Sunday, September 30, 2012


You are nothing without your integrity, I say to my daughter after the neighbor girl tells me that she lied about something meaningless.

She looks at me, confused. I say nothing but that.

She is five.

It feels brutal after it is out there. I don't want to be brutal to my daughter, nor do I want to be strict or shaming. And I think about the way that my writing has been brutal, strict, and shaming and in that way, perhaps, lacks integrity. I don't think brutal and honesty need to go together, but there is a reason they often do. I strive for honesty without the brutality, but I fail often. Honesty can sound brutal when it isn't your truth. And that is the thing. I believe in honesty, but I don't believe in truth.

It is true in my grief I expected people to be flawless while I tattooed my flaws on my body, or carved them into palo santo, written in sanskrit, burnt them with incense and Buddhist chants then wrote a post about it. I strive not to be brutal anymore, not to be exacting, but alone, I find myself falling into the habit of deep judgment, silently writing scathing biographies of people who hurt me years ago. I no longer write out that judgment in a public forum, true, but I catch myself nonetheless. Big changes happen slowly, I remind myself. Sometimes, it is as though my release of those habits was nothing more than an exercise in who I wish to be, rather than who I am. Other times, it feels permanent and enlightened. And maybe that is the secret of the universe, we must suffer through changing--one step forward, two steps back. We may like who we are becoming, but we cannot force that woman into existence before her time. Now, I turn the anger into a prayer for those people to have everything I want for myself.


It is the full moon. It is the time of releasing old patterns, opening doors to healing, banishing unwanted influences. And so I need to make amends to you, so I can stay sober and write comfortably and look you in the eye.

I have let many people down through my writing.

I think it is part of the reason I want to walk away from here, because it is so exhausting. I cannot make it right, and I cannot make it without writing. I get caught up in a story, I admit. I am prone to exaggerating, and following an analogy to the point of absurdity. I always assumed all my readers liked that about my writing. I have always thought that if I don't write about my truth, my world, my experience, I have nothing to write about. When I wrote of certain friendships where I was hurt and sad and felt absolutely brutalized, I generalized and exaggerated. I do that. I know I do. My feelings of isolation were exaggerated and not entirely true. I mean, it was true about those friendships, but not all my friendships. And that is just it. I wrote about my truth, not THE truth.

For example, when I wrote pieces like Ghost Town, it was not literally true that everyone left, but rather that I felt that way. I felt abandoned. I felt alone. I felt patronized by people. Those people are no longer in my life and hadn't been for a long time. I have friends. Old friends. Some friends I would talk to about that very experience, my sister for example. I talk to my sister at least once a day, more like two or three. So was I isolated? Truly isolated? Of course not. Talking to her is like talking to myself, I say to her. She nods and says she knows. And sometimes old, good friends are like that too. I apologize to S. for that, if she reads here even, and D. And others, all my babylost friends too. There were people there, and the people there felt abandoned when I wrote that I was abandoned. It was a cycle I started, not them. That has always been my fear.

What I fear, I become. I repeat to myself endlessly. I forgive myself, but I know other people's forgiveness is not so easily come by.

I cannot take back the hurt I caused people. I ultimately hurt me, probably more deeply than anyone. Those people could walk away from my brutality, but I can't walk away from me. I have tried through the years to mention it in posts, take responsibility for where I failed my friendships, not where they failed me. Certainly, that was the intention of Ghost Town, but I fear people just heard the latter.

I apologize if you felt beat up in my writing. If you were there, I remembered. If we argued, I know our conflicts were not black or white. That is how I saw the world after Lucia died, but I can see how misguided and unfair that is to everyone. I trusted and assumed that blog writing was given a free pass to explore my dark emotions. That wasn't fair either.

The truth is I felt isolated for a long time before Lucia died. I have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. Before going into recovery, I thought it was her death that pushed people away. I acted like a victim, because that is what I felt like--a victim of life. It is part of my disease. I no longer live my life that way. I can see now that I victimized people, rather than the other way around.

I wrote publicly about my friendships, and I need to apologize publicly. I didn't feel I could write here again if I didn't write that. I guess it is a pitiful amends to the world of people I hurt. Private apologies clearly are only heard by one people, when all the people judged with me. I appreciate the unconditional support my fellow babylost mothers and fathers have given me here throughout the years, despite how poorly I behaved, but I know it hurt people outside this community to read those comments at times.

I make the vow to first weigh my writing's effect on others, to squelch the tendency towards exaggeration, to talk to people in my life, directly, if their behavior has hurt my feelings, to write in a way that is both honest and with integrity. Public art needs to have a certain ego behind it. We believe in ourselves enough to put it out there regardless of reaction. I am spiritually working on balancing the ego and writing as best I can. Writing publicly has taken its toll on me emotionally, but that suffering is pushing me towards being a better woman, friend, artist, writer, wife, and mother. I have to believe it is.

