Writer’s Block.

Jodi Cowles
Jan 7, 2019 · 4 min read
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I wish I could say I took a month off of writing on purpose, like giving up digital expression for Lent or something. But the truth is, it was more like wandering through a mudflat in the fog, searching for a way out as the ground sucked at my feet and with grim intentionality tried to trip me up. I tried to write, almost every day. But I’d get stuck after a sentence or two, unable to tap the words out as my throat tightened around my fingers.

Living over here, without meaningful local friends just yet, I do most of my communication through email correspondence and writing. That hasn’t presented too much of a problem until now, mostly because of wonderful friends and family who make the effort to pursue me from a distance. I often process through writing, and written expression is a deeply important part of who I am. But I’ve discovered something new — what happens when you try to express a sentiment too precious, too painful to the touch? When tapping it out into written word freezes your fingers to the keyboard?

We found out I was pregnant right before the New Year, and a week later I miscarried.

I’ve written a variant of that sentence maybe a hundred times over the last several weeks, and each time it’s where the writing stops. There’s too much behind the words, it’s too difficult to continue. What this calls for is sitting in between my parents on the couch for the evening. Or coffee with a friend on the other side of the table. Or lunch at our favorite spot surrounded by a rowdy crowd of loved ones, who will pause and listen to the quiet words, who will cry with me and hug me and then move right on to jokes and memories and laughter.

This was one of those wrecks on the journey that cry out for skin and bone in close proximity. And yet, if I’d had that abundance of skin and bone nearby to comfort, would I have experienced this depth of peace that passes understanding? These moments of sacred stillness, stripped bare and alone and waiting for succor? Old wounds reopened in a confluence of grief that nearly drowns me, and the unbearably sweet feel of the Hand that holds my head above the waters.

How can I explain through this cold medium, open my heart to this silent screen? How do I marshal the jumble of thoughts in my head, or harness the emotions running rampant, and set them down in ordered finality? Never to change, never to be taken back, never to be rearranged into something that fits better in the next moment. You have that option in verbal communication — if you say something that doesn’t sound quite right a few minutes later, you can change things around to fix it.

But in writing there is finality. And what can I possibly lay down in permanent black letters that will accurately portray the entirety of this story, when one frozen second is wholly unrepresentative?

I feel fine. I am weeping. I took a walk today and teared up when I saw that mother with a newborn. I didn’t think about the baby once today. Today I stayed in my pajamas and watched TV all day because I couldn’t make myself get out of bed. At what cellular level of development does the soul attach? Was that relief that just flickered through my mind, oh God I’m a monster! I am through the five stages of grief so it’s time to move on. This is unbearable. It was so quick, I hardly had time to adjust to the idea. Everyone says it’s a good sign that I can get pregnant. Wait, am I a mother now? I’m so thankful, day after day, for my kind husband. Answer your friend’s email for Pete’s sake! Did I remember to take my folic acid vitamin today so this doesn’t happen again? I’m so thankful it was so early and so relatively painless and that I have space to process and grieve and extra time to mentally prepare myself. Why am I taking this vitamin, I can’t survive 9 months of worrying like this. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Wow, I was beginning to think this would never happen. What is wrong with you! It’s normal for this to take awhile, give yourself a break. If I open my mouth right now rage will boil out onto whoever’s handy, so I better just go to bed. Man do I have some wonderful friends and family. I am so tired. If I tell them, then I have to deal with all the well-meaning response. Good grief it’s not that big of a deal, just look at the world around you! I’m so thankful I’m not alone. Shape up, move on, snap out of it! I can’t write about how fun it is to live in Turkey right now. I feel fine. Really.

The written word is not fluid. There’s no wiggle room. What a strange predicament. I can’t write about it, but I can’t not write about it and move on like it never happened.

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