Sunday, November 29, 2009

I am not funny.

I received this email the other day. 
hi i was reading your blog...   
the one about krishnamurti and shame
i am sharing my advice because i have the same problem
i think that you use humor and analogies and other avoidance mechanisms? to avoid facing the emotional pain
you dont have to make others laugh or entertain them
it is okay to be sad and depressed and cry in front of others and obviously alone
you dont have to cope for others
i think coping starts a vicious cycle of denying
the emotional pain if looked at directly is not as bad as you think it is
it is the fear of the emotional pain that is overwhelming
then once you have felt the pain you can be humorous but it will have a different tone
a tone that is facing the pain

My immediate response, of course, was:

"So, you don't think I'm funny?" 

I'm fairly certain that my On Levity piece was the front blog post of my blog, and he found the Krishnamurti one, clicked over...I'm really not that funny, you know. I am painfully aware of this fact. I have always been the one that resorted to physical violence when I couldn't keep up with the insulting Irish banter of my family. I composed so many responses to this email. Many resorted to the "No, I'm not. You are." argument, which IS in fact one of the oldest, most emotionally mature arguments in the history of debate. Others were long rambling explanations of how, in fact, I do face my emotions. But mostly, I just thought a series of one-liners.

No, I don't.

Lighten up, dude.

My kid died, cut me some fucking slack.

In the end, I didn't respond directly to the person. Mainly, because I don't feel like justifying my existence, or explaining the daily occurrence of my breaking into tears in the market. All in all, he's right. I do use humor to deal with this stifling, overwhelming sadness and hysterical anxiety that has taken over my life. It helps. But I do not use humor instead of dealing. I, sadly, am not in denial. I get it. I fucking get it. My kid died. BELIEVE ME, I understand that. But I hope I use humor in conjunction with all the other shit I have to do to function. I think what is ironic about the entire email is that I received it when I posted On Levity, which in part is about how people on the outside of this grief just think our humor is bitter and pathetic, which I think is the metatext of his email. A litany of shittiness resonated in my brain after reading that email:

Your humor is bitter and pathetic. 
You aren't dealing with your depression and grief. 
You are avoiding real life.
You need to be fixed, Grieving Mother. 
You need to get better. 
You need to heal and get over it.
You aren't crying enough, Woman. Just cry. 
Feel the abyss. 
Just feel the sucking dark Black Hole created when your child died. 
Here feel the shitty horrible reality that your life is.
Goodbye forever, signed Anonymous Internet Fixer.


Let me just preface this by saying: your words, support, emails, love and comments on and about my last blog post have meant a great deal to me. I posted it and drove to my mother's house, which while it is only two hours away, might as well be the moon in terms of internet connection and computer access. OH, they have a computer, but through the last decade of abusive rejection of any technological learning, stands as a testament to how incredibly impatient I am. Wednesday evening I sat at my mother's laptop, cussing and repeatedly clicking my gmail log-in. "What the fuck, Mom?"
"You have to let it load, Ang. I mean, just wait."
"Wait?!?! This is 2009. I don't have time to wait."

Even my blackberry was dodgy at best. I sometimes felt like Carol Anne in Poltergeist typing, "Where are you? I can't find you." Floating away, some cellphone is Sweden the only recipient of my lost Thanksgiving messages. Honestly, it was good to have some distance and just focus on being holiday-y, even if that didn't much work either. I stress ate, and watched shitty television. I still feel bad and now have a food baby as well as a baby baby, but you know, it got me through the holiday.

As I sporadically received the beautiful comments filtering in from the blog, I realized that I mainly talk about my abyss after I have safely and successfully walked through it. Not in the midst of the darkness. At least, not in a while. I have actually been using storytelling and humor to deflect the stress for the past couple of months. Denial. Avoidance. Cheap laughs. For me, it actually works. I actually feel better when I lighten the hell up a little. But somedays, last Wednesday for example, I simply could not. That was my dark place. Welcome.

The truth of it is that my life is exactly the same as it was two weeks ago, before receiving a call from the genetic counselor telling me I had to make a decision now, before I saw that I was having a little boy. (There I go. Burying the lede again.) And yet everything feels so completely different. To be honest, I thought that the dark irony of this pregnancy was that I would be a nervous wreck at a completely normal, uneventful pregnancy. And well, it hasn't been. It seems like I keep facing obstacles and stresses, and I just want to be nervous about invented fears, not real ones.

