So I went out for coffee today with my friend Jo. She is also my former boss. We've been friends for a long time, but don't often get to meet up, but it doesn't change the basis of the relationship. She was one of the people I called from the hospital when we lost Gabriel and she fed my cat while we went home for 10 days, even though she lives a good 30 minute drive from my house.
Today was a good day because my boss was gone, so if I took a longer than normal break (and it was over an hour and a half, all told), it was no big deal. We met up and went to Starbucks and sat down and the whole story that she hadn't heard poured out. From the beginning. Through the end.
It was cathartic. It was good to talk to someone face to face about it all and talk about how I feel about things and how tired I am. I told her some of the assinine things people have said to me (preview of another post to come: 'You're young! You can have more kids!' 'When you are meant to have children, you will.''God has a plan.') and I told her about how much comforting of other people I do and how tiresome I find it. I told her about the disagreement I had with some friends about seeking therapy and gave it a pretty detached analysis of the ways in which I was right and wrong and how I could appreciate their motivations. I told her about how difficult it can be to figure out what to do about certain things. I told her about how DH and I are coping differently and how we sometimes get lost in our own worlds because we have different methods of dealing with our grief. I told her about how lost I feel sometimes, and how I don't know how to do this all and how the fact that I have to do it forever just makes me feel physically tired. I told her how uncertain we are about trying again, and how I simultaneously want to try immediately and never again. We talked about the discomfort I feel in finding new doctors and how hard it is for me to let go of out of hospital birth and of midwifery care in favor of more medicalized care - I need it, of course, but not only do I not like it, I find the idea of stepping foot in a hospital again horrifying and terrifying. We talked about the care I received and my plans now.
Tears were shed, on both sides, inappropriate comments were made, laughter was shared. She skipped a meeting to stay longer.
But the thing she said that sticks with me and warms me in a lot of ways came when we were discussing other people and their reactions and how I was doing things. I told her that I often find myself in a conflict because on one hand . . . I want to talk about Gabriel and how important he is, imprint him on the minds of other people, but I don't for a lot of reasons - because I don't want to see their reactions, I don't want to deal with their baggage, I don't want to comfort them, or as I read so eloquently put elsewhere "[he] is not for polite conversation." I told her that it was a hard balance, comforting other people when they are stricken by my news but that I find myself doing it anyway. Just like I found myself offering to go see and help a friend who just had a baby who was having a rough time. I have to be honest - I didn't want to. But I heard what she was dealing with, and I knew it was the right thing to do . . . and I have never in my life been more relieved when she absolutely would not hear of my coming over, because I was so not ready to see her newborn baby.
I told Jo about this and about the other and looked at the ceiling and said, "The thing is, half the time I'm doing this stuff, I'm thinking 'really? MY baby died, why am I trying to make you feel better? what about me?' or I'm sitting there listening to someone talk about their problems - which really don't stack up to mine, you know? I mean, I think 'God, your baby is still alive, you think this is a real issue?' and I have to stop and remind myself, that yeah, it is. They don't compare, really, but it doesn't make their problem less of a problem or less valid because it isn't on the same level. I could stop and yell that out loud, I could stop and demand that people comfort me, and I think at this point, I'd still be within my rights to do so. Gabriel has only been dead for about a month. But then I think . . . I don't want to go down that road. I don't want to be that bitter or that self-centered. That's not the person I want to be. So I try not to. And it's exhausting. I find it taxing and wearying to do it this way, and sometimes it makes me so angry. But that's what I do. One foot in front of the other, I guess."
Jo gave me a strange look then, and squeezed my hand and said what I think may truly be one of the best, nicest things I've ever been told. She said, "You know what? In all the years I've known you, in all the funny, quirky, emotional, oddball and off the wall and deadly serious conversations we've ever had, I have never ever thought that you were more sane than this moment. I'm so proud of you."
Trust me . . . Jo would know about the sanity. She's been there for a lot of my adult life, from DH's suicide attempt to my struggle against depression in the middle of my job search/search for the meaning of life and our decision to delay trying to conceive for a year.
So that, from her, tells me better than anything else . . . someday, really, I will be ok. And right now, I'm doing pretty fucking well in holding it together and putting the pieces back into something resembling something recognizable.