CNF: Levels of Acceptance

I hear you out there. You’re enjoying your night, clinking glasses, knocking forks against plates, and murmuring pleasantries around the table. I wish I could join you. My belly rumbles as the pungent smell of cayenne pepper, lemon and garlic crusted, oven roasted chicken floats up the stairs, down the hall and through the small key hole of the door. I can just taste the thick heap of coagulated sugar sitting at the bottom of the Kool-aid container. 

From my perch on the opposite side of the door, I kneel before the hollow wood and close my eyes. I imagine the red ring the sweet liquid leaves as you raise your glasses to your lips and slurp. Tongue stained, teeth bared as ice crunches between them. 

I take a deep breath in. Is that apple pie I smell? Or has my imagination, overwrought with the need for belonging, begun to invent things? I inhale deeply.

Definitely apple pie, then.

I sigh as I sit back on my haunches, my damp hands pressing against my thighs. My stomach growls again and I turn my head. “And what do you think we will eat?” I ask. 

My brother sits on the floor not too far from me. We don’t use the furniture because that would mean we existed, should we mess things up. He is unbothered, or at least pretending to be, and twiddles his thumbs on his lap. 

“Something,” he murmurs so low I wonder if I imagined it. I imagine a lot. I’m not sure why. I make up stories in my head. I tell myself untruths so real that life doesn’t seem so bad. I turn back to the door and I tell myself a story: They’ll come to the door any second. They will unlock the door. 

The First Level of Acceptance

They won’t be holding paper plates in their hands to force us to feed on the floor like animals. No, they’ll have open palms and open hearts. Generosity will shine from their eyes and they will beckon us forward. Inviting us into their lives. 

The Second Level of Acceptance.

We will rise, eyes wide with gratitude, bellies growling, also in gratitude. We’ll follow them downstairs where two extra place settings have been polished and two extra plush chairs have been drawn. Everyone at the table will stand to their feet.

Are we equals or royalty? I don’t know, but I feel respected. 

The Third Level of acceptance. 

I will reach back and grab my brother’s hand. He’s older but I’m mentally stronger, I know,  and more determined. When we sit, they sit. They’re watching us, waiting as we pick up our utensils, and we smile apologetically, knowing, in our haste to feed our starving bellies, we’ve forgotten our prayers. They don’t mind and we bow our heads, though we are unable to take our eyes off the glistening food. After prayers, they once again wait for us to begin eating. 

The Fourth Level of Acceptance. 

We don’t sit in silence. Oh no, the room grows louder with mirth and converse of past indiscretions and future aspirations. We, my brother and I, tell tall tales and ensnare them with our dreams. Dreams that peg us as more than two black kids whose mother didn’t love them, stuck in the foster care system, locked away in closets, while the ‘real kids’ ate at the dinner table. They’ll look back at us in agreement. “Yes, you’ll make it out,” they’ll say. Their eyes showing they truly believe in us. 

The Fifth Level of Acceptance. 

The story ends there because I’m not sure how the night would go on, not even in my head. I’m never there to see what happens to the family after their meal is over and the forks are crossed. 

Are they crossed? Or are they thrown haphazardly atop the chicken’s carcass or the half eaten bowl of overcooked mashed potatoes? Do they disperse to their respective corners? Do the children help clean up the dishes? Is the mother calling out bedtimes and homework reminders? 

I don’t know this part because they retreat to a section of the house I cannot hear with my little girl ears, no matter how hard I strain. I lean closer to the door. The clink, clink, clink of utensils bounce off the soft walls of my growling belly. I stay there until my toes go numb from the kneeling position.  I want to get up but I’m afraid to miss something, anything. 

A deep timber rings out, the father is saying something in a stern voice. Voices grow closer. The stairs creak under lazy feet. Finally, we have been remembered, I think as footsteps pitter patter across the hall to the door. 

