Confusion

Blogs are so self-obsessed but thank god for them. I am struggling. I saw my fertility specialist on Monday. She confirmed my miscarriage. I know it is a positive and that is all I really felt until Monday. Then on Monday I started to feel a sadness. For many reasons.

For the first two days of incessant bleeding I was alone. And had I not bled, I would almost be due.

I start to well up and push the tears back. I’m confused about what to feel and how to feel it. I think that’s why I have a migraine.

Miscarriage is an odd word. Laden with sadness. It’s like it says you’ve mis carried something; carried it the wrong way. And I question my actions. Did I cause it?

And I know that’s dumb. But …

As hard as it is for humans in general to fall pregnant, a lot of people still do.

Being a mother to me is akin to marriage; it is sacred. And it seems that so many women do not respect this. They mistreat their children and disregard them. Teachers deal with the emotional effects every day.

And it makes me question why some are forced to struggle and some even have to abandon this dream, this quest.

I am not the only person I know currently on this journey. The fear associated with not being able to fulfil this yearning is all consuming. And it forces doubt into the mind regarding value and worth as a woman. Even if you are smart enough to know better.

There’s just something wrong with it. People who have a strong desire to be pregnant should be able to be. People who would make great parents, giving their children the necessary time and love, shouldn’t have to struggle so much.

But they do. I do. My friends do.

Sigh.

Self-obsessed I know.

the innocent

I have been processing the situation in Palestine and Israel since the latest round of attacks commenced. I have wanted to write about it. But what can one say?

It is devastating. It is wrong. We all think and we all say very similar things. And I have questioned what writing about it will do. A friend encapsulated it perfectly in his Facebook status last week; the innocent who are caught up highlight the tragedy of it, the innocent on both sides, all sides. And that is what we all respond to. That is what captures our emotions and escalates our grief. But what after that?

The conflict itself is ages old. It does no good to point fingers all that way back. In the modern world, it is easy to blame Israel, a formerly displaced nation of people. However, as we all know there are innocent people on all sides. I am upset that Israel, so heavily supported by the US, whose people suffered so keenly during World War Two, have not chosen to demonstrate that we, as humans, can learn and grow and change. That the powers there believe it is okay to do what was done to them, actions that still scar the generations that follow.

It really does trouble me. As the daughter of a German-born father, who was only four when the war ended, I have carried some of the shame and responsibility that Germany has carried. I have always taught Holocaust awareness. I have also taught about Israel and Palestine. What is happening was predictable. But we did nothing to stop what was inevitable.

Travelling to Europe in 2010 was illuminating for me. My sister and I went to the Terezin Camp in what is now the Czech Republic, in metres of snow and very cold temperatures, very rugged up. It was very moving. To know that people suffered there, especially children, through no fault of their own. And then to Berlin, where the people have tried to acknowledge what was grievously wrong through remembering it. We visit these places, we build memorials, so that we remember the history, in the hope that we will not repeat it. But we do not control what those in power do, and it is times like these that remind us that we really are the puppets of those ‘in charge’.

We say we are the smartest of all species because we act beyond instinct alone. Hmmm … food for thought there. I strongly doubt our intelligence and our sanity as a species. Our smarts have ensured that we destroy our planet, our local environments, other species and ourselves. If this is smart, give me instinct. Our quest for power has made us thieves. And has made us inhuman.

And so, what good does writing about it do?

Probably not much, if anything. I wish I knew what I could do to change it. I wish I possessed the courage to find out and to do it.

We trust our governments to act on our behalf. We trust our governments to protect us. I think though, that governments are eroding this trust. Not just through their inaction in Palestine/Israel or their poor action in supporting one side over the other, but through their own governance at home, or lack thereof.

People suffer everywhere, every day. I don’t. I am happy. I am blessed. And I am grateful for that but I wonder if it has made me complacent as I have aged. People warned me that my idealism and my passion would dwindle as I aged and I cheekily scoffed at them, reminding them that it was a choice to be outraged.

So with regards to this issue, once I would have fired up and become angry, demanding justice by joining groups and writing letters. I have always prided myself on the notion that I don’t stand idly by when injustice reigns. And in my work I hope to inspire the children I teach and the colleagues I work with to continue the fight for us, our kids, and the longevity of our profession. But even that isn’t as fervently chased as it used to be.  

And so I write. As children are bombed. Killed. Destroyed.

