Friday, November 17, 2006

Threads Of Compassion

As I back up against the decision, the almighty decision weighing heavily on my mind these days, I see with either outcome the bell jar will drop, rendering instant death or suffocation of a dream…a dream so close I can almost taste it at times.

I am not a have-it-all kind of woman. Not yet anyway.

I have been in the backyard of my dreams. So close. On the property even, yet hidden behind gates and fences of limited resources, time, exposure. Let's face it, I have become the thing I had always been taught to despise. The dirty word.

"If you can't cut it, why don't you move to Connecticut and have babies!" my professional dance teacher in New York would swagger if someone couldn't retain his excruciatingly long chains of choreography.

Even the musical A Chorus Line, (a show I toured with for several months), has the Diana character longing to leave the business, have babies, and finally get fat.

My mother Alison disdainfully referred to them as housewives. Housewives--useless, spineless, brainless women who couldn't carve out a life for themselves, women who relied on a man's security and identity. Mrs. Henry P. So-and-So. Ack.

I suppose she was bitter because she had to go it alone. She got to do it all. She couldn't rely on her husband's security. He basically divorced then deserted us until we were grown.

Housewife. Mother. Smother. It conjures up the smell of coffee and coffeecake, surface conversation about the weather and gardening, and the joys of those darn little ones! Brainless needy dependents.

I hate boxes. Don't box me in. I will struggle and resist and break down those walls…

OK, I am a housewife and a mother.

There. I said it. I am a backyard woman whose dreams and aspirations haven't materialized…who is essentially supported by her man while raising the baby-child. And with each passing year, the time to make choices is running out. My fertility. My ability. My business plan. Which do I choose? But denial doesn't work where age and fertility are concerned. This is do or die time. Am I really a failure? Have I failed to launch?

With this emotional revelation, I have untangled one long vermillion thread, a main artery that runs the length of my own intricate magic carpet.

I begin to pull at a tangled mess of collective history of loss and grief, sadness and pain…and the death of my self, for there is surely a death of sorts, of freedom and autonomy, in becoming a mother…and then there is the death of the babies I've already lost…three of them.


Like the three of Alison's children, the bell tolls for each one. Each loss marked…

my brother,
my sister,
and I.

I slip away.

* * *

My dad left when I was three.

My mother was in over her head with three.

Our nest was damaged and broken, not only by his absence but by her inability to cope and nurture.

After my third inexplicable loss, through the cottony haze of numbness and disbelief, hot sprays of shower water run down my swollen breasts and fully vacant belly attempting to wash me clean of defects. An overwhelming intuition prevails, shocking in its boldness, announcing that my soul had decided to take it on. I chose to bear the grief of our three childhoods lost with my own three losses. My role, my destiny was to heal our family. Surely she wouldn't do it.

But why would I agree to that? Why would I take that on? Why carry Alison's burden after all she put us through? Who did I think I was? Child-mother to my mother?

I cannot say why I would make such an agreement to carry this kind of karmic load, or if any of this is even true, but the awareness is there just the same. Haunting. Loaded. Devastating.

I try to wrap this idea around my brain. It slithers snake-like, around and around, without rest. Incomprehensible.

I, the baby, am pallbearer to our three lost souls...with sacrificial offerings…each of my three dead babies…return the weight to zero.

A psychic once told me that the first two miscarriages were the same soul trying to download, but not being able to complete the transaction. She said the soul was in agreement with this plan. She didn't speak of the third one at that time, as it hadn't happened yet.

A Maori healer told me last summer that I had created this blockage in my womb, but that it was released and healed now and that "the apples would come when the tree was ready."

Would I ever be ready? Could I attempt another journey so intense?

What had I done? Had I blocked the threshold of the womb? Was my uterus defective? Was the thought of stepping aside for 2-3 more years to raise another baby just unbearable to me? Had I really created this? We were not infertile. In fact, conception was never a problem. It was keeping the baby. No amount of testing could explain why they kept slipping away. They found nothing.

Perhaps I was aware of the realities of motherhood this time. I was already broken, no longer na├»ve to its personal toll. The joy, the love, the divine magnitude of the gift--yes-- but the price…the personal price of motherhood, especially to one with dreams and ambitions, and limited resources in an escalating cost of living.

Could I even attempt this again? And face a potentially fourth loss? Or, had I paid my debt to my mother and this time it would be fine?

