Thursday, August 26, 2010

Meeting new people is hard

That about sums it up.

For me, moving and meeting new people can open up the door for a lot of self-consciousness, awkwardness, insecurity, and loneliness. When you move into a place where relationships have been formed and on-going for years, it's easy to feel like there's nowhere to fit.
Add to that a feeling of already being an outsider, and it's not a pretty picture.

I moved from a place where all my friends knew me and Owen well. They were either there for me when I was pregnant with him and then when he died or we formed strong bonds because of our common losses.

The usual questions of 'where are you from', 'what brings you to the area', etc. are followed by the dreaded 'is she your only child?'

There is usually some awkwardness that follows the question 'how many children do you have?' when one (or more) of your children live(s) in Heaven.
And to be honest, I'm tired of answering this particular question.

I don't ever tire of talking about Owen. He's never far from my mind, so the 'issue' of bringing him up in conversation isn't the problem. It's the feeling of outsider-ness and the loneliness that it brings. It's the awkwardness that comes with just the mere mention of my son. It's the fact that I can't talk about him without feeling that I'm making someone uncomfortable. I feel like I can't talk about my own son. And that just plain sucks.

I never (well, rarely) let what I think someone may feel after hearing about Owen dictate when or how I talk about him, but I hate the silence that usually comes after his name is spoken. I hate my own assumptions about what someone might be thinking. 'How long ago was this- you're still grieving??' or 'Hmmm... I don't believe I would have mentioned that if someone had asked me.'  I often wonder what people are thinking when I talk about him during those first few conversations with someone new. Am I being too vulnerable with someone I've just met? Does the person I'm talking to even care?

Even though my insecurity runs deep, I still decide that it's worth it. Now matter what people think or say, it is worth the risks and consequences to talk about my son. He's my baby boy and I enjoy talking about him. I also feel like there's so much good that comes from being open about Owen. I get to talk about our God and how good he is, despite being separated from my son. I can proclaim God's great faithfulness and love (his never ending, always pursuing, forever love) through the pain and sorrow I feel each day. There's also a huge need for education about stillbirth and loss during pregnancy. The subject of stillbirth is so taboo; it's almost dirty. It makes me angry just typing the words, because by extension- talking about my son is taboo or dirty. That just shouldn't be the case.

For me, stillbirth isn't an 'issue' or a cause. Loss during pregnancy isn't easily defined in terms of miscarriage or stillbirth. It isn't something that's happened to me. They're my children. When I talk about stillbirth and miscarriage, I'm talking about my children's lives. Their existence. And I long to talk about my babies in Heaven.

It can be exhausting though. And that's where I am.

But, if you meet me tomorrow and ask me about my kids- I will joyfully tell you all about my babies in Heaven, my Owen, and the God who keeps hold of us all.


Open Air said...

I just want you to know how influenced I have been by your views on this.

When I found your blog last fall, I was in the midst of grieving what most people around me simply regarded as an "unfortunate incident."
But it was so much more than that to me. They were my children, and I knew I couldn't just pretend that because they died, they didn't matter.
I was floundering and I had no role model for how this is done. No one had given me permission to say, These are my children and they matter. Period.

Then I read a post where you talked about the commitment you had made to always include Owen anytime people asked you if you had any children. From that point on, I committed to do the same.

It's awkward. I won't lie. After responding to the question, Do you have any children? Sometimes I've thought, Was that really necessary? Most recently I was walking my dog and answered truthfully to a new neighbor down the street. I could see his discomfort, and it made me question my stance all over again.
But over and over again, I come up with this:
Death doesn't mean you don't matter. It just means you have to wait.
Thanks for giving me the courage to tell the truth. If more people would, I don't think this would be as lonely a journey.

Sara said...

Ebe, I totally get that. It has to be oh so hard to get to know people at times amidst those situations. I am praying that the Lord has brought just the right people there that will "get it" or will want to "get it" Will love you and want to get to know your Owen. I am praying that He will provide those really special friends for you. I can tell you, when we left the sem... I deeply grieved the very special friends I had made there. I missed them so much!

Praying for you... Hey, I love hearing about your Owen... ANYTIME!


Anna said...

Praying that you meet good, true friends who will love to hear about your children and God!

I can't imagine how hard it is to leave behind the friends that were there and know and accept...lots of (((hugs)))

PS... wishing you were closer to Wisconsin!!!!! :)

sjefferson said...

I LOVE this post! I can only imagine the comforts you left in Georgia. I'm glad you are forging ahead and trying despite the uncomfortable-ness (if that's even a word). I think Satan would love nothing more than for you to sit inside and avoid the discomfort. Ebe, you are a HUGE testimony of God's unfailing love, everlasting grace and unending mercy. Tell about your babies and people will see your big God! Praying for you!

Groves said...

I love this post, too. It seems like the way you are approaching it will have another benefit (besides being honest & true, which is best of all) - hopefully it will quickly bring in the kinds of friends you REALLY want.

If people don't like you talking about your children - ALL of your children - as real people who are worth mentioning and honoring...well, they probably aren't going to be very good friends for you anyway.

But, it is definitely lonely looking for those kinds of people - it surely is.

I haven't been familiar with your blog long enough to know if your husband is planning to be a pastor after seminary? (As opposed to teaching or writing, etc.) But either way, what I keep thinking is, if only more pastors had wives like you, maybe churches would be places where the suffering were welcomed instead of avoided.

You're a great writer and a person who is well worth befriending. I hope you won't stop talking about your feelings and your children; anything you want to share.

Thanks again,

Cathy in Missouri

Tonya said...

We are the only ones who will keep our babies' memories alive. I'm so proud of you for embracing the uncomfortableness and exhaustion that comes with talking about Owen in order to do just honor him and give him the respect and acknowledgement he deserves. Because the guilt is far worse than any awkwardness, at least it is for me. Praying for you! Hang in there! Hope we can catch up soon. Love you!

Kelly said...

I think that often, people don't mention any "other" children because they fear they will make others feel uncomfortable. When someone has the courage to do so, they're thrown for a loop.

I admire that you that you continue to speak of him. He's your son, even though he's not with you. I see that clear as day.

Freya said...

I admire your honesty, Ebe. I think that is one of the things that I am worst at--I think if no one asks me about my grief they don't care, so I appreciate that you remember Owen and keep him close to your life no matter what. I agree that it seems faux pas to talk about in public--thanks for sticking up for us minorities =) and being a good example by bringing your grief to the body, so that they can care for you.
Take care,

Vanessa Murphy said...

Glad to read this Ebe. I haven't even moved anywhere, but times change and new people come into your life who don't know about your baby, and it is so uncomfortable. I feel friendless at the moment, but hate the thought of making new friends because they don't know Matthew. I want the ones who knew Matthew to be back. And it's been 2 years for me.