This and THAT

 

Our very own Dr. Marc sent me the original link to this very powerful story.  I cried when I read it.  Then I waited two days, read it again, and cried just a little bit more.  Meet Terry.  She’s strong, insightful, and a fighter.  She blogs over at Terrilox.  This post was originally posted on Terrilox on November 19, 2012 and is reprinted with permission.  Warning:  Tissues required.

At the begin­ning of Novem­ber I signed off of Facebook.

It was my way of retreat­ing from the empty, shal­low, judge­ment spew­ing from my news feed.

I have always been too sen­si­tive, and on Novem­ber 4th I deter­mined I was way too sen­si­tive even for Facebook.

In real­ity, I did actu­ally have a lot of work to do, and after remov­ing Face­book from all of my devices, the Face­book Anx­i­ety went away.  How­ever, two weeks in, I real­ized I needed to con­nect with some­one I was only con­nected to on Face­book, and my Face­book boy­cott ended, with­out nearly as much fan­fare as it had started.

I only talk about Face­book, because in writ­ing this blog about this and THAT — I real­ized my retreat had so lit­tle to do with Face­book and more to do with a retreat into myself and away from the world.

I woke up last Fri­day ambiva­lent about the fact that I had signed up for a yoga retreat. All I could think was, “I am not in the mood for forced inter­ac­tion with strangers, even strangers that do yoga. If we get in a cir­cle and start shar­ing any­thing, I might die. Why did I say yes to shar­ing a room with strangers? How am I going to sur­vive this?”

The ques­tions were swirling.

As I loaded my lug­gage, I flashed back to when I was four and my mother left me at day­care for the first time. I was trau­ma­tized. My mother had dared to send me into a room of strange lit­tle chil­dren. Fri­day morn­ing, as I was hug­ging my hus­band good­bye, I felt like I was head­ing to day­care, only this time I was 43-years old, I was dri­ving and pay­ing for it myself.

It had been eight years since my last yoga retreat. It was an entirely dif­fer­ent per­son ago. Would Terry ver­sion 4.3 be able to han­dle this?

Anx­i­ety Rising.

To act out even fur­ther, I stopped at Taco Bell for a bur­rito and a Dr. Pep­per.  Just the way to kick-off my healthy, heart-opening week­end. Eat­ing crap in an act of com­plete defi­ance.  Terry ver­sion 3.3 would have bought a pack of cig­a­rettes, so I con­sid­ered this progress.

There was no traf­fic. The music blar­ing from the radio was punc­tur­ing my armor.  Coun­try music can do that like no other music can.  I started to relax.  I credit part of this to the Dr. Pep­per, which I have always believed has med­i­c­i­nal prop­er­ties hid­den in those 23, prob­a­bly com­pletely unnat­ural flavors.

The music played on.  It was as if God was play­ing DJ on The High­way at Sir­ius XM, care­fully build­ing a playlist in an effort to reach my taco-bell-eating-dr-pepper-drinking-why-the-hell-am-i– doing-this-soul.

I’m a tough nut to crack in the God depart­ment. We’ve had a life­long love-hate rela­tion­ship, but some­how I always real­ize if He was not around I would have no one to dis­cuss all of the things no one else in my life wants to lis­ten to — most espe­cially me. I know some peo­ple call God the Uni­verse or even like to think of Him as Her, and I say, what­ever works for you — but for me, there is some­thing com­fort­ing about a grandfatherly-type fel­low with white hair and a long beard, sit­ting on a heav­enly throne.

Depend­ing on the con­ver­sa­tion, I fluc­tu­ate between that and some­one who looks just like George Burns.

My sun­roof was open. Rain or no rain, I always love the sun­roof open when I can see the ocean.  The ocean was now in view.

Kenny Ches­ney was singing El Cer­rito Place — it was blar­ing through the speak­ers.  I found myself singing louder with each verse, as rain poured though the sunroof.

Some­one said they might have seen you, where the ocean meets the land

So I’ve been out here all night lookin’ for your foot­prints in the sand
Did you hear the ocean singing, baby did you sing along
While you danced out in the water, to some ol’ for­got­ten song

Were you even here at all?

I’ve been lookin’ for you, baby. I’ve been lookin’ for you baby. I’ve been lookin’ for you baby all night long … 

Tears were stream­ing down my cheeks by the end of the song. It’s an absolutely beau­ti­ful song, but it was more than that. As the final note of El Cer­rito Place played out, I heard a song inside my own head.

“De-Da-De-Da-De-Do”

The tears mul­ti­ply and become sobs. My grand­mother was in the car. Per­haps she was only in my mind, but the song and the voice was so dis­tinct it was as if she was there.

