Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoughts about work...

So, I did go back to work in the end. A different position than before - a little lower in the ranks, because there was no way I wanted to do what I'd done before. I have to get a few feelings out about work though - I think it's important that they get said.

The entire reason I started this blog was to plot and document my course while I changed my life. I guess I really didn't have to try to change - it was done for me by the things that had taken place before. "They" say people don't change, but I disagree, obviously - I think people can be changed enormously by events. I've changed, that's for sure.

The only shred of anger I have left is really, at the company I work for. Like many American (and worldwide) businesses, they've spent their time (especially in the recent past) trying to increase their profits as much as possible, and decreasing theft from the company without really changing the way they treat their employees. Managers at every level are given very small budgets to work with, for man-hours and pay, and it is demanded of them that they effect incredible changes with these tiny amounts of hours and pay, and that effecting these changes means they are worthy of being employed. If they don't, on the other hand, the blame is shoved down to the smallest manager possible and made theirs. "You didn't do what we wanted with negligible resources, therefore you are not worthy" is the subliminal motto.

Even when you work incredibly hard, their focus is not the people who work for them, but really, the profit. Even with grandiose claims that their employees come first, or that they serve their employees, it's not really true at all, because all around, I see people - real people - shoved into the dirt in a quest for greater profitability. It happens all the time, but the people who are in a position to fix that giant moral dirt mound are getting paid so much money, that they're blinded to it. It's so easy to overlook when someone is being treated wrongly or when someone who works for you is clearly completely overwhelmed and suffering, if you're getting paid twice what they are... It helps you sleep better at night to overlook what's going on, or to rationalize it when really, stuff like that, leads to stuff like this:

I worked my head off and my heart out for the company. I worked in a position where so many of my colleagues have resorted to excessive smoking, or excessive alcohol consumption just to deal with the stress of what they have to do on a daily basis. Even those who don't, have to often take multiple heart or blood pressure medications because the job they are doing is simply put, bad for their lives and their health. One of my colleagues actually told me that she would get hives sometimes, just thinking about going to work that day. That should tell you something right there.

I respect the colleagues I had when I was working in that position, because they are truly good human beings who are working in a job as dangerous as any I've ever known in terms of it's effect on health and family. The work is not worth it. It is a destroyer of family at the very least, and there is only so long you can keep saying "but they money is good and it helps my family survive" because really...it doesn't. I've seen men and women lose their wives, husbands and children over this job, and then all they get for the money is the ability to hire a good attorney and pay alimony, child support and afford a decent psychologist to help them try to survive emotionally.

There were times I'd get up at four in the morning and get home at 11pm. That is just insane. Nobody can survive that unless they're completely psychotic! Now, I hear you say "Yes, but I have and I'm fine" - but are you really? How balanced are you? Does your wife or husband respect you? Do you really know your children - are they happy or are they sitting on the balcony of your big house falling apart and smoking meth when you're not around? Do you have a family anymore? If you have a glamarous girlfriend or a handsome boyfriend, do you really know them or are they just arm candy... Don't you feel lonely, in the dark of the night when you're staying at some hotel again, underneath the luxury sheets when all you really wish is that someone would hold you and make you feel warm inside? Does your blood pressure medication really control all the symptoms, or does it just mask what's there? How do you feel when you have yet another panic attack in a public bathroom, or start wheezing from the smoke in the middle of a meeting? How do you feel, knowing that death is chasing you with swifter feet than most of the other people you know? Because you know, death is only two steps behind at all times. He's watching you like a vulture, with big bets staked on the fact that you are likely to fall down much sooner than another person.

My problem was the fact that due to my stress and crazy schedule at work, my body rejected it's own child. The most likely scenario is that I suddenly developed pre-eclampsia, raising my blood pressure over the top and simultaneously causing my massive and complete placental abruption. That, coupled with the enormous crazyness of my last two months at work which made it impossibel for my body to properly grow and prepare anymore, led to the death of my next generation. It almost killed me as well, but I add that as an afterthought because it doesn't matter - that doesn't matter - she mattered so much more than me. She was the future. I would have given my life for her without a second thought.

What I am trying to say, is that if a crazy situation doesn't kill you (and it probably will if you keep going), it might kill someone else. Is it worth it, really?