I scramble back, gangly legs too long for my body propel me across the carpet to the place next to my brother. My place they’ve put me in. The key scrapes in the door and I hold my breath, remembering my story, hopeful. The door swings open on old hinges. 

“You better not have been touching nothing,” the woman growls between clenched, red-stained teeth. She sweeps the room with her gaze as if to find something, anything, we’ve stolen, or broken, or to find us as if we’d somehow escaped. We shake our heads. Then the paper plate appears. Just one, for the two of us. 

Level of Acceptance: Zero.

CNF: I’m Not Afraid of Water

Note: I just wanted to preface this and say that I’ve capitalized certain pronouns for a reason. However, I didn’t want to explain to remove the effect until after it’s been read. 

Creative Non-Fiction:

 

I’m Not Afraid of Water

 

“I’m not afraid of water,” I whisper to myself and bend my knees. There aren’t any bugs or leaves in the water, that I can see, and yet I search and search. Procrastinating, as usual. I’m afraid, even though I know that The Sky’s the Limit summer camp is one of the safest places for me to be. I know that no one will hurt me here. They would have no reason to come here. 

They, the caseworkers, always came too late anyway, I felt. They always showed up after I’d already been hit, or kicked, or burned. They always wanted a status update after someone had already pushed me, or pulled a knife, or held me in a grip so tight I couldn’t breathe. You might feel like my anger was misplaced. They could save me. They could use their pen as a weapon and fire it in my defense. I’d be able to leave the wandering hands, and the wandering eyes, and I would be safe. 

Yes, you might come to that conclusion, but I didn’t. It’d been so long since I was able to trust anyone, if I ever could, and I know I would rather they be as far away as possible than to have them near with their false promises. Even I, at twelve years old, knew what weight someone’s word carried. There, standing at the edge of the pool, I wondered why no one ever gave their word to me and kept it.

***

 As the boat pulled us through the water, I stare up at clouds shaped like animals and flowers. The sun winks at me from behind them and I smile in return. Even at six, I know the sun brought happiness, healing, and warmth to the soul. I close my eyes and let the serotonin roll over my skin.

  The wind is heavy, here in the back of the boat, and I think if only a bigger gust would take me away. I think maybe if I step up on the small boat seat, the plastic rocking beneath my tiny feet, the wind might hear my thoughts and whip me up into its arms, taking me away from Them. 

“Hey,” His voice exclaims behind me, as if He read my thoughts. She yanks me away from the edge and my eyes fly open. The hardness in Her eyes, devoid of love, makes me flinch and shrivel into the small life jacket strapped too tightly around my tiny waist.  

“Do you want to go back?” She spat the words out through tight lips. I stare up at her, imagining fangs emerging from behind them. Venom dripping from their tips as She would bare Her teeth at me. She gives me a hard shake, “Do you?” I move my chin slightly and She nods. “Good, now sit down and stay there until I tell you, you can get up.”

I scramble across the boat on unsteady legs and climb into my plastic place, it’s one of those seats that holds a storage area beneath it for valuables or things that need to stay dry, wallets and the like. It’s supposed to lock in place, but He’d messed it up somehow and it never closes quite right.  

I peek a glance at my brother and his face is turned from me, I could see from the set of his shoulders that he was angry at me. That I almost ruined our day. Either that or he was desperately trying not to look at me in case he gets roped into my disobedience and They make him ‘sit down and shut up’, too.

 I stay there, in the seat, using my peripherals to look at the lake around us. I know I can turn my head and look but I’m afraid. I’m a heathen, They say. An animal unable to resist my instincts, and I know it’s true. Sometimes I get so angry I slam my hands down on my thighs until they sting. Sometimes, I’m so mad, I scratch at them until they bleed.

So, I know if I turn my head to look, I won’t be able to help myself. I’ll get up, wishing the water of the lake would take me up and drown me – not really but my imagination is vast, and I could see it. The water filling my mouth and pulling me down, down, down into its dark arms. I know She’ll just stop me again, grabbing me tight until her nails dig deep, breaking the skin. Little beads of blood would appear at the puncture site. It wouldn’t be because She loves me. She would stop me because my death would be hard to explain away as “You know foster kids, they’re just so reckless.” 

