Not even going to pretend this qualifies as a micropost, but it's what came today.
A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to go to a local college to see a free presentation by Margaret Atwood. She is one of my all-time favorites -- Lady Oracle and Cat's Eye were the first books I reread obsessively, and of course I loved The Handmaid's Tale, which was selected as the Freshman Reads book at this college. Her more recent speculative fiction made me so happy, too -- I love the Maddaddam Trilogy and was sad when it was over, when that particular world became a memory. And I loved the short story collection, Stone Mattress, that brought me back into the world of The Robber Bride, another favorite. There is nothing this woman cannot write.
One of the things I'd forgotten until the speaking engagement was how much I love Margaret Atwood's poetry...one in particular. The president of the college recited it --
you fit into me
like a hook into an eye
a fish hook
an open eye
Perfect, right? Something seems at first so lovely and domestic, like the closure on a dress fitting everything together just so. On the surface? "you fit into me" sounds like such a romantic notion. Then it turns horribly violent, the most graphic of penetration images...something that was probably lurking all along.
This is how I feel right now.
I feel like my outside appears to be okay, to be calm, to be...STRONG.
I feel like an egg, that once had a smooth surface and now has been thrown against a wall over and over again until it is completely shattered, and then someone has gone about collecting all the tiny pieces (some of which are still clinging to membrane) and superglued them together, so that I am a semblance of the egg I once was but if you look closely, the cracks are there and whatever of my insides that survived the thwacks has been scooped up and shoved back in, but scrambled a bit and forever altered.
Usually I am good at keeping my cracks together. I am good at playing the Human-Like Substance game, where people ask you "How are you?" and you answer something reasonable like "Good, how are you?" or "Fine" or "Okay, okay," and you don't answer honestly or let the shine in your eyes show where the grief leaks out. You don't answer how you REALLY feel, all empty and hurting and wondering how many years will be enough, because that would be off-putting.
There have been multiple things that have come up in the past month or so that have widened my cracks, that have made it so that my messy insides start becoming visible through that smooth exterior. I try to smooth my cracks out, but my glue is deteriorating.
I don't have any new grief to report. I don't have a situation where we've lost something tangible. It's just cumulative. It's years and years of losses with no resolutions. It's seeing all these rainbow baby maternity shoots and cute t-shirts on social media with captions like, "I just wanted everyone to know that there is so much light at the end of that dark tunnel," and knowing that that particular light doesn't actually come for us all. That I don't get to have the experience I lost in its entirety, and that the parenting that Bryce and I will hopefully get the chance to engage in will have so many more layers of complexity than any of our friends who were able to eventually conceive will ever have to even think about. That in the meantime we have to make our own light, and maybe not put that pressure on the Mystery Baby that is coming to us, we hope, to be the baby that makes up for all the pain and loss we've suffered. That's simply not fair or healthy.
I think on these things as I am presented with situations that made me feel the loss of my embryos all over again (even as I still believe it was a beautiful gain to release them to the other couple), that make me feel the loss of my dad's proximity and my lost ability to hop on a plane and go see him on somewhat of a whim, the grandparents I haven't seen in a long time who are going through tough times (also a travel conundrum), the many questions about adoption that Bryce and I seemingly never stop discussing, the double edged sword of wanting to connect and yet feeling disconnected from the process, the fears about going a long time without a match and the reality that we can't keep going down this road indefinitely, so where do you draw a line for your own sanity? I am holding so much in my little shattered egg. And also attempting at the same time to be functional, to teach my 8th graders without seeping grief and sadness over into lessons on word choice. It's a hard balance. I either make it through without letting my flaking glue show, or I look sad when I think no one's watching and then have a guidance counselor stop me in the hall to tell me she hopes I'm okay, "Because something about you yesterday was just not okay."
I am grateful when people see the cracks I try so hard to hide. I am grateful when people realize that I have compounded loss just reverberating in my empty arms, in my empty nursery that's officially one year old, in the way that Bryce and I have to relearn how to communicate with each other without using words like "embryos" or "adoption" so that we don't lose sight of our special connection that has got us through everything so far, of who we are just the two of us because THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE RIGHT NOW. We've been given the advice to live our lives but still remain connected to the process, and I don't really know how to do that. How do you prepare for a baby that's not here and may not materialize for yet another year, while living footloose and fancy free, hopping on planes and not worrying about whittling your adoption nest egg that you're so fortunate to have? How EXACTLY do you do that?
And how do I go through my work day like a reasonably Human-Like Substance? How do I continue to paste a wide smile on my face when people ask me if anything is going on with adoption, now that our summer blind profile near-miss is too far in the past to be a comfort to anyone?
I want the questions. The worst thing is when the questions stop, when we are feeling like things are hard and we're not as hopeful as we once were when we picked out crib sheets...and neither is anyone else. I keep saying, "Adoption is an interesting process. We have to be patient. It could be tomorrow, it could be next year. We just don't know. But thank you for asking!" But the asking dwindles. The weight of those placed embryos that are formerly ours, whose fate is so amorphous -- when will they be transferred? Will they work? How will I deal with the news that they did, or that they didn't? They lie out there, in the ether, in this other clinic two thirds of the way across the country, and they represent a hope we've transferred elsewhere, but also a promise, lost to us. In addition to this, I don't even get to escape my infertility and my body's betrayal, years after it's been in play, due to the gynecological issues I'm suffering. The possibilities of more procedures to figure out what my body's doing now, the trauma associated with going in for tests that never brought me resolution in baby form. It's hard, so hard.
It's been a challenging few weeks. I am struggling. I'm struggling and it's not always apparent that I AM struggling, so people don't always ask "how are you doing with all this?" and that can hurt. Bryce said, "That's the problem with being 'strong' -- it's good to be able to handle these things, but then people think you don't need to talk about it, or you've got it all handled." He's right. And it sucks.
I am a smooth and shiny egg, under close inspection riddled with cracks and wounds.
I have a fish hook firmly lodged in my open eye.
I'm not even pretending to call this a #Microblog, but if you'd like to read more, actual #Microblog Mondays entries, please go here and enjoy!