But what else is there for me to do?

maybe

I didn’t expect that I would be quite as nervous as I am leading into tomorrow’s appointment with my fertility specialist. And I am not sure why I am so nervous. Maybe unsettled is a better word. I have decided what I am going to do based on the two things that I may be told. It will either be a yes or a no. And I know that regardless of which it is, I will be okay. I will survive. So why so unsettled.

Maybe it is because I am struggling to stop drinking caffeine.

But I believe in signs and they have been bountiful that I am at least on the right path in going down this path … again.

If I am given the go ahead to try another cycle of IVF, I am prepared for the needles (I love needles), I am prepared for the quiet, I am prepared for the bruising and the ridiculous schedules, I am prepared to make the changes. I am prepared for the failure. Maybe I am not prepared for the success, if that is what comes. Maybe that is why I am feeling unsettled today. After all, after two failed IUDIs and two failed ICSI, I am used to failure, almost comfortable with it.

Maybe the next twenty four hours is just a mini version of the dreaded two week wait, and it literally just is the anxiety of the unknown tormenting me. I am not good with patience. I like being able to organise contingencies. As the time gets closer, I realise that my contingencies are developed, but I have no control at this moment in time. And not knowing, when the time of judgement is so close, is unsettling. Aarghhhhhh. First world problem hey.

Maybe it is because I am still bleeding (Day 64) and have only had one day free of that since it started, and maybe that means the process won’t be as smooth or as easy. Maybe I am worried that this doctor won’t believe my cycle has been cactus since last December’s failure because I miscarried and I am worried that the hope I hold that I could be pregnant will be taken.

Maybe it is because I really don’t like all of these maybes.

No comfort and peace can ever be sought from ‘maybe’.

The Longest Week

It feels like months since last week. When life is busy, the days seem to roll into each other as every scheduled event comes and is then crossed off before the next scheduled event. Since this time last week, friendships have been restored, decisions about the near future made, and success has permeated every section of my working life. Life is good. But tiring lol.

I am an introvert. I think most writers are. We recharge through solitude; solitude that is really just an opportunity to revisit and live the lives that exist in our imaginations. Or so it is for me. Creativity, for me, is stifled in congestion. I need openness – of time or of space or of mind. It is difficult when none of those components is available.

I felt my first moment of ‘Tina’ yesterday at my guitar lesson. I took up guitar two months ago because I was craving creative time and Tina time; a time when the phone or when other people are closed off from me. To make up for a missed lesson we spent an hour teaching and learning. Owen is a great teacher for me. Listens to my crap then dismisses my crap. It is always zen. I walk out feeling … happy, calm, at peace. With sore fingers that tingle for hours afterwards. And I love it.

Success at work. Our very first ever Creative and Performing Arts Showcase. Success. Never having organised one before, this was ultimately a spotlight on procedure and potential. Revitalising. Watching kids perform and excel. Students who feel terrified before the curtain rises, so to speak, conquering the fear and engaging an audience. Parents commenting that they usually watch the clock at school performances but didn’t, not once, on Tuesday night. And the feeling of complete and utter pride and love I then feel for my beautiful, committed staff … success.

And a beautiful presentation for Subject Selection. Listening to those same staff, twenty four hours later, another late night, speaking to parents about the realities of the courses we offer … professional, knowledgeable, charming … success.

And my extracurricular club, The Writers Room, started this afternoon. Since the changes in the English Syllabus, there really isn’t much (or any) scope to really engage kids with creative writing. And the saddest thing, most teenagers utilise creative writing to work through their angst, express their views and explore their worlds. And so my club has been received positively by my boss and by our students. And as I reflected after, I realised that it is probably more about connection, with one another, with place, with ideas. And ultimately, isn’t that what school and education is about.

A Year 7 girl showed her Art teacher a story that she has been working on. Her Art teacher told her to show me. She came and saw me at lunch and I read it. A story about horses. Each horse represents a member of her family. And their experiences represent her life story. And she is not in the top classes, in fact far from them. Has demonstrated disconnection from others at school. Struggles. But her writing argues all of the perceptions about her. And she is now coming to The Writers Room. Every Friday. After school. By choice. Success.

And the week closes with me returning to writing. More success lol.

I really do love my job. Teaching allows me to find inspiration every day. Some days it is in the kids, some days in my staff and the love we share for one another, other days it is solely in the notion that we are all wading through mud together. But wade we do because it often leads to us soaring soon enough after …

 

Mixed Emotions … An Update

My appointment with the doctor after the blood tests and ultrasound was last Wednesday. The outcome was a referral to a specialist; my doctor could not see anything wrong, nothing he “could pin his hat on”. I made the appointment for yesterday.

