Every day is a time for forgiveness

The Hairy Goddess of Love Takes a Spirit Bath, 9" x 12" watercolor

The Hairy Goddess of Love Takes a Spirit Bath, 9" x 12" watercolor

Last night after rehearsal, five of us walked, Jessica, Onome, Lizzie, Ashlie and myself, singing down the street. At the corner of 8th and Avenue C, we sang and we chanted, we improvised and supported each other, sang songs that we knew and made up the rest. This was a gift.

Every day takes courage for self love. And every day is an opportunity to be reborn. It's been a long while and today I had my Spirit Bath. While the hot bath was filling up, I smudged my whole home with sage, blessed with the friendship of birthday love, blessed with my living plant babies.

I rang bells in every room, to the closets, to the guitar. I came to the living room and realized I had created a space for creativity, a space to support myself. This is a space of courage. What is courage? Courage is asking for what you need. Courage is speaking your truth. Courage is owning your story. Courage is setting boundaries. Courage is reaching out for support (a quote from Brené Brown).

Last night I made three signs with this affirmation. One in orange craypas and then in permanent blank marker and then I painted it. This helps me to remember what courage is and believe that I am full of courage. Courage means being open to making "bad" art and "poor" writing and still wanting to share it with the world. Courage means making mistakes. Courage means allowing myself to be imperfect. Courage means embracing myself every day.

Have Courage My Friend (inspired by the inspirational quote by  Brené Brown ), 9" x 12", watercolor

Have Courage My Friend (inspired by the inspirational quote by Brené Brown), 9" x 12", watercolor

In my Spirit Bath I poured lavender Epsom Salts, my large and interesting shells already beneath the water and rang bells around me. I drank and drank my water. I asked myself what was the intention for this bath? I didn't know. In silence I got in and allowed my mind, myself to wander. I cried and cried. I forgave myself for misjudging old friends and new friends too. I forgave myself for misjudging myself. I thought about my father. July 29th will be the 12th anniversary of his death. I cried and cried. Is this Shadow Grief? It is my truth and it is my story. I thought about him and what I can do to honor him this year and honor my own grief. I want to make a ghost bike for him - paint a bike white, have a ceremony and lock it near where he was killed on 34th St. and Dyer Avenue. It's time.

I get out of the bath and notice some soot from my sage stick on the bathroom sink and I tell myself Every time I want to clean something or do something that is not apart of my new habits of living with Spirit Baths, singing, eating and painting and writing, I will take a moment to breathe. Ten deep breaths.

I find that I forget who I am or forget that I am loved. I can be so hard on myself. Every day is a time for forgiveness. And a time for singing. A time for swimming.

Shaming + Blaming: Unconditional Self Love

Often it is hard to be honest, to get the words out especially when talking about anger and pain. I wrote this to a friend early this morning who has become my pen pal. We are both aligned so deeply with our own feelings and creativity - it is a blessing to have people like this in my life. I share it because this has been on my mind.

Hello R-------,

Thank you so much for your kindness and patience. I don't apologize anymore for "not writing back sooner" only because there are just too many emails and I find in this life I've apologized for too many things, for myself every day. So I am not apologizing, but I am writing back!

Thank you for becoming my pen pal! It's so funny that we've barely spoken longer than a minute or two - I know we will! - it's nice to get to know one another through our writing. I find I express myself so clearly this way and with you.

Thank you for the loving critique of my posts. You're right - it really is vulnerability pouring out of me because that's where courage comes from. In the beginning (in the first week), everyone told me how courageous I was, how brave I was for speaking so openly about the miscarriage (I often find myself almost saying abortion - it was technically a "spontaneous or natural abortion" and I feel like my body is a smart body, a good body because she knew to abort and reject a dead fetus). I didn't believe them - I felt that I had to talk about it for my own sanity and I just couldn't help it. But now I accept and open myself to the idea that I can be courageous. I can be brave. I am brave.

