Friday, February 11, 2005

Faith and Hope

I've spent most of my life trying to be strong and independent; I never thought that was a fault. My mom will probably confirm that my first (and for a while, only) full sentence was "I can do it myself!" It's what we do in my family. Work, be self-reliant. That's great as far as it goes. But I never developed much in the way of faith, or even hope. If it wasn't something I could make happen myself, it probably wouldn't happen. What basis this idea had in fact is lost in the mists of time and my lousy memory.

The converse idea also took root. If I wanted something badly enough and I worked hard enough at it, I could make it happen. Right? Well, it worked for a while. Did great in school, got through college on scholarship, got dates with (and even a few proposals from) guys I liked, graduated with honors, and managed to snag employment as a, well, let's say "glamorous international super-spy" (c'mon, humor me here). It was awesome. In that same vein, I married my first husband, whom I'd been dating in college, figuring I could make it work, even though we didn't agree on everything (or more precisely, anything).

Turns out I was wrong. One person can't make a marriage work. One person can, however, make a divorce happen. After the obligatory year of complete insanity, I went off to Hawaii. I figured that if nothing else worked out, a few years of wiggling my toes in the sand would do me good. It did. I began to see a glimmer of wisdom.

Then I met and married my second husband. (That story elsewhere.) I got pregnant right off the honeymoon; how deliriously happy we were! And how utterly and unbearably sick I felt! But it was all right, I was strong and independent enough to get through it and still do my job. We wanted this baby so badly, we'd do anything. We were going to name him Jareth.

Until an ultrasound discovered that our baby wasn't going to live. At that point, I didn't think I was going to live, either. It was so foreign to me, the idea that no matter what I did, I couldn't save my baby. I couldn't make things right. I couldn't even get through the workweek. I delivered my baby at about 17 weeks, a few days before Christmas. We named him Gabriel.

When I got back to work in January, my boss had a LOT of harsh words for me because of the time I'd taken off. Reeling from the loss of my baby, the huge hormone surges, and the total unfairness of his accusations, I thought it over for a day or two, then submitted my resignation.

This was a low point for my life in more ways than the obvious ones. More than just the grieving over my baby and the potential baby, more than the loss of the career I had loved, I felt like my world view had been shattered. No matter what I did, I couldn't make things right. I felt like a total failure, especially as a woman. I questioned whether anything would ever be right again.

But I moved forward. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, sometimes yelling curses at the cosmos, but eventually feeling a little bit humbled. I really needed it. A few weeks of unemployment, with a family to support, at the height of the pre-recession boom did another number on my self-esteem. "Willing to move just about anywhere, please give me a job!" didn't work as well as I'd hoped. But I'd started to hope.

And this is where my faith started to take hold. It turns out that the trauma that we started our marriage with just made our relationship stronger. Going through it all with no one to lean on but each other brought us closer together. And after losing Gabriel, we better appreciate the sweet babies we've had since then. Plus, my new job gives me the freedom to work from home, which I just couldn't do before. So when I was pregnant the last time and partially bedridden, I just curled up with my laptop and kept working. And because I don't work in the suburban D.C. area anymore, I felt a guilty sort of relief when the terrorists, snipers, blackouts, and blizzards struck there.

I never wanted to believe that things always work out for the best, especially bad, horrible, traumatic, nasty things. But it may just be true. This time around, I'm willing to have faith. (I'm still going to work my independent tail off, though.)

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Isn't it interesting that we "think" we are so strong only to find that we have the ability to become even stronger?

Good for you...