Justifying Sadness

I was never going to write about what happened to me six months ago. Close family and friends knew of events as they were happening, they reacted along with me, and were there for me then — but as time went on and I suffered the fall-out through the spring and summer, I felt unable to speak about what had happened and what was still happening to me. I stopped writing when writing about everything would have probably made it less brutal; made me feel less alone or overwhelmed or desperate. Yet writing requires flow and a functioning mind. The truth was, I was too depressed to save myself. But, even more seriously, I didn’t believe I had a right to be depressed.

Writing about what was going on with me, posting about it in a blog or on social media — when I couldn’t even articulate to my significant other or my parents what I was feeling every single day — just wasn’t possible. I didn’t want to sound ridden with angst and desperate for attention. I didn’t want to be scoffed at when mentioning the word “therapy.” Enough people who were close to me tried to make me feel better by just recounting stories of the millions of other women and families this has happened to, as if affirming to me that, “Well, other people can handle it. So you should be able to.”

In mid-March of this year, I learned I was pregnant. We were overjoyed. We felt ready. We were planning our wedding for August, so we knew we’d have to find some kind of work around. Finances were finally straightening out. We knew we could make it work. My fiance has three children from a previous marriage, so we knew this would also be a factor when raising our own child, but hey, we’re a great team, we could do it!

Then the first week of April came. And this happened:

Fiance was hospitalized with a stomach condition. He stayed at the hospital and I stayed with him for three days.

Fiance was terminated without warning, probably related to being hospitalized. He was working full-time as a 1099 contractor for a start-up, and so no need to justify a termination.

I go to my first OBGYN visit, and my pregnancy is confirmed

The day after my pregnancy is confirmed, I begin to bleed excessively. I go to the emergency room, but at that point my pregnancy is lost and all they can do is have me go for a follow-up at my OBGYN. Who confirms that indeed, I am no longer pregnant.

Bills begin to fall behind because fiance was making most of our income and suddenly all bills fall to me.

We cancel our wedding.

I spend the next three months doing everything I can to keep us from being evicted/having my car repossessed/etc.

We have our hot water shut off and we bathe out of a pot of boiling water for three weeks.

We cancel our cell phone services and buy old fashioned track phones. I’m suddenly cut off from the modern world and social media.

We have our Internet shut off at home. Living out of the library for most of the summer.

I believed all these challenges were my fault. At one point in my life, I messed up. I didn’t devote enough money to a savings account, even though we were living paycheck to paycheck even when my fiance was working. I didn’t get my life in order, do enough to take care of myself and have a healthy body that could sustain a pregnancy. I was lazy. I was unambitious. I was weak. I was unmotivated to find a higher paying job. I was too embarrassed about my situation to ask for help.

It became a struggle to visit friends or attend after work events, either because I couldn’t justify the cost for gas, or because I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing people. From April until September I did not wear makeup or style my hair. I wore the same tired clothes. I owned one bra that I wore and washed daily, unable to afford a second one. I became unproductive at work, spending my time browsing the Internet instead of working on projects or new ideas.

I managed to visit my doctor once and request a referral for a therapist, but she insisted on sending me for blood work to make sure my depression wasn’t caused by anything physical. I went and had the blood work done, but could never bring myself to go back for the follow-up appointment.

My fiance was having a worse time than I was. He was the one who lost his job after all, he was the one dealing with a stomach illness, he was the one facing daily scorn and ridicule as he struggled to find work for four months. Even when he began booking wedding clients, we were still desperate, and our pleas for help were often met with criticism: “Why can’t you get a job?” He was dealing with drama with the mother of his children, his father passed away, and the entire time he was stuck at home without a car or Internet. Knowing everything he was going through, I had to suppress my own sadness and confusion, and be the rock.

I was a rock that bleeds.

Eventually we pulled ourselves out of it. My fiance, who once ran a mobile DJ business on the side, re-branded and began booking wedding clients again. Both our parents saved our lives with groceries and the occasional assistance with bills. At the end of July, my fiance found another amazing job that has now already promoted him to salary at an income on par with what he was making before. Our Internet is back on. I was finally able to watch Season 7 of Game of Thrones.

The struggle isn’t over. Now it is raw and obvious, with nothing left to tackle but the lasting impact of a miscarriage, a new mound of freshly acquired debt and overdue bills from that time we couldn’t even afford to put food on the table, and the new hectic schedule and lifestyle of a professional couple with two full-time jobs located 20-miles a part, a side business, and one shared vehicle that is beginning to fall apart. And all I want is a break, a chance to catch my breath, get to know myself again, fall in love with myself again. I want to buy new makeup and clothes and feel alive. I want the words to flow, a never ending stream, unblocked by the darkness and the fear. Because that is what this time has really done to me, it has made me fear the future. I fear it because with every challenge I face in my daily life, it is becoming more and more difficult to play the game. It’s becoming more difficult to clear hurdles, knowing that there are more hurdles on the other side.

We could be happy, we really could. The trick is learning to define happiness. And learn to forgive yourself. That is the thing I can’t do. I can’t forgive myself for letting things get so bad, for not asking for help sooner, for never being able to learn from these lessons. I honestly don’t think I have a right to be sad. A friend of mine to say to me yesterday, “Just one of those things would cause anyone to hide from the world for a month.”

Her saying this made me feel brave enough to write down the words:

I had a miscarriage. Now I’m scared to ever have children. When things get bad, I shut down, and I let the horrible things pile up instead of facing them and dealing with them. Instead of turning to art to deal with my issues, I have instead decided to turn to drugs. I’m trying to figure this out. I will recommit myself to finding a professional therapist who can help me work through these issues. I refuse to live my life regretting that instead of spending my twenties being brilliant, I spent my twenties feeling like I wasn’t good enough to even try. Because I was a fucking brilliant sixteen-year-old, and next March I’ll be an even more brilliant thirty-year-old. Nothing in-between was wasted space. Nothing in my life was wasted space.

And I am not wasted space.