Thursday, May 18, 2006

"You are so filled with fear."

Fear is all there is left. Or maybe it's that the grief feels so much like fear? (C.S. Lewis)

No, it's all-out fear. How can there not be? How is there room for anything else?

I did it all right. I believed in God. I took care of myself. I followed ALL the rules. I was the good girl. I was the one who never got in trouble.

And look what happened.

But if I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that I only did the right things because I was afraid in the first place. Fear is nothing new to me. I believed in God because I was afraid of what He would do to me if I didn't. I took care of myself because I was/am afraid of illness and death. I followed the rules and never got in trouble because I was so afraid to disappoint anyone...I was afraid to get in trouble and be punished.

But those were things that made sense (if only to me). Do A and be rewarded with B. Don't do C and avoid D. It was an easy system.

But the system is a mess. There are no guarantees. There is no sense of justice. There is just the waiting for the other shoe to drop...For the next bad thing to happen.

Believe in God because I'm afraid of what He'll do to me? I'm already afraid because I've seen it. Does that mean I believe more or less? Maybe I believe...but I hate. Or maybe I don't believe at all. Who knows.

Take care of myself to avoid illness and death? Ha! Good one. Something as tiny as a speck of nothing ripped it all apart in an instant...and I didn't have a fighting chance against it. What good did the vitamins and the healthy eating do? No good whatsoever...unless you want to classify delivering a "perfect" dead baby or two into the world as a good thing.

Follow the rules and don't disappoint...avoid punishment. Well, it would seem that punishment comes in all forms. And I see the questions when people look at me. "What's wrong with HER?"..."TWO dead babies...I just can't IMAGINE"..."Maybe she's learned her lesson and will just stop trying now." I followed all the rules and my body betrayed me. And now it seems the world around me loves to pass judgments and issue punishments for things they THINK they understand.

So yeah...I'm afraid. I've always been afraid. But now, the fear is palpable. It's no longer a fear that plays by set rules. It's more a fear of the facts of life...the chaos and randomness that I KNOW is out there. It's a fear that has me jumping at shadows behind the door...real or imagined. Because regardless of what anyone would have you believe, bad things can happen to ANYONE. Just because you pray...or eat the right foods...or are a nice person...none of it immunizes you from the possibility that your perfect world can be destroyed in an instant. None of it.

And I much of my life has been pure luck up until this point. How many times have I clung to the system because it suited me and my view of the world...when it could have so easily been destroyed that much sooner? Is this what they mean by the phrase, "Growing Up?"

My husband and my friend and I were in NYC two weeks before 9/11. We rode the subway past the World Trade Center because I wanted to experience a real NYC subway ride (once was enough, thank you very much). As I stood in the Courthouse on September 11th and watched the towers fall on television, I thought how lucky we were. But NEVER did I really contemplate that it all could have ended on that day. The system would have been destroyed.

As I laid in the hospital laboring with Samuel, I remember the nurse having me lay on my left side because his heart rate appeared to be dropping with the contractions. She didn't seem particularly concerned and so I wasn't concerned (belly fat was ultimately deemed the culprit for interfering with the monitor). In THAT moment, it all could have gone wrong. We were so lucky.

Those are just two of the more dramatic moments in my life that I can remember feeling "lucky" or "relieved"...but never really conscious of what I could have lost. Now, looking back, I marvel at the coincidence that led me to a place where I could deliver two dead babies. Maybe I have already cashed in my two good instances with those and now I have to pay the proverbial piper his fee.

I don't know. And I don't care. The fear is here to stay...but it's really nothing new.


R said...

Catherine -

So it's good luck when something good happens, but it's God punishing you when something bad happens? Couldn't it have been God blessing you when something good happens?

I KNOW bad things can happen to me. BUT, and a big BUT, I also know the maker of the universe, and I know that whatever happens, He will be there, to get me through. I trust Him.

I just had to get that out there.

I am going to quit commenting, because I don't think challenging your thoughts right now is what you need. I am so sorry all this happened, Catherine.

I'm thinking of you.

