Wednesday, January 18, 2012

grief's recursive movement

I was on a good spell in the last several weeks. Christmas is not at all my favourite time of year, but felt I weathered it well this year. Before that there was the due date, and I felt I also did well with that. The trip to Washington made me feel very alive, a hard-to-come-by feeling for the last while. For the last 2 sessions, my therapist has made a point of skillfully observing that I seem to be doing better.

As things tend to go with matters of working through grief, there is so much to visit, and revisit, and revisit once again...with feeling. At least that's my experience with grief. I'm not that patient with myself (although more patient with others), so it may be that I want to have worked through this already, I want to stop feeling so mind numbingly depressed, and feeling so 'out of life' and holed up in my house where I don't have to deal with anyone. It's the anhedonia that kills me in grief/depression. I hate the rest of it, but it's always the sense of  'losing the capacity of experiencing pleasure in activities previously enjoyed' that pushes me over the edge and makes me angry and wanting to tear my hair out.

It started last Friday. I might be outing myself to some readers here, but our city just recently got a commuter train and Mr. A, the transit aficionado that he is, discovered how I could get to work via transit. He even accompanied me to work that morning because he was so excited about the transit route and wanted to experience it himself. Let's agree on this: my husband is a freak. When we got off the commuter train, we looked at the tracks and determined that I would be waiting on platform X when it was time to return home at the end of the day. In the evening, it had gotten very cold and I waited in a small indoor waiting area on platform X. I didn't see it arrive because I was still indoors, but the train came in on time. Except that it arrived on platform Y. By the time I realized this and tried to take the underground walkway and ran back up the stairs (swimming through commuters) to get to platform Y, well, the train had pulled out already.

Missing the train is not a big deal. I was angry for about 6 minutes, and then, I figured out another plan to get home and sat down and read my book in the warm station, waiting for another train. But the day had brought its challenges already. A co-worker had announced he was going off on sick leave the day before, to fight against a stage 4 cancer. That morning, a female colleague came into my office to debrief this terrible news, and also to announce that she is pregnant. Second baby, perfectly timed. I weathered it well in the moment, as is usual for me. It's always after that it hits. I work in an agency with an over-representation of women, which is wonderful, but also means that I am immersed in pregnant bellies and baby showers.

Anyway, on my walk home from the train station, it hit me that missing the train had the same flavour as this very striking dream I had in June, shortly after the m/c. I have a pretty intense relationship with my dreams. I may be an unhatched Jungian for all I know. The dream went like this. I was on a train, heading home to Pleasantville. In the dream, I am only one or two stops away from our station. I step off the train as it makes a longer stop in a station. When I return, the train's doors close in front of me and the train rolls out of the station. In order to return home, I am told I need to take the train back to a station that is about 600km away from home, and catch another train heading back towards Pleasantville. I felt that this dream really expressed my feelings of dejection around the m/c. The doors closed in front of my face, and the only way back was one that would require an insane detour. I was so close to home, so close to a baby.

So, Friday night sucked really big. I ate my dinner silently and shed tears on my cat, while Mr. A watched and said nothing (what was there to say?). I couldn't really recover after that, and felt very sad and out of it the entire weekend, and all of Monday. Some stuff happened at work on Monday and I had to go into the bathroom and cry. I felt a little pathetic because it wasn't a huge deal what had happened at work. I was just feeling so vulnerable.

I am weary, folks. I feel like it's time to get out of this negative spiral. And I will. But revisiting this place over and over again just tires the hell out of me. It's probably the case that overall, I am emerging from the intense grief I have felt since the m/c, and since October 2009 when I found out that my ovaries were not going to produce eggs. I think these last few days are just an instance of the recursive pattern that grief takes, where one revisits the grief from a slightly different place, multiple times. Does that happen for you as well? I'd be interested in knowing you've also felt this pattern.

As always, thank you for reading and leaving me sweet notes. Or just for reading. You are amazing women and I feel very, very blessed to have your support.


  1. I wish that there were just one really enormous mountain of grief to climb and then you emerge on the other side, winded, tired, but ready to float back down. Unfortunately, it's more like the random setting on a stationary bike. There's coasting and then outrageous resistance. The similarity to your dream makes the trigger that much harder to ignore.