***

I’m standing in front of the pool again, having moved closer to the shallow end, taking a deep breath in and expelling it out through my open mouth. ‘I’m not afraid of water,” I whisper again. Duh, I’ve gone camping. “But that doesn’t mean I can swim, stupid.” I know it’s dumb, pretending I can talk to myself, but it comforts me. I am, after all, the only one that cares what I have to say. 

 “Just get…in,” the last word is yelled as I’m picked up and I feel tight arms wrap around my waist, I see it drawing near- the deep end. Ten feet of deep blue water. I shake my head and thrash, elbows and knees bending and jerking spastically. I’m small, although I’m twelve, and my brother is so much bigger than I. Long lanky arms and long lanky legs to match. He’s pretty enough to be a model, everyone says so. I don’t care about that, I just want him to put me down, and he does. 

 My head whips so fast as he catapults me into the air. My legs pull in tight, not into a cannonball, into fear. I hit the surface of the water, but I don’t see the pool. I see the lake. 

***

We’ve released the anchor and the boat is rocking in place. I want to get up from my seat, to lean over the edge and feel the water on my fingertips, but She hasn’t said so yet.  

Him, Her, and my brother are getting the fishing poles ready. A small white bucket of squirming worms sits at my feet. Hooking the bait is my job, my punishment, but what they don’t know is that I love fishing. I like to see that worm fly in the air and bring me back a nice little fishy. I like to see the pulse of the gills as it sucks in air instead of water. I just don’t realize how morbid it all is. 

One after another I’m handed the poles until I receive mine. I don’t put a worm on the hook, just tap, tap, tap at the sharp edge with a fingertip. 

“You can get up. Just stand there for a bit, let us get going first,” He says, His voice quiet, as to not disturb the fish. 

I hide my excitement and turn to the water. Lifting my pole, I pretend to fish, whipping it back and forth with my hands. It was made specifically for a small child. It’s tiny pink reel and lever fit perfectly in my hand. The pole’s long rod is pink with extended silver eyelets that hold the line in place. I swing it back and forth with gusto and this time it snags. I yank it forward a split second later without thinking. 

 A howl fills the air and I turn around so fast the pole almost smacks against the lip of the boat. My brother is doubled over, grasping at the fleshy space between his neck and shoulder. My eyes fill with tears when I see the blood between his fingers. I look quickly to the line hanging from the end of my pole. There, just at the tip of the large hook is a small piece of bloody flesh. 

Everything seemed to move at once. She went to my brother, snatching up at towel on Her way. The man came to me, hatred in His eyes. He speaks but I do not hear what He says. I can only feel the fear building in my chest, freezing me in place. With one hand, He snatches the pole, with its fleshy prize, from my hands. With the other He grabs me under one shoulder. His meaty fingers dig into my underarm, His thumb pressing against my clavicle and I’m off my feet. He tosses me, like a rag doll, into the air and my jaw snaps shut. 

For a moment I wonder if the wind has finally granted my wish, if I’d float away on pillows of clouds. Then I’m falling down, down, down until the water breaks my descent. 

I go under, as you initially do, the life jacket unable to win the battle against gravity. My arms and legs flap, I’m helplessly trying to right myself. The emptiness beneath me threatens to pull me deeper into the darkness. I feel something, a fallen branch maybe, scratch against my leg and I panic, kicking at it, at anything. The life jacket finally does its job and my head is propelled above water. I sputter, expelling murky lake water, my eyes burning from the strain to stay open and alert underneath it.

***

I open my eyes under the pool water, the chlorine stinging at the corners. I try to stay calm. I’ve been here before, but I thrash a bit, unable to control my limbs. Remembering what I’d seen the other campers do, I make like a frog. Kicking my legs out and bending at the knee. With my arms, I push the water down, down, down, hoping the momentum will keep my head above water. It does.  