Catherine said...

No...what I'm saying is that it's ALL been luck...good or bad. God doesn't have a damn thing to do with it. I believed...and I have two dead boys to show for it. Sure, I have one living one...but where's the justice in that? where's the blessing in sitting at a cemetery in the rain mourning TWO dead baby boys who did NOTHING to deserve to die? The system is nothing more than a creation of my mind. And it's time I do away with it altogether. There's no point to believing in it or in God anymore...neither one protects me.

Catherine said...

And feel free to challenge away. Where there was a possibility of agreement before is nothing but a big black hole. I'm sorry...but there is NOTHING you can say that will change my mind this time. No amount of "God loves you crap" is going to be accepted anymore. God loves me...I'll stop here before I become too offensive. I don't care if God loves me. If this is love then I don't want it.

Dunn Family said...

A long time lurker here, coming out to comment.
You are so brave.
I want you to know that you are not alone. (Some of us just don't talk about it.)
Fear is everywhere. Maybe its how we deal with it? We all do what we need to do to get through the day. I have gone through depression, I wasted so much time with my boys. Try not to make the same mistake I did.

Focus on Sam.

Sam will get you through.

I don't know why this has happened to you, it just isn't fair. Although I think you need this time to grieve, be mad, ask questions..I am afraid you are missing out on what is right in front of you.

Hang in there. You are very brave.
Thinking of you,~Kim~

delphi said...

I wish I could argue. I wish I could offer perspective. I wish that I could wrap my brain, my spirit, and my soul around what has happened to you.

I can't.

So why the hell would you be able to?

How could you feel anything other than abandoned by God? That may change, it may not. You don't have to justify that to me. "God loves you" doesn't console me much, either. It doesn't change anything here and now. And it becomes pretty hard to believe. "it was then that I carried you"???? Prove it.

Bronwyn said...

Even if God has nothing to do with it (personally, I think that even if He were to exist, He wouldn't get involved in our day-to-day goings-on, but I digress), the situation still sucks and is grossly "unfair". But you know from previous experience that it is possible to enjoy life again after a tragedy, to live life not cowering in complete fear, to find meaning and joy in everyday experiences. The fear will never completely go away, but it doesn't need to rule your life. There are so many stories in the pg. loss blog circle about women who had multiple losses and struggled to hang onto to a shred of hope after all seemed lost. I myself had two first-term miscarriages before I got pregnant with Lydia and while the fear and dispair often did indeed seem palpable, somehow I found a way to keep the spark of hope alive. Even now, knowing that I may never have a living child, I am hopeful that I still have something to accomplish in this life. I am in no way equating my experience to yours, but just trying to point out that life is full of blessings, even if we can't always see them. You have a wonderful husband and son, a good job and a nice home, and your health so you can fully appreciate it all. In time these things will regain the importance in your life that they deserve. And the fear will subside to a level that you can deal with. Anyway, I don't mean to sound preachy -- I just really wish this weren't happening to you and I hope that after some time has passed that your faith in humanity (if not in God) will be (at least partially) restored.

joy said...

I do not want to stand before the Lord one day and have to answer as to why I never told Him about you. So I will say this:
I pray for your salvation Catherine. I pray that you will accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. He died on the Cross for all of this pain that you are going through. I have been where you are and I am telling you very honestly, that if you continue to neglect Sam and your husband that you will lose them too. Be thankful for what you have even if you don't understand why you don't have those 2 babies anymore. I pray that the Lord will reveal Himself to you through this trial.

Catherine said...

Why? Why have faith? So it can be shattered time and time again? Isn't there a point where you say, "enough is enough," and just give it up altogether?

The blessings I have in my life will be there whether I am grateful or not. The crappy things in my life will be there whether I fear them or not. There is no system. There is no plan that I can comprehend. So why participate in the illusion that there is?

I will always be grateful for what I HAVE. I will always mourn for that which my sons will never have. It is not my life that I mourn is the lives that THEY lost...that THEY will never get to enjoy. No blessings in my life can ever compensate for that which THEY lost.