I am writing here now about more than just grief. I have made that vow for a long time, and never quite followed through with it. My spiritual path has been impossible to ignore, my artwork can no longer live on another blog entirely. Everything is getting integrated into this space. I have been working on this growth and grief publicly for almost four years now. It has been painful and torturous to go through the brutality of writing about things that should have perhaps been kept private. I made those mistakes, and I can only move forward, changing the way I write and protect people in the future.

My daughter is five and she is learning about others through me. What would she learn through my writing in the last four years? What would she learn about how to treat friends and those suffering? That only I can suffer and be human, and make mistakes? That everyone else needs to be perfect, so I can misbehave? I have failed her in that way, and you too. And for that, I am sorry.

I have wrapped my arms around me, and whispered in my ear. It is a delicate kind sentence...If you don't have your integrity, Angie, you don't have anything.


  1. Dear Angie, I am not someone who feels hurt by you or your writing. But I am a reader of your blog, your other writing and a recipient all of your work at Glow in the Woods.

    I am sorry your words and actions have hurt people. As people, we do that to each other. You have looked at and accepted your part, your side of the hurt. Let me accept mine.

    Forgiven. With Love.

    Jill A.

    P.S. Looking forward with great interest to where your blog goes!

  2. Angie, your blog looks great. I love the new look, and I'm glad you are integrating all of your work here.
    fwiw I wish I could be so brutal with myself that you are here.
    Love to you. x

    1. Thank you for the kind words on the redesign. Totally needed a new look. xo

  3. I have read many posts from you that talk about the way your writing may have or did hurt people. How you pushed people away while feeling abandoned...
    I have tried to remember your words, carry them like a torch ahead of me. I tried to think of them when I felt like pushing people away, when feeling like I had been left by "everyone", like I was all alone in my misery.

    The thing is that those feelings which seem to be universally felt by people who have had a child die just have to be worked through, whether constructively or destructively. Our pain is so great that it is hard to see past it. We are so tied to the vortex of death that swirls in and consumes our hearts and heads, other people’s feelings are merely shrapnel in our grief. People are ignorant to our pain, even when they try to be loving and understanding. The death of my child is and was isolating which is why this community is so important to me.

    I guess what I am saying is that even when you were writing things that were hurtful I still think you had integrity. Even when the words you wrote didn't seem like the truth. The feelings were valid. I hope you know that you have HELPED MORE PEOPLE THAN YOU HAVE HURT.

    I am still not in a position to forgive the way you have...others or myself. I have moments where I think maybe someday I will be able to but when I go to the thoughts and feelings I realize I am still angry, I am more angry/sad that my daughter died than the way people reacted but the reaction continues to be a thorn in my memory that won't be removed. I hold onto the pain of abandonment and use it to distance myself. The birth of my second daughter raises other frustrations and feelings when people try to show up when they have been absent; the anger that is raised secondarily to the reaction to Harlow's birth juxtaposed with the death of Camille is difficult to navigate.

    Your post Ghost Town felt like you looked into my soul and removed words I would never be able to find. I never commented on it but read it many times. I FELT that piece of writing so deeply.

    I know we all have our own path. I try and use other people's paths, like yours, to help me not make the “mistakes” others have made, but MY integrity is also working through it all and feeling it all until I get to a different place.
    I am so glad you are growing and changing. I am changing for sure, I hope growth and goodness comes from it.

    1. Renel,

      I cannot tell you how much this comment means to me. Every post I have written, I felt compelled to write at the time. They felt pulled out of me. With Ghost Town, I felt like I had this conversation with so many of the women here. We whisper about our friendships and the feelings of isolation, yet it seems like very few people talk publicly about the way their friendships let them down. I had written about that before, but I never wrote about the way I let down my friendships.

      I believe on this blog and in my real life, I did the absolute best I could do under the circumstances. Was it always enough? No, not always. And I understand why people resist writing about friendships, feel abandoned, etc...because the beautiful, well-meaning people get their feelings hurt right alongside the ones who hurt us, and those are the exact people we need around. When I decide to post, I always sit on posts for a few hours, or a few days, after editing/writing for many days, or weeks, or months. I play with ideas, and language, and it isn't a process that is a shoot from the hip process. And in the end, I always think the grieving people who read my work need that fearlessness of pressing publish. We need someone to speak of the unspeakable. To push through the fear and write despite the consequences. I don't do that with every piece. I can count on one hand the pieces I have written that have hurt people directly (where i heard about it, that is.)But that is enough for me to feel like I needed to write this, even as I know that my words helped people.

