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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Them's Fightin' Words

Words have the power you give them. It's up to you how you want to own them, whether you are speaking or listening. If you heard a word you find offensive and it upsets you, it had better be directed at you, or you're wasting a whole lot of energy. If you want to waste energy and be upset by words directed at something or someone else, good luck with that. If you are willing to look past the surface and into the deeper meaning, good for you.

I am owning my words right now that are not directed at you. Some will be profane. Deal with it or not, I don't care. This is me ripping back my power through verbal aggression.

Two days ago, I had a miscarriage. And that pisses me off.

It pisses me off because I'm not supposed to talk about it. Have you ever noticed that? We don't talk about one of the most devastating things a woman can go through. We talk about rape and sexual abuse a hell of a lot more than we talk about the loss of pregnancy. Why is it ok to take back our power and cease to be victims of others, but not when a random genetic code betrays our hopes and dreams? It's whispered about. Most women tell a few trusted friends and family members who may or may not understand. That's been me the past two days.

And now I'm wondering why the hell that is. I see it all the time. I've seen it for years. You don't talk about it. And I'm such an idiot that I've done the same thing when women I know have had miscarriages. I don't talk about it because I don't know what to say. The pregnancy message boards have a special place for women who have lost a pregnancy (or several), as if they are off in quarantine. The ones who lost their babies must be cordoned off in their own private corner of shame and grief. Sometimes I wonder if the ones with healthy pregnancies are afraid the others are going to be contagious. The ones drowning in grief and loss try to help each other but it becomes an endless cycle of raised hopes, lost dreams, and everyone choking on their own moans of bereavement.

It's depressing. And it pisses me off.

I'm going to fucking talk about it. Because I can.

Not in the way most people do. I'm not going to sit down and have a good cry with my mother or my best friend, or whatever. I'm not going to depress everyone with endless questions of "why me?" Because I don't really care. It happens. Sometimes there's a reason, but most of the time there's not.

I think society doesn't talk much about it because it has to do with our vaginas. It's ok to talk about the gore and beauty of childbirth, but we use the term "birth canal." It's a fucking vagina already, ok? Or at least it is until it gets shredded by the giant baby bursting through it.

Well guess what? I didn't go through childbirth. I'd just had the doctor call me to tell me my results were positive and the levels were great. Home free, we can surprise everyone for Christmas!


So I can't use the wonderful euphemism "birth canal" to describe what happened to me. But I felt the blood in my vagina, I saw it stain my underwear, and I saw it billow into water. I felt my swollen uterus wring itself out like a sponge full of dirty water. I felt my heart crack and bleed out all the wonderful visions of our happy little family we'd built up together.

It pisses me off that people are ignorant and insensitive and don't know what to say. It pisses me off that I don't know what to say. I did my time in grief. I put in the hours of crying, of staring numbly out the window, of questioning my self-worth and ability to be a parent. I've already dredged up every bad thing I've ever done and assumed I'm being punished for them. I've yelled curses at the horrendous physical pain no one really prepares you for. The emotional pain is whispered about in hushed, piteous tones with wide eyes eager for gossip. But no one ever told me how I would feel like my entire reproductive system was being ripped apart, or how I would shake uncontrollably for hours from shock. No one prepared me for the fucked up soup of hormones that would be pumping so fast through my system that it would seem to steam out of my pores. I've had muscle soreness and cramping from the blood loss.

And my heart has felt more abused than my uterus.

Our society doesn't prepare women for such a loss, but neither does it prepare people for how to react to it. The worst thing you can do is to tell a woman who has just suffered a pregnancy loss that she will have a baby some day. Fuck that, it's absolute bullshit and totally beside the point. The point is, the woman lost that baby. Don't minimize it by making grandiose and insincere promises of more to come when you have absolutely no guarantee (not to mention a medical degree) for such empty assurances. It doesn't ease the pain or provide any comfort at all, it just sounds patronizing.

Consequently, women (or maybe just me) feel isolated. I don't really feel like being cheered up with jokes. I don't really give a shit about Christmas this year. If one more person tells me it just wasn't "the right time," I will personally shove a wristwatch up their ass. I don't need material items to fill the void, and I don't need to hear about your aunt who lost fifteen babies before having quadruplets one summer because she ate raw bacon dipped in chicken shit for three days straight.

I know people mean well, and I'm not singling anyone out who has said any of those things to me personally. (Honestly, I've been in such a daze for three days that I have no idea who has said what or if they said anything at all.) This is what we have to work with for our society, so that's just what comes out. I appreciate all the attempts at trying to make me feel better even if they didn't. My frustration is with how society handles it in general, not individuals in particular.

So what do I need?

I wasn't sure until today. The worst part about this whole thing is that there's no enemy to fight. Someone does you wrong, you can fight back. Even depression is an enemy you can face and punch the shit out of if you really want to. But losing a baby? What the hell am I supposed to do with that? Who the hell do I get mad at? Where's the blame supposed to go?

When I'm hurt and upset, I let it get me for a while. Then I do one of two things: run off or get even, whichever is most appropriate.

I am both hurt and upset right now. And neither of those things is an option.

But sitting around crying and feeling sorry for myself is getting really boring. I mean, I'm trying to do the whole grief thing, I really am, but it's just not my style. Neither do I want to go shopping and have holiday parties because that doesn't sound any better. I'm misanthropic in the best of times, so you can imagine my desire for social activity after all this shit.

What I want to do is take control of myself again. I'm still bleeding like a stuck pig, and it's recommended I "take it easy," and don't have baths or sex to prevent infection.

Well. You know. Fuck that.

I had prepared myself for a whole new life in 2012. Now I am adjusting again to something different. Nothing will be the same, because I am not the same. My edge is sharper, harder, and honed. A loss like this doesn't just carve out your uterus, it cuts scars into who you are.

I've never been one to just "take it easy." The day I got my driver's license, I drove from Maryland to Texas. When I was tired of being teased at school for being a chubby child prodigy, I walked home and declared I wasn't going back. (And I didn't.) Once, a boyfriend I barely remember now broke up with me and so I moved to a different state.

My father died, and I moved to Tennessee to elbow my way through a four year degree in two and a half years. (Figured I'd put it off long enough, might as well get it done quick.)

Tired of sitting around with this grief paralyzing me, I got up and jogged. Fuck the whole shitty mess, I needed my body to move. Death has been pouring out of me for three days, and I cannot abide another minute of not living my life. I jogged and felt oxygen and life pumping back into me. Blood was pumping through my body, not just out of it. I gathered my thoughts, narrating my way through 2.5 miles as I always do when I need to distance myself from stress. It's a great technique, and even those who aren't writers should try it. I did sit-ups, not caring if it hurt. I did push-ups, forcing myself to get strong. My body is mine, and I will take it back from this invasion of death and heartache. I'm sorry I lost my baby, but I refuse to let it define me or take away any more.

The morning of the day my father died, he tried to get up and walk out of the hospital. That's a Kriewaldt for you: you've got to take us down before we'll give up the fight.

These are my fighting words. Maybe they offend you, but they empower me. They give me strength in my isolation, in my quarantine from the world. This is my corner, but when I come out, I'm coming out fighting. I won't be taken down. Not by loss, not by grief, not by the weakness of my body needing to be rebuilt. I may not have a tangible enemy to fight, and there may not be anyone or anything to blame.

Sometimes fighting isn't about what you're fighting, it's about how you're fighting.