I have to say that there are the difficult experiences of living with loss in your life, grieving and being so open to it, even terrified of the madness of grief (and the accompanying madness of creativity). N------- tells me I'm unhinged and I say Yes I am unhinged! Yesterday was a particularly rough day for me. I feel insane, I feel unhinged, I feel crazy, I feel the madness. I know it's all ok because all feelings are valid. A friend, who had a miscarriage last year, wrote that to me when I announced the loss of our pregnancy and it's stayed with me. I frequently say it to people after I talk about feeling failure, shame, embarrassment, and like an outsider. Everyone wants to "silverline" the hardships (coined by Brené Brown during The Power of Empathy!). I opened a tiny window to this conversation with U-------- and she shamed me for my feelings. I was sobbing and shouting, All feelings are valid! but she comes from another time and place and has her own story of struggle. Everyone has their own story. I have never been shamed so intensely, publicly and on so many levels. Others have said shaming/blaming things to me about the miscarriage and every time I call them on it, for every single person regardless of who it is. At this point, I love myself too much - I mean I actually love myself! I think before I loved myself only a little bit in different ways but now I am in love with myself and that love is unconditional. And this means that I also have a deep confidence in myself to be anything, say anything, accept myself and my flaws, embrace the vulnerability, embrace myself and embrace those around me. But when these people shame me, when she shamed me in front of everyone...she put into words what I'm sure many think and feel. She had the gall to say those things to me - you would be ashamed for her for saying those things! I was in shock. I was in a raw place and the more she invalidated what I was feeling, the more I sobbed. She told me Don't ruin your marriage. I said I'm not ruining my marriage - this is making us stronger! She said, You need to live life and look forward! I said I am living my life! That's why I paint and write every day! And I look to the past and I look to the present and I look to the future - I have so many plans for myself!  She said, Well what if you carried that baby to a full term, to all nine months - and I interrupted Yes that would be worse! And she said, You see?! And again I have to say that all feelings are valid. But it's as if she hears nothing. I shout and cry It's only been a month! Later N------- tells me she didn't realize this. But how long is "long enough" for grieving? I've spoken to so many people who have lost babies in their wombs at 5 weeks and 4 months and 9 months and for those who haven't lost a baby, they have a story to share about their friend, their mother, their grandmother, their aunt. Often I am told it was last year, it was 5 years ago, it was 25 years ago and I still grieve the baby that I lost. That is honest. It is so hard to be honest and we are also so different in our ways and in our grieving (or our non-grieving-grieving).

I am grateful to have the confidence and the language to speak up for myself, to explain myself, to attempt to make myself understood even if I can't be heard by others. And I appreciate those, like you, who are so open to what is happening to me, what happens to millions of women (yes U------- - I know!) because even though it happens and has happened to so many all throughout time and will continue to happen because there is no such thing as just pregnancy or just miscarriage, it is the wide spectrum of pregnancy which includes miscarriage and still birth, it does not take away the sting and confusion and madness of loss and it does not mean my feelings and what I am experiencing is invalid.

Because all feelings are valid.

love, dawn

Roar aka Fuck Bikinis, Bras + Shaving aka I just want to be free

This week, Danny and I are in Miami visiting his family, his birthplace and also to have (hello!) a long, sunny vacation, and some beachy treats especially after the month that we’ve both experienced.

I just got off the phone with “Jane”, a volunteer through PLSP, a person who herself has experienced a pregnancy loss, and who I’ll get to have one more free phone counseling with before I’m eligible for their bereavement groups. The first time we talked, I was on a retreat with D & my mom, feeling very vibrant, and feeling the love. This time was different, because I am different. I now find that every day has its difficulties and I am crying daily again. I never know what will spark (inspire?) the crying, the sad feelings and although I always go with whatever emotions sweep over me, I feel I have no control.

When we were at the airport getting ready to board the plane to come down here, there were all these families with little kids, little girls. A father extended his big finger, as a steady hand, for his daughter to take in her hand and walk around. I went to tell D how sweet this was and in that split second that I turned to tell him, I found myself crying and sobbed and sobbed into his shoulder. He understands; we just express things differently.