I was nervous yesterday. It has been a few years since my last pap smear and whilst everything was normal, well, a few years had passed. And we always think the worst: human nature perhaps. I made it on time to my appointment, filled out the paperwork, passed over my ultrasound, blood results and very detailed referral. Then I passed over my payment (I really am in the wrong profession).

When I was called in, the very lovely specialist looked at the results of everything and asked me to tell my story rather than her reading it. She has a very gentle face and soft manner about her, emanating a sense of positivity, very reassuring.

I told her about my history regarding menstruation and failed IVF attempts. I then filled her in on this year’s highly irregular menstrual patterns, and my most recent never ending 53 day period.

She asked whether I was finished with trying for my own child. I told her I wasn’t sure but that I did have an appointment booked with my fertility specialist to test the waters in a couple of weeks. She smiled: “You have a window here.”

And then: “I think, based on everything, that you miscarried in December. Your body is reacting to that.” And more.

But I was trapped in the idea that my body did fall pregnant; it wasn’t impossible. And then I fell into the reality hole. Oh dear! I had been pregnant. When I thought I was, I actually was. It wasn’t wishful thinking; it was real.

And now I know I am definitely in transition. I do not know where my life and subsequent choices are heading. My emotions are bubbling away under my surface. I have moments when I glimpse them or feel them before I shut them away. I call this processing. What else can it be.

All I know for sure right now, is that this journey isn’t yet complete; there is some life still in it. And I don’t know what to feel or how to feel beyond trusting that I am on the path that I am meant to be on. Regardless of where it leads. Or ends.

The Beauty of Music

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Something For Kate on Saturday night with my sister. It has been a great year for us thus far: Eddie Vedder twice in February, John Butler Trio in April and Something For Kate on Saturday. They are our three big ones. The ones we see every time we can. Well, Pearl Jam factors into that too but we couldn’t make it to Big Day Out in January so Eddie as a representative took that sting away.

Anyway, watching Something For Kate, loving the atmosphere and the music, forced me into reflection.

I have always been a bit of a commitment phobe. I always thought this applied to everything in my life. But I was wrong.

It dawned on me that I am committed to vegetarianism (22 years), Wicca (my lifetime), teaching (since I decided I wanted to be a teacher at 5), my pets (their lifetimes), learning (my lifetime), and music (my entire life).

Music has saved my life I think. I don’t remember much of my childhood. A lot of the bad is masked by the soundtrack that prevailed at the time. I will always be grateful for that.

I regularly escaped into the world of books and shut the real world out with music. Both offered me alternative lives; lives in which I was the hero or the idol. Contrasting my reality, as I remember it.

Realising and acknowledging this impressed upon me how important the rough times in my childhood were to creating the adult that is. In a positive way. Both reading and music offered me a method to achieving resilience, and then ultimately, strength. And that strength has permitted me to forge my own path, and hopefully, inspire others to forge their own paths.

One of the contestants on The Voice last night said that Good Charlotte saved her life; it was their music in her bad moments that forced or inspired her to keep going. What a tribute to Joel and Benji, and how humbly they embraced that. Music has been that for me too. When words were choking in my throat, music spoke for me. It was always there, is always there, reliably, loyally. Committed to me.

And as I listened to Something For Kate, it dawned on me that I struggle with commitment to people because of trust. My ability to trust was damaged as a child and if there is a scar left, this is it. Music and words though, have never failed me or compromised my ability to trust. In a sense, isolating this, hopefully enables me to continue to move forward in life.

Healing comes from knowledge then understanding then integrating and finally, acceptance and forgiveness. Forgiveness that life could have been any different to what it was. And knowing that those experiences have offered me the opportunity to be more than …

A Difficult Conversation

This post is a very personal one; more like a diary entry than a blog post but meh. Maybe it can help someone else feel a little less alone. And that is why I am publishing it. If you are a young person, you probably don’t want to read what follows.

I have a migraine today. If I wasn’t tying my own thoughts into knots I wouldn’t even be on the computer. I need the knots to release so I am trying the old adage of “it’s better out than in”. Maybe I am responding the way that I am because of my migraine. What came first: the chicken or the egg.

