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

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