Sunday, 24 May 2015

Things I Know

This is not me saying that I have the answers to life.  Or any answers really.  This is just me coming to several realizations due to some conversations that I've had recently.  Some amazing, important realizations.  I have never actually said any of them out loud.  They may not even matter to anyone else, as they are really just to do with me.  But here they are anyways.

I know how people saw me as I grew up.  I was always that cute, happy little girl.  Her parents were a mixed race couple.  They were low income.  They also drank too much.

We didn't have any of the "cool" new toys, but instead always had to settle for hand me downs.  I got my first Barbie when I was 12.  I couldn't even fathom what I was supposed to do with it.  Side note:  I am SOOO not a girly girly.  I also grew up the only girl in a neighbourhood filled with boys, with a forest as my play fort.


I didn't have a lot of friends because of all of the above things.  

My extended family was pretty diverse.  My Dad's sisters were pretty straight laced.  His brothers were a pretty mixed bunch.  My one uncle always had a beer in his hand and a grin on his face.  His other brother could fix anything.  He'd explain to you how he did it too, but after the first hour, you'd kind of tune him out.  And his youngest brother was gay.  

My Mom's family was insanely complicated.  Her birth mother had so many kids, we are still finding out about them.  So between her blood brothers and sisters, and her adopted ones, we covered all the bases.  Catholic, rich, gay, broke, rancher, city, straight laced, and addicted.  Yep, even transgender.  

There really wasn't much I didn't learn about while growing up.  

I've written on here before about my amazing, one of a kind family, but due to some recent coversations, I've come to realize a few important things.  

First, all those things I just said...thats how others looked at me.  And some of those people who knew me when I was little probably still do.  

But that doesn't mean that I looked at myself that way.  I had parents who made some less than stellar choices.  And so did a lot of the people they brought into our lives.  But they also loved us unconditionally.  So much so, that I never really had to question what other people thought of me.    Being loved unconditionally does something to a person - it gives them the confidence to find out who they are, and to make mistakes along the way.  I won't lie, it bothered me now and again, that I wasn't like everyone else.

Until I learned to own who I was.  Not who my parents were, or my uncles, or aunts, or friends.  I am me.  And I too make mistakes.  I am a "christian".  I say it that way because I absolutely do not think I am better than someone else because I sin differently than they do.  I am a hoarder of craft supplies.  I am a wife, mother, daughter sister and friend.  I have a  carbonated-caffiene addiction.  I am an introvert.  I am opinionated.  That's okay.  But the only decisions I have to own up to are my own.  

And all those people in my life, my family and friends growing up.  Those people that always had a beer in their hand, or told amazingly long stories.  I wouldn't trade a single one of them in for all the money in the world.  I have lost many of them, but still think of them with a smile on my face.  Those wonderful people who are such an integral part of who I am today.

I had another stigma attached to me as I got a little older.  I was that girl who had a gay brother.  You see, I'd grown up with such a diverse group of people that I knew that it isn't something that you could catch.  This isn't a group of door to door people trying to convert you to their way of thinking.  These were just people.  It isn't something you can catch.  And so, since my brother's sex life really isn't any of my business, he was just my brother.  And its just one part of who he is.  Imagine if your sex life was your identity... What if that was the only thing they saw when they looked at you?  

These aren't the only things people saw when they didn't bother to look at me instead of those around me.  But that isn't the moral of this story.   

I was talking to some people this week that are quite concerned that the ones they love are associating themselves with people who are not "like them".  People who have made decisions that are not "approved" of.  The very people that Jesus himself came for.  

And I realized something really important.  This diverse, challenging childhood I had - it was the best thing my parents could have done for me.  I'm not condoning the alcohol or anyone else's life choices.  That's not my place.  Those are their decisions, and that is all a part of what makes them who they are.  They are a result of the path that they have walked and the decisions they have made along the way.  And since I haven't walked their path, I don't get to have a say in any of the decisions they've made.  

I am not perfect.  Not on any given day can I say that I did everything right.  And as a believer of Jesus, I don't have to be perfect.  I believe that I am a work in progress from the time I am born to the time I die.  And as long as I am striving to be better than I was yesterday, thats all I need to do.  Wait, maybe not.  You see, I need to not compare myself to others.  I need to not look down on them, thinking that "at least I didn't to THAT", while giving myself a pat on the back.  I need to realize that I am not called to judge anyone.  I need to be available to the people in my life to LOVE them.  UNCONDITIONALLY.  I need to be willing to show love to those that cross my path, partly because I have no idea how they got where they are today, but partly because as someone who believes in heaven, I may be the only example of what the church is to them.  I have the opportunity to show them that I am a christian, an imperfect, broken, work in progress christian.  And that no matter what I did yesterday, God loves me.  Just like he loves that person in front of me.  EXACTLY THE SAME.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

12 Things NOT to Say to Someone Who Has Had a Miscarriage

1. God only wanted you to have this gift for that amount of time. 

While I am not saying this isn't true, chances are pretty good that those of us who have had a miscarriage may be a little angry at having been given this gift and then it being taken away. 