In the end of course, I do matter - H told a friend the second day after Josie died, that he wouldn't know what to do without me. That was nice, and I hope I've been able to live up to his expectations after the event, because really in the end, family is what matters. His expectations matter. He doesn't pay me any money at all, and he and the children are many times as important as work. His opinion of me as a moral human being, a kind person, matters more to me by a thousand times than the opinion of a corporate entity of my ability to make money at the expese of other human beings.

See I can do anything - anything at all - I just choose my life over my work nowadays, and the work I do is done because I can darn well do it, not to impress anyone. Ironically this is some of the best work I've ever done. Do I want a promotion? No, thank you, I don't - not until things change in favor of life, and not death. I will stay where I'm at, dealing with bills, yes, but able to go home every night to my family and hold them in my arms, spending every precious moment with them as if it could be my last, because you just never know...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Healing the natural way...

Well so, here I am, healing - yes, slowly healing.

It's an odd process, healing emotionally from such a deep wound. You really have to work on stitching it up. It's nothing like the breakup of a relationship at all, where hurt can occur, of course, but which is a lot easier on the whole to figure out mentally than this, no matter what. If breaking up is like having your heart smashed on the ground, this feels like your heart has been tortured in the most horrendous way for years, and all that torture has been crammed into a single day somehow, and there you are, suddenly released and blinking in the light, completely bewildered. It's as though you've been turned inside out and dragged along a stony incline by a great big evil demon until there's nothing left of you. Then, you're expected to get on with life. Boy, I tell you, when I said before that you have to rebuild yourself from scratch, I wasn't kidding on little bit.

It's so confusing. It's like being reborn. You're a newborn again, staring at the world through new eyes. You know absolutely nothing about it anymore and for the longest time, you can't remember anything properly from before the event - nothing at all. That time, it seemed, was so good, it can't have been real. For the longest time I felt my entire life before Josie, with H and the children, had been a beautiful dream from which I had just awoken into a living nightmare. Not a nightmare with monsters in it, though - a more base kind of nightmare. The kind of living hell writers muse on, the kind of alien place you're only supposed to find yourself in if you deserve it. It's like being thrown with great force onto the surface of Mars, wearing only a white jumpsuit and equipped with a couple of granola bars and a vague map.

Now I look back a little bit, and can see how far I've come. I have moments though, where I am still there, in that strange landscape, wondering what the hell I'm doing. I had one yesterday where I had to work with a terribly nice pregnant girl for six hours. It was her first child and I felt unable to tell her anything at all about Josie because I was afraid of completely frightening her. I expect she'll find out eventually, but that whole fact upset me because it cast me again into the land of nothingness - childloss - a lost mama instead of a living mama among other mamas. I wanted to suggest herbal remedies to her, this pregnant girl - to nurture her like a mother would, and at the same time I felt ill qualified somehow, to do that without her first knowing my situation. As though I come with a catch - my care, comes with an intangible catch.

Of course, that isn't the case. But I almost hope she doesn't find out what happened to Josie until I am pregnant with a new life again, because then I can be totally candid about my daughter and provide a vulnerable first time mother with a happier ending than I can now. I don't know if that makes sense. It was a very, very sad six hours for me though, and I was often on the verge of tears throughout. I did find myself wishing I could be pregnant as well as her, too. Envious, I know I was. Not jealous, but envious.

With that in mind, I need to make sure I am strong this month, because we are going for it. I am ready. Healing is never really completely done - it's like life, a constant work in progress and I am sitting at that train station still, waiting for the next part of my journey to come upon me and carry me off into the distance, so that I can see what the distance looks like close up. I will carry Josie with me. We want another life, all of us. H, and I, and the space between us that contains our daughter.

A lovely lady, C, came to me today crying because she couldn't bring herself to attend Josie's funeral and felt terrible about it and so sorry that she didn't go. She'd just lost her eight year old nephew, and had felt it was too much for her all in one go. I felt so sad for her - and I hugged her back and told her it was okay. All in all, life can be very hard. She had to say sorry, and had to hear that it was okay, and it was okay. That was a very sweet conversation.