I take a deep breath and dive my head under. I move like I’d seen swimmers do in the movies, pushing my arms in front of me and then back to my hips, kicking my feet up and down. I felt the air on my heels as I kicked, though I was sure all of me was supposed to be under water. My chest burns as I tried to hold the air in. Finally, there it is, the side of the pool. I grasp it like a life line and pull myself up. 

My brother’s there, whooping and hollering, excited he taught me to swim, I’m sure. “You did it,” he yelled. I’m angry. How had he forgotten? How could he forget? I never forgot, I think. I will never, ever, ever forget the lake 

***

I sat, bent at the waist, with my chest touching my knees. Taking in small breaths so as not to bend further, I pray to the sun,‘Bring back the warmth’. My teeth chatter so hard I think I might grind them to dust. 

After reaching in and effortlessly yanking me from the water, the man had thrown open the plastic seat. He’d revealed the small storage space beneath it and gestured to me. “Sit. Now,” He growled, barely contained wrath seething just beneath the surface.

Small for my age, at six, I was able to fold myself down. My heels brushed the bottom of the boat, the seat of the plastic chair drug into the back of my head. The metal top of the storage box dug grooves into my lower back, causing bruises that will one day save me, us. He’d thrown something on top of the seat. I can’t see what it is but it’s heavy. With every rock of the boat, as we speed to the dock, the seat digs deeper and deeper into my back. 

Later, no one fetches me from the boat. The ride back to Their home is spent alone, in the wild of the wind, at the mercy of the highway. Even once we reached Their house, a small off-white building with red borders, They get out of the truck and escape without me.  

My brother comes to get me sometime later. I hear him clambering into the boat with his bony limbs. He lifts the seat from the clutches of my back, and I look up at him.  

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” I say, or whisper, and he nods. I can’t tell if there is pity there, or anger, or frustration. I take in a full breath, for the first time in what felt like days, and flinch. It hurts to breathe, hurts to move, hurts to think. The marks on my legs hurt, I can’t see them, but I feel them burn as I unfold myself.  

“I’m sorry,” I say as my eyes tear up due to the pain. We carefully climb down from the boat. He nods again but doesn’t turn back to look at me. He leads the way to the house, and I trail behind him on fawn’s legs. 

I wonder if I’ve received my full punishment or if the other side of the door holds more pain. I wonder if the bruises will ever heal or if I will have a permanent mark. I wonder if Rosa, our caseworker, will come to save us this time. 

I look at the back of my brother’s head. I wonder if this is when he starts hating me, because I know he will, just like everyone else. 

 

 

 

 

Good Readdance,
Jade

CNF: Unexpected Love

This is a school assignment. I love, love, LOVE, taking writing courses. Anyway, I’ve never written creative nonfiction before and so here is a piece that I wrote about the night Tony and I first met. It’s my first try at it so don’t ream me just yet!

Let me know what you guys think!

 

 

Creative Nonfiction: Unexpected Love

 

I walked in the door of my favorite writing cafe. It’s walls covered in abstract art, a fake tree stretching up to the dark ceiling, outlets and extension cords scattered around tiny tables.

I remember many hours spent sitting at those tables, laptop out, notebook open, pen ready and cup of coffee getting cold.

Tonight was different. I had another agenda. Ask out the barista I saw on a daily basis. The storybook-prince one with the dark mop of hair, smiling eyes and olive skin. I was so sure, if I actually worked up the courage to ask, that he would say yes.

I looked around at the dimly lit faces, turned toward the stage with wide eyes and listening ears. Music blaring, a sweet twill of an acoustic guitar. Sweet smells of seared chicken paninis, roasted cherry tomatoes and spilled IPA beer; I nearly changed my mind. I had completely forgotten that it was Talent Tuesday, or that it was tuesday at all. I couldn’t turn around, not then, I’d already been spotted by the many faces. Not that they mattered. In the least, I’d gotten dressed up for the occasion; picked my fro big and voluptuous, put on makeup for the first time in months and wore my prettiest dress.

