March 4, 2015

How I’m Mastering the Art of Losing.


“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi

In late January 2014, I walked into my fiancé’s house and, in a tremendous moment of courage, told him we were through. While I collected my things, I spouted off about love and respect and fidelity and family. And, in that moment, I felt so damn empowered and strong.

Later that night, however, I looked at a calendar and noticed I was late. Holy shit, I was late. Like, really late.

But I blamed it on the recent emotional stress. And I ignored my swollen breasts. And the dry heaves every morning. In my mind, all these signs could be explained away by the oh-my-god-my-life-is-falling-apart anxiety that was actively pulverizing my heart.

For about a week I maintained the certainty that stress was the culprit. But then I found myself standing in the store staring at pregnancy tests. I felt perplexed, and completely paralyzed by fear. So I turned on my heels, put down my basket and left.

Then my phone rang. My dear friend barely got out, “How are you?” before I launched into a crazy stream of consciousness:

“I’m falling apart and I hate him for hurting me and lying and proposing and I had to cancel the wedding flowers and I told the dress people to just burn it and my money and I can’t eat.”

Pause to gasp for air.

“And I haven’t slept in days. I’m going to kill someone at work because my brain isn’t working. Also I’m pregnant or maybe I’m not. I don’t know.”

And then I started to sob.

She talked me off that crazy ledge and convinced me to buy a test. This time I managed to pick up and read the back of a few of the boxes. But instead of buying one, I sprinted out of the store. I found my car in the parking lot and climbed into the back seat. And I cried.

Eventually I mustered the courage to return. My eyes were fire engine red and my face streaked and swollen. But I bought that test. And I took it in the public bathroom. And it confirmed everything I had been avoiding.

When I made it home that night, I spoke to my ex. I waxed poetically about the forgiveness I had found in my heart. I told him we could survive his infidelity. I told him none of that mattered. Love mattered. And we had that in spades, right!? I told him bold-faced lies that night because I was terrified. But I didn’t tell him about his baby in my womb.

He told me to fuck off.

So, there I was, really lost and alone. I laughed at the incredible irony that we were able to create a miracle at some point in the last few months while we were busy loathing each other. And I moved onto convincing myself that this child, this little miracle growing within me, was the reason for the exceptional darkness I had faced in loving him. And in this I found peace. I fell absolutely in love with my child.

So I called my mom and told her. She was fifteen hundred miles away, but I’m certain I heard her heart break. For a while we didn’t say many words, we just cried together. And then, because she is a fixer by nature, we got down to the business of figuring out how to make this work. Should I move? How should I tell the father? How could we co-parent?

We started referring to the baby as Peanut.

Then we cried more.

In the weeks that followed, I struggled with anxiety. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. I was barely going through the motions at work.

One day, I walked into my colleague’s office and asked her to listen to my heart because I thought it was trying to jump out of my chest. I thought I might be having a heart attack. Why not, right?

She shut her door and wrapped me in a gargantuan hug. She assured me I wasn’t dying and said, “Let’s just do an EKG.” I agreed.

But my EKG was abnormal. We showed it to one of our physicians and he said, “ER. Now.”

As it turns out, not eating or sleeping can wreak havoc on your body. In my case, I had managed to throw myself into an arrhythmia.

It was easily correctable with hydration, electrolytes and sleep. But, I was more or less okay. And so was Peanut. He was just cooking away unaware of my topsy-turvy life.

So I took a few days off of work. I slept. I forced myself to eat. I bought a plush giraffe for Peanut.

One afternoon I went running in the canyon near my house. About five miles in I looked down and noticed something on my leg. Upon closer inspection, it was blood.

I told myself it was okay. It was probably normal. Peanut was my miracle. I knew he would be fine.

It wasn’t normal. I lost my Peanut. The pain I felt was the most visceral ache of my life.

I was certain it was my fault. It was because I didn’t eat enough. It was because I didn’t sleep enough. It was because I didn’t keep those vitamins down every day. I came up with a hundred reasons.

Those thoughts have found their way into my mind occasionally over the past year: a murky place of self-loathing.

But today was a big day. Today, I decided to move overseas. Today I accepted an opportunity I would not have if Peanut were here. And I allowed myself to feel genuine joy about this new path.

Today, I told myself that losing Peanut was not my fault. Losing Peanut, like losing my ex, was my path. And it is the most profound slice of grace.

Life moves on. We grow. We forgive ourselves. And we let more light in.


Author: Jessica Chardoulias

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Photo: Flickr

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