Torture (verb): The action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment
In my processing grief journal, I wrote that losing a child is torture. What I didn’t notice is how so much of it is self-inflicted. I am continually torturing myself – I know that – but I just can’t won’t help it. Not yet. It’s something that makes sense to me, when everything else is beyond comprehension.
ALCOHOL: Summer passed away in early March, but it took me so long to have a drink afterwards. Alcohol and sushi: they are the two things I always missed the most during pregnancy. But I didn’t have a drink, because for me, alcohol after baby loss is a cruel reminder. It feels like a reward, like a pat on the back, an “at least, you can drink now!” but it’s such a poor substitute. I’d rather be pregnant. I’d rather forgo alcohol forever: just give her back to me, please. Alcoholic drinks serve instead as a reminder that in another time and place (in my beloved parallel universe), I still wouldn’t be able to have a drink. It wasn’t until VE Day in May that I allowed myself one. I wanted to toast all those who had sacrificed so much for us. It’s now July and drinking alcohol is still a very conscious decision, still making me guilty about holding a drink instead of holding Summer.
GRAZES: I have scars on my arm from my time in hospital, from where the cannula went in. I normally would have got into the routine of putting bio oil on the area daily (as I do with all my other bumps and grazes) to stop a permanent scar settling in. (Also, what else am I supposed to do with the bio oil? I was using it on my growing bump, after all). But I made a conscious decision to not pretty it up. I like having this ugly, visible reminder. You can’t see the bruises on my heart, but you can see them climbing up my left wrist. I hope the scars always stay there, that they get darker with time, instead of fading.
OBSERVANCE: Does anyone else observe an agonising ritual of grief? With Summer leaving us, I cried every single day. After a couple of months passed, I wondered “what happens if I don’t cry? What does that mean? Does it make me a bad mum?” Then I returned to work and although it was supposed to be a phased return (working from home), it ended up being pretty full-on. On two occasions I found myself utterly consumed by the work day. It got to 8pm at night and I gasped as I remembered “I haven’t cried today!” Cue the guilt, upset, anger: the tortured tears.
NAMELESS: Not having a title, telling myself that I’m not a mum, remaining nameless is causing me unnecessary pain. I should focus on reversing that thinking, but sorry, not buying it. Can’t undo it. I’m not one for lying to myself. Can’t pretty up the truth.
JOY: Do you know what I realised recently? How similar the word ‘daughter’ is to the word ‘laughter’. So why does it hurt to laugh? Why does it make me feel guilty to have consecutive ‘good grief days’ and why would I rather an absence of joy? I’ve touched upon these ideas earlier in both my judgement and juggling with grief blogs, though recognising this hasn’t made it any easier. Perhaps when you’re denied the happiness of getting to raise your child, you cling instead to the emotion that you do have in abundance: agony. Because if you allowed the agony to fade, what would remain? A life entirely without her. Perhaps that’s what all this self-inflicted torture is about – I think I’ll note that as another mini breakthrough.