Back then, I’d been an avid wearer of wedges and I had picked my highest pair just for this occasion.

I walked up to the counter, wallet in shaking hands, and gave him my sweetest smile. He looked hairied, apron askew and locks tousled. He took my order quick, jabbing at the buttons on the screen and tilting his head sideways.

“It’s so busy, I’m sorry. We’ll talk later,” he said. I beamed at this, nodded understandingly and turned to claim a seat at the bar.

I swiveled on my chair and made eye contact with a man stepping off stage. Dark brown skin, muscles pulling tight on his shirt, long strong arms. He removed his guitar and smiled at me. I blinked shyly but didn’t want to look around, hoping that smile was for me. And it was. Those eyes twinkled as he wove his way around tables and I couldn’t tell if it was from excitement of the night or the lighting.

“Wow, you are beautiful, and that hair…” he said as he came to stand right in front of me, his grin grew brighter, if that was possible. I blushed.

At first, I thought this was just a line to get me to talk to him but as the years have gone by, I’ve come to realize he just really loves black girls with natural curls. Always with his hands in it, admiring the way it curls when wet and bounces when pulled.

“Thank you,” I forced out, immediately reaching up to fluff the curls around my shoulders. I sat up a bit straighter, shoulders back, spine a little more stiff.

I snuck a look at the barista, hoping he didn’t see me talking to another guy, not wanting to ruin my chances at a date before I’d even asked. He was unbothered, flitting around behind the counter on dancers feet, as he usually did. Graceful, knees slightly bent, quickly bouncing from panini press to counter to press to coffee maker and back to counter again. He called out a name and the girl who stood just in front of him jumped and dashed out a hand as if surprised to hear her own name. I giggled.

“What’s your name?” the man in front of me asked. I turned back to him and was swept up in deep brown eyes, glistening under the bar top light. I attempted to push my shoulders back further, and boobs forward.

“Jade, yours?”

“Tony Frenzy.”

His stage name, I later found out, but I have called him Tony ever since.

We talk for a while over the hum of live music, chatting about life, the cafe and his music set. He tells me about the coincidence of how he was supposed to be at another cafe, playing with his crew and I tell him I was actually supposed to be working but figured the job was a scam, so I quit. We laughed.

We’d talk more about this later.

On my second beer, I fumble the first bottle and it falls off the counter, thankfully to clatter and not shatter. I laugh awkwardly, am I tipsy or just nervous? He smiles at me as I bend to pick up the bottle and he helps to clean up the mess my clumsy hands have made. It’s that icebreaker, tension breaker, we didn’t know we needed.

We stood close, two people, somehow ending up in the same place, at the same time, on accident. It baffles how the night had unfolded. Him, resolving to play a set by himself and me finally stepping out of my box to ask out a cute cafe barista.

“Do you want to go get cheesesteak?” He finally asks. “It’s a bit loud in here and I want to keep talking to you.” The last part he almost whispers and I lean forward either to hear or to get a little bit closer.

My self-preservation has taken a day off and I say yes. I’ve never had cheesesteak before and had no idea what it was. I still wanted to go, wanted to get to know this guy just a bit more. Barista forgotten, I gather my purse, and don’t look back as he leads me to the door.

Into the night with him I went. Into a new life with my soulmate.

 

 

 

Good Readdance,
Jade

College Essay on Life Experience: Miscarriage, Infant Loss and Post Traumatic Grief

Hi all! So I wrote this essay for my Psychology course called Miscarriage, Infant Loss and Post Traumatic Grief for my Psychology class and I thought I would share it with you all. Uncorrected.

