The Creation of the UnHusband

I find myself wrapped in thoughts tonight. Outside my window, the snow is falling, snowflakes cascading down from the heavens. The yard is blanketed in a pillowy white covering…..a welcome sight compared to the mud that it replaced from a dreadful downpour of rain this morning. The vision is a sight to behold, erasing all the muck and mire that is burrowed just beneath it’s surface. Forgotten is the sloppy, muddy dishevel that my driveway was not long ago; it’s buried. I tell you all of this because this is symbolic. Today, I stand before you a snowflake, freed from the heavens, but just a few years ago, I was the aftermath of a rain shower. I was stained, I still am, but today it just isn’t as apparent. If you were to dig your hands into my snow blanketed soul, you would lift them with soiled gloves. In order to grow, to transform, I must always remember where I came from.

If you peek out the glass window panes, if you squint through the blizzard, you will see, a man. Scotty, after a long day of working in the cold, wet snow, there he stands in the ditch, he is helping a family that has slid off the road. I am thankful that this family wound up in this yard, at this particular time, otherwise the woman and her kids probably would’ve spent hours awaiting rescue. Ever the rescuer, there he is, still dressed in his saturated work hoodie and his now soggy boots, billows of cold air coming in puffs from his lips. I know he is cold, I know he is tired, but he carries on. Doing what it takes to see that these strangers find their way home, safe and sound, so typical Scotty. I can’t help but smile to myself, at his compassion, he hides his heart well, but it is times like these, I am so proud he is the father of my children. He is a man of few words, his smile is not one you find often upon his lips, but if you take a moment, if you search a bit harder, under the harshness he exudes; you will find a softness unsurpassed by none. He does everything hard, he loves hard, he fights hard, and even in his most desperate hours, he never lets it show. He is the epitome of strength, perseverance, and a true man’s man.

I watch admirably at his endurance. He patiently shovels piles of snow from the road. Then when his attempts are unsuccessful he scrapes the ice from the four wheel drive and returns to pull them out. The metaphor is not lost on me this night, no, too easily I transcend back in time. You see, I was that car. Out in the storms of life, sliding out of control to land in a ditch. Most would have cut their journey short, or chosen a less treacherous path. Not me, I continued on that slippery slope, finding myself in a ditch, or rut, more times than I can count. I cannot remember the number of times that he pulled me from my wreckage. Every time he pulled me back onto my track, I managed to end up back where I started, and eventually, I quit accepting his help. His damsel in distress refused to allow herself to be saved.

I think back to all the times I shoved him away. I had nothing left to offer, nothing left to give. I often wonder how it must have felt to be married to the UnMother. The woman so alone in her grief that she couldn’t see past it, she couldn’t breathe, and she was incapable of emotion. She was just a suit of armor I was forced to wear, this doppleganger version of myself. She was a farce, a much needed escape, but she was robotic in her expression. Then, I am reminded of how tough that must have been to witness my transition.

Scotty had married a completely different woman……actually still a young lady. I was full of life, laughter, and love as boundless as the oceans. I was enchanted with everything about this man I loved so dearly. I always laid his clothes out for work, I made his plate for supper, and I relished in spending my time in his presence. If you saw that young version of me, you would have loved her. She was so easy going, so full of life and wonder, so eager to love, and most importantly, so very happy! Her face lit up when he came into a room. Like a moth to fire she was drawn to him. She valued his opinion above all others, and they spent nights lying awake just talking about everything under the sun. She would listen as his voice spoke to her. Sometimes she would forget to hear what he was saying, instead allowing herself to enjoy the way her name sounded upon his lips. His touch was something that she hungered for, the feel of his hand upon her’s, the way he caressed her face when she was resting her head on his shoulder, and the way he wrapped her up in his beautiful, strong arms, that was the thing that kept her world on it’s axis. She was smitten with this man who had swept her off her feet.

The day I walked down the aisle, I had one soul purpose; to love this man more than anyone in the world. I didn’t realize that I would soon grow to love someone that didn’t exist. Or how I would yearn for the presence of another, more than I ached to be held in his arms. My wedding dress was beautiful, flowy, romantic and elegant. I chose it with great care, to represent all that I hoped our marriage would be. I knew him better than he knew himself. He was drawn to me because I was what he needed, softness to smooth out his rough edges, a constant smile for the days he couldn’t find one, and light in a world that was once dark. I vowed that day to be all of those things, because I needed him just as much. I needed his strength when I was vulnerable, his wisdom when I was careless, and his guidance when I so often lost my way. We were a team……until the miscarriages.

