I haven’t had a lot to say, hence the overall silence this past year on Hey Lou. This blog started more than a decade ago as something I loved — I loved sharing the new insight I had on the world. I loved sharing what I was learning about organic food, eating local, and trying to make the world a better place. I loved the support I had when I went through divorce and started a new chapter here in the midwest. I loved sharing about my life, about the struggles, about my faults, about just about everything. Second marriages, stepmotherhood, running, getting a dog. I even enjoyed (because I believed the ending would be in my favor) sharing about infertility.
Only a visceral anger that oozed out in secret, in only my safest places, lest I ruin everything in my life by saying and doing things I didn’t truly mean.
It’s been a shitty, shitty past two years. That’s maybe the most honest thing I’ve ever shared on this blog. I’ve hated my life, I’ve been angry at the life I chose, and I’ve lashed out. I’ve broken things, I’ve had too much to drink too many nights in a row, I’ve smoked a few cigarettes, and I’ve cursed at God. That is the truth, and that is what I’ve been up to during this silence.
I haven’t been able to sit with my thoughts and type anything. I didn’t even attempt it. I stayed a safe distance away from all of that.
Yet, here I am. Now.
I’ve never made a New Year’s Resolution before, and perhaps that’s because I never really “needed” to. However, when 2021 came to an end, I knew I’d have to make some big changes in order to keep my marriage in tact, and more importantly, to save myself.
So here I am, and this time I’m claiming the silence. In fact, I’m calling this my Year of Silence.
Because I spent the last few years (and ALL of Covid) hiding behind noise. Just ask my husband. Any idle time was spent with headphones stuffed into my ears while I listened to a variety of things: music, podcasts… okay, mostly podcasts. I didn’t take the dog for a walk without something to listen to. Driving? That was the time to turn it WAY up and shut out everything else. I hid in my room a lot. I didn’t like anything I was thinking about and I didn’t like the thought of changing, either. But that’s only sustainable for so long. Errr… actually, it’s never sustainable. And it’s only SURVIVABLE for so long.
I had some wake up calls. Some important conversations. Some truths come to light. Hell, I even had a car crash thrown into the mix that really shook me. (And even though I do not believe in a God who “makes bad things happen”… I sort of think He used that crash to shake me awake, out of my distraction.)
I spent a long time hiding from anything that resembled silence, and in the noise, I couldn’t speak.
Now, I’m claiming silence as mine, and words are finally coming to me.
And I’m sad, sad for all that will never be.
I’m sad that I’ll never watch my stomach grow. I’m sad that I’ll never have fun discussing future names with Israel. I’m so very sad that I’ll never hold a baby in my arms. I’ll never have those gorgeous photos from childbirth – the ones I pictured so vividly – in a tub with Israel in the water with me. I’ll never rock anyone to sleep, or read them my favorite children’s book of all time: The Quiet Book. I’ll never cry on the first day of Kindergarten. I’ll never have grandchildren of my own. I’ll never look into a child’s eyes and see my own staring back at me. And this, this is what I dreamt of. This was it.
And it’ll never be.
So I’m a little bit angry, a little bit sad, and I’m grieving a whole lot.
I don’t have much else to add, except that I’m actively working on being okay. I am working on it daily, and I won’t stop. I have too much to lose. I had to have my eyes reopened to some things.
I see that I have a husband who loves me deeply. I also see that I have three family members who came along with him – three people I cherish and will love forever. I may not be their mother, but we are family. I see that I have a good life, filled with wonderful people who care about me and have made that so so so apparent, especially when things got rough for me. Friends who stopped everything they were doing to pray for me when I found out I had RP. Friends who planned a getaway to somewhere sunny when they knew I was about to implode and disappear like a black hole. Friends who will buy me a beer during my “no spend January” month just so we can chat. Friends who make me laugh, who hug me when they see me, and who treat me like a whole person, not just someone who failed to create another human life.
Turns out, that isn’t what makes someone whole. But I truly thought it was, until very recently.
It’s hard to admit these things, but it feels good to write them down. That’s what I love to do, after all. And that’s something I forgot, too. That I am a writer, and I will always create sentences, paragraphs, words strung together for others to hopefully read. The words come from a deep place, perhaps deeper than my own womb. They create life, at least I hope, for others who might need to hear that they aren’t alone in whatever they are going through.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet several women lately who understand. Who get it. Who have walked their own steps through infertility and came out without their miracle.
My heart aches for me, for them, and for what will never be. It always will. And that’s a part of me now. With every word I ever write again, that ache will be there, with words and life growing around it. The pain will live on forever, though not for future generations, because that ends with me. The new forever I will speak of is my own forever, the one that I have to focus on in order to survive it. Whatever beauty or hope comes next, there is a deep darkness that it had to battle with and ultimately win against… the hopeless parts of me will grow and bloom into a colorful garden with bees buzzing, roots forming, and hope showing up when the sun shines.