In 2015 I got pregnant for the first time. I was due in May 2016. I was so scared but very excited. My guy and I barely knew each other. We were both torn on how we would be parents. I’d always wanted a family of my own I just didn’t know it would happen so soon. In the beginning, I felt great. I was healthy, everything was in the right place; I didn’t have a worry in the world. We decided to stick it through and on Chase and Charlie for boy and girl names. I remember how happy we were, young and exuberant. That was until things began to go wrong. According to the doctors, it would be a waiting game. There was nothing we could do. There was nothing they could do. We had to wait and see what my body, what the baby, wanted to do. I’ve never been good with patience. I tried. I called myself strong. I called myself a warrior. I tried to get through everything with a positive outlook. It didn’t work. My optimism did me no good. Everything began to fall apart. I officially lost my baby on October 23, 2015 at 12 weeks. The pain brought Tony and I closer together. He stayed in the hospital with me, took care of me, and watched over me while I cried my heart out.

In January, 2017, I found out I was pregnant again. My due date was October 23, 2017. The same exact date I’d lost two years before. This couldn’t be a coincidence! We were overjoyed. By this time, we were deeply in love. We’d moved in together, had great jobs and could afford to take care of a child. We already had money saved and we were ready to take on this new adventure. My doctors told me that it was very common for women to lose their first pregnancy and that I really had nothing to worry about. Everything, again, looked great, healthy and in the right place. At 11 weeks, we now know, I lost my mucus plug. At 15 weeks my water broke. I rushed to the hospital and they confirmed it. Our little happy, healthy baby was without fluid. They suggested I terminate. I couldn’t believe they wanted me to get rid of my baby when I could see her there on the screen. She had a great heartbeat, was moving just as much as she should and seemed fine. They told me that if I stayed pregnant I could get an infection and that the baby would die anyway. The doctors said the infection could get so bad that they would have to do a hysterectomy. I knew that couldn’t be my only option and pressed for something else. Something that could help us, help her. The doctors said that there was one thing we could do only if we make it to 24 weeks, which she strongly said I wouldn’t. If I made it to 24 weeks I would get antibiotics and shots, then I would live at the hospital, on bed rest, for the rest of my pregnancy. That would be 4 months. She did say that my body could take the choice out of my hands. That I could delivery naturally and they wouldn’t be able to stop it but if I didn’t, she might have a chance to live.

I jumped on it. I could do it! I had an office job and so I was determined to stay as still as possible, drink as much water as possible, to replenish her fluid faster than it was leaking, and to war against infection. I made it to 19 weeks. I went into labor naturally, just like they warned. I was on my way to work when the contractions started. At first, I thought they were just false contractions and I clocked in and started working. It’s silly to think about now but I really sat at my desk and tried to rock through the pain. I’d never been through labor before! Finally an older coworker told me to rush to the hospital because I was about to have the baby. I cried my eyes out. I called my guy and told him to meet me at Winnie Palmer and left. Iris Giana was born at 3:15pm that day. It was the most beautiful, terrifying, amazingly traumatic moment I’ve ever had in my life. Seeing her there, on my chest, with her tiny feet, moving her tiny hands. I couldn’t believe that I’d actually given birth to a human and that I couldn’t keep her. She was perfect in every way and yet, she wasn’t big enough to survive on her own.

One of the most disheartening things about it all is that I couldn’t even be with her in her last moments. I almost died from blood loss, the placenta got stuck, and they had to rush me to surgery. I held her for as long as I could but the pain was just too much. They had to take her from me. Knowing that the next time I saw her she would be dead made my physical pain so much worse. I could deal with the fire in my belly, with the sharp stabbing going down my sides but I couldn’t deal with seeing them take her away and knowing I couldn’t say goodbye. I remember telling her I loved her so many times. Wanting her to know it wasn’t in vain. That she meant something to me. To us.

In the beginning, it was hard for me to see my guy being happy or experiencing life without being as sad or distraught as I was. American Pregnancystates “Generally, women are more expressive about their loss and more likely to seek support from others.” This was very true for us. He was very quiet about everything. I didn’t really see the grief from him until a few months later. “I was only a dad for 30 minutes” he randomly said to me one night. It hurt my heart and I cried for days. I couldn’t handle being a source of pain for him and knowing there was nothing I could physically do to make it better.

