hope · miscarriage · pregnancy

Maybe Baby.

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It was about a month ago.  J and I had returned from Berlin, our honeymoon destination, a week earlier and I finally mustered the courage to ask him,

What if I told you that my boobs have been hurty for the last day or so?

A larger part of me than my pride cares to admit didn’t want to tell him.  There feels to me a dangerous assumption in our world that women cry wolf.  But considering we’d been trying for a pregnancy for several months, taking tests, checking out my belly in profile, wondering if maybe, maybe now… Questioning to myself, Am I just fatter than usual?  Is it just that I have burrito belly?  And I would say to him, Maybe I am.  And he would say, gently, it’s not likely to show up in evidence there that quickly.  And a week later, my body would concur by making it clear I was not.  Nope, my body would tell me, just cake belly.

This would go on for several months, several months of buying pregnancy tests in bulk, of the check-out counter girl telling me she hoped the results were what I wanted.  And I would go home, hold my breath, pee on a stick, and hope.  Then, results in, I would despondently cap the test, re-wrap it in its plastic sleeve and deposit it in the trash quickly, ashamedly, as if it had exposed some deep vulnerability.  Which, of course, it had.

The last two times I’ve peed this dance, I’ve felt the compounding nature of months of disappointment.  Earlier, it was easy(er) to say, “Well, we haven’t been very ritualized about our timing,” “We haven’t really been trying diligently,” and I would watch the calculations on my mental calendar extend.

Because I’d had it all worked out, you see.

Counting months from the summer attempts, it would be a Spring baby (if all went well) and that would be so great for a teacher’s timing — deliver at the end of the school year, have several months at home over the long summer, and desultorily return back to school in the Fall, delivering my child this time to the care of another.

It was the optimal timing.  And besides, it worked for my friend Jess who’s a teacher.  She got pregnant on her honeymoon in August and followed the gestational plan like a Swiss watch.  Surely, if she could do it, so could I/we.

Yet, as the months ticked away this summer with another negative line, another round of menses, I would have to recount and replan and force this new plan to be acceptable in my mind.  A summer baby is okay; we’ll have a 1/2 birthday for them so they can celebrate with their peers at school; school birthday parties are so important when they’re young.  … Okay, well, Fall birthday, okay, well the school age-start, we’ll have to decide if they’re to be a year ahead or a year behind their classmates; no worries, I have friends who’ve made either decision, just like my brother and I took either route.

New and revised plans laden, too, with disappointment, curiosity, worry, and damnable hope.

If it doesn’t work out to have natural children, I told my close friend before it all began — as J and I are older, I have chemo’d ovaries, we both have mental illness in our families, plus the myriad of reasons why a zygote decides not to become a person — then we’re open to the adoption conversation, or the foster one, or the refugee family hosting conversation.  J and I are very fortunate and we have a lot to give.  I’m open. 

And… I am.  But I would not be without a feeling of loss.  I am honest enough to know this about myself.  I am honest enough to admit that the idea of seeing what our DNA creates thrills me (as much as it worries me).  To admit that carrying on a lineage, a descendancy, feels important to me.  To admit that I know the hill of adoption and fostering is rewarding, as I’ve seen it be beyond measure for friends and family, but I know, too, that it comes with baked-in abandonment issues that can create ripples.

And so, when a month ago I turned to J in bed and asked him how he might feel if I told him I was having a sign of pregnancy — one that wasn’t on my mental list of knowns, one that I couldn’t have made up because I hadn’t known of it, one that could not be cried wolf — it was elating.  Thrilling.  And harrowing for how it could turn out at any which point.

For that week-long period, we examined the different changes, weighing my breasts in our hands, noticing they felt not only sore, but full, like a laden water balloon, wresting from our memory the way they’d felt before that week.  And indeed, they were different.  And every day I felt and cupped and squoze, and imagined.

I told my mom, with the preface to be cautious in her reaction, that my boobs were hurty, and she said that was her first sign, too.

A few days after my initial inquiry, I built up the courage to show him the darkening line on my lower abdomen, the one I’d colloquially heard as the “climbing line,” that pregnant women get — some say as a guide for a birthed person to climb up to the milky breasts upon birth if the mother is unable to guide them.  I checked it, this amber-colored stain we were both sure was new, in the mornings when it was certain it couldn’t be an imprint of my jeans’ zipper or a seam.