      I think ironically, my mother, father, sister, husband, etc, read here and never get offended. They call and tell me how much this piece or that meant to them. That support feels universal. And it just isn't fair to assume it is.

      I love you, and am very grateful for this comment. It is good to know that not everyone needs to suffer the pain of losing friendships. It ranks up among the hardest parts of Lucia's death. Thank you again.

  4. Still reading. Still grateful. Still here...


  5. “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”
    — Anne Lamott

  6. Love the new look here Angie. Really nice font, among other simplistic design patterns I like. And I'm glad you're integrating everything here. It's a hell of a lot easier to keep track of your art and everything else. I'm so glad I was blogging way before M died so I don't have to stick to one theme. I can see how that would be hard.

    And, of course, I'm sorry to read of your bittersweet journey in this post. I have read every single post of yours since April 2011 and I have never felt a hint of hurt or wondered if you had gone too far in your public offerings. You and your writing have been like a beacon in the darkest of nights for me, and I know countless others.

    Anyway, lots more thoughts but I'll cut them off.


    1. Thank you, Josh. It means a great deal to me to hear that. Writing, art and this community saved my life. I treat it as a sacred journey. And in that way, I feel making amends to the people I hurt, perhaps only a small percentage of a small percent, needed to happen in this way for me. Even as I know that those who were helped far out weigh the other end of the spectrum. It felt important. xo

  7. Your post had made me think about my own blogging and whether or not my intention to be honest has actually been more hurtful than truthful. I am so early in my grief now that I find it hard to care if my words cause rifts and alienate people. Those people who have been amazing know it and I hope that comes across in my words.

    That said, I think anybody who takes offense to what you write Angie, clearly has never walked in your shoes. I know that your honesty helps me to realise that I am not the only one feeling alone, crazy, etc.

    I hope you keep sharing with us all.

    Big loves

    1. You nailed it. I am being more cognizant if my intention is to be honest to a fault, to just be honest. Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it deeply.

  8. I'm not a baby lost mama, but your writing has always blown me away with it's depth, it's intensity, and the way you weave your pain and truth and experience through the lives of those around you and tell about it with such honesty. It has never felt brutal - at least never more brutal than I imagine it must have been and
    must still be to have lived through Lucia dying.

    Lucia has of course always been very real to you. Reading here has made her and her short precious life so real to me. Any brutality would seem wholly justified in her memory, in honor of the suffering her death brought you and should've brought everyone. Every precious child lost deserves the heartbreak of a world deprived of them, just as they each deserve for us to go forth living in their memory.

    Just the thoughts of an outsider to your grief. I think if you feel apologies are necessary, then well done.

    1. Man, thank you so much, smack talkin' mama. You know, I can never tell if my writing transcends the experience of babylost. Of course, I hope it does. That is my intention. This is my experience of suffering and loss and grief, but it is not the only one. As I said earlier, the apology is maybe to only a few people. I made those apologies privately, but I also felt I needed to do it publicly, since I publicly wrote about issues privately between us. If that makes sense...

    2. Totally makes sense. You're truly welcome - your writing is a gift, and I've encouraged many friends to check you out. Some are dealing with their own different types of grief, some aren't. But I know you can speak to that, and I want them to hear it from someone other than just me.

      Additionally... randomly...not really importantly, ... I love that you're so open with your spirituality. I'm a Christian in the fairly traditional sense of the word, and it's hard to know what to say to my Pagan friends. You offer a perspective I can't give them, and healing words that I don't even know. Thank you so much for that, and for being here so I can send them your way.

  9. Dear Angie,

    I too, love the new look. The soft colours and curly font read so fresh and inviting on my iPad.

    I've been reading here since April-ish, as I made my way through the blog world, and connected your blog with "They were Still Born". I was just over a month or so out... and it was comforting to see someone write so honestly about their feelings.

    You've written your journey to the extremes. I've wondered at times how literal you were being, but I always knew the emotions read true. When you told me you lost all your friends after Lucia died, I related. What is actually true, and what feels like your truth maybe has a fine line in what is real. I too feel like I've lost all of my friends... but I was shaving them down during my pregnancy, so maybe it was my fault that NO ONE reached out after he died. And I write "NO ONE" as if literally no one dropped a line. And that's just not true. But in the ways that I got support, it felt like absolutely no one was connecting with my loss. I got text messages, and a few random sentiments that I heard through the grape vine. The first person to visit me in April, 6 weeks after he died, I didn't even think of as a friend. But more as an aquantance. So, I did receive support. It is was so completely lost on me because it wasn't the out pour of love, honor and respect that I was looking for when needing validation after I lost the biggest thing in my life to date.

    In short - and I'm sorry for taking a bit of the scenic route up there with my own experience - I feel I understand where you're coming from. I've never felt as if you were lacking integrity. Personally, that is the way I've felt.