Then there's the laundry list of issues…the age thing…the fear thing…the labor thing…and the grief thing. Oh yes, and the body thing. And the sleep thing…or lack thereof. I am already stretched pretty thin. It is already more than a lot. Where did I think that reserve was going to come from? Dare I suppose I can step it up a few more notches, and take on more, as in another baby? Do I have more surrender in me? That is, were we to be so lucky to come to term this time?

Who's to say there's one more chance anyway? It would surely have to be a miracle baby, a magic child to get through this fine web.

But as my husband put it and I agree, one of the things we do well, perhaps even best, is parent. Look at our daughter. She's incredible. To be able to bring another soul forth like that and watch it blossom would be so amazing. Godly.

My determination to persist is there. I am not afraid of hard work. I am not afraid of being broke.

I AM afraid if it will all be for naught.


Sadness washes over me with the realization that underneath it all--all my fighting, scratching, and clawing to "make it"--in addition to being validated, and perceived to be valuable, is my need to be totally independent.

As I dig a little deeper, under that…is the need to need no one. To trust no one.

Aha! That's my mother's fear. That's HER projection.

It is hard for me to sit still and be dependent, especially with the idea of another baby, for that means I'd really have to slow down and trust him, at least initially, huh? Trust him to provide for me, to feed me, shelter me, protect me while I nurture another baby. It's hard to feel that I would be worth protecting even, without having to be productive or prove worthy, without contributing my financial independence to the familial kitty. I've always had to earn my value, my keep. I never got a free ride.

It's such a great feeling to never feel quite OK enough just in your own skin, for who you are, that you always have to be more in order to be accepted.

This is far too great an entanglement of needs and desires to unravel in one session. But the thread is there hanging. I have uncovered it.

One strand…blood red and pulsing…dangling. If I pull it, will it result in a disembodied unraveling of my tightly woven security blanket, sending me tumbling into a downward free fall…?

Or instead, could it be the ripcord to my golden parachute?

Either way, it will be quite a ride…and a certain death as well…whichever I choose.

I have no clue.

I don’t see a clear solution. I'm not sure there is one. I will have to trust in the higher powers to untangle these knots.

* * *


Prema said...

Sitting at a cafe in a strange town, tears from your post. I feel like calling you sister...and I don't know you. But I do know. So much that I can't say send blessings and I throw a line...and will think of you as I turn back to traverse some of the same. Whatever you do, be it dance or song or writing or motherhood, may it always be this honest.

Jenny Rough said...

Go Mama,

So sorry for your losses. What difficult grief to bear, especially when you and your husband are gifted at parenting. Blessings to you and your family.

Jerri said...

If it were only possible, I'd crawl through the wires of cyberspace to you. Once there, I'd hold your hand or your foot--even a toe would do. Just some physical connection to go with the enormous emotional connection you wrote into being with this piece.

Since that isn't possible, I will tell you that I'm holding you in my heart, in the golden light of Love and Truth. I will sit with you while you select the threads, set the warp and woof of your life. I will believe for and with you when you can not and when you can.

This, this feeling of connection with someone we've never met, this is the strength of blogs, the strength of writers and readers and of humans (especially women) the world over.

Out of thin air with nothing but words, you have created such caring, such hope for you and your life and loves.

Blessings to you. Light and Love. Courage. Trust.


Michelle O'Neil said...

"I chose to bear the grief of our three childhoods lost with my own three losses." This gave me chills!

I understand.

So much in this piece? The whole housewife thing. For someone who also would not take help from anyone, allowing someone to support me financially while I mother has been the bravest thing. Nothing like what your mother described.

I am sorry for your losses. You are truly a courageous soul.

Lee Wolfe Blum said...

Your writing is so honest. I can hear your actually speaking as I read it.

Having lost two babies myself, I completely relate with your pain and the constant struggle! Now I still even struggle with the same questions.

But, your honesty to put those questions out there is so brave. You have reached down into the deepness of the struggle of motherhood and pulled out the multi struggle that is there for so many of us. Not all of us...b/c I know so many that are fine with simple motherhood. But, us creative folks...really ponder and stir around in that deep spot. Thank you for sharing so intimately and openly. And, for writing so clearly what I myself have a hard time putting to words! And, I am so deeply sorry for your losses.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Tanya, I love the honesty of this post. Life, it ain't for the meek, is it? Perhaps another visit to the psychic? That always is helpful for me when I'm at a crossroads.

Love and light to you.