    The balance between living the life you are in right now and being pulled into the despair over the life you dream of, and were so close to, would kill the strongest man alive. That you are getting through the day, that you are holding it together publicly, and that you have a few good days means that you have a soul dipped in steel. I know you are going to make it out of this, dearest Augusta. Your brain will poke and prod at this event from every goddamn angle like a sore tooth, but that won't be going on forever. Faith will return at some point with a light to help keep the brain from poking in dark places.

  2. Everybody approaches grief in unique ways. But Misfit is right, its not something you can weather in one giant sitting, dust your hands off and move on.

    You know, when it comes, don't fight it, not unless it turns into something chronic that stays with you for days and days. Grieving, which is actually somewhat healthy, should be distinguished from depression, which is very dangerous. Every time something triggers pain over my loss and I have a good cry about my babies - its very random -- I feel much better after.

    If we did not have that ability to cry, that amazing, utterly brilliant mechanism to unburden ourselves from the emotions we feel, we'd go nuts.

    Be kind to yourself whenever it hits, and I pray every visit is short and further apart. Thinking of you!

  3. I am deep in it. The unfairness of it takes my breath away sometimes. Mine seems to be coming out in me as a deep anxiety and unwelcome feelings that I am unloved. I feel slightly better sometimes and then other times I am stuck in a mtg with my pregnant coworker who has a due date similar to when mine would have been and I find myself getting increasingly angry and irritated at everything. Sometimes I cry and ask DH. "Why did our baby die?"

    I'm so sorry you are going through this. I am looking forward to your next steps with many hopes for you.

  4.'s utterly exhausting there will be good days again but these last few days have not been. I'm so sorry I wish I could hug you and I hope your husband does just that. You are strong and will get through this too.

  5. Misfits put it beautifully. It IS like that (infernal) gym machine. And you never know when those steep hills will hit and leave you hurting. The return voyage to grief can be so quick. Pow. You are back in it. (I still return there. It has a different flavor. And I've found that it DOES get better. Slowly. But I don't think you ever shed it entirely, regardless of circumstances.)

    I think, as well and as you've pointed out, that it is so complicated by the fact that you are dealing with multiple losses. There is the loss of your little owl. The loss of procreation with your own eggs. And the loss of that connection to Sattva, someone you love and a known quantity. Any one of those is a lot to deal with. But in combination, it is so very much. Too damned much.

    I don't know if this will help, but I sometimes think that recursive grief hardest the closer you are to taking concrete steps to move forward. It seems to flourish in those moments. I don't know why. Because it's not as if you need the reminder. But sometimes when you feel so very, very far from things, you are actually very close. (And how I am hoping that this is true for you.)

  6. SIGH. It's got to be tough to have a giant metaphor be part of your daily life...The other comments are so thoughtful and beautiful, and I particularly like the possibility that there will be an extra painful wave or cycle as you move forward, like Adele says. But mainly it just seems like such an unbearable experience, and I am so sorry you have to have it, and so impressed with your fortitude and perseverance.

  7. Thank you for stopping by my blog the other day, it meant a lot. And I'm so sorry for your shit luck. I'm weary too. And your dream really struck a chord -- I had one a few months ago, the morning of my birthday, where I was at a crowded shopping mall with my brothers and we got separated trying to get to the second floor - they end up on the escalator, me the elevator. But I can't reach the buttons, it skips my floor, nothing works. I'm super frustrated, I just want to GET THERE. I wake up, and was like, hmm, doesn't take a psychologist to freakin figure that one out, eh. It all just sucks. Hoping some good fortune finds you soon.

  8. I am so sorry Augusta. I have definitely been there too. This journey is certainly filled with ups and downs, and yes, often more downs than ups. I am wishing that you find the upside soon!

  9. i think the feelings of IF are very much like "missing the train" and seeing all the happy passengers whiz by and leave us in the dust. And it is also like we don't even have a train schedule to look at, so we can just get almost hit by the train when it flies by us. I hope your ship comes in soon, b/c with IF we tend to take a different path to getting to the same destination. Thinking of you.

  10. The great cruelty of it all. Right when some of us (meaning me, clearly cant talk for you) need meds to combat the depression, our bodies cannot have them for pursuit or support of pregnancy. It is such a mean, mean joke on us all.

    I medicated between cycles most recently. I think I am better off with it full time, but the current game doesnt allow me to include it. It has always been my go to. Works for me.

    What do I do now? Focus on the moment. Such trite bullshit but the moment is digestible where the past and future are immobilizing.