Friday, September 4, 2009

This week

This has been a fucking long week.

Yesterday, I went to the zoo with an very good friend and our babies. Whenever I am in crowds of people, I think, I wonder if I email with someone in this crowd. I wonder who has lost a child, who is part of my tribe, who has howled here and why. What is that family's story? "Do I read your blog?" I want to ask the woman who looked at me knowingly. "Do you have a dead baby?"

During my impressionable late teens, someone said to me that when each of us look in the mirror, we see our flaws, our sins, our scars...I always imagined I had a scar on my forehead from where a mop handle hit me at age 3, but truth be told, only I see that scar, you know, because I know I bled from that spot. Others notice nothing, except a dimple. The other part of that thought is that when other people see you, they see your good features. They see the person you put forward, make up, done hair, contacts...And what we do is compare our flaws with others' perfections.

The beauty about this community is that we talk about our flaws. We come out of our houses in our stained jammies, and with our glasses and sand in our red eyes. We call our flaws by their proper names, and in that way, we lessen their power. We make our flaws our distinctive features.


I try to be honest in this space. I have an almost fanatical devotion to my truth, and then every once in a while, my husband reads this blog and says something like, "The pilot never said the word 'emergency.'"
"On your blog post about our trip to Panama, the pilot never said 'emergency.'"
"That's what I heard."
"Well, he didn't."
"Does it matter?"

And that really is the truth about truth.

Addled and anxious, I heard something different than my calm husband. The end result is the same, we landed, but how we got there is different. Sam experienced some turbulence. I experienced the scariest, most nauseating turbulence of my life. According to Sam, Beatrice stayed in her seat. According to me, if Beatrice hadn't been strapped into her seat, she would have been thrown to the ground. See what I mean? I heard catastrophe, and Sam heard challenge. But that blog post wasn't about what the pilot said. It was about how I felt on our flight home--apocalyptic, scared, anxious, traumatized.

So today, I feel a swirling of guilt, sadness, anger, fear, curiosity...maybe it doesn't matter what the reality is, maybe it is simply each truth that matters in this community.


I see a lot of people retreating from our community right now. Confused. Protecting themselves. Exhausted from the sadness. I understand that impulse. It can be toxic to try to read so much suffering, and discerning the truth between words. I get caught in the thinking that there is one truth and one reality too.

And the other part of retreat is a simple reality of our community. It can be difficult to absorb so much grief and suffering when you are simply treading water in your own life. Besides our own grief, and the grief of others, between bills and work, and a marriage or relationship and a blog, children or much of our hearts are invested here, it seems so risky to get it broken for someone whose first name you might think of as phrase. When we are trying to rebuild our faith in the universe, it doesn't help to get it consistently shattered by tragedy.

What is this place, though? It is an idea. We imagine we are talking around a table, that someone has invited us into their home and is sitting with us. But let's be clear, we are looking at a projection of someone's world. We are looking at the person they chose to show us. I try to be faithful to who I think I am, flaws and all. Fatness and impatience. But I am sometimes much jerkier or actually much cooler than I let on. We all know this about ourselves, why do we not remember it about others?

It is beauty of this community, though, that defines us. Our compassion, our love, and our support of one another that truly matters. Despite someone's ugly thoughts, we still remember their past, their story, their vulnerabilities, their losses...we take into account why, and react with compassion. Wouldn't it be beautiful if we could react to the people in our every day life in that way?

So from my perspective, right now, patience, love, compassion, kindness, trust, and light, those are amazing qualities. This community is beautiful in its instincts. Giving that in the world, whether the person is deserving or not, is the real point. I don't think I will be the same person after this week. Part of my faith in humanity and the universe is both strengthened and shook. I just think that when we reflect on this week as a community, I hope we can see the lightness and beauty of our love rather than the darkness of our fears.


  1. i told a few people IRL mirne's story, by way of explaining why i am having such a shit week. two of them asked me why i read these blogs and if it is a good idea. i know these girls well and the question comes from love and also, of course, not really "getting it".

    so i've been forced a bit to think about why i read these blogs, and my sister said, "well, your choice is to go through this with other women who share your experience, or to go through this alone." true, in the sense that though others love and help me, they don't get it unless they get it.

    and i realized, those questions, is it a good idea to read those blogs, is kind of like someone saying, "is it a good idea to go to that support group? everyone there is so SAD!" or "is it a good idea to go to that AA meeting? they are all a bunch of drunks!" obviously nonsensical.

    on the other hand, one does not go to support group or AA every day. and babylost blogs - the voices of others - are here every day, all day. more and more to be read and processed, at any hour. there is no break, unless i create it. and sometimes, i do need to shield myself. sometimes i need to just go outside.

    so, this is a monster reply. no real coherent thoughts. but truth is not coherent. just sitting with the contradictions right now.


  2. Beautiful post, Angie. Gives me lots to think about. It's weird, I don't feel the need to retreat right now but I have definitely in other times (usually when my life is going ok, oddly enough). When I'm down, the blog universe is like air to me - I need it to survive. xoxo

  3. It's a difficult balance. I often feel the need to retreat but then I am torn because I don't want to turn my back on the women who have given me so much support. But it's hard to manage your own sadness let alone everyone else's. This week has me shattered. I just don't know what to believe in anymore. And honestly, I want to go stick my head in the sand where babies don't die. Still reading, but I feel like I have nothing left to write.