    I've started blogging as of recent... and it is 100% private to my "real life". Maybe in year... or two... when I feel more comfortable in owning all of my selfish feelings... I might let the word out that I've been writing privately about my grief. But still, even though I know it's private, I refrain from writing about specific people, and specific feeling I feel towards them because I am so afraid that they'll one day read about it and not understand. They'll never read it the "right way" if this blog is ever released as a public read to my friends and family.

    I find myself more honest and brutal while commenting on other blogs, and over at Glow. They'll never find me there... right? So, I suppose I lack a bit of integrity as I advertise myself to be an "open book" to those who know me in real life.

    I'm grateful that you have this space, and you share it with us. With me. I only hope to continue to follow you on this journey.

    Sending my love and support.

    1. You've written your journey to the extremes. I've wondered at times how literal you were being, but I always knew the emotions read true.

      Yes, the emotions were always true, and everything was true. If something happened, it happened. I exaggerate to the point where there would be no doubt that it was true or feet don't literally sprout roots and I do not grow into a tree, but I do feel grounded. But when I exaggerate in the way I did...I lost every single friend ever. That is one of those exaggerations that seems like hyperbole, but may not be. It was hyperbole, and it was wrong of me to let that misconception continue. Not for me, but for those people who have been friends to me, keeping up, sending emails. I did the best I could, and my writing has always been a way for me to process.

      Blog writing is so strange, because it is a daily, weekly, piece, and yet it stays on the internet forever. In the throes of my early grief days, I was particuarly brutal about babylost behavior vs. normal people behavior, i.e., babylost people were given a wide berth to behave in whatever way they needed, and other people had to suck it up. I think there are many many babylost people that agree with me. And yet, that behavior alienated people I cared deeply about. Keeping your blog and writing private is a very good thing. Give yourself the space to grieve without people taking it personally. Because for me, it wasn't personal. I was just doing the very best I could. I had no coping skills, and nothing but an incredibly Romulan-like logic and anger that freaked out when presented with the extremely emotive, physical experience of baby-death.

      When people in my daily life let me down, I was already so vulnerable, I was like a hurt wild thing, in a corner snarling. And then, my reaction let them down. Baby death did not make me holier. It made me more of an asshole. There I said it. Now, I have forgiven those people, and more importantly, I have forgiven myself for being so intolerant and unkind to people doing their absolute best too.

      If I can give one piece of advice to people coming into this community, find that thing that helps you cope--art, writing, commenting on blogs, reading blogs...find it and embrace it, but don't tell anyone in your real life about it. It should be your sacred safe space. You don't need to worry about censoring yourself. Just be totally anonymous and honest. It will help.

    2. And, thank you, Veronica, for your honest, selflessness and comment. It helps to be understood in this way. More than I can express.

  10. This look fits right in with where I've seen you moving this past year. It's really beautiful. As for being brutally honest and integrity and forgiveness, I think you've had quite a journey. I've always appreciated your perspective and words and you have helped me understand and learn from umpteen-bazillion of your posts. Much love <3

  11. I have hovered on your blog for a long time now.

    I love your blog because my sweet daughter, the one who I lost, was named Beatrix... I always felt a kind of connection because of that. I love your Beezus stories, because I know that somewhere out there is a small girl who (almost) shares my daughter's name.

    I never comment because I don't want to mar the beauty of what you are saying with my inadequate words.

    I think that to the people that matter, your anger/exaggeration-even occasional lack of integrity- is acceptable.

    You will never be perfect. But you are who you are- and I have to say, I think who you are is beautiful and so inspiring.

  12. Do you think there is any truth to this?

    When someone tries to tell the untellable, write the unwriteable, show the unseeable, describe the indescribable

    they are going to end up in "hyperbole"

    or, at least, what looks like hyperbole to someone who is

    uninitiated in the unwillingness (inability?)

    of words - or anything -

    to cover

    the inexpressible...

    I guess what I am trying to say is

    You Did NOT Exaggerate.

    You did the very best, humanly speaking, that you could. You came with words wrapped around the story of what happened to Lucia and to you and to relationship and to trust and to hope and to illusion

    and - you did the best you could.

    What may be misunderstood - by those whose paths have not crossed the Dark Night - is that there would have been no way to avoid

    what appears to be exaggeration

    But Isn't.

    This is what grief is, when it must be written but refuses to cooperate with the writing.

    Even when the writing is very good.

    Like yours,


    P.S. My grief is a different kind. You know that. And your writing transcends.

  13. And

    I keep reading Jean Amery - At the Mind's Limits.

    Have you? He describes a similar problem. Some things never will fit in words.



    (But I'm still glad he tried. And you, too.)


What do you think?