and finding peace with my story. I keep pushing myself emotionally, but I'm stubborn so it takes time. I shall now go find both book and movie and perhaps find some inspiration. Thank you.

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    1. You are so welcome...thank YOU! It's hard to come to peace with things so upsetting and that seem to make so little sense. I wouldn't say I've found peace with my story, either...I just have found peace with telling it. :)

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  13. I've also been feeling like screaming, "I want a different story" lately. But you're right, the story we get is the story we get, and that's all we can tell, warts and all. Of course, we all want the fairy tale, but I've come to realise that anyone who is just telling us the happily ever after fairy tale isn't necessarily telling us their whole story.

    Note: Must see that movie, as I loved the book.

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    1. Absolutely. ANd it's hard, right, when you have so many things that are wonderful and you're not ungrateful for those things, but holy hell this particular part of the story? So painful. So not what I expected out of life. A friend of mine put up on facebook that her young children were driving her crazy with all their stuff at the end of summer, and someone actually ADMONISHED her and was like, "Oh, wait until they go to college and you're left alone, you'll miss the clutter." I was so happy that she responded with, "yeah, but now it's driving me CRAZY and that's what I'm talking about." It's like people only WANT to see the beautiful shiny slightly hazy filter of social media, and when reality seeps in you get busted for it. And yeah, see the movie -- I loved it!

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  14. YES. This post. This. Agreed. Supported. Loved.

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  15. Wow. What a post. I agree with Mel above about her favorite part. My story makes people uncomfortable but that doesn't mean I have to wrap it up in a pretty bow and am allowed to write about the pain and despair. Love love love this post. It will sit with me for some time.

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    1. Oh, I love that. No more pretty bows for other people's soothing... let it be what it is, and that it's okay to show the pain and despair and not be like, "oh, okay, this is what happened and I'm going to slap a smile on myself and pretend it's all okay." I'm glad this post will sit with you! It's sitting with me, too. Thank you for your thoughts.

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  16. Love, love this post. One of the points here - that there are unfinished, jagged edges in our stories, things that can't be glossed over along with the beautiful things - is something that gets overlooked so often and easily in the current culture of pin.terest or insta.gram prettiness. I think it's also amazing and awesome that this post refuses to put a varnish over the emotions that accompany those moments. I love the part where you talk about how it's okay to be upset and bewildered by the stuff life throws out there. That is a message that I think often is actively negated in our society in ways both subtle and overt.

    Like others have said, this is one that will get bookmarked and stay with me. Thank you.

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    1. I so agree with you. I feel like our society just sucks at handling the things that aren't neat and tidy and social-media-perfect. Peel that varnish off, it serves no one in the end. Thank you so much for your thoughts.

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