Whew. So, was that the most depressing post ever, or what? Thank you for showing up here to read it, and for all of your really lovely and compassionate comments. I appreciate them, every one. And I think it was good for me to get all that out there, even so publicly, though as soon as hit publish I worried one just wasn't supposed to be so honest. The next morning I woke up feeling better, and mostly that's held. I still have bouts of sadness--usually once a day, to be real--but I'm able to have a bit more perspective over all, and I'm learning what's essential to my sanity.
Not long before I got put on bed rest, I heard about a Buddhist meditation practice that involves the simple question, "Who am I?" asked over and over again. It's asked not with the intention to answer it, per se, but to peel back everything that surfaces that's not really an answer. That idea has been in my head a lot lately, as I navigate this new reality. It feels like I'm enacting a tangible version of that meditation, though it doesn't always feel meditative. Who am I without blank, blank, blank, blank, and blank, which are no longer options? Who am I if all I can do is lie here? I can't tell you I know the answer yet, but thinking of it this way makes me more open to what the experience has to teach me. This seems a better place to be, this thinking of what I'm meant to learn. I once heard a Jewish religious leader talk about going through his father's death, or something equally difficult, and resolving through prayer that he would not let the experience go until he knew what it had to teach him, and he made it sound like he knew he'd really need to wrestle with it, take it between his teeth and fight until it yielded its truth. This feels a bit like that.
Shall I tell you what I suspect I'm to learn so far?
*Yielding control. I've been working on learning this for awhile anyway, but it seems like I've gotten a crash course in it over the last week or so. Very little is in my control right now. I can't control the outcome of the pregnancy; I can't control how (or if) the laundry gets done; I can't control how badly my floor needs to be vacuumed when we have visitors. Aside from the overarching worry for the baby, these are things that I fret about in my normal life, and it's been rather incredible to watch how small they become, how little they matter when they simple can't matter. I could spend a lot of time lamenting each of those items, and sometimes I do. But I feel better if I don't. It's clear how ineffectual it is to fret them. Prayer helps.
*Opening my heart. Though I really love my friends and love social interaction, there's a part of me that resists it. If given the choice, I usually prefer to be alone, or with someone I'm very comfortable with (i.e. Sam, and my cats). Most social interaction frightens me, and I've sensed in myself a sort of closed heart, a lack of willingness to really engage with people, to let myself be close or be loved or to love. I've been working on this for awhile too, but nothing has shifted it like the last few weeks. It was almost immediately clear that a day when I failed to reach out by phone and I chose not to answer when someone reached out to me, and when no one visited, I was(am) doomed to despair. My friends have overwhelmed me with their kindness over the last few weeks. They've come and sat on my couch and listened to the details of my baby worry, and then talked with me about stuff that has nothing to do with Baby at all, which is a relief. They've brought me meals and snacks and movies and magazines and books. They've called and emailed and Facebooked; they've prayed for us; they've given me blessings and brought the sacrament to my home; they've poured out love and support--more than I ever could have suspected I deserved. And still, I'll tell you, when someone first offers to visit or help, when my phone first rings, the voice in my head says, "No, I'm fine." I'm fine I'm fine I'm fine. And this experience, more than any other, has given me practice in dismissing that voice, dismissing whatever fear I have, and saying yes, please, come by, thank you so much, I would love to see you, any time, I'm here. What precious and life-saving afternoons and evenings I've spent because I've been dismissing that voice. I literally had no idea I was so loved, or even had the potential to be so loved.
*Finding What Helps. I've begun to develop a list of what I actually need to do in order to keep my sanity, and the list is small and humble. One is to talk to someone, as I explained above. Another is to shower and put makeup on and real clothes. This task always seems pointless, since I'm not going anywhere. But sitting in my stink, feeling ugly and unkempt, is a surefire way to ruin my day. The nature of my beauty-process has changed, for sure. I don't blow-dry my hair (can't stand up for so long), and all I really want to wear are unfussy (mostly knit) dresses, so I have closets of pretty clothes and jewelry and shoes that are wasting away without me right now, and a handful more of these unfussy dresses on their way from Target. Aside from that, it helps if I work on my own writing projects, if I write in my journal, if I blog, if I read my scriptures and my other meaningful books, if I read poetry. I can do those things as lethargically or half-heartedly as I please, but if I touch them, even in a small way, they help me feel better. I'm also learning it helps tremendously to have something to do with my hands. I'm hand-binding a quilt I started before all this happened, and though I can hardly sew a straight line, I'm loving getting lost in the rhythm of it, and how easy it makes it to sit for longer, and astonishing that you can actually do this thing by hand, and low and behold, it stays! I'm finding I'm not naturally a television watcher, but sometimes I need it, and I can watch just about anything if I'm doing something with my hands. This week a friend is coming to teach me to crochet, and I'm planning a very bright and gorgeous crocheted blanket for Baby. What else helps? Prayer. A lot of praying, over here.
I think that will do for now, and forgive me for such a long post. I figured I owed it to those of you who read and were concerned to know I didn't stay there forever, though I still visit that head space more than I'd like. Thank you again for reading, and for every kind thought and word.