I began to notice that my jeans were fitting differently around my thighs, the cloth feeling tighter, and I looked it up online.  It is an early sign, the thickening of the thighs as they begin to store fat to become milk upon arrival of the baby.  I added it to my growing list of evidence — and I took the pregnancy tests.

But.  They told me: No.  They told me what I was experiencing in my body was not a pregnancy.  And I told them they were wrong, that it was too early, maybe, just hardly two weeks.  I told the blood test at the doctor’s the same thing.  No, you’re wrong.  Touch my breasts, look at this line.

But my body had the final word, too: the flow came, and I sat on the toilet in our tiled-white bathroom and I wept.

 

I know that our bodies are limitlessly wise, and I do not fault the Universe for sorting this one out because I know its reasons are always(?) legitimate.  DNA melding and dividing is a probability crap shoot, and sometimes the house rakes all our chips back in and tells us better luck next time.

So.  Here we are: “Next time.”  With hurty boobs.  A week to go before the jury releases its decision.

And I am yet to know how much heartache I will endure.

 

anger · doubt · faith · hope

The Day of Magical Thinking

When bad things happen, some people of faith tend to say, “Well, that wasn’t God; that was just a bad thing happening.”
Holocaust, dead babies, friends overdosing: Not God. Just happenstance. 
To try to integrate trauma into a worldview that includes a benevolent power underlying all, one must, according to some, reject the trauma as a part of the benevolent power’s purview. 
Now, granted, one might imagine that an all-powerful being would probably have the authority to have a hand in such things. But for the case of some arguments, we’re told, Shit happens. 
Awakened in me, or at least uncovered in me, recently is a boatload of anger. A feeling of betrayal by some power in the Universe that just as I was beginning to come out of the trauma of a history dotted with: abuse, neglect, rape, alcoholism, pauperism and solitude: that it would be then that my blood would suddenly turn to cancer inside me. 
However, in order to feel a betrayal, I must believe that it was personal. Or, if not personal, that there was somehow a fairness or order in the Universe that was reversing on me. 
And, I can’t. I can’t anymore believe that I’ve been betrayed because it is upsetting the fabric of my nature. 
To think, Okay, now I have to go through trauma recovery around cancer on top of all the rest I was dealing with, makes me feel hideously resentful and angry and frustrated, and in the end, hopeless. 
Because if things are going to abruptly turn to a pit of fire at any given moment, what’s the point? What’s the point in healing, helping, creating, being?
And I can’t have that. I can’t be someone who carries around the question, What’s the point?
It’s very bad for me. 
So, what if I try something different, for even a day? Car won’t start? Shit happens. Find a penny on the sidewalk: Good shit happens. Cancer recurs and I have to transplant my bone marrow by shearing away the essence of my body? Well, Shit Happens
I dunno. Doesn’t sound realistic to me. But, then again, what does?
Do I just assume good things will happen to and for me, and wash aside the traumas? I am someone who believes that repression and white-washing doesn’t actually work, so what if you just reject it, instead of repress it?
If I begin to believe that I’m someone who can have stability, joy, purpose, fulfillment, connection and ease… well, anything that doesn’t fit with that worldview just file under “Not God”?
And here’s the rub with the whole “God,” Higher Power, Benevolent Force, Life Itself, Universe shit:
I happen to belong to — and had my life saved by — a group of people who say that in order to not drink yourself into oblivion and become a tornado in the lives of others … you need a “spiritual solution.”
Uh. Hmmm….
So, what if. What if just for a day (because hey, it’s a day I fought the fuck hard for anyway), I just assume and walk about and believe that good shit happens? That I have good luck. That I am destined to fulfillment in my work and romantic life. 

What if I let my anger and betrayal and hurt and aghastness rest… not shoved away or down, but just set into an open box called, “Shit Happens”? 


Meh. It’s worth a shot. 
career · change · despair · faith · fear · hope

Rock Saves.

