Show and Tell: Bridge

August 23, 2008

In my review of Eat, Pray, Love for the Barren Bitches Book Brigade, I had a teaser about the transformative realization that I had while reading the book.

Are you ready?

When Gilbert is in India, the poet/plumber from New Zealand gives her some Instructions for Freedom and sends her to the top of a minaret to watch the sunset and think. Her ex-husband’s soul comes to the rooftop and talks to her soul, and they forgive each other (bear with me, even if the soul part is getting outlandish).

Much later I opened my eyes, and I knew it was over. Not just my marriage and not just my divorce, but all the unfinished bleak hollow sadness of it… it was over. I could feel that I was free. Let me be clear — it’s not that I would never again think about my ex-husband, or never again have any emotions attached to the memory of him. It’s just that this ritual on the rooftop had finally given me a place where I could house those thoughts and feelings whenever they would arise in the future — and they will always arise. But when they do show up again, I can just send them back here, back to this rooftop of memory, back to the care of those two cool blue souls who already and always understand everything.

When I read this, I realized that I, too, could have a place to send my troublesome thoughts and feelings. Now I will tell you about that place, and then I will show it to you.

A couple of months ago, I did IVF #1. And I was pregnant! And then I wasn’t. I got the call from the doctor informing me of my declining betas just a few hours before I was about to get on a plane to Europe. I was so busy with preparations and then with being on the trip itself that I didn’t experience any negative reactions to the loss of that pregnancy. With my first M/C four years ago, I put my whole heart into the pregnancy, and I was devastated when I lost it, devastated enough to stop TTC for over a year. This time around, I was guarded. I didn’t trust my BFP until I had two betas that were doubling appropriately, and even then I didn’t plan to really trust it until I saw a heartbeat, and even then I might not trust it until a baby showed up. “Fool me once, shame on… shame on you… fool me… can’t get fooled again.”

So anyway, I never trusted the pregnancy, and then my lack of trust was confirmed when I lost it. But because I hadn’t trusted it, I didn’t experience negative emotions about the loss.

Until the last day of the trip.

All of our travels were done, and all of my work obligations were over. As I walked out of my last work obligation, literally as I stepped away from the building, it all sank in. It was nighttime, and we were next to one of the big bridges of the city (not the most beautiful bridge in the world, but a very nice bridge in a remarkable city), and it looked like there was a street fair on the bridge, so of course the logical thing was to walk along the bridge through the fair. Except that with each step I got more and more sad, more and more angry. I started grumbling under my breath about the crowd, the buskers, the small children out with their parents late at night, the friends drinking and laughing, the locals and tourists all enjoying the vibrant city life. This whole scene normally would have been a delight, but as the dark cloud enveloped me, all of the pleasures eluded me. I took pictures of the things that I knew I should enjoy, but only because that’s what I was supposed to do.

By the time we got to the end of the bridge, I actually uttered the following sentence to DH:

Let’s just take the fucking picture of the bridge at night so I can get the hell out of here.

Not the kind of traveler I normally am, not at all. I am a fantastic traveler, full of adventure and spunk along with my due diligence. Not on that night. I was the worst kind of travel companion, the worst kind of wife. And I knew it, but even realizing what I was doing, I couldn’t hold back the poison.

Eventually, we made our way back to the hotel, and as we walked the anger gave way to sadness. Then I occupied my mind by having a conversation with DH in another language, one that he speaks better than I do. My fluency in that language is such that I can carry on a conversation, but it takes a lot of work. A pretty effective distraction, actually.

After that, my emotions recovered. By the time I got home the next day, my emotions had moved on.

But I seriously ruined that walk along the bridge.

And so, when I found that passage in Eat, Pray, Love, I realized that the bridge could be my ashram minaret.

Now, whenever I have negative thoughts about infertility or miscarriage, I can first acknowledge them, and then send them along to the Me who is still standing next to that bridge. She has plenty of negative thoughts already, so one more won’t hurt. But quite possibly, she will sort out the thoughts and file them away into her little knapsack and make them all not-so-bad. And her eyes will follow the curve of the illuminated bridge, onto the grand old buildings on both sides of the river, as far as the eye can see. And then maybe she will walk back onto the bridge to the street fair, and she will have a fantastic time.

Okay, you have waited long enough. Now it is time for the Show part of Show and Tell. If you can identify the bridge and the city (no Googling), you get a prize!

Edited: Not only did someone guess the location correctly and win a prize, but she had her own fabulous photo of the bridge to share, with an accompanying IVF story. You’d never guess by comparing the two photos that they are the same bridge, but a little perspective and some daylight can make all the difference in the world.


The next time I go back to that city will be with my child(ren). And I will take them to that spot where my trampled spirit and my foul mouth got the better of me, and I will say:

“The last time I was here, all I could do was think about you.”

45 Responses to “Show and Tell: Bridge”

  1. MamaSoon Says:

    What a powerful post. The ending sent chills down my arms! I hope you travel there soon.

  2. Rebecca Says:

    Here via ICLW.

    Beautiful post, it brought tears to my eyes and sent chills down my spine. I think it is a wonderful thing to have your own personal “minaret”…giving serious thought to what mine is. I too have felt those poisonous thoughts often, thank you for posting!

  3. Christina Says:

    Gorgeous picture and an even better ending! Hopefully one of these days soon you will be able to appreciate that entire experience a whole lot more by getting to say those words to your children!

    I loved the book, too.


  4. flickrlovr Says:

    What a great post. The bridge shot really drove it home.


  5. Kristin Says:

    That is beautiful. I hope and pray you get to experience that bridge with your children one day.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and thanks for the wonderufl show and tell.

  6. The Muser Says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I loved that last line of your post. Beautiful. And so is the idea of having a place to send all those thoughts as you wait for your little ones.

  7. staciet Says:

    The way you ended this post was perfect. Beautiful writing.

    Here’s hoping that you get the chance to visit that bridge sooner rather than later.

    I am so glad I stopped by from ICLW!

  8. emma Says:

    That was one of my favorite parts of the book too! I love that you have found your own space.

  9. Carbon Says:

    Wow, I think we all need one of those places. I hope it serves you well until your return visit.

    An ICLW Wanderer

  10. Kate Says:

    Here from ICLW. Lovely picture and a wonderful post!

  11. Danielle Says:

    You have such a way with words, very beautiful. I’m so happy you can find a “spot” to put your negative thoughts. That has to feel a bit freeing for you. Thank you for your comment on my blog. I appreciate it so much! Enjoy your Sunday!
    -D *ICLW*

  12. Teal Chimblo Says:

    Here from ICLW. Thanks for this post. Beautiful, really beautiful.

    And thanks for coming to visit me. Namaste.

  13. Stephanie Says:

    What a wonderful post, and a wonderful thought. Thank you for sharing that.

  14. Ginny Says:

    I have to be honest, your post gave me chills. I totally didn’t expect that, very powerful. I love the idea of sending all those thoughts to the you on that bridge! Wonderful post, take care!

  15. KCCAT Says:

    What a very powerful post. I am reading Eat, Pray, Love right now. I am still in the Italian part. But what you said about the bridge is absolutely right. I will need to find my own “bridge” so that when I have negative feelings I can send them there. Thanks for sharing your experience. I can’t wait to get to that part of the book.


  16. Martha Says:

    Gosh, not a clue where the bridge is! Paris? It’s gorgeous, thank you for sharing both the bitter and the sweet.

  17. Nic Says:

    It’s Paris?

    I say this, not only hoping that I am right, but also that I had a few moments in Paris, thinking about infertility.

    I was about to start IVF #2 (different outcome, THANK YOU GOD) but my brain was actually with IVF #1 – exaclty the same outcome and pattern as yours. And yes, despite the magical, breathtaking ‘Paris-ness’ I had a HUGE part of me submersed in the horror of infertility.

    Thank you for a beautiful blog. And I hope you find a lovely, new bridge to set some happy memories by.

  18. babysmiling Says:

    @Martha and @Nic, No, not Paris, but good guess — it has some bridges of legendary beauty. The last time I was in Paris, I was in such a different place emotionally; I was just starting with my first RE, and mostly was full of hope instead of bitterness.

    Everyone else, keep guessing! I would love if someone got the right answer and I could give out the prize.

  19. Lori Says:

    Prague? Budapest?

    You sound like a very wise woman. I’m impressed how, once your emotions flow, they flow quickly.

  20. Malky B. Says:

    Great post. My guess is Italy?

  21. mdep Says:

    Amazing post! I am in tears. I can’t wait for the day that you take your child(ren) back to that bridge. What a beautiful plan!!

  22. dmarie Says:

    I love the idea of acknowledging the negative thoughts and then sending them away. I really need to practice doing that. Great post!

  23. Nity Says:

    Did you take that picture?

  24. babysmiling Says:

    @Nity: Yes, that photo was the end result of my swearing and fuming — “Let’s just take the fucking picture of the bridge at night so I can get the hell out of here.” FYI, so that you don’t have an unrealistic impression of my skills, I took about 20 shots to get that one, which is one of the secrets to photography in general and night photography in particular.

  25. Dawn Says:

    Love the post. Love the picture. Looks like a bridge I’ve been to in London.

  26. beautiful picture and post. thank you for sharing.

  27. Both painful and inspiring.

  28. WaterBishop Says:

    Wow. I would love to find my version of that place. I too hope you can bring your children there very soon.

  29. This is beautiful all over again.

  30. annacyclopedia Says:

    I’m crying again for about the 5th time today and thinking that the Creme is just the BEST. THING. EVER. I’m so glad I got to read this stunningly brilliant and beautiful post that I missed the first time around. Thank you for sharing it through the Creme – it deserves to be read and revisited many times over.

  31. s.e. Says:

    Mel was right on her creme list. Tears indeed.

    I absolutely love picturing your return someday. Beautiful.

  32. Emily Says:

    Beautiful. The last line stunningly so.

  33. Delenn Says:

    Coming from the Creme. I find this very inspiring.

  34. Michelle Says:

    That is beautiful! The last line brought tears to my eyes.

  35. Cathy Says:

    Also coming from the Creme and I agree with others here – Mel was right, that last line took me by surprise and brought me to tears.

    Thank you for the beautiful post!

  36. Lisa Says:

    Here from the Creme. Thank you – this was a beautifully inspiring story, leaving me to wonder where I might find my bridge.

  37. Jamie Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this post! I identify with all of it so much – well, except for the part about being in Europe.

    But the part where you wrote, “And I knew it, but even realizing what I was doing, I couldn’t hold back the poison.” I don’t even know what to say. It feels so good to know I am not alone.

  38. Jane Says:

    Here from the Creme. The last line was a beautiful tear-jerker.

  39. Hope Says:

    Here from the Creme as well. Writing through tears, beautiful. I have a place I can dump it all most of the time. Can’t wait to see the picture of you and your children on that same bridge!

  40. T@sh!d@ Says:

    Here from the Creme: Beautiful picture, beautiful post! I can’t wait to read the post with this picture again except with your child(ren) in the picture as well.

  41. nh Says:

    Here from the Creme.
    What an amazing insight. And how well do I know that ‘poison’ moment. Hoping that you are still using your bridge to push the bad stuff too.

  42. JuliaS Says:

    Beautiful picture and a great thought.

    Good wishes.

    Creme de la creme 2008

  43. Here from Creme! Congratulations. This post, in addition to your entire blog is so beautiful and heart felt. Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait for you and your family to visit that bridge. What a moment that will be!!!

  44. Kristin Says:

    And how wonderful that you are on your way to being able to make that visit with your children.

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