I sud­denly remem­bered I was sup­posed to bring some­thing for the altar at the yoga retreat. I had planned to bring some­thing that reminded me of her. I for­got. Or per­haps I just did not want to remember.

I miss her every sin­gle day, often to the point of intense sob­bing, usu­ally in the shower.  No one in my young life was more awe­some to me than my Maw­maw (except pos­si­bly Donny Osmond in third grade), and I always knew she thought I was equally as fan­tas­tic. Every kid should be made to feel that absolutely perfect.

I never real­ized until Maw­maw was phys­i­cally gone how large the hole in my heart had grown in her absence from my life while she was still here on earth. I hope she knows how impor­tant she was to me, with the way it all ended for her, I will never be cer­tain. I know that is part of what makes remem­ber­ing so painful. But on Fri­day, in the car, my spunky Maw­maw was singing her favorite made up song and I silenced the radio long enough to sing along with her. Out loud, with the sun­roof open, as the driz­zle set­tled on my steer­ing wheel.

I arrived at El Cap­i­tan Canyon at exactly 3:00.

After releas­ing so much in the car on the drive up, I was feel­ing slightly more open to the week­end. Actu­ally, I was feel­ing a lot more open, but still scared to death. As long as I did not have to talk about THAT.  Let’s keep THAT in the box.  Locked.

I was sched­uled to share the cabin with Tatyana (some­one I did know) and two women I did not. I was the first one in our cabin and I had two glo­ri­ous hours of alone time, read­ing and tak­ing it all in. I could not have asked for a bet­ter transition.

Our first yoga class was at 5:00. We started with a writ­ing exer­cise. All I could think was,“Thank God we are not shar­ing in a circle.”

I started writ­ing down every­one I was grate­ful for in my life. My hus­band. My par­ents. My in-laws. Ellen. Chaz. Heidi. Selma. Dr. Kalan. Tatyana. Maw­maw. Bob. Memom. GranGran.

The list filled three columns. I had so many peo­ple to be grate­ful for, so why was I still feel­ing so incred­i­bly sorry for myself? I hate weak­ness.  I hate whin­ing. I was feel­ing like a weak-willed whiner.  It’s no way to start a week­end like this.

In my first down dog the tears started to roll. I knew there was no way I was going to get through this week­end with­out fac­ing THAT, but not tonight. Not now.

The tears sub­sided and turned into sweat. I was slightly pissed off at my inabil­ity to fool myself.

The pulse of THAT grew stronger.

After din­ner, Tatyana and I finally met our other cabin mates, Mar­sha and Laura. They were great. Easy. We all sat around the cabin, drink­ing wine and talk­ing. I was able to hold back shar­ing any­thing at first, but Mar­sha and Laura were talk­ing about their children.

Yes, THAT.

Chil­dren.

No, I don’t have any. I can’t have any of my own. My eggs are too old. Iron­i­cally, I’ve never felt phys­i­cally bet­ter or stronger, despite the fact that I drank a Dr. Pep­per this after­noon. This is one rea­son I am quite cer­tain God is a man, a woman never would have made us like this.

My hid­ing ended when some­one asked me directly about THAT.

“Do you have children?”

I spoke softly on the bot­tom bunk bed. I have been try­ing nat­u­rally and via IVF.  No suc­cess. Our next step is donor eggs. I choked up and noth­ing came out. Just tears.

Will they ever stop?

When I talk about THAT, my soul feels as bar­ren as my womb. I feel empty. I feel incom­plete. I feel like a bad wife. A washed up celebrity from the 70’s. A woman who needs to be returned. Expired. My hus­band does not put this on me, I do. I feel uncer­tain of what the hell I am doing here if not to pass a part of myself on. What is the fuck­ing point?  How did this hap­pen? There has never been a prob­lem I could not solve until now.  How did an only child who wanted Eight is Enough (I used to name all eight of them) get to be 43 years old and childless?

These are the never-ending ques­tions run­ning through my mind.

This is why God and I have a love hate relationship.

Sleep was wel­come. Any­thing to escape all of THAT.

We woke up at 7:00am on Sat­ur­day for break­fast. Yoga was from 9:30–11:30. I hit the mat again. Feel­ing stronger. No tears. As long as I did not have to look any­one in the eye and speak, I could get through it.

When class ended, we were get­ting ready to head to lunch and some­one asks if we can intro­duce our­selves. I think to myself, “Please, God, no. Just let me eat lunch. Let me wal­low in my own crap. No sharing.”

God is George Burns.  He is laugh­ing. I am sit­ting in a cir­cle. Petrified.

As the cir­cle opens up I hear very lit­tle, except every time some­one men­tions THAT. Chil­dren. The word is mock­ing me. When it’s my turn, I intro­duce myself. I talk about where I take yoga. I say it’s been a really hor­ri­ble year, I am try­ing to be grate­ful and I start to cry. I pass the Kleenex box. I could get noth­ing else out.