As you may have noticed by now, I’ve been in a bit of a maudlin mood since attaining a job in retail. Since that time, in the last week alone, my sponsor had to let me go in order to focus on her own healing work, I got a traffic ticket while on my way to visit a pregnant friend, and my four stalwart neighboring trees were torn down. 
Plus, I slammed my pinkie in a drawer. 
It’s been a No good very bad day, and you can call me Alexander. 
It’s been pretty bad, and even before the tree massacre, I was on the phone with a friend saying that it felt like a series of trap doors: just when you think it can’t get worse, it does. I wouldn’t be surprised for “The Big One” to hit, or my car to break down. 
That said, yesterday, in a funk over the trees (read: hysterically crying over the loss of everything solid in my life — yes, perspective is a lost art), I drove my car in to work instead of taking public transportation. On came the NPR, because it’s what I usually listen to in the car. 
But it wasn’t right. Sure, it’s informative and I enjoy it in a way, but it’s not fun. It’s not uplifting. Unless it’s A Prarie Home Companion. 
And so I put on a CD of one of my favorite bands, playing one of their most famous live sets. 
I immediately pressed through to one of my favorite songs, one I can count on as an uplifter, and as the song progressed, I turned the volume louder. And louder. 
As I sat in that toll bridge traffic, I began to sing along. I began to smile. 
I played a series of 4 songs, the last one on repeat as I climbed the circular parking garage. And I felt better. 
I have this kind of amnesia when it comes to music: I forget that Rock Saves. 
I can go for weeks without music, maybe a few songs on the radio here and there, but not volume up to 40, ear-ringing, loud singing, smile-inducing music. 
I felt transformed by the end of my trip from Oakland to San Francisco. If there were another trap door opening beneath me, I felt as though the music was giving me upper body strength to cling to the sides of the trap, and hoist myself out. 
The trap may be open beneath me, and it is always an option to fall in, but somehow I felt like I was climbing out of that one. That, for that morning, that previously sob-fest morning, I was not going to continue on like that. 
I parked my car and walked toward my job with an actual jaunt in my step, and a bit of that subversive, “I’ve been listening to music really loud,” half-grin on my face. A cute 20-something said hi to me as I jaunted down the sidewalk. 
I’ve been walking to work looking solely down at the sidewalk, internally commenting the awful smell of human waste. 
Yesterday was a different morning. 
Sometimes I feel like I could be diagnosed with manic-depression, the way I can swing from despair to hope! But, perhaps it’s normal. And I’ll never really know, honestly. 
When things are going well enough, I never feel the need for anti-depressants, and even when they’re not going well, it’s always temporary, and not debilitating. 
So, maybe, simply, Rock Saves. 
Maybe, simply, I have a fount of resiliency that I only seem to find in desolate moments. 
Yesterday, as I drove to work, I drove through a portal of grace. 
Things are not different. All the externals remain the same. 
But I have that grin on my face. And I’ve been singing in my car. 
fear · finances · hope · recovery · relationships · romance · self-love

"There’s gotta be something better than this…" ~ Sweet Charity

Why, didn’t every 7th grader want to become a botanist and live in a tree to be away from people? 
I am at the radically awful and hopeful place of beginning to work on relationships, and my relationship to relationships. 
Coincidentally or not, the last time I started this kind of work, I was into the deep and dredging and combing-over-my-sad-history-of-self-abandonment-and-isolation part when I was struck with a bout of Leukemia, and had to stop.
Now that I’m through a round of work on my relationship to money, scarcity, “under-being,” under-earning, me and my mentor agreed that we could work on the other side of the “romance and finance” coin.
Color me thrilled. 
In fact, I am looking forward to it, … sort of. Not the work itself, but the results of it. 
I am not meant to continue my early patterns of self-insulation through isolation or self-abandonment/-destruction. Or, rather, I’m not content to. What I’m meant to do is really only up to me, isn’t it? And a few strokes of fate, I imagine. (hello, cancer.)
But, whatever role I can have in loosening the noose of “Trust No One,” I am signing up for it. 
I do feel that I am in a better place to begin this time than I was about 2 years ago. I’m working with someone who knows me well, who’s walked this path with and before me, and whom I trust and love.
Even though our particular histories are dissimilar, their endings and the feelings they’ve evoked in us became the same. 
She’s told me that my feeling of imminence, urgency & impatience with myself and “the world” will fade: I am a 33 year old healthy smart beautiful woman. Why the fuck have I never been in a relationship that’s lasted over 6 months, and only two of them at that? Why have I been unintentionally celibate for years on end or find myself particularly attracted to taken men? My “hot” years are fading; I want to take advantage of them!
And yet. I seem to land in the same place each time I try to throw myself into the ring, or try to avoid it. And so, it’s time to try something else. Something I know will work, because it works for thousands of other people who walk a path of recovery. 
I’m not stoked. But I am. 
It’s sad stuff to riffle through. There is a Trail of Tears that’s led me here. But I feel ready for this. No, not eager to riffle; yes, eager to heal, move on, move forward. Let whoever I’m supposed to be, or whoever I’m hiding, to integrate. 
Does this look like a bright shiny pot of gold(en haired children) at the other end? Likely not. 
I finished the work on money, and I’m still in the thick of the results of patterns that brought me here. But I imagine they’ll shift over time. 
So, too, I imagine with the love and relationship stuff. I won’t buy a wedding dress at the end of it. But perhaps I’ll buy date one. 

