Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The secret

My best childhood friend has lived a charmed life. She grew up in a generally happy family. They were well-off. She has always been healthy. She has taken risks and they've always worked out for the best. She met her husband at 31 and got accidentally pregnant right before their wedding. Because she's suspicious of Western medicine in general and prenatal care in particular, she saw only midwives throughout her pregnancy. Not even an ultrasound. She gave birth to her daughter at home, with no complications.

All of this has led her to adopt a particularly optimistic philosophy, one that reframes her good fortune as a reward for living the right way. She practices yoga, Ayurveda, tai chi, massage, vegetarianism, and can-do New Age spirituality. She believes that our body states are merely expressions our emotional/spiritual realities.

So you can imagine why I've been reluctant to call her in the months since my miscarriages. But she has been leaving messages and my silence was starting to look suspicious. So, as I was feeling strong and optimistic yesterday, I have her a call.

Two comments stood out:

1) Her response to the general news about the miscarriages and my antiphospholipid diagnosis: "Have you heard of The Secret?"


My reply: Yes, but I found that philosophy particularly unhelpful since it blames people for their own suffering and serves only to comfort the fortunate.

2) Her response to my news that we'll be moving back to our home city over the summer: "Maybe your body just didn't want to give birth in a place where you don't feel at home. I bet that you're going to feel so grounded when you move back that it'll all work out."

My reply: "Hmmm...that's interesting."

But what I wanted to say was, "FUCK YOU!!!! Saying shit like that only comforts YOU and makes you think that you're in charge and that you "deserve" your happiness. And you know what?? You're not in charge! And I can't wait until something comes along to burst your goddamned smug little bubble."


The thing is, she means well. Her heart is in the right place. She wants me to be happy, she wants me to get what I want, and she wants us all to feel safe in a benevolent world.

But she just doesn't get it. And I don't really wish that reality on her. Still, I get so very tired of having to excuse peoples' ignorance in light of their good intentions. I'm tired of the hush-hush attitude that makes miscarriage seem like such a rare aberration that people are clueless about how to comfort us.

So lately, when I'm talking to someone who seems compassionate or smart about things, I find myself more apt to tell them about what has happened to me. Not compulsively, not often. But when the conversation opens up in a particular way, I open up. I feel the need to record it: These things happen. To good people. Life can be random.

I'm just very anti-secret right now. Anti-Secret, too. People are suffering all the time, all around us. And we further isolate them by responding to their pain with fear and avoidance and platitudes. Albert Camus once described America as "this place where everything is done to prove that life isn't tragic." He's right. Life is pretty fucking tragic sometimes. Our only hope is to know that we're not alone.

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