I no longer craved his touch, or his hug; my body was too accustomed to needles and tortuous testing; one more touch would send me spiraling. I didn’t wait by the door for him to come home; I was too often at another failed doctor’s appointment. The once talkative me, now fell silent. Her voice seemingly lost forever. Conversations that lasted long into the night were replaced with short responses to only necessary questions. We spoke of nothing of importance. We had become “that” couple: the couple who merely lived together but no longer knew each other. I was no longer the girl with an easy smile; my face was one of stoic determination.

I reluctantly allow myself to look back upon that time, and conjure up the effect that my isolation caused him. Without my softness, he became harsh, closed off, and withdrawn. He too, had gone into his secret holding cell, a place void of emotions. Without my sense of humor to brighten his somber moods, his smile faded….the smile that I once sought above all things. The tiny gift of that grin could set all things right in the world, but I no longer sought it. How could I summons a smile to his face when I had lost my own? Without the light that I used to access his heart, darkness enveloped him. I wonder how he felt? I have never asked him. I am sure he felt deserted, abandoned, neglected, and lost, just like I did. If we had only leaned on each other instead of hiding in our fortresses of steel, perhaps we could have shared our pain and found our way….but the person I was during my despair was not the one locked away inside her own prison.

I can see him, the UnHusband. That is what he had become. His purpose had always been to love me, to receive my love, to embrace my weaknesses, to fix me when I was broken…..but I was unfixable, incapable of allowing love in, and too consumed with all my weaknesses to be embraced. Just as his purpose had always been to be my husband, my purpose had shifted to being a mother. He wasn’t as driven as I was for the need for a child; he wanted his wife back, and his wife wanted a baby. For the first time in our relationship, we found ourselves on opposing teams, fighting two different battles; his to save me, and mine to save my unborn children….which in the end rendered me beyond saving.

In hind sight, I see the two miserable people we had become. Our mourning, and pain were for different reasons. I lost my babies, and my identity, but in return he lost his wife. His countenance changed, he no longer attempted to hug me after a long day at work, (I had shunned his embrace too often), so he lost himself in a project in the garage. Our conversations, once light hearted, tender, and full of fun banter, now was non-existent. The only words we spoke were out of necessity, and laughter had dissipated our once happy home. I knew, even then, I should stop this madness, reach for him, kiss his lips, speak the words that he needed to hear, and close the distance that separated us by continents. But, in order for the UnMother to guard me from the pain, she had to shield me from all emotions…..even love. I could not speak the words he longed for, I could not tell him that I was okay to simply be his wife, and abandon my dream of being a mom.

So, they lived together, in the depths of their own Hells, the wounded UnHusband and the broken UnMother. Their escape was futile as each of them were driven by different desires. I remember hating him for not being a part of my need. I am sure he hated that I had morphed into this unrecognizable version of the woman he loved. Two Hells, two hearts broken, and we stood divided as our world crumbled. He found comfort in drinking and endless nights spent with his friends. I found no comfort, only one thing could set my world right….a baby. My anger was only fueled by his absence, and I lashed out at him, and he in return drifted further away. An endless cycle, a battle that could not be won, and two people who once loved each other beyond measure, became enemies. We were strangers. Forgotten were the loving words, the beauty of the sound of one another’s laughter, and when we were once each other’s world……now we were worlds apart. How our love story had become.

The UnHusband, he looked so shattered. His once dominate stature, now was one of defeat and his shoulders slumped against the weight of the burden he carried. The beautiful, rare smile, was replaced with a grimace, a scowl, a hardness from the loneliness he felt. His hazel eyes that used to light up had fallen dull, the golden flecks that used to ignite when I walked in the room had fled into the darkness that lurked behind them. His eyes were haunting, reflections of his darkened soul. As I swam out to an ocean without a shore in sight, my husband had swam out to rescue me……and I had drowned the man I loved. When we emerged on the shores, we were different people. Our old selves died in that ocean, and on the sands of a shaky seaside two new entities were born: the UnHusband and the UnMother. Only time would tell  if we could find our way back to our former selves.

I will say that the journey would be long and treacherous, and some things would forever change them. This isn’t the story of a flawless love, it is indeed that is flawed beyond measure. That part of our lives, was one that would force us to evolve or to cut our losses. I will soon share more of our love story, as tragic as it is, but right now my heart cannot allow anymore emotion in. To be continued…..