So, I am continuing my daily herbal ritual with Chaste Tree Berry and False Unicorn Root, and my Red Raspberry Leaf and Nettle and Alfalfa... All good tonics. All good for the body and the soul. Plus of course, I've been inundating my body with vitamins of various types for months, and they have been doing me an awful lot of good. Our bodies are wondrous things! They heal so remarkably. I am in awe of my body. For the first time in months - I really, lucidly respect myself again.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

We are trying again...

Trying again.

Trying again.

"Trying again" - gosh it's such a funny thing to say as if the first time had been a failure, or we'd forgotten to put glue on her knee joints or had accidentally made her out of felt and tape instead of flesh and bone. It almost implies that one put the other baby in the "oops" pile and ahem..try again. It's so odd.

So let me put it this way instead: we are attempting to create another little human being. The first time was a grand success with a tragedy at the end. We are hoping this next time will be another grand success, but not with the tragedy at the end, you know?

Josie lives in the space between us. She lays there quietly with her eyes shut, day after day, and that is where she is going to stay forever, sleeping like that with her eyes shut. It's as though she's our own sleeping beauty, sleeping in a glass case there between us - a forever baby.

I am having a day with tears in my eyes today though - I have them sometimes. Tears have been in my eyes waiting to come out since 6.30am this morning when I got up. Since the dream that brought them on, only coming out properly at 2pm when I spoke to H about it.

Having a forever baby is making me cry today. I'm fragile today - not strong, but feeling a little winded and in need of a sit down. I've also gone back to work, though not in the former job thank goodness - in a much easier role. I don't know if I can continue working like that for long though, so I know I need to get my painting and illustration going properly before I lose it totally and just quit! I plan to be freelance by the summer this year...

I have a need to be pregnant with new life now though, too. It's a feeling that comes from the very bottom of my soul - the soul that would have loved to hold Josie still in her arms, and not just in the middle of her chest where her heart is. It's not about unfairness because it's nothing to do with fair or unfair. It's just the need to be creative comes with a need to create and if a part of me has stopped creating, the rest of my creative parts have a very hard time operating. I really don't have a clue how I will get my painting started properly without being pregnant again. I need to have this creation inside me to be inspired. After the new creation comes out and lives, my inspiration will be fine. But now...in limbo...I am stuck. Stuck and going nowhere.

So, we are trying. I am hoping we can be successful and don't have to wait long. In some ways, I think that a portion of my mourning for Josie has to be done during or after another pregnancy. I don't know if that makes any sense, but I feel like I am waiting now at a station for a train that embodies another pregnancy to guide me to another place. I am ready, so I am sitting there on the bench, quietly hoping in my heart that we can see another heart beating in my belly soon.

Dream Interpretation...

It's okay, I am alright. In my inner heart I probably am torn, but much less so than so many other people who are in the depths of depression or coping very badly with their grief. There are many people out there much worse off in that regard than me. I know my baby is gone though - that I do know, and it's not as though I spend afternoons trying to wish her back to life, because that isn't real and isn't going to work.

I don't know. Perhaps the whole dream was to do with having another baby, and my body be the home for another. In that regard, the porch would be my womb, and the memory of Josie would have to depart for another child to enter. For a while, I really thought of my womb as Josie's home, which was then empty of her. The empty feeling was the most awful thing. As I healed, I still thought of it as her house, her room and at times in my very early grief, felt almost panic stricken as it shrunk as well as a terrified elation at my own healing, because the smaller it got, the harder it would be to put her back in there...

Funny things, our minds do to us in grief. It's almost like being a child again, having to learn what the hell to do in that kind of grief situation. When you're a kid, you have to learn "big" things. Then as an adult most of the things you learn are little things, until something like this happens and then you're transported straight back into a world of child learning, where grief is once again a "big" thing you have to learn...you know?

It's really simply put actually - the world it taken out from under you feet, not in a sorrowful way this time (with the learning process) but leaving you instead in a totally helpless state with nothing at all to hang on. You have to re-learn everything after something like this - even loading the dishwasher, and when you do, you forge your own reality. You also (bonus) have the opportunity to re-form your life from ONLY the best constituent parts of your life and personality before.