As we passed the 72 hour mark (the danger of miscarriage lessened), I felt better about making this decision to have the amniocentesis. Knowing everything has become very important to me. I want no fucking surprises at week 37. Just making that decision felt impossible. I hate statistics. When you are a one, no other number of the other side looks big enough. And still when I weighed the statistics of amnio miscarriage rates versus the Down's rate, I was still reminded over and over again in my head that those are less than the one in 115 rate for stillbirth. Even if this baby is cleared of every chromosonal disorder the amniocentesis tests for, he could still just die of nothing in particular.


I said something I regret on my last post. I don't read post after post about how babylost mamas hate pregnant women, but rather how they resent them for not appreciating their pregnancy. And that is why I rarely talk about my anxiety and depression regarding this pregnancy, because despite it all, I fully appreciate that being pregnant is the luck of the draw that I do not take for granted. I am amazed every day that our species somehow managed to survive.

All of this anxiety, fear and sadness comes with pregnancy, and mostly, I have swallowed it as part of the package of having a child after loss. I actually resent pregnant women (and non-pregnant women) who think they are spared the possibility of stillbirth or loss, when they don't recognize the preciousness of these months with their children, and they tell invented horror stories of their pregnancy. In as much as I do not wish this kind of anxiety on anyone, I also do not think it is the worst case scenario, or even a bad case scenario. My kid is still alive in me. He is moving. He looks fine on his anatomy scan. The anxiety is part of the package of testing. I will find out, one way or the other, about his chromosomes. And we will deal with it. Shit happens. To me. To other people. Even when other shit has happened before. Just trying to breathe through this dark place and laugh in some light, even if I am not all that funny.


  1. *hugs*

    I found you through Mel's comment chaining game, and I'm glad I did.

    I'm so sorry for what you're going through. It's perfectly normal and healthy to use humor as a coping mechanism as long as it's not denial, which it obviously isn't. Why do people feel the need to be amatuer psychiatrists in the comments? How hard is it to say "wow, that sucks, I'm sorry, you're dealing better than should be expected."? (Look at that bad mess of punctuation!)

    I hope that all goes well with your amnio (and entire current pregnancy).

  2. Oh Angie, just lots of love coming your way my much of what you just wrote I could have penned myself.

  3. "humor and analogies and other avoidance mechanisms:

    Why do all of these have to be grouped together so idiotically?
    Sorry, but this dude's email pisses me off.

    I could - and just might - write an entire post about this very subject, because I am so tired of know-it-all types telling me how/what/where/when to feel. Ya know what? Everyone grieves differently. When you grieve, you have the right to grieve however in hell's name you want. Laugh or cry, talk or not, shout or sit there quietly. Your personality colors the way you grieve. Angie, you have different ways you deal with it. So do I. Sometimes I've avoided feeling. Sometimes I've made analogies. Sometiems I've used humor. There's no real pattern or rhyme or reason - you do what you can to survive. Sorry this guy doesn't humor for what it's best for: easing some of the hardest times in our lives. I say screw him. Not literally, of course, because that would be gross.

  4. Angie, I'm not nearly clever enough to write anything profound, this
    "My kid died, cut me some fucking slack."
    Is about as far as I would've got.
    Loadsa love to you.x

  5. Can I tell you how naive I am? I was truly blind-sided by the depression that has come during this pregnancy. I don't know if I thought it would be all smiles and sparse anxiety, but the aggravation and the fear and the need for 'alone time' has caught me by suprise.

    That guy was unfair in his judgements. I hope you realize he is alone in his conclusions.
    I love your humor and sarcasm. I love your analogies. You bring something different into this sad community and I love that.
    Congrats on your boy. Surely he's completely healthy, surely.
    xoxo Lindsay

  6. A boy! Boys are one of my two favorite kinds of babies! Congratulations!

    Pay no attention to someone who couldn't even use capital letters in their email to you. I am a psych person and I think you are perfect.

  7. Oh that email. What a total fucking idiot. Hey internet stranger dude: KOMPASSION, UR DOIN IT RONG.

  8. Internet asshat probably found himself snorting water out his nose because you really are so damn funny, and then he projected his embarrassment over having found humor where by his theory none should exist onto the victim of his cluelessness.

    Anyway that's my theory. Good for you for turning an asshat into a paper airplane.

    I find myself thinking of Sam after this post, and his incredibly wise words fresh into this grief (if I were tech-savvy I would link to that part of Lucia's birth story _here_), which you echo so amazingly here. I'm just in tearful awe here. Love to you and yours, all everybody. Except the asshat.

  9. omg. no. really. someone sent you that email? i seriously feel like i want to walk the world, like the peace pilgrim did, but i would carry a big protest sign that says:

    There is no prescription for grief!

    glad dude thinks he has a prescription that works for him, but there is no way his prescription would work for you even if he wants it to -- even if you wanted it to. you go ahead and do whatever you are doing and feeling and being in all this grief and learning to live life again and the current pregnancy. there's no way to do it right or wrong. you just do it.


    :) just a zillion hugs to you!

  10. angie, i'm here with you. sending you and the little boy in there so much love.


  11. Angie, you often crack me up, so you are pretty funny. And, WTF? You are online, candidly blogging about your feelings about the loss of your daugther, so you aren't exactly shoving the grief in the closet and using wise cracks to keep the door closed.

    I don't think you have any sort of "issue" with using humour as an avoidance mechanism - trust me, I feel you feeling the weight of it all when I read. And one of the things I love most about you is your inward reflection - you don't hide much from yourself, so I really don't think you would let yourself get away with using humour to avoid anything.

    And fuck, sometimes we all just need to laugh! I think laughter has the power to heal the soul as much as tears.

    I'm hoping and wishing and praying with you that the amnio results come back indicating you have nothing to worry about other than the natural worries that come with pregnancy after loss.

    And, Angie - its okay to count your blessings at the same time as cursing the universe for throwing you these additional worries.

    And, how lovely, a little brother for Beatrice and Lucia :)


  12. I think you are funny. But I don't think you are in denial. I think we have to laugh at this black hole sometimes. Otherwise, our heads would explode. It's too bad though that when we do make jokes, we make everyone else incredibly uncomfortable. But, so be it. It is what it is.

    A little boy. How exciting! But I would be saying the same thing about a girl too!

  13. Thinking of you and your little BOY!! Hoping all is well. xx
    P.S. Screw that asshole!

  14. Oh Angie... This is your blog - you're totally entitled to your own feelings! Just because I lost a baby too, that does not mean that I feel the same way and deal with it like you do. I just can't believe someone has the audacity to post that!!

    Congrats on a baby boy! When I was pregnant with Leia the dr couldn't find her heart beat during the 1st ultra sound... Then I was spotting... And like you, we were told to have genetic counseling b/c of our previous loss and believe it or not, we were told that Leia had a very high change to have down too... I didn't do the amnio suggested by them b/c I was already high risk for preterm labor and I was told by a lot of people that false negative readings were very common... I was also tested positive for gestational diabetes and eventually developed high blood pressure which I didn't have either with both Luke & Alex.

    I had a lot of mixed feelings about being pregnant with a girl... it was so unfamiliar... I had envisioned a little baby brother who would run around and play football together with Luke. And I wanted to slap those who told me how "LUCKY" I was to have a boy and a girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The moral of my story - as I mentioned to you before, my subsequent pregnancy was an emotional & physical roller coaster ride. I was a mess... But everything turned out fine in the end. I hope yours will go well too even though it started kind of rocky. Good luck...


  15. It would suck not to have humour in bad times, even in the very worst times. Laughter does help you through.
    I think the poster meant well when writing that though, it sounds to me that it's how they feel and maybe they worried that you felt the same. I don't think they meant the way you heard it, I totally see why you would read it like that though. Much love xx

  16. You know Angie, I think you write beautifully. You write honestly. I don't really agree (and I'm not just saying this to be agreeable!) that you write posts laced with dark humor to avoid: I think you write honestly.

    We all think of the ironies; the crappy ironies tossed our ways as a result of our lost babies: how we choose to express them is entirely up to us, as individuals. You express, so often, the deep wound felt when one of these ironies is thrown at you by this grand, ever-changing life. That wound is there in all of us who've lost little ones.

    I think sometimes people offer well-meaning advice because they are working through something themselves, not really because they believe anything specific about YOU. It's an opinion, that email you got - an analysis. It's one person's analysis of you. Perhaps that person thought that, for THEM to find it easier and better to read your posts, you should write differently.

    But don't write any differently than you feel. Write what you know. I get you.

