31 August 2014

the incredible weight of not bearing things

Paradoxes. Mostly, lately, this one:

The incredible weight of not bearing things.

But, bearing the burden of explanations. The answers to the why not's and the when's. Or even worse, the most dreaded of the pointed questions which are not in fact questions at all, but prescriptions: You should do x, y, z with your life. 

They do not say it like this, exactly, but that with your life dwindles at the end of their words, breathless, unspoken, an incandescent spiral of smoke that lingers after the forest fire. Isn't it enough to have withered up the trees? It hovers there in a misty halo above the treetops and you would like to put on your own hat and jump, jump, jump high as you can and break that subtle, smoky ceiling with your own self-appointed topper. To beat your own chest and release your wild, wild YAWP! 

No, they don't say it -- but you hear it in the way their voices trail off...

You sigh -- you are good at this -- you intone from a favorite poet, in your topmost organ,
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? 

This, in the safe, impregnable space of your mind. Here, where you can make things, and mold them just so, and hold onto them -- here, your own inviolable infinity.

So, you have your brain. There is that. And it is good. Put your hand to your heart, feel it beat -- sometimes, like now, it's faster. But it slows because you make it. You tell it,

There, there, fluttery thing. And, thank you.  -- Because it is important to remember that you are, and to love yourself.

(Oh, but it eats at you, still, silly string of words! You want to retort how odd it would be to say to a garden -- I've only seen you in your fallow time, so you must not grow things, or want to. You hold your tongue; once it flies, it's flown.)

A few months ago you were reading Sylvia Plath's letters to her mother, her journals. You could feel the incredible weight of her life slipping away as you read on and on, the stack of pages that once filled your hand growing smaller and smaller, absorbing less space, and you are urging yourself to read slower, urging her to not do it -- please don't -- until,


And finality has always terrified you, but has never made you quite sad in that particular way until you had to say goodbye to someone you have grown to adore, who you never actually knew. And what kind of loss is that? What's the word for it? You only know of the way it makes your belly feel swollen and tighter at once.

It makes you sad to encounter things that despite all your caring -- your infinite caring -- you cannot fix.

And you have felt this before, this thing in your belly. It is the useless pain of a cramping lower-half. You roll all around in it, in your bed for two days straight until it dissipates, is absorbed by some other part of the universe. Does someone else have to take it?, you wonder. And you have said to your friend,

If I were pregnant, it would be painful -- in a whole new way, in a way I can't imagine, I know. But at least it would be useful pain. 

You do not wish for pain, but for pain to be useful, and it is a very confusing thing to want pain to be anything at all.  And what about this? Is there a word for this? You start to think of all the words that don't exist for all the particular kinds of feelings you feel, and you think -- what about someone who's lost a child, or what of widows, what of those who haven't found love,

...and where are those words? You do not often get this feeling. This feeling, that of all the words in the world there is not the right one. No, you don't find it often. But when you do get this feeling...

you are utterly humbled.

Because in the end, you are only afraid of finality. You can claim infertility, but it's not a surprise-- you know and have always known you would never have a baby without a machine.

(But remember, you are made sad by the things you can't fix -- and your burden is the worry your body will be one of those things.)

And you don't like the thought of the meantime, because the great enigma in the alphabet is that x, y, and z can happen in between a and b. It is not the unluckiest lot -- you know this -- but it is yours. So, you carry around the doubt that comes with the meantime, carry around the x, y, and z. And this is the incredible weight of not bearing things.


  1. xoxo Such a lovely way to look at infertility. It took me a long time to view my infertility as my beautiful life instead of this sad, dark hole in my heart.

  2. This is beautiful. I had to read it again and again.

  3. This brought tears to my eyes Bridget. After you've been married for over two years, people start asking why you haven't had babies already. It hurts and it's not kind although they mean no harm....it doesn't make it any easier. I deflect it withy humor to get them off my back but with every deflection, my desire for a baby gets stronger which hurts all the more. (Virtual hug) xx

  4. This brought tears to my eyes as well. My husband and I began trying to get pregnant shortly after we married last year and were ecstatic when we finally had the happy news, in May of this year, that we were! Maybe that doesn't seem like such a long time when compared to others, but for me it was an eternity! So it felt like a stab in the heart when we miscarried a month later. Now when people ask, good naturedly, when we're going to have a baby it's as if they're giving a twist to that knife. I too try to be kind and deflect with humor because they don't know, but it takes all of my strength not to cry.
    My heart is with you, Bridget! xo

  5. Your writing is so special and eloquent. I may not be in the same place as you, but know your words are touching people. Please don't stop with your talent, the world would miss it so. (:

  6. i love the way you write :)


  7. Ooh, this was so beautiful. I read it twice. You have a special way with words.

  8. This is a wonferfully, lovely way to give words to such a difficult experience. I will never know the weight of bearing anything and my mind is often occupied by that tough knowledge. No machine can fix me or help me and so I have to find some other beauty to this life.