The “Unmother” (miscarriages #4 & 5)

I became blind….not in the ways a person loses their vision…but in the way a person loses themselves in their purpose. Burned, branded, and marked by tragedy. I drudged on, one slow, painful, aching step at a time, I kept looking for my way. I couldn’t think beyond my purpose. I sought my destination like a starving man seeks a crumb of subsistence. Nothing quenched my thirst, my goal, the end of my road to freedom was always seemingly within reach. I kept getting advice from various sources, “take a break,” “it will happen in His time,” “you are putting to much pressure on yourself,” on and on the unwanted advice flowed. I was no longer that girl with the ready smile, I was now this frantic person, trying to control something that was out of my control. In my logical mind, I knew these voices were people who had my best interest in mind, they truly were well-meaning. Their words were, however, ill received. I had grown impatient, and their words only spurred me to further my quest. I knew what I sought was going to cause me to drown…there was no good answer to be found. I had not reached acceptance yet. I couldn’t accept that I was fated to never be a mother! I began to refer to myself, as the unmother. I define her as someone who is delusional, destined to bury herself in her grief, begging for the impossible, and never accepting no. She is riddled with heartache, but she continues down the path to her pain, allowing nothing to deter her, knowing that inevitably she will be suffering the same fate.

The “unmother” was her own worst enemy. Unyielding, she continued on, she almost craved the feeling of the pain she had allowed to eat away until all that was left was this….unrelenting mutilation of her soul. She would crawl through the belly of a beast, cross a waterless desert, and walk through the pits of hell…..she had one soul purpose; motherhood. Even in her most irrational state of mind, she knew her quest was futile. She was getting nowhere closer to her baby, because she was destined to never have one…she was the unmother.

Such was my life. Nothing held meaning, one purpose, one thought, one desire thrusted me into my oblivion of denial. I would find a way……I would beat the odds and leave this dreaded title behind. It was a sickness, this need, it robbed me of my sanity, my reasoning, my logic, and I couldn’t think beyond my singular destination. I knew that I would either end this battle with a baby in my arms or my arms in a well suited straight jacket…..On to another doctor’s appointment, another blood draw, endless barbaric tests…they all ran into one endless day of nothingness. I truly had no hope, I just couldn’t abandon my mission. If I did, then all the losses, all the pain, would be for nothing? I went to the doctor for a follow up, this would be another dismissive visit, filled with “we don’t knows,” “we aren’t sure,” and “consider other options.” I went anyways, routinely checking in at an office that knew me all too well. I went back to the sterile room but thankfully today was just discussion of results, no testing, no disrobing, I was there simply to hear more of the same medical jargon that had over the past few years.

In came my doctor, she was wheeling a machine behind her….”oh gosh, they have found a new torture device,” my inner dialogue whispered. I looked up at her puzzled…..through all of this, she was the only opinion that mattered, the one I trusted beyond a shadow of a doubt, a trust that would later break my heart in a way I had never thought her possible. She looked at me, she was a pretty lady. She was on my side, the only one who encouraged me, the only voice that I felt gave justice to my situation. She knew my losses, each and every one, after my third miscarriage it was her voice that kept me from slipping over the edge where you cannot come back from. “April, we will get that baby here! You just trust me, as long as you want to fight…I will be right here by your side. One way or another we will make it happen.” I held on to that after my trip back from Nashville, when the physician there had rattled me to my core, broken me down, those words reminded me that anything was possible. Her eyes were soft, but she didn’t handle me like a fragile piece of glass. She was honest, even when it hurt but not in a hurtful way. She could say things that would send me flying off the handle had they crossed someone else’s lips. We shared this journey together, and she was the only person I let in.

“Why do you have the transvaginal ultrasound in here?” I stammered, glancing at the machine then back at her. She paused as she plugged it into the outlet, then she looked back at me.

“Because the tech is completely swamped, and I can’t send you home not knowing. I can’t leave you worrying and I have to know.” Her words were coming out slow, letting me take them in before spilling more upon my deeply troubled mind. “Your last labs revealed that you do have a blood clotting issue!” Most would be devastated by the news of this ailment, I looked at it as triumph! We had an answer, with an answer came a plan, and I was so giddy I nearly leapt from my seat into her arms. Still, never once did I register what the device she held was going to show that had to do with blood clots. “Undress from waist down, I will be back in to do a pelvic ultrasound.”

