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And just like that, I am Prufrock again

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.

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Kristin @ Meanbean

Thursday 21st of April 2011

Beautifully written. I have several deeply personal experiences that I plan to blog about eventually, because I know I can't be the only one out there who's gone through these things - but I've VERY hesitant because I know of the potential for hurtful comments. I will try to adopt your attitude and remind myself of Kate's wise words.


Thursday 21st of April 2011

I think important conversations about things that matter HAVE to happen. We can't just be dainty and clinking tea cups and never talking about the things that matter.

I hope you find a way to say the things you need to say.


Wednesday 20th of April 2011

I think I have commented on this before (but I can't really remember whether I actually said it or just thought it.), but it wasn't until your writings that I finally understood the pain and sorrow some people have with their c-section. Once upon a time I believed that if a woman had a c-section, it was all sunshine and roses and it meant she really needed it. Then I read your earlier post on it and realized, hey, maybe this really does suck for some women. It doesn't mean they love their child(ren) any less, just that the birth was bad.

Once upon a time I made mention to someone else about something that made me very upset and said that probably seemed rather trivial since other people have more severe problems. She said, that just because my story may not be as bad as other people's that doesn't make it any less upsetting or any less important. Just be sympathetic and understanding. It isn't the time to point out that someone else has it bigger, better, longer, stronger. We know. We can feel sad for someone else without lessening or changing our experience. I always try to remember that.

And that's my book for the day. Great post!


Thursday 21st of April 2011

Your friend was so right, Amy. So right. The differences between our personal stories don't discount our experiences and the emotions associated with them.


Wednesday 20th of April 2011

I don't think you're misunderstood either, I think that women that have normal births have a hard time connecting with those that have had CS, and you're right they truly don't understand their (your) pain. God has different plans for each and everyone of us and the road that we have to take whether it is our doing or not is somehow part of the book that we live. Sometimes we have control over the situation and sometimes we don't. I was there that dreadful day and it was so smooth going until shift change, and I just think the nurse on duty didn't want to deal with the situation, and we as patients are at the mercy of the nurses and doctors. We have a voice, and I know that if there is a next time for you, you will raise that voice and be heard. I am so proud of the mother and wife that you have become and the writer....OMGosh I love reading the things that you write. I tried to raise you with that voice and I always said you can voice your opinion with anyone, as long as it is done with respect and let me tell you, you have done just that all of your life. Were you always understood as a child, and student probably not but I can tell you they know who you are today!


Wednesday 20th of April 2011

Oh, Mama. You're going to make me cry. Seriously. I wouldn't be the woman I am today without you.


Wednesday 20th of April 2011

I thought I had commented on that post but I see I didn't, so I will combine comments here.

Firstly, and I think I've told you this before - I feel the same way and am still grieving it. (Though mine was, in a sense necessary because he was breech.) And I wish people would accept that we need to grieve and that for some of us it DOES matter how our babies arrive.

As for the comment, it's hard to tell whether it's meant with anger & criticism or not, and I wouldn't dare try to read into her feelings around something so sensitive. But I think you did what you had to do - you wrote you honest experience and in doing so contributed to the dialogue around this issue. And when she commented, you responded respectfully.

I don't think you're misunderstood. I just think sometimes the stories we have to share are hard for other people to read. And that's okay, as long as we're respectful.


Wednesday 20th of April 2011

I guess I'm just sensitive to comments like that because I've heard it so many times since I opened up about my experience.

And when I say "misunderstood" I don't mean that people confuse my words and read something different. I mean that they don't know my heart. My heart is misunderstood. And my words ARE my heart, you know?


Wednesday 20th of April 2011

Bravo! Awesome post!!!


Wednesday 20th of April 2011

Thank you, Jamie!

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