All I’ve ever wanted to do was write. All my life. It’s all I’ve wanted. I dreamed I would write a book. Or many books. I would be the Judy Blume of my generation. But finding a story was always a challenge. Finding something original to write about seemed like an impossible feat. Everything had been imagined already. But it’s true – what they say. Be careful what you wish for. All I wanted was a story no one had heard before. And then one day, I was blessed…but mostly cursed…with a story all my own.
For more than a decade, I have struggled with the best way to tell my story. To share what I have learned. There was a time when my story was going to be perfect for a woman’s health magazine. “What not to do when you’re pregnant.” Or something like that. A cautionary tale, if you will. And then I thought bigger. A book. This was my chance to write a book. Forget about the poems, which were the only thing my ADHD would allow me to produce up to that point. I would sit down and write a book. No matter how long it took.
I just wanted to be a writer. But what is a writer? I get paid to write business proposals. Does that make me a writer? I don’t think it does. I mean, anyone can write a book. Hell, the entire Kardashian family have written books. So, are they writers? God, I hope not.
The other day, I suffered an existential moment. Everyone around me is suddenly publishing, or wanting to publish, children’s books. Suddenly, everyone is a writer! Granted, I have never wanted to write children’s books. But when I suddenly see a whole whack of people that have never even thought about writing for a living deciding that they are just going to magically become writers – well, I was a little incensed, to say the least. And so I have decided to give it up. Writing. Dreams of writing. Dreams of publishing a classic. Blah. I can’t stand the idea of being unoriginal.
But I still have my story. And it needs to be told. And I don’t care that it won’t be published by Random House or on the Best Seller’s list or even Heather’s Pick at Chapters. I did want to be someone’s “pick.” But now I know that anyone can be those things. And my literary heart is broken.
So, this is just my story. And it may not be well written. But I don’t think it needs to be anymore. Am I right?
And the best part about this blog format is that I don’t have to pack up my typewriter, throw my worldly belongings into some oddly cool car, like Claire’s hearse on Six Feet Under, drive off to the seashore and isolate myself in some beautiful surroundings in order to write this. I can just send my kids off to school, throw open my laptop, sip my coffee and “write.” I can even “publish” a bunch of stuff about my life that totally sucked and then leave you hanging for days, even weeks, before I decide to write more. It’s perfect for someone with an attention deficit disorder.
This is a story I have waited to tell. Ten years ago almost to the day, I became aware of how badly one’s life can go. No matter how much thought, planning, care you put into the things you love, it isn’t always possible to control the outcomes. And from the absolute, utter darkness of those days a decade ago, to the less difficult days of the present, there will always be things that make you want to die and then subsequently make you stronger. So unoriginal. I know.
This is also an intensely personal story. But please feel free to share. I know there are more like me. No matter how unique the situation is, the feelings of shame, guilt, profound loss…they are universal.
Chapter 1 – Friday, November 4, 2005
The ultrasound room was dark. Unusually dark. Maybe the technician liked it better that way. She wanted to get this over with. I could tell. She told me it was a boy. I don’t even remember asking. But maybe I did. I had wanted a girl this time. Maybe a girl would be easier, I thought. More like me. But maybe Joshua, who was seven at the time, is like me. More than I want to admit. He wasn’t easy. But nothing good ever is. Right?
I wouldn’t focus on the gender. I would focus on the technician’s words. He is perfect.
We walked back to the car. The sun was floating, heating up the sky, and the day almost felt good to me. Not a lot of days felt good to me then. Actually, that day and that sun were amazingly analogous to how I felt I was positioned in the world at that time. Despite this pulsing ball of fire, so big and so present, the air around me was cold and grey in contrast. What I saw and what I felt were two different things. Surrounded, but alone. Throughout my twenties and thirties, this would be the overriding theme. And the goal was to find someone who made me feel the sun more than the air.
I needed to be needed. Josh needed me. Actually, he would be lost without me. I knew that. And this baby would need me. But those are a different kind of need. And I wanted the other kind.
Looking back, I would say the goal was family. My own family. One that I would build with my own hands, because the one that I was born into couldn’t hold itself together. And I had to keep my eye on the prize. Okay, so it was another boy. But he would get me one step closer. He would tie me to someone else. Someone who might end up needing me in the other kind of way.
Josh’s dad never needed me. He never needed anyone. So we didn’t stand a chance. We had been divorced for several years when I met Steve.
It was actually the second time I had met Steve. The first time was in university. He would share his notes from the American Literature class we were in together, whenever I didn’t show up. He shared his notes often. Ten years later, we ran into each other at a bar. We fell into the relationship easily and had only been dating for about five months when I discovered that I was pregnant.
After that ultrasound appointment, we went home and shared the news with his family. I was 19 weeks along and we were having a healthy baby boy. His mother was overjoyed. This would be her first grandchild. I was helping her achieve her own goals just by being in her son’s life. I felt powerful. I was the source of her greatest happiness at that time. This was a feeling I would become addicted to. Like emotional crack.