Monday, January 11, 2010

Not waving, but drowning...

"Not waving but drowning."

It's my favourite line from a poem. Ever.

Four small, ordinary words. A simple sentence. But it says so much about how much we can mistake the actions which we see, how wrongly we can perceive situations and how much we take for granted in imagining we know what other people are trying to say to us. But it's so easy for someone to be lost when we could see that they need help if we just stopped to really understand what it is that they are trying to make us see.

I'm not quite drowning. I'm too strong to drown, I know this now. A year ago I wasn't too sure, I felt overwhelmed and unable to ask for help from those who could see me if I waved my arms. That was part of my problem, being unable to tell people how I really felt, being unable to tell people when I was upset, and what I was upset about. I would just go and lick my wounds in private and keep on wearing my shiny mask. Like I said, I'm strong. I'm not about to drown. I won't let myself drown. I know what it's like to see someone waving who you just can't help, who you just can't reach, and I'm not about to become that person. I don't need to become that person, because I can now blog about it.

The magic about this is that you readers can all choose whether to be burdened by my feelings or not. You can just ignore it all, you can walk away and I'll never even know you've been here. That makes me feel so relieved already. I'm not forcing anybody to listen to me and to deal with my issues. You can comment if you want, or not. It's a totally free relationship, no-one feels beholden and it's so good for me. So, here goes...

I feel a bit lost right now. I've tried a number of times to tell people how I feel. My husband, my family, my friends. Yet none of them can see that I need their help or what it is that I'm really upset about. Now I can finally tell people how I feel they don't seem to want to listen. I don't know why I keep on failing, why the fact that I'm struggling so much with one part of myself is so hard for anyone to see when they seem to be noticing all the rest and all the other things which we talk about. I feel like I am waving madly and no-one can see.

For once in my life I could say I had a quiet Christmas. That's because my head was quiet. It was elsewhere, switched off. I went through the motions and I'm still going through them. To be fair Christmas is always like a play to me. I know the lines, I've played it many times, so that's no different. But this year I truly felt vacant.

I am vacant.

I am empty.

That's the truth of it. I should have been seven months pregnant by now. I should have been enjoying our last Christmas before it all changed forever, I should have been excitedly chatting to my sister and my Mum about my pregnancy, about my plans, I should have been glowing, I shouldn't have been thinking about myself any more and what presents I might like. We would have been crowing over presents for the baby and Christmas would have felt a little bit magical again, how it used to feel.

But instead I feel like I'm missing a vital part of me and I can't understand why no-one can see the gaping hole. Every day I tend to my scars from two operations in fairly quick succession and I still feel twinges in those wounds, so there is no escaping it physically. Much more than that though I feel like every day is empty, like all my social interactions are just trying to take my mind off the hurt that I want to feel. I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to be morose and miserable and I want people to understand how I feel.

Yet I seem unable to get anyone to stop and really listen, to really appreciate what I feel and not just presume that they know. My friends without children, who don't want children, don't understand what all the fuss is about: just try again and have another one. My friends with children just tell me that it will happen soon, that they managed it so it will happen for me too. Maybe they've forgotten how difficult it was, or maybe it wasn't difficult at all for them. The only people I think who might understand are those who can't have children, but do want them. Then again they say to me that at least I can get pregnant. That's no comfort to me though.

I'm not sure I can even articulate my feelings properly. I can't seem to get across how wretched I feel. I suspect that people think that it's not healthy for me to dwell on it, that I need cheering up. But I don't. I need to share my pain. I'm grieving and no-one seems to want to acknowledge that it's happening.

I feel completely alone. No-one is right here, right now, in the same position as me and I can't seem to be able to communicate how I feel so that people can truly comprehend. Maybe someone who reads this might know?

Anyway, here's the poem in full...

Stevie Smith - Not Waving But Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.



  1. I am so sorry to think you feel no one wants to listen to you. I'm sure, in Blogland at least, there will be many who will, and I hope the fact of being able to let it all out here will help, too. Love 'n' listening hugs from

  2. Thanks Jinksy, I hope I'll be able to articulate it a bit better soon. It's nice to get some support :-)

  3. nice poem that. and the line IS excellent. it's good to know that you know you are strong. what was is just that, it was... sometimes good, sometimes not. but talk it out with someone. it does help. and time is one helluva healer too.

  4. Thanks Shadow. The sensible part of me knows that I'll move on from this and it won't be as painful soon, it's just difficult to see when you're in it.

  5. You will be surprised at how many people do understand. Those who are close to you are most likely hurting too, and of course it is natural for them to want to make you feel better.

    Sadly people suffer loss on a daily basis, it does not have to be the same loss to feel as bad.

    It is also important to understand that it is possible to feel happiness for short moments even in the depths of grief. You will then find that the moments of happiness appear more and more often that is when you will know that healing has begun. Do not feel guilty for feeling happiness. The healing will happen, and just as it is important to allow time to grieve it is also important to know that you will heal.

    I wish you well.

  6. Thanks, Anon, whoever you are. Very wise words indeed. You are right about others hurting too, that's why I find it so hard to talk to family about it and indeed why I feel actually like I'm being deeply unfair by asking them to think about the ectopic pregnancy in terms of a lost baby, or indeed to think about it at all. It seems to be always with me at the moment, but they have a chance not to think about the might-have-beens and I feel like I ought to respect that.

    I suppose I feel unreasonable somehow, that I should be taking the lead set by others and being upbeat and looking forwards towards the chance to try again for another baby, but I can only seem to do this by disconnecting my emotions, turning them down like a volume control. I worry I won't be able to turn them back up again if anything else should go wrong with the next. That's a fairly cynical outlook I know and I know that time will cure it, but it's hard to see that now.

    What is helpful in your words is the realisation that I don't have to be miserable all the time to justify saying I'm miserable. I can be happy whilst having these feelings ticking away underneath. Thanks for that. It's really very helpful.

  7. It's been suggested to me that I have antenatal depression. I looked this up and it's depression during pregnancy. That's not right though. I wouldn't be depressed if I was still pregnant.... a swing and a miss as they say!

    What has been useful is that I've found a local support group. People who will actually listen to me. I'm going to give this a go.

  8. Pinkerbell, I'm sorry I missed this post when you wrote it, don't know how that happened.
    I felt, I think, like how you feel. But my loss was my Mum, not my baby. I did feel that nobody understood, that nobody wanted to listen after the first few times, and that everybody thought I should be "getting on with things".
    But I could only move at my own pace, and I didn't want to move at anyone else's.
    I stuck with my feelings, sometimes being honest even when people didn't want me to be, sometimes pretending that everything was fine when it wasn't.
    I don't know if that was a good thing to do, but it got me through, and after a long time I found that some happiness began to seep through the black. I don't think it was depression, I think it was profound grief.
    I'm glad I stuck with myself, if that makes sense.
    One sentence that helped me was this "the only thing working for you at the moment is time".
    And writing stuff donw was my way of "talking"- I wrote and wrote, cried and cried. And eventually I didn't need to write so much or cry so much.
    I'm glad you've found a local support group- there is nothing better than people who've the same experiences as you.
    I'm here any time you want to talk -