In 2018 I found out I was pregnant, again. Again, we were excited. This will be the time! We have a plan. My doctors have a plan. Just get to 12 weeks, they said, then we can put in a cerclage and start you on shots to protect the baby. It would finally work. It was another miracle. This definitely can’t be a coincidence, I remember saying. I was due October 23, 2018. The same exact date as the pregnancy from the year before and the loss from 2015. This is a sign from the gods. I got to 9 weeks and then the bleeding started. I rushed to the hospital. “Save my baby, please!” I remember telling them, but there was nothing they could do. She was already gone. No heartbeat. They had no reasoning, couldn’t see anything wrong with her or with me. She was just gone.

I’ve had so many experiences with grief in my life. I’m a foster kid with mom issues, twice over, and at one point I had no hope. I had no direction but I kept going. I pushed forward. I graduated high school. I got a job, sometimes two or three at a time. I took care of myself despite feeling helpless and unwanted and unloved. I beat the odds and the statistics. I did it! I thought the pain and anger and disappointment was finally over. Despite all of this ‘achieving’ I’d done, nothing, nothing could prepare me for this. I wanted to give up. I wanted to float away and not deal with the pain of my losses. The love in my soul that I feel for them every day. The tug that is telling me this will never work. Still, months after my most recent loss, I don’t know if I’m healed. I don’t know if I ever will be.

In Krosch’s study, they asked questions of women who have lost babies at varying stages of pregnancy, women who have had multiple miscarriages and also talked to women who had living children outside of their losses. “The “other children” comparisons indicated that women who did not have living children tended to experience moderately higher grief scores than those who had children after the loss.“ (Krosch) I can attest to this because I am one. For me, I believe the added fear, the added stress, is that I might not ever be able to have children. I believe that I would be distraught, after my losses, if I had children as well but the simple fact that I’ve had three very different losses and none of them give us any indication as to what is wrong or how we might be able to prevent it from happening in the future makes this a stressful situation. I don’t want to think of the possibility that I do all the tests, all the exams, spend all the money for the expensive health insurance and I will find that I can never carry. So I can definitely see how not having other children would give me a higher score on the grief scale.

Another thing that I found interesting about Krosch’s study is the factor they believed religion, or spiritual beliefs, took in growth, post traumatic grief and life after loss. “The greatest PTG was reported in appreciation of life, personal strength, and relating to others domains, and least in spiritual growth. The findings of limited spiritual growth are consistent with previous research in non-North American populations (e.g., T. Weiss & Berger, 2010), but may also be influenced by pregnancy loss-specific factors. Although some people tend toward spiritual understandings following perinatal loss, others report a marked departure (Cowchock, Lasker, Toedter, Skumanich, & Koenig, 2010). This suggests that some people’s spiritual beliefs may provide a framework for understanding the loss, while others’ beliefs may be rendered inadequate.” (Krosch) For me, I believe I was more on the side that says it made a huge impact in my recovering but not in the way it did for most of the women. The ones who ‘gained’ more faith in god or in religion may have said it impacted them greatly or that they felt closer. I, however, felt the exact opposite. There has never been a bigger divide between myself and god than there is now, after he has captured my joy and crushed it beneath his foot.
As a young child, growing up in foster care, I was impressionable in the sense that if something was strongly explained and sounded ‘amazing’ I might be keen to believe it. Christianity was that for me. My adopted parents were both pastors during my youth. They taught and they preached and they took us to church every single week. Some weeks we went to church three and four times. I was very autonomous as a kid and wanted to find my own relationship with god, not one forced on me. Once I did, I loved it. I loved the atmosphere, I loved the support, I loved the fact that I had consistent people in my life who seemed to actually care about my well-being; I also loved the drama. Of course. I grew up with a strong sense of right and wrong but also the importance of the grey area. I often playfully say, that back when I was 12, I was a Jesus freak. I wanted everyone to give their souls and live peaceful lives. That’s just to show how the dynamic role of religion played in my life as a kid and how it’s changed. I am no longer that way. After my first loss I was very angry. I was mad at everyone; my guy for not understanding, my mom for not helping me, my friends for never reaching out, my god for not delivering me from my pain. I still loved him, I still trusted him with my soul. I knew my heart was in safe hands. After my second loss I screamed at the heavens; “How could you do this to me? How could you cause me this much pain? What have I done to deserve this? Am I that evil of a human being?” (I will never forget the words my biological mother said to me after my water broke and I was terrified my little girl would die; “god will always take your babies because you are evil on the inside. Your soul is evil. I hope you lose your baby.”) After my third loss, March 2018, I screamed again but this time in resignation. I screamed inside with self-doubt, pity and resolution. That follows in line with Lin’s explanation of chronic grief. “These symptoms can be excessive anger, guilt and self-blame, or persistent depression, and they make resolution and adaptation difficult. With chronic grief, there is little or no sign of diminution of intense reaction a year or more after the loss.” (Lin)

