Cleansed by the Truth: Finding Freedom in Acknowledgment Amidst Trauma

“Go straight to the heart of danger, for there you will find safety.”

Chinese proverb

I didn’t think I was ready to write about this. But it’s exactly why I felt I needed to, and did…a year and a half ago, where it just sat in my iPhone notes.

This process has taught me that just because you are ready to write your story doesn’t mean you’re ready to tell it. But better late than never…

Naming It 

I had a miscarriage.

As I read those words, it felt like I was reading about someone else’s life. But this fact is now part of my life and my story.

When you read those words, they may carry a different significance…perhaps you’ve been through the same thing, someone in your life has experienced this, or maybe it just strikes a compassionate chord in your heart.

It feels odd to introduce myself to the online wellness world in such a vulnerable and emotionally naked way, but it felt right and I want to thank you for sharing this space with me.

For me, this is about naming and telling the story.

Showing me, you, and us all that you don’t have to harbor traumatic events…a lesson I am learning in real time. That it’s okay to “go back” to the event if need be, and it can be a way to reclaim power in one’s own life.

By revisiting the memories, insight, and clarity can be found and kept forever, even amidst loss.

Pregnancy

This was my first pregnancy.

Only having tried for one month prior (a blessing in and of itself that I did not take for granted) my husband and I were so excited and of course, overwhelmed at the realization that our lives would be forever changed.

I remember the way my gasp sounded in the quiet bathroom when I saw the two pink lines, and then the way my husband and I stared at each other open-mouthed at the truth before us.

We found out at 5 weeks and decided there were a few of our closest family and friends we’d share the news with.

We got a bit creative with my family, my mom in particular because she had lost her mom in her late teens and was unable to experience motherhood with her mom by her side.

I knew it would mean the world to her…so it was no surprise when she shrieked with joy and hugs and tears were in abundance.

“During”

I did as many people do when pregnancy goes from idea to reality. My days included nesting-type house prep and organization, taking walks with my husband, and working on my mental state.

I patted myself on the proverbial back for doing everything I was “supposed to do” to have a happy and healthy pregnancy.

One afternoon I went to the bathroom and, as I always obsessively did, looked for blood. That was my greatest fear.

It was always fine.

Nothing.

But that afternoon, I looked and found…blood.

I felt the panic immediately in my stomach. Though I knew this didn’t always equate to a negative outcome, I just had a bad feeling.

From that point on I sprang into action to figure out what was going on. The doctor assured me that things looked okay when I went in.

But some blood turned into more blood…and a couple of days later, I found myself in a place I will never forget physically and emotionally.

The ordeal was just plain disturbing, realizing what was actually happening with my body. It’s an odd sensation when you feel like you’re living inside your worst nightmare.

There was nowhere to escape.

Maybe for survival reasons out of my control, I don’t remember everything, just moments.

The scene that replays in my mind is when I arrived at the medical facility (one of many times), avoiding eye contact in my fragile state as the greeter welcomed me. My feet took me down the hall.

I remember crying as I sat in the chair for the lab tech to take my blood who quietly, kindly said, 

“Whatever it is, I’m sorry.”

This acknowledgment only made me cry more…weeping as I put my head farther down and gave her my arm. Afterward, I walked out slowly, crouched over in pain and defeat.

I eased myself into the car and took a breath. With my eyes closed, I took another breath.

I felt like in this conscious breath when my body was feeling death and loss. I felt momentary relief.

But this was real and my body made sure I knew that…I had to “listen”. With this awareness, I had the realization that I cannot change this, and the only way out is through, as they say.

It oddly eased some of the compounding suffering, when the pain itself, emotionally and physically, was inevitable.

Fast forward through more phone calls, doctor visits, blood tests, tearful conversations, and anxious moments…the sad truth was my gut instinct that day was right. A kind, soft-spoken nurse called me once there were enough blood test results to confirm what I already knew.

Miscarriage.

“After”

Healthy or not, I often default to the “keep it moving” philosophy. It can’t be working too well if the result is crying in the bathroom at work.

This is something I do to myself, but not necessarily on purpose. I just have always felt like that’s what you do, you keep going…but that ends up analogous to driving a car with a nail in the tire.

You go on like that, and eventually, you’ll break down.

It’s funny because I felt happy to wear a face mask around others, which not only offered me the idea of physical protection, but a way to conceal my smile that was not always as genuine as I’d hoped. Still, I worried people would see the sadness in my eyes.

And though I wanted to quell it, I couldn’t help but hear the sadness in my inner voice.

I’m not one for sympathy (for myself), but the few people in my life who I told about the pregnancy became the same people I had to “untell”.

The pit in my stomach was the physical manifestation that I couldn’t help but feel responsible for the sadness I was going to cause them.

What about my sadness? 

But you do what you have to do.

“Don’t worry. You can try again”

This was a frequent refrain that stung more each time. My husband and I got through each one until we finished the “list”.

Done. But it wasn’t done for me.

Even with an ever-supportive man who I truly believe is “the best”, there is still a loneliness that remains that is mine to bear. Everyone had to make peace with the news, and then probably thought about it less and less as the days went on.

But I’m left “holding the bag”. The empty bag.

I have to live with that empty space. To use another analogy, a book that only went up to chapter one.

It’s a weird feeling, but natural, I am sure, when you’re in the position I’m in.

Try as I might, there are no answers to be gotten. It’s hard to figure out why from a physiological standpoint and an existential one.

Depending on how you view the world, you may come up with an answer.

For me, I believe that I need to make meaning for myself. There are a couple of things I was able to get away with (after several quiet, reflective days at home), and though not a baby, precious nonetheless.

Reflections

I have to be honest. The primal feeling of witnessing the death of a life I made – even if it was only the potential for life – was also watching an innocence in myself die.

No matter the time, space, or emotional progress, I won’t be able to enter my next pregnancy the same. But I’m working towards accepting the fact that peace may be more elusive next time around.

In a matter of a few short years, I had been through just about all the major types of “traumas”…

Major diagnosis.

Divorce.

Moving multiple times.

New jobs.

…but would remark, 

“At least I haven’t been through a death!”

But here I was. Pregnancy and death all in one.

I think in life you are presented with moments when you realize in an almost out-of-body way that you’re on the axis of change. A turning point as sharp as a right angle.

Those moments, for me, are when I’ve been stripped bare of any ego or expectations.

This time that state brought me to gratitude on a deeper level than I ever knew because that was the lowest low I descended into and came out of.

And what was with me was my breath. There were many moments when I felt that was all I had.

When I lost control of what felt like everything else, it was there…a kind presence within my body when I needed it most. That presence, it turned out, was me.

I found myself again in breath.

Breathing is one of the most direct routes back to ourselves. A few focused breaths with mindful intention to just feel your humanity again can bring you back to you.

Even on a more simple level, relief can be found in moments of breath. In reality, it was all I felt I had when this miscarriage tore through my body and soul, leaving a dark emotional scar in its wake.

Finally, whatever the trauma, this core truth has been revealed to me:

Freedom starts with acknowledgment.

Running away from discomfort, sadness, and tragedy is like running with anchors attached to your legs. You will only get so far before you’re jolted back to where you started.

There can be a profound psychological transformation when in the face of the unthinkable we say to ourselves 

“This is happening and I can’t stop it.” 

We are then cleansed by the truth.

As I am now, by having told my truth.

What’s yours?

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