I didn’t really question, I just did as directed and sat with my paper towel gown, trying to stay composed. The door creaked open and she came inside. She began the ultrasound, and I stared at the ceiling, taking myself to a different place to avoid the prodding, the feeling of vulnerability. “April, I didn’t want to say anything but look.” She pointed to the screen…..I had become quite good at reading these ultrasounds, and what I was viewing was a gestational sac and a tiny blip right in it’s middle, about the size of a bean. The room was spinning, I couldn’t breathe, as I awaited her next statement. “It confirms the same thing your labs did, you appear to be about 4 weeks pregnant. Everything looks of normal size and range.” She was smiling now, a full fledged smile that reached all the way up to light her eyes in it’s wake. I was reeling myself, grasping at words, “normal?” The scan and labs showed I was on “target.”

“Now this will be touch and go, but it is the best we have had so far. The hormones are in the accurate range for this gestation, the sac is perfect shape and size, the baby is reading right where it needs to be. And with a lot of prayers, this will be the one that we deliver.” Tears moistened her eyes, and I found them filling mine…..logically I told myself not to hope; a lot of good it had done me before. Yet as I have confessed, I am hopelessly hopeful, that is the only choice you had when you were an “unmother.”

I hadn’t spoken to anyone, if you excluded my physician and her staff. It all seemed to personal. I barely spoke to Scotty, and when I did it was tense, short, and passive aggressive. I hated myself for shutting him down. I felt so alone, I wanted to let him in. Letting him in, meant letting in logic that I just couldn’t deal with. This was possibly the most nonchalant pregnancy announcement I had ever given. “The test revealed I am pregnant, again. She saw the sac and the beginnings of a baby. I don’t know what you need from me but I cannot discuss the odds against me and this child. So, please just keep your input to yourself, I can’t deal with negativity.” I felt horrible even as I spoke the words, his face fell, he had already admitted defeat. I knew, given the choice, he would choose having his sane wife over this insane one who continued on a fruitless endeavor that promised only more heartache. I understood his reasoning, had I been in my right mind, I would have agreed….but I would choose the hopes of this dream at all costs.He looked distraught but managed to hug me, and plant a kiss on my forehead.

“Well, those are all good signs….” I knew he wanted to say more but he knew that would cross the boundary I had set.

“I go back next week to see if we can see the heartbeat. She gave me shots to administer. I already started them tonight.” I leaned up and kissed his cheek feeling like the worst wife on earth for putting him through this. I was building a wedge between and this man I loved but needed to continue on, even if it was mass destruction. I was still 4 days to my appointment, so decided it would be a proper day to have a little fun. To restore some of the normalcy to my life, so off to swim at a friend’s pool. My tummy was already bruised and I had to tell everyone the story as to why they were there. I found myself actually having fun. I was also on progesterone to help sustain my pregnancy, it made me tired and even more moody than I had been. I went to bed and got up to go to the restroom, I then found that I was bleeding. I vomited and drove myself to the hospital. I was given an ultrasound……I should have been five weeks at this point but the sac was the size of 3 weeks and no heartbeat…..I remembered my hormone levels and when they told me the numbers I recognized the significant drop in them… was over. All of this, hopes shot down, dreams gone, a baby sorely missed although I had never met he/she.

I drove home numb, called the doctor the following morning canceling my appointment, explaining I was miscarrying. I would be in for labs to be sure the levels dropped to zero to be sure that I didn’t need a D&C. I had thought that the shots were the miracle cure….I had made a fatal flaw in hoping.

About five months later, I had the exact thing happen except I wasn’t able to do the shots as I miscarried two days after a positive test…….bringing me to the grand total 5 miscarriages……5 babies gone, 5 scars on my non functioning, uncooperating, betraying body and I knew I was flawed beyond repair. And still, I don’t know why I continued, not giving up, knowing it was madness….I couldn’t let it go, the unmother urged me on. She tempted me with thoughts of a beautiful, cooing baby. She filled my mind with lullabies, baby clothes, and all the sweet joys a baby brings.

I remember looking in the mirror, and asked myself who this was? When had I been replaced by this shell of a woman, when had my eyes turned from a blue and aspark with life, shifted to these gray dull eyes staring back at me. The eyes that once held hope and love, were now sad, and tortured. I saw no resemblance in this new reflection glaring back at me…..but I knew that this was no longer me, or a side of me that I knew. No the woman staring back at me was no longer April, I was the unmother. …and I hated myself for it!

