With this owl, with this heart

I had my first appointment with the fertility clinic on Monday while I was in Menlo Park to discuss the process for freezing my eggs in the hope that this will give me more time and more options to have a baby in the future. It was an intense experience and that has left me mired in a tidal wave of grief, anger, and loneliness over the past few days. It’s also rekindled the fraught feelings I had about leaving Jay and our relationship because it’s so very much the place I was trying so hard not to end up: alone in a cool, white medical waiting room with a failed relationship in one arm and the other empty where I expected our baby would one day be.

And yet, that’s exactly where I was for half of Monday, filling out paperwork, watching as the doctor pointed out how the dots precipitously dropping down the right-hand side of the graph were indicative of my fertility at this age, trying to process the reality that only one of every ten eggs they harvest will likely result in a live birth, and that every month I wait to do this, the likelihood of getting enough eggs out of a preservation procedure to make a baby even possible will continue to decline. Once they’d taken me down that sobering statistical  journey I was introduced to the financial manager, whose job it is to tell women like me what it costs to freeze your hopes and dreams into a cryogenic test tube for later use. For the record, that is anywhere from $12,000 to $18,000, excluding the cost per visit to the clinic, or the mammogram, the genetic testing, acupuncture, supplements, and other appointments that I must have completed before the preservation process can even begin. By the time I left the office hours later, I was carrying a to-do list as long as my arm that also felt like a bag of stones on my heart.

I managed to get to the gym (where I have a lifetime membership c/o my ex’s massive financial donations to the local cultural community center) and get a swim in before the bullshit wave hit again. As I drove down the road on my way to a friend’s house, I started to cry so hard I had to pullover because I thought I might pass out. The fact that I had to stop the car over and cry on the side of the road – because the home I once had there is no longer my home – made those sobs feel even more suffocating and sad than they already were.

At the risk of sounding repetitive to the approximately 4 people who currently read and know about this blog…this is not the scene I envisioned for my life. I was not meant to feel like an alien in this town I thought once was going to be the place I finally got to nurture into a long-term home. I was not meant to go through this bullshit medical procedure to save my eggs at all, or at the very least, I wasn’t supposed to be doing it by myself. Perhaps the worst part is the self-loathing I allow myself to feel about going to this dark place of pain where the pity party takes over and shades everything in this pale shade of failure and despair. Like, look at what a mess you’ve managed to make of your life with nothing to show for it now besides a sad manila envelope of paperwork detailing that stark reality that you have pushed this to a brink from which you may not be able to come back from. It is hard not to feel angry at the world and at myself and at Jay. It didn’t seem so complicated when we started – there was love there, real love. Why was that not enough to make it work? Why wasn’t it enough to keep us from getting to this place.

When I am in the dark place I do dark things as if to reinforce the magnitude of my own personal failures and flagellate myself for every bad decision I’ve ever made, by making more bad decisions. I stopped in Santa Rosa on the way home on Tuesday night and got obliteratingly drunk with an old friend which is the first time I’ve gone hard on the alcohol in almost four months. I threw up several times on the 2 hour trip (which took me almost 4) back to Mendocino the next day and spent the last 30 miles of the drive huddled over the steering wheel shaking uncontrollably as my muscles spasmed from hangover dehydration and plummeting electrolytes. I knew what I was doing when I took that first sip of wine on Tuesday evening – I wasn’t there to have a good time, I was there to forget this shitty situation I’ve gotten myself into by physically punishing myself for ever getting into this shitty situation in the first place. It was a method of dysfunctional distraction therapy and a reminder of how easily I could let my mental health drift southward if I allowed myself to go to that place. I think too that hearing a doctor tell you that your fertility may be in the toilet oh and ALSO you need to stop the now limited number of bad habits you still enjoy – the [very] occasional drink, marijuana toke, COFFEE FOR CHRISTSSAKE, is enough to push anyone into a space of “fuck you watch me” right quick. Sobriety is a process of nonlinear healing and this week I think I needed to slip up to put me back on the straight and narrow.

My therapist – bless her and her seemingly limitless well of empathy and therapeutic forgiveness – gently suggested to me on Tuesday afternoon as I sobbed in her office about my anger and loneliness, while also chastising myself for feeling angry and lonely, that perhaps for now and the rest of the week, it was in fact ok to throw myself a pity party so long as I recognized that it was temporal and not the permanent state of things to be. I know she’s right, but there’s this fear in me that I am going to allow my fear to overwhelm my good sense, that I will permit myself to slide into a self-loathing state of depression by using this whole egg preservation thing as proof of my inability to create the kind of life I want for myself. Or that somehow I will open myself back up to a reconciliation with Jay despite knowing that he will not have changed or will not have changed enough to meet me halfway and actually make our life together a functional happy one. I’m scared of getting sucked back into the spokes of the wheel before I’ve had an opportunity to understand and see what it’s like to live a life that isn’t shadowed by emotional insecurity and pain.

I keep saying to myself and others that ‘what is just is’ right now. These are the circumstances of my life and whether they are good or bad are determined solely by how I choose to perceive them. The lines from Cesar Vallejo’s poem Down to the Dregs keep popping up into my head as I do this back and forth struggle to maintain feelings of levity and gratitude in spite of everything. He wrote about loss and I think about what the texture of apathy feels like as you walk the streets of your every day life after love breaks down – it is what I imagine grief would sound like if it had a voice.

‘Therefore, this afternoon, as never before, I walk
with this owl, with this heart.’

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