On being “brave”
Yesterday, Mamamia ran a story of mine. It’s almost prose, just a retelling of a time in my life about three years ago when Gaz and I found ourselves pregnant and at loggerheads. You can read it, if you like.
Since it was posted, many people – both women and men – have written to me on Twitter and in the comments section of the post to tell me how brave I was to share my story. That writing down the words and giving them to someone else to post on their website was really brave of me.
I thought to myself, “is sharing bits of yourself ‘brave’?”
There were things that happened in that period in my life that I thought were quite brave. Standing up for what I believed in and refusing to be talked into having an abortion was brave. Miscarrying naturally in my friend’s bathroom without my boyfriend (who had turned his phone off because he was tired of dealing with it) took some braveness. Waking up each day afterward and heading out into the world without my baby made me feel brave.
Sharing my story with other people who might find something to pull out of it and hold? Not brave.
There were lots of things I left out of that story because I wasn’t brave enough to include them. Like the way I had had an abortion the year before that and it had cut me into tiny pieces and I couldn’t go through it again. Like the way that thanks to my ex-husband, I received emails multiple times a day from my ex-mother-in-law to remind me that God loved my baby and that if I thought I couldn’t do it on my own I wasn’t trying hard enough. And the way that when I was on my holiday, I had a massage to escape the whole ordeal and have always wondered whether that contributed, even though the baby died weeks before.
I wasn’t brave enough to say “What if he died because I didn’t fight harder?”
I wasn’t brave enough to say “It was a little bit of a relief that he died.”
I wasn’t brave enough to say “Sometimes I love the memory of that little baby more than the reality of the children I do have.”
I wasn’t even brave enough to just write it out, instead of making it into a story.
I got pregnant by accident, and then fought with my boyfriend until I was 11 weeks along, at which point I decided ‘fuck him’, but just as he came around, we found out the baby had died and our relationship has never been the same.
I wonder if I’ll ever be brave enough to stop grieving.