Catherine said...


Thank you for the prayers.

Now go away.

You don't know me and you certainly don't know a damn thing about my family.

Please go be sanctimonius elsewhere.

miraclebaby said...

I know I keep commenting here even though I don't know you, but I am glued to your story. And if you must know why it is because you say all the things that I have felt in the past year. You express those feelings, those thoughts about God that I felt. I wish I had had a blog when we lost our baby girl because the only person who knew that I was thinking those things was my husband. He had such strong faith and listened to me as I went into fits, screaming about God and all the things people said to me about Him and His plan. I said the exact words "if this is His love, I don't want it!!!"

I think all these thoughts are natural and I think it's good that you have expressed them and continue to, otherwise they would eat you. Grief can seem to swallow you up. I have yet to hold a living child in my arms. Though I am pregnant now I fear so much that God will take this child from me because of no other reason than the fact that I said I did not want Him any more. I really meant it at the time. I don't any more. And I would probably say the same thing if it happened again.

I just want to put one thing out there. Not for arguments' sake, just for some perspective (if it is even possible in the middle of what you are going through). It is just something on the comment about your boys not doing anything deserving of death. It's true; they didn't. And you didn't. The thing is, there is nothing that hurts a mother more than losing her child. When death takes children it strikes a different nerve because we see them as innocent. The fact is, though, that we all die. Some people we feel deserve it, some people believe that all people are inherently evil and therefore death comes. Regardless of how we believe on this issue, death touches all of us eventually. I personally had to come to terms with the fact that my child dying was not something out of the ordinary, it is something that many families have to walk through. But I did (eventually) find comfort in the fact that IF it was God's will for my baby to die (I still don't know what to think of that really), I would much rather my baby go straight from my womb to Heaven, not having to experience the PAIN that this life can bring. I tried to think of how upset my child would be if she knew I would will her back to Earth if I could when she is now experiencing things that I can't even dream of. We named our daughter Kaily (to rejoice) Beth (house of God) because she went straight to God's house and never had to cry or grieve like we do. She never had to do anything but rejoice. To me, that was the only thing that could bring me comfort in those times. Sometimes it was what I had to cling to to get through the day.

That being said, I long to hold a living baby, something I am not guaranteed. I would give anything to change the past, but I know I have no choice but to live, and I would rather live with some hope that God does care about me and does have something amazing for me even if I don't see it right now. For me, if I don't have hope I don't have anything. Then it IS fear. We do have to walk through that fear at various times. It will be a long process for you no doubt, but I hope that bit by bit the fear becomes less for you and the darkness not so pressing. I hope I made sense at all. I am still working through this stuff myself.....

I am thinking of you and hope that your faith can be renewed when you are ready. Grieve the right amout of time for you, not less, not more. Ask the questions, you need to. Yell out to God, the universe, whoever. And know that there are so many people out here that are touched by you that you don't even know. I cry for you daily and relate to your writing. Thanks for listening and I hope I have helped more than hurt.......

miraclebaby said...

OK wow I am floored by the woman that commented before me, and I hope I did not come accross the same way. Please know I was speaking out of what helped me personally. You are NOT neglecting Sam and your husband, you are grieveing youl babies! People like that are why I almost stopped going to church and believeing in God! I'm sorry but I just had to say that. I was fuming when I read that....

delphi said...

Uh....just couldn't stay away. Now I can't keep my fingers from typing - anyone (joy, this means you) who has popped by to comment and tell Catherine how she should feel, how she does feel, or how she will feel can go and fuck themselves. Especially in regards to God. This is her blog and her life and her feelings. Be supportive, or go read somewhere else.

Sorry, Catherine, that pissed me off. You deserve better.

Sarah said...

I feel inadequate trying to say anything related to a loss of faith. I'm not religious and for the most part don't believe in god (unless you count some sort of natural force as equivalent to god).

So maybe i should keep fingers silent, but I've been left wondering if coming from the opposite side of things gives me any helpful perspective...

