Vulnerability

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Of course, I can’t write anything about this topic without acknowledging Brené Brown.

I struggle with being vulnerable. I keep to myself as a result.

I attended a support group of sorts back in March, the week of Ava’s due date. It was a craft night for loss moms. I knew that the crafts would help ease my discomfort in this social situation, give me something to direct my attention to, so I went. I knew there would be a section of time spent on introductions and “tell us why you are here” around the room. I hate crying in front of others. I’m also a sympathy crier – Your eyes water, so do mine. Your voice cracks, my tears will start to flow.

I struggled with this vulnerability. I struggled when it came time to share my story. It’s not that I didn’t want to share everything, it’s that I couldn’t bring myself to push past the tears while others looked at me. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, believe me I have tried to figure it out.

I am grateful that the organization that put on this support group exists, as it helps the loss community in so many ways in addition to these newer support groups. But, I decided after trying it out that it wasn’t the type of support that I need.

I’m not religious. I don’t mention this to many people because I feel their judgement. I feel that it leads them to believe that I’m not a good, decent human being. In the course of attending this support group, the focus was very much on God, which if that provides comfort to others, I don’t have a problem with. However, it was said to me multiple times: I just don’t know how people who don’t believe in God can get through this.

Well, add that to my list of reasons to feel guilty. I don’t have faith. Maybe that is why I lost Ava, right?

I don’t respond to these types of comments. You know, the well meaning comments that are charged with judgement? Keep the faith. With God, everything is possible.

Well, what little faith I had was lost when I lost Ava. God and I are officially no longer on speaking terms. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t need to speak with a God who would do the things he has done to me and Ava. His plan is crap.

I tried to find other support groups I could check out, but they are all hosted by churches. I’m grateful that there are churches that take on this role to help loss moms heal. I’m glad that there are loss moms who find comfort in these faith-based groups. It’s just not comforting to me to be told that it was all God’s plan, or that God gave up his only son for us. That makes no sense to me because God is everywhere, he gets to see his son whether Jesus is on Earth or in heaven. I don’t get the privilege to see Ava, near or far. But, I digress.

About a month ago, I went to my OB office for a check up now that we are trying to conceive again. While I was waiting in the exam room, I noticed a flyer on the wall, right between an advertisement for their gender reveal scans and an informational poster about counting kicks. The flyer was for a local group that provides support for postpartum depression, pregnancy support groups, and pregnancy loss support groups. After my appointment I searched for this organization online and discovered that it was not, at least directly, affiliated with a church.

I struggle with vulnerability. This blog stretches my comfort zone, but it’s different because I’m just typing onto a screen. Tears often flow, but no one is looking back at me. I don’t see people’s reactions, hear their judgements. I can take time to finish my thoughts and explain myself before others jump in. Going to a support group would be different. I would be opening myself up again. The possibility of crying in front of others. Discussing uncomfortable topics like the anger I feel, my greatest fears, and recounting the worst moments of my life. All while out in the open, no cover other than to cut myself off and let someone jump in before my tears fall.

I knew about the weekly support group for a month before I worked up the courage to go. I committed to it by telling my supervisor I needed to take a long lunch. I had to leave my office then, and what else was I going to do with that time? I made myself drive to the location and walk in, the whole time telling myself that it would be fine, the others could do the talking and I could say I wasn’t ready to share as much yet.

I walked in and took a seat in the waiting room. I few minutes went by and I looked at my watch, the group was supposed to have started 3 minutes ago. One of the therapists leading the group came out and asked if I was there for the group. She welcomed me and led me back.

I was the only one who showed up.

Vulnerability.

That word carried a lot of weight that day. Two therapists, all eyes on me, and I had a full hour to share, more and more, about my experience. Not only about Ava’s death, but the time following. I shared about CHI, my anxiety for any future pregnancy, my anger at each negative pregnancy test. We talked about dates coming up that would be difficult, especially as I remember where I was last year at this time, and as November approaches. I was vulnerable in a way I have never been vulnerable before.

In the process, I was also validated. There were several things that came up that we discussed and the weight I had been carrying about decisions I was making or wanting to make seemed lighter.

It probably doesn’t sound like much for those who share their feelings all the time, and talk about anything and everything to those around them, but for me, as someone who keeps mostly to themselves, I realized the power of being vulnerable.

It’s definitely going to continue to be a struggle, but I want to commit to allowing myself to feel vulnerable. After all, Brené Brown said it best, “Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.”

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