“good morning angel. happy solstice”
I woke expecting my morning text from My Love and was not disappointed. I get a morning text every day that he is traveling for work or I am on quest. It is one of the aspects of My Love that I have grown to rely on. But this morning I was surprised to wake expecting it. Not because for some reason, today, his morning text shouldn’t be there, but because for several days now I have not expected nor wanted any human connection.
That’s not true. I always want human connection. But sometimes the desire to disconnect from my own life overrides the need for love.
I felt the beginnings of disconnect a few weeks ago. It was weak enough to ignore at first. Then, on Monday, My Love flew away for work and the structures of desire and purpose unraveled within an hour of his absence. The first symptoms were a failure of daily tasks. I did not shower. I did not make breakfast and instead snacked on whatever was easiest to find. I barely wrote, even with a looming deadline in front of me, and what I placed on the blank page was shit I will have to rewrite in the days ahead.
I did not move.
The stomach ache began by afternoon that same day, and I was unable to eat dinner by evening. Pregnant women who skip a meal are only making for harder work getting back to balance on calories again. Too much food causes nausea until the next meal, but not enough makes food the enemy for many meals to come. I could manage only liquids for the rest of the day, and then headed off to bed early, my stomach hurting, my womb hurting, and fears of miscarriage woke me often.
Fear of miscarriage is natural for most women. We do not understand our bodies when we are pregnant, we have no control over the many changes that happen weekly within us and this lack of control leads to fear. The typical platitude is “Don’t worry. It’ll all be ok.” But this platitude is not for the mother’s sake. It is for the speaker’s sake. There is no risk for them. If the pregnancy is normal and baby healthy they can say “I told you so”. And if the mother miscarries or still-births they can say afterwards “Look, many women lose at least one child. You can always try again.” Though a death affects everyone in the family, it is only the mother that has to actually experience the physical pain and fear of it. It is the mother that feels the potential death of her child every time her pregnant belly feels a little strange. Pregnancy is not a normal thing, not something that feels normal to the one carrying the child, it is an abnormal, crazy combination of biological conflicts and perfect timings and communications that are happening inside, causing an emotional cocktail of responses within her.
And so, as my body fell into its disconnect this week, and my belly began to hurt, I found myself battling the miscarriage worries. One of the consequences of having gotten Vasu through his death all those years ago is an eerie awareness of my processing. I feel and am compelled by all the twists and turns of emotional turmoil, and yet at the same time I watch myself from a distance feeling it all, often giving myself the same platitudes that I abhor in others. In the darkness two nights ago, fear made me certain that I was about to lose this little tadpole inside me. My mind reach out to the tadpole, as I did with Vasu in his last minutes, hoping to cradle it through the pain. I made a mental list of steps for after the blood began to flow.
Call my family to drive me to urgent care.
Remember to bring my insurance card.
Pack an overnight bag.
Don’t forget to cry.
I made it through the night still pregnant. And the next day too. Every hour or two I would stretch my thoughts out, calling for some evidence that the tadpole still lived within my cramped and hardened womb, and then talked myself down from fear when silence was the only response.
I didn’t tell My Love much over that time. I didn’t give him platitudes and lies either. I told him I would be alright, because that was true no matter what happened, and that my tummy hurt because that was also true. I didn’t tell him I worried about miscarriage because that would only leave him in a state of distress he did not deserve, and the part of my mind that stays distant from the emotions knew that there would be plenty of time to tell him once the reality was more known. That part of my mind knows how unfair it is to drag another person into the gale.
I did reach out to my sister once during it all. She has been through still-birth, and pregnancy that was not as magical as people wish to believe. She listened to my tears, let them exist, and afterwards I felt a little more capable of facing my fear.
But it wasn’t until I read those words from My Love this morning that I smiled. Not the kind of smile that is joy, or love. This was an ironical, judgmental kind of smile. The smile that comes with a reprimand at myself, and that distant part of my mind sighed a deep sigh that only a parent can give to a naive child that once again stepped into her own folly. I smiled because I suddenly remembered that I do this every year. How it manifests and connects is different, but the process is the same.
Winter Solstice, for me, processes in the exact manor that Vasu’s Deathday and Birthday do. I can feel tension build in the month before, though I do not spend my waking thoughts on it. I usually forget that the day is ahead, or disbelieve that what I feel building has anything to do with it. Then, in the last days of the looming date I am suddenly caught up in emotions and fears that feel out of control. And yet, because I know I am allowed to feel out of control it gives me the freedom to let it be as it is. I struggle with it, but not against it. I forget how to reach out to others for help. I worry that they will think I am broken, because I feel broken, but on the morning of Winter Solstice or Deathday or Birthday, I wake fully and complete again, with a slight emotional hangover that I rightly deserve after such a long storm within myself.
This morning, as I did last year and the year before and all the years back that I can remember, I woke to the darkest day of the year with relief that tomorrow will bring more light. And the next day and the next. I have survived once again the death of the sun. I have grieved for the loss of light, and let it transform me through yet another pain-filled, fearful process. I do not not know how to embrace the darkness. I do not want to love it. Instead, I let myself forget that the light will always return, and feel the flush of relief every Winter Solstice day when memory of summer returns hope to my battered but still-beating heart.