I'm still not exactly sure to talk about this, but apparently I'm capable of making sick jokes to friends about the subject now, so maybe, just maybe, that means it's time. (Please note, there is a completely tasteless joke included in this post. I don't normally go around making these sort of jokes, but it's part of the story.)
When Bunny's dad died it was this huge, overwhelming, emotional life changing thing that happened to us that we needed to get through. Just making it through the day was about all that we could ask for at that time, but somehow because talking about being devasted by a death is acceptable I felt ok talking about it. People talk about it when the people close to them die. It took a lot of time to get to the point where we didn't need people to handle us as if we were marked FRAGILE! Handle With Care, but I felt ok walking around with that label. Everyone loses people, and so even if it isn't something everyone's experienced, people have a general idea of how to respond.
Sometimes with the tough topics, the not-quite-as-universal ones, it seems like there are only two scripts for talking about things. There's script A: "this terrible thing just happened in my life and woe is me please watch me cry and feel some pity for me". Then there`s script B: "This shitty thing happened and I'm over it, mostly so I'm just going to deflect it by making a joke".
When the next tragedy hit, neither of those options really felt like they worked for me. I didn't want the world to have too clear a view into the exact source of my pain, and I didn't know how to talk about it. I didn't feel like I was allowed to talk about it. I didn't feel like I had any right to the Handle With Care sign, even if I needed it a little more, and the information I would have had to give out to get that sign was just too incredibly private, and invited too many unwanted questions and too many stupid responses. Seriously, half of my friends who found out what was happening managed only to make me angry with their attempts to express sympathy and make me feel better. And these are smart, emotionally mature people who don't usually say thoughtless things - it's just not a subject that comes up enough for people to necessarily learn what inappropriate responses might be.
The other week though I was catching up with a dear friend who I don't talk with as often as I'd like anymore, and he was asking questions about the elopement and what had led up to that. Here's the conversation, almost verbatim:
J: So, what led to eloping? Not that I was expecting an invitation or anything, but I kind of expected you to do something more than that.
Me: We had a complicated year. Eventually it just got to the point where we needed to be married.
J: Well congratulations! And I know you wouldn't have gotten into complicated if you couldn't handle it.
Me: Well, it wasn't exactly the sort of complicated that we planned for.
(pause, cue me feeling awkward and like I needed to give some sort of explanation but not actually wanting a discussion)
Me: You can't plan for dead dogs, fathers, or babies.
Apparently announcing a miscarriage through a dead baby joke leads to lots of concern. Who knew? But that's thing crux of the issue there's no easy way to acknowledge that situation and own it without either seeming like I want pity, or being crass. Talking about this is like ripping a bandaid off and showing off a great big open wound and it's uncomfortably revealing and private in ways that I don't really want to share. I still don't know how to talk about it, but I'm trying to figure that out, because there is oh so much to talk about with it. So I'm going to start, with baby steps. (Even if I still used the terrible joke as my segue into this.)
Back in July I had a miscarriage that was absolutely and unequivocably emotionally devasting for me. It was without question the most difficult thing I've experienced in my adult life, and one of the most isolating. It also really cemented some rather profound changes in myself and in how I think about the world and other people in it. (But this isn't the time to get into that.) I still don't entirely want to talk about it, but I kind of feel like I need to. Because someone should be talking about this. It might just take me awhile to really truly figure out how to talk about it.