The first step…

August 3, 2018

What if I told you, the solar system was responsible for your struggle? Okay maybe not entirely, after all, it isn’t Neptune’s fault you opt for French fries over salad… but what if there was a bigger pattern to our lives that was dictated by the solar system’s alignments?

Now that I have your attention, let me tell you what I know about “Saturn Return”. Let’s take it back to the day you were born, and now let’s go down to the minute. In that minute, the planets (specifically Saturn) were aligned in a pattern, in a way that would not return to that location for approximately 29.5 years. It is believed that in your late twenties, you will begin to feel the drastic transitions taking place in your life, and once again in your late fifties.

Kind of makes sense right? Maybe the freak-outs some of us experience about turning 30 and 60, really aren’t totally scripted by Hallmark cards. Here is a little more detail on this phenomenon, in case you are interested.

I am 8 months into my 28th year, and it has been without a doubt, the most challenging 8 months of my life. Some of the struggle I welcomed, like when I decided to stop going to school and pursue my passion for creativity. Up until that moment, I had been living a life based on “should”—I should get a degree to feel like a real adult. I should put myself in debt, because pursuing a dream is only a fantasy.  I should stay in the safe lane, because I have invested so much time here.

I knew what I should have done, but I was just over it. I wanted something more, something exciting, something that kept me up at night, and I knew what I had to do. I had to follow my passion of writing, and the only guarantee it came with was the high degree of difficulty, but I didn’t mind.

Right around the same time, my husband and I decided that we were going to try to start a family. (Because ya know just one life change at a time is far too boring, I prefer at least two.) And BOOM, just as quickly as we spoke of this idea, we received the happiest news of our lives: we were expecting a baby! Little did I know that the hardest moments were yet to come.

It was, ironically enough, Labor Day when my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. I can still remember sitting in the living room, knowing I was a couple days late, and asking my husband if he thought I should take a test. He, being who he is, calmly agreed, but I could feel his excitement. So I ran to the bathroom and well, peed on a stick, took about 5,000 “I might pass out breaths”, and then I saw it. The faint, but ever present second line. HOLLLLY SHIT!! I ran downstairs, looked at Mike and said, “Soooo, are you ready to be a Dad?” His smile was the sweetest thing I had ever seen. We experienced everything that follows the word “over” in the moments and weeks that followed; overwhelmed, overjoyed, overcome with emotion.

And then, suddenly, it was just… over.

At our 8 week appointment, the doctor told us that the flickering heartbeat we saw at 6 weeks was no longer lighting up the screen. It all went dark. Everything. I remember every detail of that day and the days after, but it stills plays in my head like a movie trailer. Almost as if I was filming it. Whenever I choose to — or my brain forces me — to relive those moments, I am always watching myself, I am never in my own body. It is this detail, this third person view, that motivated me to look deeper inside myself to understand the difference between living a life and being alive. I truly believe that this “out of body” memory was engrained in me because that was how I was coping, that was how I always coped. I would unconsciously become unconscious to save myself from having to live with the details. But this life-altering moment was far too powerful to forget, and I am so grateful that I learned two lessons from that day. Number one: I can survive heart-break. Number two: the healing process begins the moment you are present, and I strive to always be so.

I promise that my story is not all sadness. There is a lot of beauty that can come from feeling broken. After all, there are cracks in everything and that is how the light gets in. The irony of thinking you’ve lost all control is that you finally realize you never had it in the first place. I remember feeling so much comfort in that. I was living in a haze, clouded and overcome with loss, and when I gained that perspective it was like I gained something back; it was one less thing to grieve. Thank goodness, because the grieving process is an animal unto itself. It comes in waves; some days like a quiet lake with small ripples of emotions, and the next day you’re lost at sea, scrambling to find your life vest and praying to make it to shore. My new reality, filled with unpredictability, made honesty an absolute necessity if I wanted to make it to the other side.

For the first time, possibly ever, I am comfortable being completely honest. Before my miscarriage, honesty was only an option. I’m not saying that I have been a liar up until this point, but I certainly didn’t speak my truth. For example, when either I asked myself or someone else asked me, “How are you doing, Jess?” I never once contemplated, or hesitated. I just robotically answered, “I’m doing well.” Of course the words themselves are harmless, but the perception I was trying to convey is what got me in trouble. I had spent so many years perfecting this image of my Ego: this super-chill, go-with-the-flow type of girl, that when shit hit the fan and life got really real, I didn’t have any idea how to feel it. I certainly didn’t know how to express it to others, and god forbid ask for help.

I struggled, and I waited for the storm to pass, but something inside me knew that the storm was my Ego, and the only way I would see the sunlight was if I got out of my own way and just trusted. It should come as no surprise that I had to get lost before I found my sense of direction. I like to think of it as “taking the scenic route.”

So for now, I will appreciate the sunlight when it happens to shine and I will weather the storm when it comes rolling in. I am choosing to be present, to be mindful and to simply tell the stories with which life entrusts me.

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