On the Saturday of my weekend in Georgia, my Twitter friends (now very much real life friends) and I sat around the fire and had a nice chat. None of us were drunk, but we were feeling pretty good. The weather was absolutely gorgeous the entire time I was there and the evening was no exception. I’m not sure how the conversation came up, but somehow we started talking about Gabriel. I’m very free with that story, because telling it is so important to me. I don’t offer the story anymore, though. I’ve run into way too many people who are uncomfortable with the discussion. These two wonderful people were not among the uncomfortable.
I don’t really want to share the story again here1 or even the other parts of the discussion. I’m very grateful for their understanding and true compassion. I can tell you that much. I was so surprised at how wonderful they were about it. It was a wonderful experience for me, to be honest. Anyway, at some point I mentioned that my pregnancy and Gabriel’s death changed me. Lars asked “How?” That’s a valid question and I wasn’t quite ready to answer at the time2.
I briefly explained my belief that it was somehow a punishment and that I was overwhelmed with guilt because my body crushed my son. As good friends do, they told me it wasn’t my fault. None of it was. Logically I know this, of course. His illness was a fluke. Nothing except the fates caused him to be sick. Except emotionally I can’t get a grasp on that. I still sometimes wonder what could’ve been done3. That’s just how I always will be now.
The entire experience of carrying and then birthing and then saying goodbye to Gabriel was a nightmare. There was not one point after the 18th week of my pregnancy until the 16th week of my pregnancy with Lil’lady that wasn’t torture for me. When I found out Gabriel was going to die I shattered. I was lost the very second I understood what the doctor was saying to me.
“His condition is incompatible with life.”
Now I know what that feels like. I know what the anticipation is like. I know what the reality is like. I know what the grieving feels like. I know what the utter emptiness and loneliness feels like. I’m lucky in that I was able to prepare for my son’s death. Except, well, I had to live with the knowledge for 15 weeks. It was like being at war with myself for that entire time. Everything was horrible. Except Pastor John. He was a godsend. He came to counsel us and I am very thankful for that. He didn’t push the Bible/God thing, but we talked about spirituality. We talked about how any of the gods could do this. What would happen to the baby’s soul. He helped us name Gabriel4. But that wasn’t even good. Just better than the rest of it.
I used to be a lot more confident. I was stronger emotionally. I thought more highly of myself. No one could tame me. I was already a nutter, but I was a nutter on a mission. I was fighting tooth and nail for my own place in the world and pushing people out of the way to get there. I was cold-hearted. I was sly. I was lost in a weird way – just on the edge. I was thinking about moving out west to start a whole new adventure. Or going to Europe. Whichever. I was full of myself and hopeful for the future. I was going to take my kid and go live a great life. That was my plan. Just me and Lil Miss.
My pregnancy with Gabriel was horrible. It was more than depression. More than desperation. More than a struggle. I was defeated. I stopped believing in miracles. I stopped seeing the silver linings. What silver linings? My baby was dying. Because I believed I was fully responsible for this tragic thing, I accepted what I thought was my punishment. I was a horrible person and my gods were raining hell down on my head. I didn’t pray anymore. I stopped laughing. I didn’t dance anymore. I used to sing all the time. I stopped doing that. I refused to socialize. No more going out for me. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was worthless. I put my self away in a box and didn’t bring her back out for 13 years. Lil’lady hadn’t seen me have serious fun until TheMan and I separated. She thought my laughter was weird. For a while she was very uncomfortable with people having fun at our house. That’s how bad it was – my daughter was 12 years old before she saw her mother’s personality. Anyway, the trauma of that experience took so much from me.
There was other things, of course, that cemented the change. My mother’s death, for example. My entire marriage. Stuff like that. But Gabriel’s death did me in. It made me a completely different person. I want to say it was my wakeup call. But not really. I went inside my shell, hid my honest emotions and went through my life… The word escapes me now. I don’t want to say numb. Not really. I found some new things to love while I was being someone else. I was never at a place where I wanted to be dead. I felt like I deserved this kind of life. Lil Miss used to ask me what happened to me5. She saw the change in me and didn’t like it. I didn’t even realize how bad it was until I was ready to come out of that shell again.
Now that I’m free again I don’t really recognize myself. I don’t know how to act. I don’t know what to say. I’m unsure of everything. I feel like a child who has never experienced the world before. I’m overwhelmed really. The person I was before was stronger. She was more capable. She knew exactly what she was doing6. She’d never had been taken advantage of by the first man, let alone the second. That shit wouldn’t have happened had I not changed so drastically. I wouldn’t have lost my husband and home to a Pokémon had I been the person I used to be. I was a real fighter. I didn’t put up with that shit.
I’m also wiser than I was then. I know what happens when you tempt fate. I know what it’s like to have the inside ripped straight out of you. So, I am not so brave as I was before. I’m more timid. I’m weaker willed. I’m trying to regain that hope I lost when that little boy died. I’m trying to remember where my strength came from and how I wielded it. And, honestly, I’m doing a piss poor job of it. I really am. That’s why I’m so thankful for understanding friends. Holy shitballs…
I’m slowly rebuilding myself – from who I used to be and who I am now. I think somewhere in the middle is probably ok. I’m so lucky in that I don’t have to do this by myself. I have a decent, if not huge, support network. There was a point where I felt so alone and didn’t think anyone gave two shits about me. I’ve learned differently now. I am currently in the process of yet another change and, hopefully, this time will be something amazing.
I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.
- It was in my database, but I have to find it. [↩]
- This part always makes me bawl. Always. I was already crying and didn’t want to make it really weird. [↩]
- Nothing at all. I couldn’t have saved him no matter what. [↩]
- Both of his names belong to archangels. [↩]
- She wonders that now as well. Because I’ve changed again. I’m trying to find myself again and keep fucking it all up. [↩]
- Even as I was fucking up I knew I could figure it out. [↩]