May the Day Come When Every Child is loved

As a writer often I get caught up in my own story…..and then something enchanting happens….someone shares their story with me. I am not only a writer; I am a storyteller. But some days a storyteller needs a story, a glimpse into someone else’s book. To connect, to feel but for a moment that person’s pain. To embrace it, to lift it but for a second, and take it as your own. Just like delving into the nostalgic pages of a long forgotten book, you are reminded every single soul has a story. Not all stories are painted with beautiful things, flowers, and rainbows……no the best stories are the ones that leave a little mystery. If but a moment we would just stop writing, open our ears and quiet our tedious pecking against a keyboard, or tracing letters upon parchment paper, we will hear it. The sound of someone’s heart breaking, the audible cracking as the ice shatters shreds of their pain sending fragments of pain strong enough to debilitate them. We have all had a broken heart, it is more real than any physical pain I have ever endured. No pain reliever can dull it, no remedy to subdue it, so it racks through us like waves of hurt. The ache, it can cripple the strongest person, silence the most outspoken, and break the unbreakable….There are so many causes for a broken heart, some for choosing to love, some for choosing not to, some for having no choice at all. So, my question, if we have all felt it, how can we not offer some insight to those we see hurting? Because just like love, that type of pain is truly indescribable. Childhood is supposed to be about building you up. Learning to spread your wings, helping you build your dreams, preparing you for the future by equipping you with tools you will need, protecting us from the evil so that we can see through pure eyes. What if that gift is stolen? What if you don’t get the choice to see the world how you want to but instead the window to your world is controlled by someone tortured by demons? It happens every single day…abuse. With that abuse a child’s world can be demolished, taking with it their future. They will carry that baggage for the rest of their days, it will follow them into future relationships, tarnish that vulnerable place that is capable of opening up, and you can break a child. Not all children survive their form of abuse, some succumb to the pain and lock themselves away….and they spend their lives broken. The ones who do survive are left with scars so deep that it hurts so bad they cover them with a facade of bravery. Others will not live, they will die, never experiencing innocence, dying at the hand of their abuser, beaten, broken, gone! How terribly sad that someone could do this to a helpless child… happens every single day. It breaks my heart, the way glass shatters into those tiny fragmented pieces that embed themselves into you. The sadness and the relief is they are free from their abuser, leaving behind only the memory of them. Those that survive, they are often operating on autopilot. Pretending to fit into the norm of what they are supposed to be, how they are supposed to be like everyone else. However, they cannot be that person that the world seeks out. They harbor a secret, so dark, so haunting that it has become a part of them. What of those? If they are lucky they will reach out, they will find that one person to share their burden with and for once will be loved wholly for who they are, even the broken parts. I believe that the scars will heal with the proper mending, but the memories are still there, just beyond the veil of their cool demeanor. Untapped, trapped, burdened, heavy, and alone in their pain. Perhaps, they feel unworthy of love, from an early age they were taught they were unlovable, so how will they learn to accept love when they have never felt it. Just as there is no cure for heartache, there is no cure for physical abuse…..but love can overcome that. For that person, battling the demons that consume their nightmares, the one who wants only to be understood, who wants to share but is too afraid, too ashamed to let anyone see the broken parts of their heart, their spirit, their soul……for that one I pray for love! Love from someone who will embrace that sadness, carry it in their heart so that for a brief instance they can lighten the load of the deeply troubled child hidden just beneath the surface. To that person I hope for peace, I hope for love unwaivering, and I pray for their strength to share their story. Only in vulnerability can they find freedom, vulnerability is scary but to the one who is deeply wounded it is the only source of relief. May those children and the adults they grow up to be, find that and so much more. May they smile, a true smile one that lights up those shadowy places in their souls that have been buried. May they laugh, a deep uncontrollable laugh to cleanse them and let them know how great happiness feels. And to the one who they finally let in, I pray they never let them go so that they can stop the search and just be who they were meant to be. In honor of that child, the many children out there without a voice, may they find it, no matter how long it takes and may they find the bonds of pain lifted. For those children, and the ones that are living it today, I pray there comes a day that no child suffers at the hands of the ones who are supposed to love them. That hands that would be lifted to hit them, instead tossle their hair, the arms that were used to pin them instead embrace them, and the vile words that spew from the aggressor’s lips turn to encouragement and love. May there be a day when children are given the one thing they were meant to feel….unconditional, unfaltering love! I pray for the day there is no child abuse in this world, but until then, I pray for a cure for the aftermath the abuser leaves behind!