For those that know me it is no secret that I experienced a failed IVF/ICSI attempt last December. Emotionally I was okay. Physically I was not. I bled solidly for two days; a gushing tap. And I was completely alone. Not an experience I wish upon anyone. The worst part of it had been that I had truly believed that this cycle would be the one and upon returning from Bali I would be pregnant, and so I had not restocked my supplies. And I was bleeding so profusely that leaving the house wasn’t an option.

It was the first time in years that I contemplated taking my own life. That shocked me; I truly believed that I had moved past that depth of thought. It was fleeting, the idea, but it existed. The physical impacted the emotional. I moved beyond it and came out the other side. This afternoon though, whilst not suicidal, I was forced to confront the consequences of that period of time.

My trust of other people has always been a bit dodgy. Growing up, never knowing what was going to happen next, kept me in flight or fight for a long time (still there I’d say, sometimes anyway). I was not safe as a child and that trauma scarred my psyche. Now before anyone feels I need words of wisdom about how strong and resilient and inspiring I am, I am not feeling down. I know that the best parts of who I am were also borne from that time, and for that I am grateful. However, where I had learned how to trust, last December that lesson took a powerful hit. And so when I came out of my appointment this afternoon, feeling wobbly, I couldn’t reach out to anyone. I was very scared that if I did, there wouldn’t be anyone there. I know this is dumb. And I don’t mean to offend the people that are there for me, but this is how I felt.

I arrived to my appointment early (typically). I waited in the Waiting Room, patiently, with eyes closed. My head really hasn’t been kind to me today. When my turn arrived, and she called me, I went in calmly. I had followed all of the instructions I had received: empty your bladder at 1.10pm, drink 1 litre of water between 1.10 and 2.10pm, arrive for appointment for 3.10pm. I lay on the bed, lifted my top and lowered my pants, she put the gel over my belly and moved the wand over it. I only had 60ml out of a possible 250ml in my bladder.

She asked why I was there. I told her that I was on Day 44 of bleeding. We laughed and joked about it. She took the images she could. She asked if I would be comfortable with an internal and I said yes, because I had had them before; invasive and uncomfortable but more thorough. And I was still okay. Still calm. I rubbed the gel clean and went to the toilet to relieve my bladder in preparation.

Her directions to the toilet were clear, “Take two steps and you’re there.” For some reason I thought I knew where the toilet was and ended up in a completely different room, the wrong room. To the amusement of both worker and waiting patient. When directed more pointedly, I asked, “Oh you meant the door with the word TOILET written on it in very big letters.” We all laughed; mine embarrassed. Yep I was awarded my Masters degree because I’m that smart.

And I emptied my bladder and escaped back into the room. I changed into the robe and lay on the bed. And where she had been talking and laughing, she grew silent. She asked if my periods were regular and I explained that I had experienced a failed IVF attempt in December last year and since then, no they hadn’t been regular.

She finished. Told me to wipe myself clean and that the admin staff would let me know when the results would be ready and she left. I was already worried. I became worried whilst I had been lying there. As I left, the worry started to take me over.

I’ve made an appointment to see my doctor on Wednesday morning. I will wait until then. But I am worried. I was hoping to try again; this could stop that. And so, whilst I know I shouldn’t worry and I shouldn’t make it bigger than what it is, and whilst I know I should meditate and calm myself, I am struggling to do so.

I do not want to grieve the finality of not being able to be a birth mother.

I do not want to grieve the finality at all.

Yes I will survive. And yes, I have nurtured and mothered a lot of children. I know that I am loved and blessed and should be grateful for all that I have accomplished throughout my life. I know all of this.

It’s just that I don’t fail. My family is very fertile; my sister only has to look at her husband to fall pregnant. I have always achieved, against the odds. I don’t know how to fail like this. It’s hard. And it’s lonely.

I know it is temporary. It just hurts.

An Unconventional Life … Part One

I have just been looking through some of Carol Rossetti’s images on Facebook (http://mic.com/articles/92651/18-empowering-illustrations-to-remind-everyone-who-s-really-in-charge-of-women-s-bodies). They have forced me to confront some ‘ideas’ about myself.

When I was a teenager, like pretty much everyone I knew, I thought I would be married in my mid to late twenties to a perfect man, have my career as a phenomenal teacher, be a writer and raise my perfect children. It was my happy ever after.

At fifteen.

But my life hasn’t followed that path. Truthfully, I think I always knew it wouldn’t. I have never been ‘normal’ or ‘conventional’. I have tried to be that; have tried to look it, at least. Unsuccessfully.

