One of my dearest friends announced she is pregnant. I've not seen her in 4 months. We've chatted on the phone; she's busy, I'm busy, this happened, that happened. Truth is, I'm avoiding being around her. Lately I've been surrounded by too many pregnant women and babies. They are glowing. They are all so painfully happy. They are not me, they have what I cannot. They are whole. Their bodies work. Mine does not. I am broken. As much as I love her, she is living out the thing I can no longer live and had hoped so deeply for. She gets her heart's desire actualized. My heart is just messy and aching.
I married young with dreams of wife and mother defining my life's role. We got pregnant 10 months into marriage. It was sooner than expected but we settled into preparing for the beginnings of expanding our family. Not a part of the preparations: a baby in breach position and a scheduled C-section. There were complications. Then, in a last ditch-effort to save a life, there was a hysterectomy. Nyomi was born while I almost bled out on the table. I woke up after surgery asking for my baby, finding out she would be my only one. My body didn't die, but part of my soul did.
Just the other week a woman unintentionally did what so many have done before. We were casually talking about contentment in various seasons of life and before I knew it she'd whipped out the scripture card and the "you can be thankful you have one" line and then there was, "if God cares for the sparrows...” and "if God closes one door another one will open." There it was, pat and trite. I felt my heart clench and realized I was holding my breath. "Exhale" I said to the heart, "breathe". I pasted on a tight smile and thanked her, I'm not sure why. I guess that's the prescribed way to escape a hurtful 'Christian(ized)' conversation.
Later when I reflected on this individual's life I realized that her's has been a straight road with few bumps, a doting husband and darling children... Children. She has not walked a footstep in my shoes. I cannot hold that against her. But inasmuch, let me be as bold to suggest a few things you can do if you find yourself brushing shoulders with "someone like me".
When there is a person bearing-up under something that you cannot possibly imagine, don't preach at them. Stop giving pat answers or for that matter don't give any answers. Just love them. That may look like silence and a listening ear, maybe a shoulder for the tears, a hug or words, words not of false understanding but kind support. If she shares her story with you don't offer up your silence because you don't know what to say, extend an: "I'm so sorry, that must be really tough" or " I can't imagine what your going through" or whatever sounds like love. Send her an, "I'm thinking and praying for you" note, let her know on those days when it feels like no one else in the world aches the way she does that she's on someone's mind. Responding to someone else in the midst of their pain means giving a bit of yourself, extending yourself, offering up what you do have... your time, your kindness, your compassion.
"A Death Blow is a Life Blow to Some..." (Emily Dickinson). The death of my dreams and what I thought equaled a good, rich, fulfilling life is what it is took to truly wake me up. I thought I could get through life by faking it, striving, keeping everything together by clenching tighter and keeping my chin up. But my Lover just wanted me. The real me. The undone messy me.
I will accept and stop fighting, for only I can choose to give power to my pain or to my healing and my freedom. Paula D'arcy in the penning of her own journey writes the following, "I slowly begin to understand that it is up to me to choose how I will respond to this pain. I can let it eat me...or I can let go of my assumptions about how life should be and search for the beauty in what life is."