My thought is that maybe it's ok to just accept that right now you don't believe. To just let it be and not have it add any additional turmoil to your thoughts and dreams. I'm sure that is very hard to do. So maybe it's a stupid idea... But maybe faith shouldn't be forced. Maybe faith in yourself (to be a good person - which you are, even though you may not always feel like one) and faith in your husband (that he loves you and your sons) is all you can handle right now and that is OK.

I feel like the only thing i've learned in the past year (but still have to keep re-reminding myself every few days) that is helpful for me is that sometimes you just have to accept where you are emotionally/spiritually right now and not try to change it. It will change when you're ready and become something new.

miraclebaby said...

Sarah, that was well-said. All we can really do sometimes is be where we are and that is ok.

Sweet Coalminer said...

Oh Catherine, I don't know what to say. Fear is powerful. You are feeling your emotions, and that is human and healthy. I have no answers for you about faith. I just want you to know I'm reading. I'm aching for you. Chance is...chance. You can't control it. I was surprised to learn that my good friend's mother had 7 miscarriages and a stillbirth to have my friend and her sister and I always think, "I could never live through that. I would curl up and die every time it happened again." I think if I were you I would be so angry and sad and pissed and overwhelmed and grateful for same and pissed. But you're so strong to be thinking about all of this and working through it.

I am thinking about you and your husband and your boys. What a terrible, horrible year it's been.

Holley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mel said...

Kate.. I won't even begin to pretend that I know what you are going through. It would be so easy for me to say "have faith" because I have not even come close to feeling the pain of loss like you have. My faith has not been challenged like that.. in fact until now I never even questioned it. and like you've said..perhaps it just makes me feel better to believe. I don't know.. thats something I have to sort out myself.. but I want you to know that I am here.. I am reading.. I am hurting, pissed and confused and I cry for you my friend.

"My thought is that maybe it's ok to just accept that right now you don't believe. To just let it be and not have it add any additional turmoil to your thoughts and dreams. I'm sure that is very hard to do. So maybe it's a stupid idea... But maybe faith shouldn't be forced. Maybe faith in yourself (to be a good person - which you are, even though you may not always feel like one) and faith in your husband (that he loves you and your sons) is all you can handle right now and that is OK."

I had so much more I wanted to say.. so much more!..but I I could not say it any better then Sarah did..

I am thinking of you and your family.

kate said...

I agree also with Sarah et al.

Also, from a personal perspective -- though i believe in God, i do believe also that it is all luck, what happens to you in this life.

And that 'joy' person really pissed me off too. But i will not waste my time on her when you and Delphi said it so well already.

Jill said...

I'm not sure if you want to find a new way to have God in your life, a new image of God or just to get rid of him and all his baggage... but as a way of perhaps researching what 'god' is, maybe you might look at 'The Color Purple'. Shug Avery's definition of god is fabulous.

And here's the thing. God is what you make it. A man? Prove it. A woman? Prove it. Spiteful? Vengeful? Prove it. Loving? Prove it. And don't go looking in the Bible... that book and every established christian church around were created by man who did no more than CLAIM god spoke to them. Every word that apparently comes from god could be complete bullshit. Only the gospels have some element of historical accuracy. And even they tend to contradict each other or only mention certain events.

My belief is that god is a creation of religion, not that religion is a creation of god. Case in point: the lovely Joy of previous comment. I believe that if you get a bunch of people together who are truly afraid to be alone or die (without an afterlife or heaven) you can whip them up into a fervour with any old interpretation of the bible.

I think also that as humans we will do more to avoid a slap in the head than we will to gain a square of chocolate and to that end you are absolutely right - church and god and religion work - not because of heaven's reward, but for the fear of god's wrath. Just go have a read of the final book of the bible.

Basically after all the kind, sweet Jesus stuff, the powers that be (was it god or simply the leaders of the church who decided this?)end the whole thing off with a book of untold terror and punishment.