(p.s. this missive is in no way a passive request for dating invitations. but thanks.)  😉 
courage · dreams · fear · fulfillment · hope · scarcity · self-denial

Life: Whether you Like it or Not.

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For many years, I’ve considered my personal and professional
stagnation as though I were a traveler sitting at the base of a crossroad. The
sign pointing in many directions reads any manner of options, but I sit there,
gazing at the sign for eons, waiting for one of the arrows to light up, to
indicate, This, here, Molly, is the way to go. This is the path to your
destiny. This is the path to fulfillment, release, energy and passion. It may
be cloudy at parts, but we promise, this is the way toward your highest good.
Yet, signposts have an annoying way of being inanimate, and this revelation has never happened.
But as I sit today, I recognize something new. Beyond the
fork in the road, I’m beginning to see another path that I hadn’t identified
before. It’s the path of my true desires.
I have sat waiting for the gods to tell me a or b, but
secretly, I’ve always wanted c, and refused to see that as an option. “It’s
hard for your to let yourself dream,” a therapist opined recently.
And it is.
To speak aloud what you truly want is to invite criticism
and disappointment. Better to keep the dreams locked tight, even to the
detriment of myself, because it’s “easier” than going after what I really
want.
The problem with that pattern is that it means you don’t
develop a history and a catalogue of places where you have moved beyond those
doubts and spoken up, acted up, been seen. And so you continue to assume what
you really want is not something you can have.
The history of denying what I want is long. It is best to be
quiet, unheard, unseen, have few needs, because the lower you set the bar the
easier it is to meet the meagerness.
I reflected yesterday on the way to our preview night of the
play how you can always set yourself up to “succeed” when you place the bar
achingly low. When you paint over your dreams with “realistic expectations,” you’re never called to reach out of your comfort zone. You can sit on the couch
watching Netflix until the end of time, eating peanut butter out of a jar, and
quietly erode all sense of the divine spark within you.
Not that I’ve done that. (wink)
But the divine has a way of being omnipresent, no matter
what you do to ignore, dismiss, or erode its guidance and encouragement.
I haven’t a clue what experiences I’m opening up to as I watch this
third path unfurl before me. Recognizing foremost that I’ve denied myself the
ability to see what I’ve always wanted is a start. Recognizing that I’ve
refused to acknowledge that I can have what I want, that my needs don’t have to
be pauperistic, that it is safe in the reality of today to express myself is a
start.
I’ve written many times before about the emerging option of
being safe and seen. Safe doesn’t mean “not bold,” or setting the bar low,
here. It means that I am not going to be punished for wanting what I want this
lifetime.
This is a hard concept for me to integrate. But, more slowly
than I would really love, I’m accepting that the sanest, safest, and surest way toward
fulfillment is actually believing it’s available. Whenever I’m good and ready
to set down the peanut butter and walk toward it. 

authenticity · change · hope · work

To Infinity and Beyond!

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True to form, I’m running late for work. With today’s direct
deposit pay-out, I was reconciling my financial situation before getting
started for the day.
Seems like if I can manage to gain steady employment by
December, I don’t have to touch my savings. If not, I have until January. But,
who wants to touch their savings, especially if it’s modest?
I have a third interview with the private high school in
Walnut Creek on Monday, to be their Homework Tutor/Student Mentor. Seems like a
good sign, but I’m not counting chickens; I’m still looking around for sure.
But, I gotta say, not having a full-time job as of tomorrow,
I feel like I’ll have more time to look – but also to focus. To get clarity and
not just fire off resumes willy-nilly.
I won’t write a maudlin blog about how much my place of work
has meant to me over the past 2 years – I’m going to see most of my coworkers
frequently, as I’ll still be teaching there on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
There was a nice send-off snack at our staff meeting on Wednesday with my
favorite snacks. And my boss wrote a really warm blurb about my departure for
our weekly e-newsletter.
There have been more hugs this week than before, mostly from
members of the synagogue, who I won’t see as often. But I do feel like I’ve
become a part of the community, not just worked in an office. And for that I’m
grateful, and it’s something that won’t change. I’ll still be there at our big
events, probably.
But, I’m also immensely
grateful that I won’t be sitting at that desk come Monday morning.
I won’t leave my newbie replacement alone too long this
morning, so I’ll sign off now. Perhaps there’ll be another more sentimental
missive about the place with time and distance, but, for now. It’s just a
change. And, right now, change is good.
Trick or Treat, muthafuckas!