I could feel it stuck between my shoul­der blades, right behind my heart.  Burning.

My heart. My bro­ken heart.

Tatyana hugs me and whis­pers, “You will be a Mom. I know it.” In that moment, I am grateful.

After lunch all I could do was sleep until it was time for breath work at 3:30. Breath work. Am I breath­ing? I keep ask­ing myself.

Before we start the breath work there is more shar­ing. At this point, I am just going with the flow. A sweet young woman named Hay­ley comes and sits on my mat. With­out real­iz­ing it, I am shar­ing again. It turns out her step-mother had infer­til­ity issues in her early 40’s — but she ended up get­ting all the way to 50 with­out a child. She had recently started a foun­da­tion to help women in this sit­u­a­tion to adopt older children.

My eyes glaze over when I hear this. Will I be one of those women? I want to ask about the foun­da­tion, but I can’t. I am not there yet. I am not ready to give up, despite the hope­less­ness I feel inside.

I retreat unable to accept the pos­si­bil­ity that I will not carry a child. I am pro­cess­ing the idea of donor eggs right now, but when I hear about this foun­da­tion, I think — what if I am child­less at 50?

I lie down and start breathing.

In-in-out.

In-in-out.

This goes on for a long time. I am dizzy. I am cry­ing. The pain behind my heart is burn­ing. I have to stop and lift my neck, try­ing to release it.

The instruc­tor asks us to think about our own per­sonal sym­bol. Mine was a Tiger. Maw­maw always called me Tige, short for Tigeroo.

Today I was not think­ing of Terry the tiger cub, but Terry the Mama Tiger.

As the breath is puls­ing through my body, warm­ing my hands, my toes, and yes, even my heart … For the first time since this jour­ney began, the THAT starts to scatter.

I was not child­less.  I was not barren.

These few moments of allow­ing myself to open to the pos­si­bil­ity starts to fill the hole in my heart.

I kept flash­ing back to this video I saw on YouTube of a real Mama Tiger tak­ing care of baby piglets as fiercely as if they were her own. If a Mama Tiger can take care of an entirely dif­fer­ent species as if they were hers then I can fully open my heart to donor eggs.

Not as a last resort, not as the end of the line, not as the result of a fail­ure — but as a gift from God via a self­less young woman.  A mitzvah.

Breathe deeply.

After breath work we had Yin Yoga with Ellen. Ellen was the rea­son I was on this retreat at all, really.  End­ing the day with her class was good for me.  I felt open, vul­ner­a­ble and safe.

The burn­ing behind my heart was dis­si­pat­ing.  Was I finally let­ting go?

Some­times peo­ple come into your life at just the right moment.  Iron­i­cally, she came into my life because of Chaz.  I love how the world works some­times.  As crap­tas­tic as 2012 had been, I can’t imag­ine it had I not had Ellen guid­ing me through it on the mat.

The evening ended with a Thanks­giv­ing din­ner in the rain.  I was so incred­i­bly grate­ful for the rain.  I felt cleansed.  Scrubbed clean, ready to fin­ish the year unafraid to talk about THAT.

Sun­day morn­ing was the final yoga class of the week­end.  I held noth­ing back.  I was just so incred­i­bly grate­ful.  It was a great feel­ing to have four days before Thanksgiving.

I drive home full of grat­i­tude.  I was glad I dropped myself off at that day­care full of strangers.  I was ready to see my hus­band, feel­ing much lighter than when I left on Friday.

My sun­roof was open while blar­ing The High­way.  I am singing Kid Rock, Tim McGraw, Sug­ar­land, Kenny Ches­ney, George Strait and so many more at the top of my lungs for 115 miles. This is some­thing I can only do alone in the car, my hus­band would rather poke out his own eyes than lis­ten to Kenny Ches­ney or Sug­ar­land. I would rather poke out my own eyes than lis­ten to sports on the radio. We gen­er­ally com­pro­mise on a good mix of 70s and 80s with some Sina­tra and Willie thrown in for good mea­sure. It works for us.

In that moment I was grate­ful to have my own time, with my own music.

Through­out the week­end, Chaz had asked us to take a video diary of our expe­ri­ence.  I tried, but it was too scary.

So I write.

A lit­tle of this, a lot of THAT.

As I was dri­ving away from El Cap­i­tan Canyon, I looked to my left and there was Hay­ley.  Our eyes met and she made a curve over her own belly to sym­bol­ize preg­nancy and mouthed, “good luck.”

I was really grate­ful and for the first time in a long time, I felt open to any and all possibilities.

The Mama Tiger was ready to receive her cubs, how­ever George Burns wants to man­i­fest them.

 

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