This isn't the first time you have asked these questions and although you are raging now, I don't think your questioning is reactionary to Travis' death. You've been on this path for a year now and to my mind - possibly because you are reaching many conclusions I have reached myself - it seems you will have a stronger faith and spirituality than any habitual church goer who has never been tested. Who knows what you will end up beliving in? I just don't think god lives in church, religion or any book. He/she/it lives in you in whatever way he/she/it has revealed itself to you. In my opinion. Which doesn't have to bear any resmblance to yours.

You are in my thoughts, and in my heart. X

Misty said...

Kate, I love you so much. If only that were enough.

I just wanted to say that I personally don't feel like you will ever "get through" this. Who you were died with Alex. Who you rebuilt died with Travis. Much like who you were was born the second Sam came squalling into the world. Perhaps this isn't so much a journey through. Perhaps looking for the light at the end of this tunnel is useless, pointless, a cruel joke. Perhaps trying to make this make sense in terms of who YOU were, what YOU did, what that God did, is yet another cruel, unending torture being done unto you that has no answer. I don't think you will ever regain hope for a sense of justice in the universe, for the system you refer to to be rebuilt, repaired or resurrected. Those rose colored glasses have been destroyed, and nothing will ever make you forget the reality you have seen, tasted, bled, screamed. I also personally believe that it's not the end. That would be too just. Death doesn't happen because we will it or want it (even if we keep the wish deep inside so no one will know). Death is a process so beyond us. We have no control, we have right to hope for a reaction based on action. So when faced with the death and irrevocable destruction of all that you have built your existance on your entire life, what do you do when death won't come? You run, you find cover whereever you can, and you wait for the bombing to end and the shrapnel to clear the air. Then you step out into the destruction and begin trying to see what is left. And then, because there is no choice, no alternative, you begin trying to construct a new reality that accepts what you now know to be true, but still allows you to experience happiness, joy and passion. I don't know if it's possible. And I know beyond all else, this is an elementary concept to someone who is so seasoned is the fundamental truth that "life" isn't "fair", primarily because there is no system of life that is real. I just have a very selfish need to reach to you, even if it is grossly inadequate.

I don't know if there is a God. I'm blanking on the source, but the thing that slams in my head when I want to just STOP thinking, questioning, trying to reason or rationalize, looking for ANSWERS is that silence or even damnation may not be his "will" for us. Maybe we're just that insignificant. Maybe we're the roach that god is crushing beneath his foot as he walks. And that maybe, a slight, trace of a hint of maybe, if we scream loud enough in pain, he will look down and see us, and maybe upon recognition, he might have some magical peace to bestow. It's a long shot. It's a self soothing/self deceiving myth, I know. But sometimes it just helps me breath the next breath.

If there is any kind of existance out there beyond our bones and the dirt beneath us, if there is any kind of cosmic force that can sway the next instance in either direction, know that the degree of love that surrounds you, surrounds Sam, Alex and Travis, is so overwhelming, so incredibly awe inspiring, that the universe will have no choice but to respond. I love you so much. It may be pointless, that there is nothing to sway, but sometimes it's the strongest thing I can offer. And all of you have it daily, hourly, by the minute and second.

nuttychemist said...

I just started blogging and ran across yours. I'm so sorry for the losses you have experienced. When my family lost my brother at 17 the only comment that helped in the faith area was this one "God can handle your hate" Which helped me come to my own conclusion about God. I believe he exists, I just don't believe that he has a hand in what happens in our lives.

I also read this book which if you want faith in your life might help you find it when you're ready
"When bad things happen to good people" by Harold Kushner

Once again I'm very sorry for your loss and hope someday you can find a measure of peace and happiness

the ockers said...

I agree with you Catherine. I believe everything is quite random. and it's all down to goodluck and badluck. and I think that's why lots of people are control freaks because they know shit happens and we can't stop that.

and as for JOY. well, all I can say is what a psycho. and isn't her name ironic! You did right telling her go go away.

R said...

Before we all go bashing Joy - she's a close friend of mine whose little boy died in his sleep a week before his first birthday. I can guarantee you that message wasn't coming from a place of hate.

Marlayna said...

Kate, all I am going to say is I love you and do not judge your feelings.