abundance · career · change · community · courage · friendship · hope · love · scarcity · work

Yes, We Can.

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  • emailed
    landlord to ask to use 4th floor abandoned room as art room
  • emailed
    vocal coach to inquire about lounge singing, how to start
  • emailed
    friend to ask about going up in a small engine plane again. (flew one myself this year, and as always predicted, loved it. eventual vision of napa valley tour pilot.)
  • have interview on monday for two teaching positions with a jewish
    organization
  • have interview set up for another teaching gig
  • have modeling/portraiture session set for next weekend
  • replied
    yes to get minimum wage to usher at a Cake concert in two weeks
  • will
    be reading tarot cards at good friend’s Halloween party on donation basis
  • called friend’s mom who’s a professional home stager about being her assistant
  • have
    coffee info interviews set up with a few high-ballers in the community
  • have
    action items from previous info interviews to follow up on
  • emailed
    work-out studio to inquire about becoming an instructor and was told it’s
    possible (with a lot of work)
  • have a
    solid lead on fine dining waitress work if comes to that
  • registered as a model with a “real person” modeling agency
  • updated
    my profile on modelmayhem website
  • got
    exact amount of pto i’ll be paid out when I leave my job at end of month
  • inquired about health insurance exchange
  • got
    flu shot and all blood tests up to date (all negative – which is
    positive!)
  • made
    appointment for teeth cleaning
  • ordered
    new shipment of contact lenses before these fall apart in my eyeballs
  • replied
    to private tutoring gig from tutoring website I’m registered with (which…
    i’d completely forgotten about until I started getting these emails
    two weeks ago… coincidence?)
  • emailed
    yesterday’s blog about t’shuvah to a jewish publication (a little late,
    obviously, but still.)
…to name a few of the actions I’ve taken in support of my work transition!
I am nervous about leaving the safety of my
40houraweekdeskjob. Yes.
But, I am taking a lot of action. Even as I drag my
feet in some places, and have certainly
been watching more Netflix than is good for any one person.
But I have a phone call with a mentor today and we’ll talk
about smallness and scarcity and healing and changing. We’ll talk about, “Do not
go back to sleep.” We’ll talk about the beguiling and insincere safety of being
quiet and small. We’ll talk about the pain and bravery of stepping out of the cage
and the tenacity and audacity it takes to stay out of it.
It’s not that I haven’t taken or thought to take any of the
above actions before. It’s not my first time at this rodeo. But I just feel
different. To quote Elisabeth Gilbert quoting a Balinese healer: “Even in my
underpants, I feel different.”
But I also know my habit and pattern of swift work followed
by years of inaction. I know what it’s like for me to engage in a flurry of
activity and then allow it to languish by my lack of follow-up. I know what
it’s like to abandon myself.
Which is why I’m telling everyone and their mother
(literally) about my impending transition.
I cannot do this alone. I am a creature of habit, and I need
you to be like my wagon train – I need you to lead me away from the ruts. If I
let you know I’m on this path, you can help me stay on it. If I let you know
it’s terribly painful for me to work toward something new, you can hold my hand
and tell me you believe in me.
I know the source of all this change must come from within –
I know it’s up to my own inner work to be the foundation for a new life. But I
also believe in you, who believes in me, and we cycle one another into our best
selves and our best lives.
Yes, I am the one who needs to actually look up that
professional development course. And I’m the one who needs to continue
looking at alternative work websites – and actually reply – but without you to
cheer me on, without you to help me hold the lantern of faith, this change wouldn’t work.
That’s what feels so different this time – I feel supported
internally and externally in a way these transitions have never felt. I feel
optimistic and hopeful, giddy and aware.
Yes, the future is uncertain. But one action at a time, with
your help and your heart, I am clarifying the vision of a
future (and present) me who is freer than I’ve ever allowed myself to be.