What I am trying to say I suppose, is that you take with you into the future a being - yourself - of your own forming in the vacuum and emptiness of grief, so you can, if you choose, rebuild yourself as a better person than before. It's like you're a soul suspended in space, held together by a spark of light, being circled by the broken parts of your before-life, having to take old pieces and stardust and stick them on yourself to make you solid again. You can leave some parts behind you - you just have to make sure you take and leave the right parts.

Dream of Josie...poignant and profound...

I dreamed of a long, white front porch. Everything was white and the sunshine came in the big windows onto a set of broad shelves. On the bottom shelf was a box, a lot like the little coffin Josie was buried in. It was white too. Inside the box lay Josie. he lid of the box was halfway off and I took it off, in the dream, to see her.

She was covered in very light pastel blankets and she was clearly dead. I dreamt we had put her there and had her embalmed because we didn't want to let her go and wanted to hold her every day. Harry was behind me. Everything was so white it was almost hard to see, like on a snowy day when you're driving and your eyes are smarting from the light.

I took her out of the box and held her, feeling her weight. I cried and cried. Then I put her back into the box and covered her up and looked at her. She was still my beautiful baby, but her features were just...corroding away. I opened her left eye to look in it and it was so, so dark, just like in the hospital. Her skin was changing color - it looked bruised, like an old bruise that turned yellow, with red around her eye.

I started crying harder and communicated with Harry, though not in speech - more like a melding of minds, and said that I felt guilty because I wanted to bury her, but that I also wanted to keep her here to keep holding her. I didn't know what to do, because if I buried her I wouldn't be able to come and look at her any more. But I also knew she needed to go into the ground and rest and in some ways, I didn't want to look at her any more. That thought made me feel even more sorrow and I cried more. Harry communicated with me without words and said that we should bury her with Annie Jo (Harry's favorite Aunt, who Josie was named after and who passed away about a year ago - January 4th I think) so that they could have each other for company.

Just about then I woke up. I felt very sensitive - this dream was nothing like the beautiful birth dream I'd had a few months previously. It wasn't horrible either - just came with a message I haven't really been able to completely figure out yet, because while some of it might be obvious, there's something else in it - not just about moving on. I don't cry every day, or feel depressed, or bitter, or as though I haven't let my baby go, so while subliminally I may still have letting go to do, this dream has to mean something more than that. I wonder when I'll figure it out.

I love my Josie. We are trying for another child and this hasn't been our month (most likely) but I didn't figure that one out until I woke up. I do long for another child though, it's true - a rainbow baby I can love and hug and nurture, more thereafter too, probably. The feeling of Josie's soft, warm baby skin will never leave me, nor will anything else about her, and for that I am grateful. That's what I have of my little beauty. Goodness me, life and death and dreams are all so intertwined.

Here she is, in my arms.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas is past

Well, Christmas has come and gone. I can't say it was a terrible occasion. Actually the day itself was peaceful and quite pleasant. But the festive feeling - the joy - wasn't there this year. Not to say I wasn't happy the entire time, just that the atmosphere was guarded and subdued.

I didn't spend the whole day thinking about Josie. I didn't drive out and cry inconsolably at her grave either, like I did on Thanksgiving, when I really and truly, for that day, could not think of things for which to be grateful. On Thanksgiving I played Shaker hymns from the radio all over the cemetery for all the little babies, and sobbed into McDonalds napkins until I'd run out.

No, this Christmas I ate good food and gave presents, and nobody left the house like they did on Thanksgiving. Kind of "fake it until you make it", yes, 'tis true - but on the other hand I felt better at the end of the day than I would have, had I spent all day crying. I didn't cry once on Christmas.

Do I feel bad about that? No - not at all. I feel good about it actually. I can remember my daughter without bursting into tears. That's a good thing. When I want to look at her now, I can do it without tears obscuring absolutely everything.

For Christmas, I got some jam (yes, jam), a lovely mug, a necklace and a beautiful coat from H. And various other things. I gave H a stone chess set, which he liked but which we have yet to play. Perhaps we can do that tonight. My brother and sister were over from England for the occasion, which was awesome - I've missed them so much! How could I have had a bad Christmas with them here?

Here are some pictures of all of us: