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.

Bridge

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.”

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