I think this all started with a colouring book. But this isn’t just any old colouring book. It’s Jenny Lawson’s colouring book, a brave, hilarious and irreverent American writer and artist – seriously, if you’re sensitive to sweary language don’t read her stuff and don’t judge me for reading it either. Jenny has dedicated her book to her chronic anxiety with each page capturing a moment of her life and her struggles. Mexican food also features quite heavily in this book which is always a winner for me. Anyway, as soon as I had the book in my hands I went to Paperchase, bought a nice new pencil case with a lama on it and some cool pens and sat down to do some serious colouring in.
The problem is it made me stop and think.
In the introduction Jenny talks about why she named her book ‘You are here’. She says it’s because right here, in this moment, as you’re reading this, you are here.
If I’m honest I found those three words pretty scary because I don’t often stop to think like this, partly because I’m busy or I’m watching telly or avoiding cleaning the bathroom, but partly because I’ve become really good at not thinking about where I’m at.
Over the past few months I feel like I’ve done a lot of interviews, I’ve talked about really dark moments in my life on TV, on the radio and to journalists and it has been a privilege to do so. I just keep remembering how alone I used to feel and if I can talk about my experience to help others feel less alone then I’ll keep saying ‘yes’ to those opportunities. I also feel like I’m learning how to articulate myself better and making sure I can get across the right message about hope and redemption rather than listing off the most depressing moments of my life. But there’s always this bit at the end of the interview when I start babbling incoherently, filling my sentences with ummmm and errrr. It’s the bit when they ask me about now. When they ask me where I’m at and what my plans are for a family. It’s the bit I just don’t have an answer for because I guess I’m too busy watching telly and waiting for my husband to notice the bathroom needs cleaning to really think through where I am right now.
Now having a break from baby stuff is amazing. I totally recommend it. My body was wrecked by six miscarriages and it’s taken about three years to properly recover. The stress of the experience also left me unable to work and I’m almost reaching my first year of working full-time without losing the plot and I’m really happy I’ve been able to do this. But I can’t avoid the reality I’m living in and I can’t pretend it’s a reality I ever wanted.
I know I’m getting all intense and you’re probably worried I’m about to go down a depressive cycle of despair but I’m not. I guess I’m just saying I think it’s time to let myself feel again. To say, I am here.
When you become really articulate about talking about what’s happened to you the danger is that you stay talking about what happened to you and I don’t want to be one of those people who’s really articulate at talking about how I worked through all my s***t from five years ago but has become hardened to the story I’m living now. I want to stay soft.
Of course, my husband, in his introverted way managed to summarise the hour long response I gave him when he asked how my day was into a sentence. Apparently I’m learning what the life of a disciple looks like. You think you’ve nailed it and then bam! You realise you haven’t got it altogether.
In some ways I’m glad because those kind of people who come across as sorted and balanced are really annoying and can make me angry and I’d hate to become like that. But in other ways I’m scared because I’m letting myself feel again.
If you follow this blog, don’t do it because you think we have all the answers because we don’t. We’re still writing from the messy middle. I still don’t know why some people have families and others don’t. I don’t understand how prayer works after loss and I still don’t find it easy. There are days when I feel good and others when I feel sad and wish my life didn’t look like it does. There are days when I feel hopeful about the future and others when I’m scared.
I guess that’s what this journey of grief and vulnerability is though. It’s up and down and it’s not one you’ll ever become an expert in.
In response to all the journalist’s questions, I still don’t know what the future will bring. I don’t want to become a crazy, obsessed fertility Nazi again. I don’t want to get sucked into believing a baby is the solution to my problems or the reason for my existence and so thinking about having children does make me feel vulnerable because I’m worried I’ll get sucked back into that madness. But limbo is only good for a while and I think I’m reaching that point when I need to reflect on where I am, right now, in this moment. I need to let myself feel again and I need to address the elephant or the lack of baby in the room.
I’m not sure where you’re at or whether the words ‘You are here’ comfort or scare you but I think the practice of stopping and reflecting is a good one if you feel able. But don’t do it alone, invite God into that space, invite your friends and maybe your family because you weren’t called to walk this journey on your own.