There was an episode of Desperate Housewives after Gabrielle had a miscarriage where her husband gives her a balloon. When she is ready to release the pain of losing the child, she releases the balloon. It is a metaphor for the beginning of her healing. Though I’ve never explicitly mentioned it, I had a miscarriage a few years ago. I did not know I was pregnant until things were going wrong. When my doctor confirmed my worst nightmare I dropped to the floor breath knocked out of me and emoting from a place deep within me from which I had never cried before. Healing from the loss of significant relationships and this residual causality was doubly difficult for me and so I chose silence. I hated my body for choosing this time to prove its ineffectiveness. I wondered about the implications for future pregnancies. I wondered what I would have done. How as much as the loss hurt, the consequences of a successful pregnancy would have been equally as lasting and life changing. I was filled to the brim with unanswerable questions which turned to saltwater and poured across my cheeks at night. To make matters worse, I was alone. Years later the next time I would be intimate with someone I would be taken back to the traumatic loss. I did a tailspin into what-ifs. Would it happen again? Was I safe enough? Desperate for a different outcome never to feel that hurt again sex felt off limits, dangerous, and far too vulnerable. Unable to subject anyone else to this me and unable to accommodate any more room in my wounded womb, I swore it off. Similarly, I would hold on to my tiny balloon strings one for each lover who wasn’t threatening one for the little butterfly who flew away and one for the me before all the hurt. Since then times come when it sits very heavy on my heart. The secret. The silence. The relationship. The telling. The tears. They come and arising from that same place, and I let them. Tonight I had a conversation with the one who knew me both before and after. In preparation for it I told myself “do not attach yourself to an outcome, hold true to what you need and do not let go.” And I did. Faced with the opportunity to bend, reshape myself into that girl. The girl who needed so desperately to be loved. To be validated. To be told she was beautiful despite and because… To be held and when the time came to be actively pursued. But I couldn’t. I was no longer her and I no longer wanted to be her. Her innocence held no appeal for me, my scars held my story. The girl before the butterfly would never ever be me again, and I could finally let her go.
Only, when I opened my hand I let it all go. Who I was. Who they were. The little one who changed my life so much. And the balloons floated effortlessly into the horizon. Like Gabrielle, it is not an ending. It is a beginning. The commencement of my total freedom. No longer clinging to pieces of who I used to be, what I thought I was, or previous possibilities I now have two open hands. And it wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. The one of such pain and loss, a story I haven’t shared with so many important people in my life. Yet, it was the story that arrived as I sat. It is perhaps the most complex and difficult thing to grieve the loss of what could have been. To grieve possibility. That’s what my balloons were. This butterfly that could have been a baby. This man who could have been the one. This me who could have been happy with that life. But I am a different person now. And my possibilities are different. They are unimaginable. They are yet to arrive and complete surprises. They are pending…yet they are palpable. And I with two hands to hold it all.