In my mid twenties I was teaching casually; I had not found permanent teaching work. I was renting a house with teacher friends in Wollongong drinking two to three nights a week but living my life. I loved my housemates, like family, and I loved my lifestyle. Work by day, play by night.

Music became my hobby rather than writing and peaked when I performed, badly, on stage in a pub in Wollongong, Minstrel Boy on saxophone, to a full crowd. My youngest sister stood before me at the front of the stage with tears of pride streaming down her face.

It was a perfect moment.

I had conquered my shyness. I had done something I never thought possible. But it wasn’t the first time. And it wouldn’t be the last.

I had already had my first ‘ink’ done. On a holiday in Byron Bay. My own initiation symbol on my left wrist into Wicca. A token of my commitment to a religion I had always believed in and followed but had only just found a name for. A delicate band of energy with a small pentagram; a bracelet. I vowed it would be my only tattoo. I had never liked them; I thought they were unconventional and people always looked at and judged those with tattoos. If you knew me, you would know that that vow has not been respected. I have learned to never say never. The hard way.

And then came the dreadlocks which I wore proudly for over ten years before fulfilling a commitment I had made to my sister and a close friend to get rid of them if I ever found a way without shaving my head. And then I had curls, predominantly blonde, for seven and a half years, fitting in to society, its conventions for beauty and for femininity. Men found me attractive. I thought I was too, for the most part. Even though I have always fought with my weight, blonde hair afforded me the opportunity to almost be normal, to almost belong in a society that adheres to a strict code of what beauty is. A code that my weight always kept me feeling I could never fulfil.

After years of missing my dreads, of fighting past the identity having them had created, I made a deal with my hairdresser that if I fell pregnant I would get my dreads back. When I didn’t fall pregnant, I figured I should gain something and I organised to have my dreads put back in. Initially fearful, when I saw myself in a mirror, I knew it had been the right decision. I miss my curls from time to time; I struggle with not fitting in and belonging to my society’s notion of what beauty is, but I am me. And I am happy that this aspect of my external is very authentic to my internal existence.

This is who I am.

And I am not ashamed anymore, that this is who I am.

Aspects of this stereotype are embodied in me: left wing, slightly feral, slightly ostracised, different. I still do not lead the conventional life.

I am unmarried. I am single. I am childless. I do not own my own home. I am happiest and most connected when I am in nature. I am most authentic when I am on holidays; at home or away. And I do travel, journey, frequently.

And this lack of convention leads others to judge. I have often been labelled. Or I have feared it. Often seen it in the eyes of those that walk past me. But I am me. And there is nothing wrong with that. Or me. The wrong is in others. In their judgements. In their eyes.

I would have loved the conventional life but it was not my lot this time. I am richer for it. I think if I had followed the conventional path it would have resulted in my head in an oven, or my pockets full of stones, like so many others before me. Embracing who I am, in my life of non-convention, has afforded me a deep happiness and a rich connection with everything and everyone around me. I see the world through different glasses and I live my life through my own ideals.

And I am at peace.

My life is my own.

The Zen of Creation

Becky and I arrived in Eden yesterday. Today has been a mix; Tina has been fighting a migraine. But tonight we are sitting in the kitchen, all of us creating.

Becky is drawing and using her new Inktense pencils, proclaiming that she “isn’t very good” which is absolute rubbish. She has drawn an angel. Beautiful. Akin to the Willow Tree figurines.

Donna is preparing dinner. She too, doesn’t believe very much in her talent. However, you can taste how she cooks when you consume her food; love emanates from every morsel, warming the heart as it moves through.

John has successfully hatched a plan with Donna to scare us. We are on their property. There are neighbours close by but beyond those neighbours, not so much. We look out from their back verandah and it is open space, open to the sea. The sunset tonight was a contrast of deep grey blue and bright dark pink – I know what I mean. It is dark outside, very dark. There was a knock on the kitchen window. Donna was at the sink right in front of the window. Becky was at the kitchen table drawing. I was behind Becky. There was a knock on the kitchen window.

rap …

rap …

Donna raised the blinds.

A man was standing there, grey sweat shirt, disgusting mask on his face, and Donna and I both screamed. Becky calmly conveyed her fear.

John laughed.

That was his creative flow.

it is the open space that permits the creative to flow, unfettered. This is why I need to buy land … Synonymous with freedom. Freedom is creativity.

And that is all.