  4. Amen Angie. This is a beautiful post, and sums up much of what I've been thinking about all week.

  5. I work so hard to put forward a reliable, competent, calm self in my day-to-day life. I need to do this at work and I (usually) want to do this for friends and family, but it does mean that I don't talk about Teddy much. This is the community where I get to be honest about missing him every day, and I'm so grateful for that. It makes me feel much less alone, and far less crazy.

    I do wonder if my IRL community were better at grieving, or if I were brave enough to ask them to keep grieving with me, if I'd need to split the truth about who I am between my daily life and my blogging and blog reading. I'm guessing that I still would, but I don't know.

    We're all pre-bruised, and it's not strange to want to curl up and protect ourselves. But this week I've been feeling an urge to cling, to hold metaphorical hands and hear other voices saying, yes this is awful, as awful as you think it is. And it helps, strangely enough, to see that other people are shaken, their faith and trust unsettled much as mine have been.

  6. This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for writing it. I've been glued to the computer all week, reading mostly, commenting sometimes, but feeling paralyzed to write. The death of sweet Jet has shaken my faith. I also feel like I will never be the same. I know too much. I don't know what to believe anymore. I'm afraid to have hope, but also afraid to lose it.

    I've been amazed at the love and support pouring out from our community this week. While I never wanted to join this community, I am so grateful it exists. Despite that many of us have been quiet and some, like Carly, have announced their decision to retreat, I feel as though we are growing together this week. This new tragedy is another common bond. I hope in the weeks to come, together we we will learn how to face our new fears, how to still have hope.

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  8. God Angie you wrote my brain again - except so much more gracefully than I ever could.

    I love, love, love this post.

    Someone once said to me that when two people talk there are actually six people at the table: how I see me, how I see you, how you see me, how you see yourself, and how we both truly are.

    I've been pround of myself this week, but also very disappointed. I'm not sure what it says that I've managed to make these events all about, but I'm pretty sure it's nothing good.

    I'm also going to be doing some re-evaluating. I hope that lightness and beauty and love is what we continue to give and receive. I think I have a lot to work on here.

  9. Beautiful, insightful post.

    I have felt the tug to flee a few times - but I feel the need to flee from my reading, not my writing. I can't escape my own reality. And so I keep reading, too. To be fair, I suppose.

  10. Just a brilliant post. Not much else to say Angie.

  11. Yep, that's about right Angie. Great post.

  12. Beautiful words and thoughts. And ever so true. I think we all giove what we can when we can and take what we need when we need it. And then of course, we hope like hell 'it' will be there when we do need, 'it'. The beauty of this place so full of heartache and loss is that it is also so full of hope and support and healing and honesty, all things we need and can't always get irl.
    I can't imaine my life without this place and yet...I want to not need it, to not know about it, to go back to the innocent days but I know I can't. It is who I am. I guess the making it 'fit' part just continues to evolve...forever.

  13. I ebb and flow -- usually with my own words -- but try and keep reading. I guess I feel some sort of obligation. And perhaps after two years of being here, I've steeled myself to it -- that or I've learned not to invest myself in every story. In other words, I don't feel so much shaken as perhaps stirred.

    Your post tho, does put a spotlight on how tight this community is, for better or worse. And that I think in the end can only be a good thing.

  14. Beautiful. Everyone should read this.

  15. I've been thinking about this post since I first read it a couple of days ago. I wish I could get to the root of things like you do Angie.

    The truth is a nebulous thing. Even when you try to stick to it, it slips away from you. Memory, self-preservation, many things insert themselves in the way. Perhaps particularly when you are trying to reflect upon yourself. And then what you intended is refracted through someone else reading text. With no real interaction, no intonation, no opportunity to quickly back track or explain. It is not surprising we end up with a multiplicity of 'truths' or projections.

    I guess that I use my own blog to say the bits and pieces that I can't speak aloud. So bizarrely I post them up on the internet for the whole world to see. Why I would choose to do that I cannot fathom.

    As I said, I wish I could get to the root of things like you do Angie! xo
    I agree with all the comments here.

  16. I hope your right. I hope we will see strength after this week. Right now i can just see sadness.

  17. great post ang- i'm one of the retreaters, but its b/c i've been having a really tough week myself- and all the other stuff on top of it almost threw me over the edge. i had to step away for a bit.

    i like what clc said- i always feel that when i step away, i'm neglecting all those who support me. its a hard balance- because obviously i need to take care of myself first. but i need all you others out there too.

    thanks for this- so beautifully written.

  18. Wow, lots of zingers in this post. Let me pick just one of your little pools of insight to focus on. The one about your fanatical devotion to truth in blogging really resonates with me. I remmeber when I started to write a KuKd memoir. I was telling a friend of mine H - a literary English-major type who rolls his own cigarettes and stuff - how hard it was to spin out stories of the past in a purely crystalline-truthful manner. This was after Kevin, of course, called me out on something similar as your man did: "wait, that's not exactly how it happened." Here's what H said: you remember that book Million Little Pieces where the author got busted for making shit up? H said when the literary community heard that, they were all like, well of COURSE he made that shit up! That's what any memoir does: makes shit up! He just happened to get caught. His of course was different, as he was making up whole events, but still. Same concept, in my mind. That made me feel better about how I recount events in my memoir AND my blog. It's like, nobody is ever writing stuff down as it happens, precise dialogue. So you do your best, extract the meaning of what happened, and put it into your own words, reconstructing in a way that distills a story down to its key meaning.

    There, isn't that a nice way to think about things? :-)


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