Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free Therapy

When I decided to start this blog, my initial reaction was to make it anonymous. Hence, the monikers.  But then I worried, what if no one reads it. I have things that I want to say and want validated, but struggle with saying them out loud. So I am feeling a little stuck. 

Do I, "Empower" myself  (Can't tell you how many times I've used the word empowered over the last 10 years. It actually makes me laugh a little.) and tell anyone who will listen that this is what I'm living with. Or.  Muddle through it.

It is the most ironic position for a former family therapist/social worker. Throughout my career as a well paid social worker,  I've talked with patients and their families about some pretty devastating things. Think telling a parent that their 20-something year old,  4.0 student who is a musical prodigy, just had a classic psychotic break and will never return to their former level of functioning or explaining to a mom that her haunch was correct and her child had been the victim of assault.  Then guide those parents in processing this diagnosis, situations, feelings. The stories I have are endless, but just imagine, this is what I did. Day in, Day out. Let's talk, let's communicate, let's remember to use "I" statements. 

But talk with the average peer/family member/mom at nursery school about this. Yeah, totally-tongue tied. Deerinheadlights when someone asks me when I'm giving Toddler T a sibling. (Um, when I get on the right protocol and say several Novena's to Saint Gerard)

I attribute this inability to communicate to a few factors. 

  1. People are generally uncomfortable talking about something that is typically a private affair between two parties. 
  2. People are soemthimes looking for an 'out' to this converation and quickly say "just relax, nature will take its course" or "oh course it will happen, enjoy what you have in the meantime." Because it is not a comfortable topic to discuss.
  3. People are very unsure about talking about miscarriage and what type of attachment you had. IE Fetus vs. Baby. 
  4. People like happy endings and thinking about a sad outcome is too much. (Face it, how badly did you want Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn's characters to get back together in The Break-Up?) 
  5. This list could go on and on. But please take note, my reasons for these conversations going awry are positive.
  6. OK- I can't resist, some people are just inconsiderate. (Wheezy - that's for you)
And you are thinking, how does this relate to the title of the post?  

As I mentioned, this was originally going to be anonymous, but I still craved some validation. So, I sent the link to some of the closest people in my circle and to a few that I thought would appreciate the view into what was going on in the T household. A friend wrote back some kind words and said that at the very least its 'free therapy'. Couldn't be more true. 

Before this was launched, I did my due-diligence. I researched acupuncture and mindfulness. Sure I could lose a few lbs (Christmas cookies, be damned) And I even once saw a counselor. But these were not what I needed.  I have Toddler T. How could, I justify spending more money and asking family members to babysit even more (not that they complained) so I could sit and have needles poked in me and someone coach me on relaxing. Just thinking about it made my stress level rise.  And for the record, the counselor meant well.  But I fought the urge to punch this gal in the throat when she asked me to tell her about losing my baby. She was talking the remnants of ectopic #1. I heard  'tell me about losing your baby' and only thought  of Toddler T.

As far as patient, counselor moments go.. that was pretty damn awkward. But, I completed my 3 free sessions with her through my then-employer's EAP plan. (If you are working and think you might want to explore the idea of counseling, check with your employer. You may just have access to FREE sessions.) And aside from our glitch, Counselor was very empathic and helped me process the previous medical drama in my life.

I guess I have three messages here:  

One, if you are dealing with something that seems bigger than you, get involved in something that eases that load, exercise, counseling, being more social, writing, meditating, acupuncture. You get the point. Try to keep it on the positive side, drinking, shopping and opening up multiple credit cards, avoiding people, avoiding food, will never get you anywhere good.  An evening watching A&E will teach you that.

Two, if someone attempts to share with you her or his (dad's are impacted too), experience with infertility, secondary infertility, miscarriage or infant loss,  listen and breathe. We are struggling just as much as you are to get through the conversation.

Three, listen some more. I told Counselor that I was not attached to the first pregnancy. I did not equate that loss with the loss of life, other than my own. Therefore, the her misguided but well-intentioned request to describe the loss of my baby was more than I can bear. Toddler T is alive and healthy and the center of the T world. He is my baby. End of story. This reaction is 100% situational. Anyone who has experienced miscarriage will have a different reaction and will process that loss differently. So again, listen.

For the record, I am finding this semi-anonymous blog a good way to feel both empowered and less muddled. And, our families are doing a pretty fantastic job of being amazingly supportive.


  1. Glad you are getting some good support from your families! That doesn't always happen!
    ... and I think that being able to talk about horrible things that are happening to other people in no way means it's easy for you to talk about things that are happening TO YOU.

    I shared my anonymous blog url with a few people in know IRL... I've regretted it a few times as it meant not being able to blog about something that had to do with them, actually, but on the other hand it's been an awesome way to keep in touch about deeply personal things with close friends. Which is why I shared the url in the first place.

  2. I truly am enjoying reading your blog...and i'm so glad its helping you muddle through! Wishing the entire "T" family a wonderful holiday :)

  3. Well said...the human soul is not built to withstand this sort of loss (and yes, it is a loss no matter how you view it...it's the loss of being able to do something you always thought you'd inherently be able to do) without some sort of support system. I hope that you've found yours and feel comfortable with sharing.

    It's also a great way to document those things that you will inevitably forget! Trust me...I've forgotten a lot and thank God I have my blog to remind me of some of the better times and some of the worse times.