Another reason

I think I am fairly honest on this blog, more detailed than some and more reticent than others. But I’ve become very aware this past week of how vulnerable it makes me, especially when it’s not a completely anonymous space. And I don’t regret that I chose to tell some people I know about it, because it’s hard to communicate what I am feeling day by day to friends and family spread all over the country. I realize, however, that I don’t actually know who is reading this blog. I know that there are people reading it that I know, that I didn’t tell about it. I know that word has spread because I am getting the most hits from the town where I live or from addresses connected somehow to my university. I welcome anyone to read this, but I wonder why most of those people aren’t saying anything – in person or in the comments.

I don’t write this blog as an expert on grieving. I might be an intellectual, but as much of this blog shows, I’m not trying to write as one. I’m just trying to be honest about the feelings I go through, which because of who I am are sometimes experienced through a lens larger than my personal life. And as some comments have revealed, I can be misunderstood and judged.

Sometimes I vent about what other people say because in the real world, I feel pretty powerless, pretty constrained by social niceties, and sometimes pretty damn angry. Most of the time I’m unaffected by what people say, more moved that they have chosen to say anything than bothered by a particular awkward statement. But sometimes the statements are pretty damn asinine. I don’t see why I ought to take that moment to be a teacher or why, as I go through through this horrible pain, I should always have to take the high road and chalk it up to being well meant. But most of the time, I actually do. I am really not so hard a judge.

I see that I get quite a few hits from people from key word searches like, “what to say to a woman stillborn baby,” or “what to say after miscarriage.” [I also get hits from people searching “no symptoms pregnant 8.w 5.d” or “bl.eeding 25 we.eks.” I feel awful for pregnant woman who’ve read the posts where I’ve written those phrases!] My point is, nearly every grieving mother whose blog I’ve read hates the very same statements that I do. Some people who want to help friends and family are reading us. Why not try to learn something from people who’ve experienced this horror if you find yourself faced with friends in our situation? And why not realize that as awkward as you feel, it’s so much worse to be them?

In typical stream of consciousness fashion, this post has gone in a very different direction from where I intended. I began from feeling truly aggrieved by the horrible sentiments unleashed on another grieving mom’s blog and thinking, among other things that have been captured more eloquently by other women, about the vulnerability of those of us who blog about our infants’ deaths and our struggles to become mothers again. I wonder how many people are out there, people who are too decent to spout hate, but who still judge us, for the decisions we’ve made and for the way we’re going about rebuilding our lives. Not that I think I did anything wrong, but of course I replay certain moments, certain decisions and wonder if it could have been different. I wonder, if I were to be as detailed about my experience as the mother who was attacked this week, how many people out there would incorrectly decide it was my fault or that we did something to bring it upon ourselves.

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8 responses to “Another reason

  1. LeRoy Dissing

    Your post stresses what I hope will be the only judgment I make about another person’s experience and that is: to make no judgments. How can I honestly put myself in someone else’s shoes, like yours, who for 30 years (barely) has lived a life totally different from mine, and then cast aspirations on what you did or why you did it???

    I find no fault, nor am I looking for one, in the loss you had and feel. I do find sorrow for the past and hope for tomorrow in your blog. Every Mother’s Day will bring both but I hope next year will be better!

    BTW: You are “real” woman who is an intellectual 🙂 Just stating a fact, not a judgment.

  2. There will always be people who judge…some are vocal about it and some just sit in quiet judgment. Quite honestly, you just have to remember that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks…this is your life and you have to live it.

    As my mom says, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.”

  3. Thanks LeRoy and Catherine – I know you two are exactly two of the kind people I am not talking about!

    It’s funny, you know, about Mother’s Day. Maybe unconsciously it is feeding my mood this week, but consciously I’m not even thinking about it. For me it’s always been commercial and I’ve never thought I’d want my kids or my husband to commemorate it. Other national versions though – like International Women’s Day – I’m all for. Then again, maybe I’m just really fortunate because I’m pretty sheltered from the marketing around it (watch too little TV, enter too few stores).

  4. It is somehow easier for people to judge, to find a way to differentiate themselves from people living with tragedy than to emphasize.
    And I like the “turkeys” thing from Catherine’s mom.

    Sorry you are in this precarious place with the pregnancy. In a couple more weeks you will be able to hear the heartbeat. I wish you smooth sailing to there and beyond.

  5. I will go ahead and say that I find it pretty offensive when people choose to leave argumentative, or judgmental comments on personal blogs. And I mean even those that aren’t overtly awful, like the one you are speaking of left on sweet Erin’s blog.

    It’s one thing if someone is writing from a professional, or political, or specifically intellectual viewpoint where they are inviting debate and alternate views. But when you know you are reading someone’s personal thoughts, and especially in regards to a very painful experience, why on earth would you think it appropriate to jump in and try and tell them where and how they are “wrong.”?? Why would you ever want to cause someone who is already in so much pain, more pain?

    I agree with you too in that I hesitate to share in full detail my experience of loss because I worry too that it would open me up to other people’s judgments and second guessing. I do that enough to myself! I don’t need help!

  6. For a long time I hated that certain people were reading my blog, like the pro-laffers, including one who trolled me quite viciously, with horrible nasty comments.

    8 months later, on her own blog she has softened up her stance considerably, and would no longer fit her previous definition of herself. The Christian right-wingers probably wouldn’t like what she says at ALL now. But I find it comforting that she might have learned something from me. Even the creeps can change, to my surprise.

    I hope I’m helping someone out there somewhere. But really, who knows?

  7. I agree with Julia. Judging often hides fear, where the person making the criticisms is hoping to assure herself that, if she doesn’t make the same mistakes you did, she can protect herself against tragedy.

    It’s also a way of distancing herself from something that may seem to painful for her to handle, even as an observer, or allieviating survivor’s guilt.

    None of this excuses attacking someone who is already in pain, but it does make it a little more comprehensible, at least to me.

    It must be an odd feeling to know that people at your university are reading your blog, yet never say anything about it.

  8. It took me a while to get caught up with what’s happened in cyberworld while I wasn’t looking. Those comments on veggie mom’s blog were so unnecessary. I don’t understand why people have to be so judgmental and rude. I hope they get a taste of their own medicine one day.

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