And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: ‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all’–
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: ‘That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.’
Sometimes, my heart just gets all heavy for women and the ways in which we just don’t understand each other. Or accept each other. Sometimes, my heart just gets all heavy because my words here are misunderstood.
And because I am my words, I am misunderstood. Like Prufrock.
My heart gets heavy sometimes for the ways in which we are expected to tip-toe around the big issues for fear of inadvertently offending someone when the issues we’re discussing aren’t the same or meant to be offensive.
We’re expected to leave the boulders in our paths to progress instead of just blasting through them with a stick of dynamite.
That’s what the excerpt from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is saying. At least as I read it.
To me, it’s not worth it to just smile and keep going and pretend that things are fine when they aren’t. It’s not worth it to me to go through life with my words misunderstood and then find that, one day, when it’s too late, I want to clarify or offer up an explanation or have the important conversations and find that no one wants to hear me.
When I wrote my feelings about my c-section the first time I was met with some resistance that prompted me to write a response. The comments were lost in my move to WordPress, so I have nearly no way of knowing what comment sparked my first, somewhat personally heated, response.
But I wrote it. And as a writer and a woman who believes in the power of her own convictions, I stand by it.
When I wrote about my c-section again on Tuesday, I wrote about the anger and pain associated with a birth that had gone awry. The scar that I will always have of a broken system and my broken heart.
I wrote about MY experience. And no one else’s.
When I write about my experience with my c-section and the aftermath, the way it contributed to my PPD and the battle I’ve fought for the past two years, I’m writing about my experience alone. And what I’m writing is incredibly personal to my experience. To my life.
There was a comment on Tuesday’s post that has been sitting heavy with me. And I’m hesitant to even write this post because I don’t want to seem insensitive to this woman’s plight. But in the sake of throwing some dynamite at some boulders, I can’t NOT write this.
I cannot even begin to imagine what losing a child is like. My heart breaks for mothers who experience this once, much less multiple times. (And yes, women who have lost children are mothers to me because the bond between mother and child is often as immediate as seeing two pink lines on a pregnancy test.)
But I wouldn’t try to empathize with a mother who has lost a child when I myself have not lost one.
In the same vein, I would hope that mothers who have lost children wouldn’t think that women aren’t grateful to have children based on how those children arrived in this world.
I am infinitely grateful that God saw fit to entrust Joshua to my care for the duration of his (and my) life. Infinitely.
But I can love my son and be grateful for his presence in my life and STILL resent the manner in which he arrived.
That simultaneous existence of conflicting emotions is one of the amazing and frustrating parts of being human and living this life.
Sometimes I feel like we try to empathize a little too much with others. We try to equate our situations when situations are not equal. They are not the same. We are not the same.
We are looking for connections because we NEED connections. We NEED to know that we’re not alone in this life. I write this blog to connect with people.
And you know? I can’t fault people for wanting those connections.
But I can also do my best to say that instead of more empathy, what we need is more sympathy.
We need to know that we can respect and understand another person’s position on an issue or an emotion without trying to feel just like they feel. Especially when we are not the same person–have not lived the same life–and thus, cannot feel the same way another person feels. Ever.
In the words of the awesome Kate,
“Each of our struggles is our own to bear.
None is worse.
All are hard.”
Let’s lift each other up and accept each other for our differences of emotion instead of reading hurtful words where hurt is not intended.
As I’ve said before, and will no doubt say again, we’re all in this together.