500 year old trees at  Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

500 year old trees at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

We started planning this trip when I was still pregnant. I would have been pregnant at that moment in time - this is how I dreamed it. And I lost my baby. We lost a baby. His parents and my mom lost a grandbaby. His siblings lost a niece or nephew. So did our friends-family. That is the truth. I don’t have any physical indicators any more to show that I was pregnant, or questions into my physical health, the easy questions. All I have is my own sadness, taking me to new heights and depths. I walk around every day now with the my own shadow of darkness following me, living below the surface, simmering inside of me. Jane asks me what the triggers are but I never know when its going to happen. It just does, and I allow it to. I allow myself to feel. I allow myself to be free. I am free. And in achieving this freedom, I see in these difficult weeks, this is another transformation - I keep changing, becoming new people, emerging from multiple cocoons, shedding old ways and taking on new ones - but I’ve been here before, I’ve said these words, this is all familiar and I am awake.

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post for days and art comes when it comes and when you make time for it. I announced the title of this post to D and he said, Why don’t you tell us how you really feel? And that’s why I love him! And that’s why he loves me. So let me explain. It started as Fuck Bikinis, Bras + Shaving because yes I am on vacation in the land of the sun and when you go to the beach you wear a bathing suit and most often a bikini. Now, even before I knew I was pregnant, I was taking a Spirit Bath (before I started calling them that), and said, When I’m pregnant, I’m not going to shave anymore. In fact, I’m starting now. I had read that Busy Phillips  stopped waxing because she wanted her little girl to look at her and know that "grown women have hair on their vaginas". I want to be a role model to whoever was going to be born, one that allows their body to be natural and to be free. But there was one thing I was going to cut - the hairs on my head! I also decided, in that space and time when I was weeks pregnant but had no idea, that this long in the middle, shaved on the sides is the hair I’ve been wanting for years and that though I love it right now it its shortest stage, I will also love it when the middle grows long. I want to have a long mane of hair down the middle when I am laboring and joyfully giving birth to our Rainbow Baby (inspired in part by SQUAT).

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

And so here I am presented with Naples/Miami bikini season and here is my futuristic-post-modern-post-misogyny-hairy-body and ohhh I’ve got dilemmas. I am comfortable with the leg, cooch and armpit hair but I don’t know how to navigate these waters on a clothed beach with my family. I know that society thinks it’s ugly because I’ve thought the same. While, I would love to wear what I’ve brought and let it all hang out, I feel like a parody of this offensive SNL skit I once heard which goes I’m Helga the German Waitress with the very long armpit hair. Oh Helga, your armpit hair is in my soup! Ohhhhh sorry!! My armpit hair is not that long, but my - I honestly do not know how to refer to the stretch of jungle growing in between my legs. Well, my snatch hair is growing - I’ve shaved for years so I have no idea how far it will go. But it looks pretty comical with a string bikini worn over it. I borrowed a tankini from my mother-in-law (mine were oddly stretched out and the string bikini top...no) and wore little hot pants shorts over the bottoms. While walking on the beach with D, I showed him what was going on downs-below and he was shocked. Yes it is shocking! He asked, Did you bring a razor? And I said, No I’m not shaving! But I need a different bathing suit (or a nude beach!). Everyone wants to feel beautiful and confident and sexy especially at the beach and this was an awkward barrier to that for me.

bird2.jpg

That night we got vegan food and I saw this brightly lit superstore of touristy beach wear and bathing suits. I was elated. I want to swim, I want to navigate mainstream waters and not freak people out (too much) before they get a chance to know and like me - this is part of the reason why I decided to continue to wear a bra in public - but only until I get pregnant and have a baby!! So we went in and they were actually about to close. I scoured the racks for hot pants/underwear in my size - this place runs so small just like American Apparel that I got a Large but needed a non-existent XL. D helped me find matching tops and it is all a hot mess, running around, time time time against (or for?) me, bathing suit tops not fitting. I definitely tested D’s patience, as I do every day but not his love, he said. This is why we love each other. And, I got my hodge-podge-bikini: blue hot pants underwear bottoms that conceal the va-ja-ja forest and a badeau top that's easily adjustable, won't let my boobs fall out and has palm trees on it. I did have some crazy revelations in the race to try them on. Shopping for bathing suits (jeans or bras) is one of the most horrible experiences for a female bodied person, at least for this one. Regardless of how skinny you think other people are, or how people often refer to me, I am not skinny. I have a lot of curves that do not fit into skinny people clothing. I was at an Indy party once and a (weird) girl approached me and said You have a womanly figure. So there you go - I have a womanly figure! But don’t we all? Anyhow, I tried on these hot pants which are electric blue and so comfy and cover up the comically offensive hairs and then I start criticizing myself because I got this muffin top thing going on. I think Oh no oh no! Not long after I realize the irony of wanting to be free and getting something to cover up that freedom only to be ashamed that my body doesn’t fit into these freedom pants. So I said to myself, If I can deal with this muffin top, so can everyone else. It has to be less culturally unacceptable than the growing terrain beneath it and the store is closing and we gotta go.

A log provides new life at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

A log provides new life at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

We come back to the (incredibly fancy) hotel and just chill there. I finally get my Bloody Mary and it’s more perfect than my fantasy because it’s me, D + his Vodka Tonic with our legs in a hot tub. I submerge into the hot tub for a while and then go swimming in the pool. I lay on my back there, staring at the stars, at bright Mercury or is it Jupiter, D knows. I look back at the universe, the dark sky, the lights, so vast, I see my baby there, when all of it came out of me that day, and saw the universe that had been growing inside of me and I cry and cry into the lake of the pool, of myself, floating, floating and I fall asleep. I am very good at floating.

The following day we’re packing up to head over to a protected Everglades swamp and I decided to pursue a song I heard on D’s parent’s car radio. The song is Roar by Katy Perry. As I was packing, I listened and watched the music video and found myself sobbing. This song, this video spoke directly to me. I kept watching and playing the whole thing until it wouldn’t make me sob (which was about 4-5 times). That is now one of my mantras. I went to read about it and discovered another related song, Brave by Sara Bareilles. Last night after the Mogwai show with Team Danny, between 2 and 4am, I listened to many versions of this song, a duet with Carol King melded with her song Beautiful and one two three different videos of people dancing to this song. I went to go into the backyard but the door was locked and I didn’t know where the keys were so I quietly put the music on in the living room and danced there.

jungle.jpg

Coupled with the temporary phone therapy, therapy with a social worker, bereavement groups and support from friends-family, these are my song mantras, they make me stronger, I sing them in my head when I wake up in the morning, they help me to maintain my confidence in myself, living this life fully, leaning into the discomfort, the pain of the loss of losing this baby, this tiny life that was growing inside of me and birthed a new Dawn, that is me, and knowing that I’m not alone and I am powerful and I am weak and there is courage in my vulnerability because one can’t exist without the other, they are all parts of me, all feelings are valid, all living things are valid and we all deserve freedom.  

Living tree at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Living tree at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

New Old Friends: Part II

Here is another dedication to new and old friends that I've made (all on Wednesday!):

Diane, the Smithee and professor of graphic novels from Delaware, we discovered after talking about tea, oh Friday afternoon teas at Smith, who is such a delight and who, while not a big fan of the whole alumnae club thing, loves to gather beautiful books in a big fundraiser for scholarships for Smithees (maybe I was a recipient?).

Hehe, vintage tea party time at Smith College, circa 1892 (thanks internet!) ..."'A Memorial of exams, essays, metrical travilations [sic] and the like.' Tea party with Bertha Allen and Helen Lambert, ... " hehehe

Hehe, vintage tea party time at Smith College, circa 1892 (thanks internet!)..."'A Memorial of exams, essays, metrical travilations [sic] and the like.' Tea party with Bertha Allen and Helen Lambert, ..." hehehe

AK Summers, the graphic novelist of Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag, who I actually got to meet Wednesday night at her reading/slideshow at Bluestockings Bookstore, for which I rearranged my work schedule to attend because I’m interested in writing a graphic novel about my Radical Miscarriage (and other things) and because her book is probably the only one out there that comes close to the kind of experience I had/was going to have as a person outside of The Heteronormative Mainstream.

Excerpt from AK Summers "Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag," a graphic memoir

Excerpt from AK Summers "Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag," a graphic memoir

Liz Murray, author of Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard, who was standing in line in front of me to speak with AK, had a flyer in her hand for The Business of Being Born, which I watched after a horrible shaming OB bullied me into being “open” and essentially not to use a midwife or do a home birth, and after that first appointment at 5 weeks made me not want to have a baby at all, and then I angrily watched this doc, crying, which made me say, like I said when I first got pregnant, F-yeah I’m doing a home birth (hopefully with this midwife)!

"Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival And My Journey From Homeless to Harvard" by Liz Murray

"Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival And My Journey From Homeless to Harvard" by Liz Murray

Why and how do I meet these amazing people and make these seemingly coincidental connections? By being open, speaking my truth and taking a risk. Be fearless!

Also, thank you Diane, AK & Liz and to all the people I meet every day and for being open to share your stories with me and allowing me to share mine with you.

4.25.2014 Friday 1:11 AM

There is no fear.
— Jessica Wiscovitch, Healer

Compassion for Lindsay Lohan aka How To Empathize With Your Neighbor

I have been dismayed that I haven’t been able to write up my daily Radical Miscarriage Blog post. Yesterday I finally went to CityMD where they told me, by just looking in my throat, in my ears and by talking with me, that I have Bronchitis & Post Nasal Drip. The doctor said everyone freaks out more than they need to - it just means that I have a sore throat and that mucus is dripping down into my lungs - fun! - and I need to sleep for two days! But yesterday, when Danny sent me a link about Lindsay Lohan, I knew I needed to write this post.

When (and if) you hear about Lindsay Lohan’s recent miscarriage, be kind and be compassionate. Regardless of your opinions on her acting or her life, when you think of Lindsay, think of me. Because now she and I have something in common; we’ve both had miscarriages.

I read this article yesterday right before taking a 4-hour nap to do my self care, my healing, doctor prescribed and Danny-enforced. I cried and cried. I can’t imagine the whole world knowing something so tragic in my life without my choosing to share it first. And I was mad. I felt like people were going to judge Lindsay, blame her, shun her. Again, think of me if you think these things and be kind and loving.

My friend Jessica, who I mention often, has said to me that we are from a generation that is more open than the Baby Boomers, more open than other recent generations in regards to so much and how we deal and journey through life. As a media figure, Lindsay no doubt was forced to reveal her private experience (while filming a reality TV show based on her life, meta!), but nonetheless is possibly one of the first celebrities or public figures to share their story of pain, vulnerability and transformation.

Last night, while coughing and not able to sleep and drinking a lot of tea from my mom + Danny, I watched Brené Brown’s TED talks and was especially moved by the animated short, The power of vulnerability. This short film should be required viewing for everyone, especially those who know someone who has experienced any kind of loss, and especially those who know someone who has experienced a miscarriage.

Yes, dear reader, I’m speaking to you. Because I’ve been open about my miscarriage from the first day, horribly, ironically on April 1st, 2014, with over 100 people and then posting my story online as My Radical Miscarriage Blog and on Facebook (!!), I have experienced a wide and varied response of support. As soon as I sent out an email to the 100 friends-family that already knew I was pregnant, I received many many emails of love and support and kindness and deep empathy. I also received emails that tried to “silver-line” my experience (coined by Brené Brown!). Since “coming out” on Facebook as well as in person to people who didn’t even know that I was pregnant, the response is the same varied reactions.