    *HUGE hugs* and love, J XXX

  17. I hate people who feel they have any right at all to judge or opine on your or anyone elses way of 'dealing'. It's just so pathetic to me. I wouldn't give it/him the time of day. You do what you need to do for you and what works for you. That's the bottom line. And not everything os going to work everytime. It's grief, not a flat tire. It doesn't just get fixed. It's a learning curve and a life alteration that takes years, maybe forever, to figure out (if you can ever really figure out dead babies....sighs). There is no one, right way. There is only your way.

    And a boy! Gotta love those little men:)I hope the stress and anxiety lessen a bit as the days pass and that in the end, it will all have been for naught.

  18. Poltergeist references are always comedy gold...always...even if they don't quote Craig T. Nelson.

    Asshat is likely jealous of your cleverness. Hopefully he is also afraid of your gang of laughing/grieving commenters.

    And...a boy! Hooray!

  19. You are funny. And that, amongst many other fabulous things about you, is why I keep coming back. I think babyloss without humour, black or otherwise, would be a pretty sad life. As if it couldn't get any sadder.
    Love you, Angie.
    I'm here for you.

  20. I can't believe you got that email. First, that he's going to tell you how you *should* grieve in his opinion and second that you're using humour to avoid your feelings. I've read your blog for a while now and if anything I've felt you are very honest about your feelings but you have a brilliant knack for using humour - dark humour at times - and I think you are funny. And I think it's normal and healthy to want to laugh at something when in the midst of all this pain. Sending you love and all good thoughts for this new babe you're carrying.

  21. OMG, I can't believe that email! What bullshit "coping starts a vicious cycle of denying"... reading the whole mail has made my artery boil... So he'd rather have you sob all day long to grieve? I think everybody has the right to grieve his own way.. sarcastic, loud, angry, silent, whatever! You have found your way and it's good.


  22. Fuming about this email. People can have their own opinions but really someone should know what they are talking about before they speak.

    I have never gotten the impression from you Angie that your humour was you avoiding the pain. I think your humour is a perfectly sane way of expressing the fucked-upped-ness of the babylost condition.

  23. "Even if this baby is cleared of every chromosonal disorder the amniocentesis tests for, he could still just die of nothing in particular."

    ::shiver:: you're amazing. i say it all the time too - that it's a wonder any of us makes it.

    Thanks for welcoming me to your dark place. Can I bring my baby inside, or does she have to be checked at the door like everywhere else I do?

    I will be quoting you, I'm sure, in the near or far future. Or both. Hope you don't mind.

  24. hey angie. i just got caught up on your blog. i'm so so sorry that you've been struggling through this pregnancy. sending you all good energy for a very healthy baby boy. i understand what you are saying - wanting to worry about nothing instead of something. it completely sucks and i'm sorry you have to struggle through this.

    this is your space. use it however you want. share, don't share. be funny, be bleak, be both. your writing is always beautiful and i am always happy to read it. xo

  25. I think you are funny, and I'm grateful for your humor and for your marvelous (and often extremely funny) stories. Humor is something that makes the almost-unbearable bearable, and yours has helped me get through more than one rough day. Just so you know.

    Hoping hard for you and your boy, and sending love.

  26. i hope you know that i am not resentful of you one bit. i am jealous and wish i were there to share in the pain, fear & anxiety, as well as the excitement and relief. and i'm still here for you angie, through all of it.

    i'm sorry you are going through all of this, i wish it didn't have to be this way, but it is what it is.

    we beat ourselves up for everything- for all that has happened and then for feeling a certain way about it. it seems to go with the territory.

    in any case, i'm sending you as much love as possible- wishing i could give you a real life hug instead.

  27. Just BIG LOVE TO YOU beautiful lady :)

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  29. I don't think anyone has the right to tell you how to cope. If humor works for you - great. If sitting in your room crying into your pillow listening to REM's Automatic for the People works - great. No one but you, is you. No one has had the same experience - even if they think they have, they haven't. Not exactly the same.

    I am sorry for the stress of the amnio. I have never had one, and cannot even imagine what going through that, and then the wait to 72 hours, and the wait for results must feel like. Just know that I am sending lots of love and support your way.

    For what it's worth, your story telling has been healing for me.

  30. That's what and WHO you get for posting about krishnamurti ;-). Oh wait, I'm using humor and in denial.

    "I just want to be nervous about invented fears, not real ones."
    So right and well said. Hugs.


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