I’m so thankful for each and every person who has reached out and shown me love – you know exactly who you are. I wouldn’t have made it without you.
February 22, 2022 at 6:02 AM
Just speaking from personal experience… but I feel nothing but love for my stepmom. She has played an irreplaceable role in my personal development, and has left an indelible mark on my imagination, my life, my soul.
Stepparenting can be impossible. I can vividly remember the time when I was a teenager and roared at her, “You are not my mom, and you never will be!!!” She stood there silent as a rock – cut to the heart, where the diamond was, and didn’t speak a word. I’m sure she was crying inside, but that didn’t stop her from loving me. Step parenting is one of the hardest vocations as a human being because you’re not actually raising your own, but somebody else is getting the credit for what a magnificent job you’ve done. That is why my stepmom is one of the greatest human beings I know and will always fill that void inside my heart that answers back to me when I say, “I love you Mom.”
Her prayers are like rose petals in her garden, silently bringing praise for her creator. And even though “every rose has its thorns,” her beauty is what kept me alive throughout the years when life became miserable at times – uncertain of the mental illness I was fighting – when no else was there. ❤
February 22, 2022 at 7:06 AM
Wow, thank you for sharing. What a writer you are!!!!! I knew you two were close but when you speak it so poetically, that hits me hard. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate you and your perspective, and your life story.
February 22, 2022 at 10:04 AM
Thanks Melinda! And ditto! I’m looking forward to whatever continues making your blog so powerful.
Peace be with you.
February 22, 2022 at 10:09 AM
You are deeply loved through the silence, the noise, and everything in between. I wish you peace on your continued journey my dear friend. ♥️ Thank you for sharing this with us.
February 22, 2022 at 1:57 PM
I…..just…..admire…..and love…..the truly beautiful person you are….inside and out!!! I can’t come up with words right now, so gonna leave it at that! 😘
February 23, 2022 at 6:50 AM
Aaron, your tribute to Gretchen is beyond priceless! My dear Melinda, I am one of your greatest cheerleaders, rooting you on as you grow deeper in love with my grandkids. For 55 yrs, my step mom has loved this 10 yr old girl, through too many trials to count. When I get to see her now, our parting is silent, as there are no words between our tears & hugs. Would I wish my childhood pain on anyone? Never! But the woman that pain has helped me become, for that I am thankful.
February 24, 2022 at 7:45 PM
Dear Melinda. your writing is so inspiring. I’ve not shared the heartaches you’ve experienced but am so taken with your ability
to share such visceral emotion. I’m happy you have landed in a good place with your WI family (I remember asking in Whole Foods if you had met anyone and you had just met and were excited) Life is an adventure that we don’t control. We are just along for the ride. We would not choose everything it hands us, but certainly grow with what we experience. You are loved for who you are and where you are. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You are definitely making a difference. Keep writing! I love reading your story!! Love, Pat
February 28, 2022 at 2:33 PM
Oh, dear Melinda! My heart broke reading your words of pain and despair. I’m so very sad that you have been going through a darkness with both your infertility and your RP diagnosis. I wondered why you hadn’t posted and I wish I could have known to pray for peace for you. You are an awesome, talented, giving person who has dealt with years of pain. I do know where you have been – I too went through infertility and a painful divorce. I also have been dealing with an autoimmune disorder that has ravaged my body. I know the frustration and deep despair. I wish I had the social support that you have but that is my own fault for closing in on myself and not reaching out to friends. I am blessed to have adopted a wonderful boy who was only 6 weeks old when I first held him and is now a 6’3” young man who lights up my life and brings me such joy. I know that you also know the joy of children you did not give birth to but are deep in your heart and shine a light in the darkness.
I will pray for peace in your heart as you learn to live with the silence. Know that God is there holding you in his loving arms throughout your pain and grief. I am so glad that you’ve come to a place where you can write about your pain and your joy again- you are a gifted writer and you touch many lives with your words.
I don’t know if you remember who I am. I was great friends with your parents from Richmond (where we met, although we all were at Luther together), Warroad and Austin and a couple of visits to Albuquerque and held you as a tiny baby and went with your mom to yours and Meredith’s 12th (I think) birthday party at the amusement park in 100degree heat! Do you remember that? I’ve watched as you grew into a wonderful, talented young lady from a distance, but then have lost touch with your parents, sadly. I have really appreciated getting to know a bit of your life now. I need to reconnect with your parents and catch up on their lives and those of your sisters. You and your family hold a very special place in my heart!