Here are some brigade-generated questions and my answers.
1. Is the way Emilia quantifies loss similar to what we all do? (i.e. her reactions to the miscarriages of a friend and the number of names on a heart of another participant at the walk) Why or why don’t we do this?
I remember as a child when I was first introduced to the concept of quantifying pain. There was a game show called Queen for a Day. From what I remember, whoever told the greatest sob story won a washer/dryer.
This seemed ridiculous to me. Trying to be miserable. Cheering miserable people on in their misery. Celebrating it.
Nevertheless, I became hooked on misery. I, too, became a victim (but it was the show’s fault — not mine) and took on the patterns of these 1970s desperate housewives. I looked for all sorts of ways to notify people of my misery, to gain sympathy and to be relieved of responsibility. Don’t blame me. It’s the asthma. It was an unfair test. That teacher has it in for me. I just don’t feel well.
(I am a recovering victim. I try each moment to live more consciously and without these subconscious and sabotaging patterns.)
Now I’m active on adoption chat boards. Boy, do we love to not only quantify but also compare pain. Who’s got it worse: the adoptee, the firstparent, or the infertile? Heated arguments erupt every couple of weeks as we vie for the prize.
Why? Perhaps the belief is that the person with the weightiest pain carries the weightiest words.
And maybe even wins a washer/dryer.
2. Emilia obviously deals with some self-destructive tendencies. Can you relate to her feelings? Have you dealt with self-destructive feelings on your journey to parenthood?
My tendencies were of omission rather than commission. I didn’t do anything to hurt my life, but I did experience a months-long malaise I called my failure to thrive. Living seemed pointless without being able to become pregnant, deliver a baby, and raise a family.
If I could have willed my heart to stop beating, I would have. But I was too chicken to actually hurt myself.
I recall two severely twisted thoughts from this time. On my “peanut butter days,” I fantasized about eating a spoonful of this common substance that would swell my throat shut within minutes. A little discomfort to end the pain.
Also, we were living in Syria at the time, where there are no pump-it-yourself gas stations. The attendant who pumped gas into my Volvo always did so with a lit cigarette perched between his lips. I usually avoided filling the car up, but during my “failure to thrive” spell, I actually looked forward to trips to the gas station. I wondered if the combination of the cherry and the petrol would end the pain of IF.
Not exactly self-destructive tendencies, but not much in the way of self-preservation, either. Just enough to get by, though.
Glad I managed to survive my failure to thrive. I’d have missed out on so much.
3. Did you find it hard to relate to Emilia when she said a miscarriage was simply DNA floating around in a toilet bowl? Did it seem like she didn’t give miscarriers the right to grieve when she was appalled by the women wearing stars with m/c dates and names?
See, I never even got to the point of miscarrying. I was so focused on conceiving that I thought a miscarriage would be a step forward. For Emilia, it was a step back.
So whose pain is greater? Mine always is to me.
Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston (with author participation).