“I started to be able to truly accept my previous miscarriages, to be able to see them as part of my story, and part of who I am. But not the entirety of who I am; they didn’t define me any longer.”
I am a huge proponent of the power of self. Self-help, self-motivation, self-awareness… it’s amazing what people can accomplish by and through themselves. I’ve always been independent because my upbringing, which was good and stable, prepared me fairly well to deal with life in a healthy way. But a few events in my life have stumped me.
Two and a half years ago I suffered my second miscarriage. I was heartbroken and so pissed off. The months that followed were ugly, and I cycled through the same stages of anger and depression over and over again. Every pregnancy announcement of my friends’ felt like a punch in the stomach, and I lost the ability to feel happy for anyone else. It was as though I was lost in a sea of grief with no wind to catch my sails and help me to the other shore… and my boat was sinking.
I tried every means to help myself through this time. I read books, I listened to people who had gone through the same thing, I turned to meditation. All of these outlets seemed to help in some way, but they were like a drop in the ocean. I was still sinking. My infertility was beginning to define me, and my pain became my identity. Like a broken record, I talked about it incessantly with my husband, who was finally the person who told it to me straight: “You’re stuck,” he said. “You can’t just keep talking about this; you need to move forward. You need to see a therapist.”
That word has some negative connotations in our culture. We think of people who need therapy as people who are deeply disturbed. We picture a person lying on a chaise lounge, dictating their childhood trauma to a bespectacled practitioner who jots down notes and responds in a bored voice with, “Mm-hm. And how did that make you feel?”
And despite there being several key people in my life who had benefitted from and highly encouraged therapy (my husband and my older sister, to name a few), I still resisted it. It seemed expensive and unnecessary. I’d always been self aware enough to untangle my heart from emotionally complicated situations before.
Finally, two years into the journey, I became pregnant. This would make everything better, I thought. Until it didn’t. I wasn’t happy. This was what I had wanted for so long, why wasn’t I ecstatic? I told my family I was pregnant and cried. I didn’t know why. I texted everyone else the news, because I couldn’t stand to see or hear their excitement. It was not within my power to be happy about this baby; something was blocking my joy, it had planted its feet and it would not go away on its own.
Something about that realization jarred me into action. It took me a while to find someone who fit my price range and schedule, but I finally found a therapist, Teresa. I nervously went in for our first session (I sat in a regular chair and everything) and found myself inexplicably comfortable with her. I poured out my heart. She listened. She encouraged me. She challenged me. A lot. I grappled with things. She gave me tools to cope with my feelings. She helped me delve deeper into myself. She taught me how to see things differently. Teresa helped me fix the leak in my boat, she put a little wind in my sails, and soon I was making progress. I could see the other shore on the horizon.
After a while, we both noticed a change in me. I was beginning to talk about the baby differently. My heart was warming to the idea of this person growing inside me. I began to fall in love with my baby. I couldn’t wait to meet her. I started to be able to truly accept my previous miscarriages, to be able to see them as part of my story, and part of who I am. But not the entirety of who I am; they didn’t define me any longer.
I kicked myself for not seeking therapeutic help before. Why had I thought seeing a therapist meant I was weak? I felt stronger than ever! I remember my last session with her before I gave birth, we talked about how far I’d come and the progress I’d made. I was supremely proud of myself.
When my daughter was born, I welcomed her as a more whole person than I had been. I was able to love her without restraint because I had opened my heart and made space to receive her.
Recently, in a Facebook comment a woman attacked me by saying I “needed therapy” to get over something. I’m sure this woman meant to insult me. Little does she know that I see my therapist loudly and proudly! I hold no shame in that. I believe asking for help makes you stronger, not weaker. I believe that admitting you can’t do it alone shows courage. That our vulnerability is not something to be embarrassed of, but rather shared, like the stories on this blog! So yeah, I certainly do need therapy (I honestly think we all do). But I’d say instead of getting over something, I got through it. The process was scary, beautiful, messy, and oh so sacred, and through it I was able to unfold and bloom a little more.