The other night I told a friend, a friend who has been through a lot, and she “silver-lined” my experience again and again, meanwhile with a big smile on her face, even when I told her this has been very painful and tried to open up that kind of “feeling” conversation and connection. It made me so angry. Part of me knew why I was so angry but I had to search in myself a little bit for all the reasons why. Watching that short on vulnerability and hearing and seeing the words “empathy fuels connection; sympathy drives disconnection” (Brené Brown) gave me the words and imagery to understand why it is that it bothers me so much when people don’t want to talk about or let me focus on the deep pain that I’m in. It helps me to understand why others, who do have “the best of intentions”, get so uncomfortable and defensive and dismissive when I bring up topics of Shame, Failure, Embarrassment, feeling like an Outcast and a Leper in relation to my experience of having a miscarriage. So let me tell you now: all feelings are valid. All feelings are valid. Repeat after me, shout it out loud: ALL FEELINGS ARE VALID. (Another close friend, who had a miscarriage last year, told me that and it’s now one of my mantras.) And all these feelings, I’m sure, have a place in a history that is repeatedly fueled by misogyny, these feelings have a place in ourselves - otherwise why would I be feeling them? I (and I’m sure many others who have suffered a loss) feel these things. I feel all the feelings. I don’t feel them every day, but they are apart of me and apart of what gives me courage to speak out and break the silence around miscarriage and loss in our daily lives and simultaneously inspires in me art and writing and singing and creativity and connection and joy.

1 in 4 women have a miscarriage. 1 in 200 women have a stillbirth. This is what my new OB told me. He said, Every year I deliver 200 babies and every year there is a stillbirth. This is heart breaking and it is also eye opening. In my mind, it should not be Pregnancy and Miscarriage and Stillbirth. It should be the Wide and Varied Spectrum of Pregnancy. If pregnancy loss is so prevalent (hello folks, that translates into 25% of the human female population on the planet earth which is A LOT of f-ing people!!) than we should not be separating out the horribly lonely experience of (in my case) miscarriage.

I am open so I tell everyone this and of course, hear the wide and varied response. Often I hear that people think this is such a painful time in a woman’s life (and it is! Believe me I KNOW) and that she will not want to talk about it. I’ve also heard others say that they know a friend who had a miscarriage and she didn’t take time off of work when it happened (which translates to me as she didn’t take time for herself) and “pushed on through with her head held high” or something like that. Well, I want to talk about it. It happened to me. I had a miscarriage and I want to talk about it! I know that I’m not the only one. I know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to feel the deepest sorrow in my life all by my lonesome self. I know that I’m not the only one that doesn’t want to enter a place of horrible darkness not knowing if I will come back out, how this will change me, if I will become self destructive and all the unknowns. I know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to do this alone, feeling the feelings, sometimes it seems, 25 all at once. I know that I’m not the only one who wants to talk about my feelings to others, who are open to truly listening, to going inside of themselves and tapping into their pain and empathizing with me and facing our deepest fears together.

If it wasn’t already blaringly obvious, I am on a mission. I am on a Crusade To Make Crying Ok + Courageous. And I’m on a mission to make a space, to create a world in which we do not need to be ashamed of our feelings, of our bodies or our experiences or our loss. I am creating a world with you, in which a woman or female-bodied person doesn’t need to wait until the 2nd trimester (approx 11 or 12 weeks into the pregnancy) to announce that we’re pregnant for fear of a miscarriage. I am creating a world with you where, as soon as any of us become pregnant, we can be open and share it (if we want) and will be supported and loved and given resources and access to an abortion, post-abortion doula care, prenatal care, midwives, birthing options, etc etc if we want it. What is choice anyways? The ideologies of liberals and lefties and the term “Pro-choice” (which was recently changed and abandoned by Planned Parenthood because it is so limiting and promotes a binary that shuts down the conversation of women’s and female-bodied people’s agency in their own lives) and which I followed for many many years, do not cut it any more. I believe we need to be bold and courageous and fearless and turn this world upside down and inside out. And we can do that together. I am doing it right now. You may be too. Join me!

4.22.2014 1:51 PM

Goodbye Little Lentil!

Emailed on April 1st, 2014 at 12:06pm, approximately an hour after dropping off the fetal remains at the midwifery/OB's office:

Hello friends,

We have some very sad news to share with you. Early this morning I had a miscarriage. They're doing pathology tests on the remains and we'll know the results in a week.

We're devastated. Life can be so suddenly and completely joyful and then, just as quickly, a deep sorrow sets in. We feel so grateful for so much and for all of you, our friends, our family. We are blessed to have so many that love and support us. Thank you!

And on this sunny beautiful morning, we say a really sad and reluctant - Goodbye Little Lentil!

Love,
Dawn + Danny