2. You can start trying again right away. 

Again, this is a true statement, as long as there are no other complications. But really, we just went through one of the most devastating things a parent can go through, so the risk of it happening again may not cheer us up the way you think it might. 

3. In the case of a blighted ovum, like I had, telling me there was never something there, the WRONG thing to say. 

First of all, you never know how far the baby actually did develop, whether there was an actual heartbeat or not. And as soon as that stick shows you are pregnant, there's a baby in your heart. So when you lose the pregnancy, that baby who lives in your heart, who you have been holding and feeding disappears. There WAS a baby. 

4.  How are you?

Seriously?  Give your head a shake. I don't exactly want to scream from the rooftops how fabulous my life is right now if you get what I mean. I just lost a child. I am devastated and if you had to call to ask, then I am NOT alright. And the last thing I want to do is have an awkward conversation with you, trying to pretend all the questions you are asking me aren't ripping my heart out piece by piece. 

5.  Is there anything I can do?

I know this is asked out of concern. But most people know what is included in day to day life. Laundry needs to be done, floors need to be swept, dinner needs to be cooked. These are not things I care about right now. I am merely trying to take it 5 minutes, 1 hour or 1 day at a time. If you want to help, drop off a meal. Ask if you can come by and help with laundry or housework.  Be specific in the way you would like to help. The world is so big and scary to us right now that when you ask if there is anything you can do, all we can think is "can you bring my baby back? Nope. So there is nothing you can do."  

6.  Why did this happen?

I have no idea. And that thought scares the heck out of me. Did I do something?  Am I being punished?  Am I not a good enough parent to deserve another gift from God?  With the availability of the Internet, please just google it. That's what I've been doing, so you'll have exactly the same answers as me. 

7.  Is it preventable?

Really, ask google. All this question does is make us feel like we are somehow so careless that we wanted this to happen or that we did something to deserve it. If we could have prevented it, we would. 

8. I need to talk to that husband of yours. 

Believe it or not, someone actually said this to me. Because, you know, he somehow wanted this to happen so you need to discuss why it happened with him. Oh wait, he just lost a baby too. And since he is really just a bystander in all of this, what exactly do you think he had control over in all of this?  His job as he husband is to deliver to us whatever we are craving, hold our hand through all the morning sickness and suffer the brunt of our mood swings. He can't fix this, as all men are programmed to want to do. He can't make the baby magically appear. He can't un-break our hearts. And society makes him feel like he has to bottle all of his hurt inside of him otherwise he isn't a real man. So maybe you should respect that this is a loss for him too. 

9. Why haven't I heard from you?

Are you honestly going to make this about you?

Really, just like us not wanting to be asked if we are okay, or what happened, or if we need anything, asking why we are avoiding the public as a whole, you included, as if we somehow need to make you feel better, is not what we need right now. I don't need to feel guilty about how you are feeling right now. If you have been through this, then you most likely understand we are just doing the best we can to move on as best we can. In our own way. Which leads me to #10. 

10.  I understand how you feel. 

Unless you have had this same experience, don't say you understand. There is nothing to compare to this. And until you walk this path, you have no idea. 

11.  I don't like to hear that. 

Yes, this was actually said to me by my boss.  Repeatedly. In my head, I am screaming (sarcastically), "Really?  I was ecstatic to hear the news!"  Dumbass. Once again, the last thing I feel like doing right now is making someone else feel better. There are few times in a woman's life where it's all about her. Her wedding day, and when she loses a child. She doesn't want to hear how hard this is on you. She doesn't want you to call her crying and try to make you feel alright. 

12.  At least you already have kids

While god has blessed me with two children that I get to kiss goodnight, in no way does this make the loss of a child hurt less. I am lucky in the sense that while many women never get to hold their children on this earth, it does not change the fact that while I got to hold this child in my heart, I will not get to hold this precious gift in my arms. This is not a case of at least you still have another car to get you back and forth, this was a life, no matter how short it was. 

I'm certain there are many more things that could be added to this list. This was just one persons experience. And it's an awful, terrifying, heartbreaking experience. This is not something I would wish on anyone. 

When I had my miscarriage, I dealt with it the only way I knew how. One step at a time. Sometimes I felt more like I was crawling than actually walking, other times, I went much faster. I remember hating to see pregnant women. Wondering why they got to still be pregnant and I didn't. I remember holding a friends baby just a few days after as she told me about her miscarriage experiences (yes, multiple, she is that badass), with tears in her eyes, not wanting the fact that she had a baby in her house to hurt me in any way. And I remember her telling me that maybe, just maybe if her pain could lessen mine, then maybe it was a little more worthwhile. Not that it made it alright by any means, but at least she could help someone else through their struggle. 

If you are reading this, then I pray for you. I pray that you will find strength in those around you while your heart heals.  I pray that the people around you will help you heal in the exact way YOU need to, not the way they think you should. And most of all, I pray that you have peace knowing that you did not cause this. You are an amazing person. A beautiful, wonderful child of God. And he loves you. More than you can ever imagine. If you let him, he will get you through this. He can take the anger, the questions and the pain. And he will always love you.