Trigger Word Warning: painkillers, rape, blackouts, miscarriage, grief.
I think my toes are curled over the edge of life right now. I know that going back is not an option, I believe that we are on the verge of launching forward into an incredible new reality; and yet I feel my stomach flip flop as I inhale slowly.
When on earth will I stop being “afraid of good”? I think I am more excited than afraid, and yet I still feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins. For over 14 years I have dreamt of my story being told; of being able to share how the hideously painful and broken pieces have been somehow miraculously transformed into a beautiful reality that still leaves me speechless.
My journey through pain began in Chicago. It was Fall Break of my senior year in college; and my good friend and I had decided to leave our campus in the Midwest cornfields for the lure of the “Big City”. We had freshly emerged from a popular dessert spot and my left arm was jauntily swinging my bag which held all of my chocolate delicacies. I was aware of the staccato that my platform heels made on the sidewalk as we made our way over towards the lakeshore.
Unexpectedly, I lurched through the air as my left heel caught in a 6 inch hole where the sidewalk was missing. When I opened my eyes, I saw an extreme close up of the concrete and tasted the grit of the city on my lips. The rest of the weekend is a blur of flashing snippets. I vaguely remember being driven to the emergency room once we were back on campus; I recall being told that my collarbone was dislocated. I started taking painkillers that night. The next two months appear in my memories like a party with a strobe light flashing.
I was on the couch in my apartment with a guy friend. Everything went dark, and I awoke on the floor with him on top of me. I screamed, “No! Stop!” and he covered my face with a pillow as he pinned me to the floor. I felt excruciating pain; and blacked out again. I awoke to find myself in blood on the floor. However, I had no recollection of this whatsoever until the following spring, when I started suffering from flashbacks. Six days after the first flashback began, I miscarried my daughter. I hadn’t even known that I was pregnant.
I had been in counseling to help me cope with my parents’ divorce; and I brought up the flashbacks and the miscarriage to my counselor. She asked if I remembered having sex. “No, I just remember everything going black, and then waking up”, I told her. “Well, if you don’t remember actually having sex, then nothing happened. You couldn’t possibly have been pregnant.”
I spun into a desperate state of denial, keeping as busy as possible to avoid thinking about the miscarriage. During summer vacation, however, I was in a doctor’s office filling out paperwork for my appointment. They asked how many pregnancies and miscarriages I had experienced. I ran to the bathroom sobbing as my walls of denial crumbled around me. I began my war with grief.
I call it a war, because my losses scarred me and altered me in ways that can never be reversed. However, as wars often create warriors who emerge stronger than they ever imagined; I too have learned that my scars give testament to the fact that I have survived. My purpose in life has become unwavering, because I have been through the hell of death and the loss of a child. I have mourned the death of my innocence, and grieved all that was stolen from me. I have been unexpectedly wracked with sobs in the most inconvenient of times, and I have survived.
I have learned to be authentic and vulnerable with my wrestlings. I have faced God unflinchingly and spewed my truest, darkest doubts. I have expressed my anger and cussed in the midst of my prayers. I have discovered that God is big enough to take it. I have been surprised by the nearness it has resulted in. It makes no sense whatsoever, and yet I can honestly tell you that His tender compassion is why I have survived. My wrestling is far from over. Even now, sixteen years later, my grief still battles within me.
In hindsight, I think my willingness to be honest and raw with God was a demonstration of faith. I trusted that if I jumped off that precipice into the unknown chasm of my grief and emotions; somehow I’d eventually find a way through my grief and pain. My prayer is that as I share my journey in a raw, unedited and gritty way; the reality of my grief will somehow encourage you in your journey…whatever it may look like.