So yes, I screamed out with a shaking fist. I screamed outin silence of my own mind. I said “I get it, god! You don’t want me to have children! What? Do you think I will be a bad mother? Have I not proved that I have so much love to give? Have I not proved that I will not take on the sins of my adopted mother and my mother’s mother and my mother’s mother beyond that?” That is the difference between those women and me. They found a deeper faith, something they could hold on to, and I wish I could say the same. For me, I had lost all trust in god. I believe in him, I don’t think that will ever stop. My foundation is just too strong. I just no longer believe that I can trust him. I can no longer trust him with my heart, my soul, my dreams and my future. As someone who always used god as the answer or someone who will help propel me into the future even thinking that feels as dark as midnight.

This topic is always hard for me but I love to share it with others. I am no longer ashamed of what I’ve been through. I am no longer scared to think other people, other women, will look down on me and think I am less of a woman. I am strong, I always will be. I want to help other women who are going through what I’ve been through to be as strong as I. That’s why I’m writing a book about miscarriage awareness, loss and grief from an angel mom’s perspective. I have complied submissions from women all around the world and I plan to use their stories, their soul specific paths to draw in those who feel alone. My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced this and even those who are dealing with infertility but maybe haven’t experienced an actual loss. I just want to pour out compassion, awareness, love, understanding and, in the end, hope.
Thank you for reading my uncorrected essay!

Jade

References

Krosch, D. J., & Shakespeare-Finch, J. (2017). Grief, traumatic stress, and posttraumatic growth in women who have experienced pregnancy loss. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, And Policy, 9(4), 425-433. doi:10.1037/tra0000183

Lin, S. X., & Lasker, J. N. (1996). Patterns of grief reaction after pregnancy loss. American Journal Of Orthopsychiatry, 66(2), 262-271. doi:10.1037/h0080177

“After A Miscarriage: Surviving Emotionally.” American Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. 29 December 2017. Web. 2 July 2018.

Link to Miscarriage: Surviving Emotionally

Allegory of the Cave (Plato) and How It Compares to the African American Community

Sometimes we are poisonous to our own people. 

There once was a young boy named Eric who dreamed of one day making it big. He dreamed of mansions and cars and freshly cooked Sunday night dinners. His parents worked hard to keep their family together and he was often left to raise himself in the downtrodden streets of the inner city. Eric spent the first year of high school skipping class and getting high in the bathrooms. He was good with numbers, they flew through his head like music notes and he used them to buy an entourage. His friends were soon like brothers in arms, fighting against the man and whoever else dared to keep them down. While they loved him, his parents cracked but never wavered due to a shred of hope that their hard work would soon pay off in that he would live past eighteen.

After a night of danger and sticky red hands left one friend dead and another in jail, Eric makes the decision to get his life together. His skipping school days are behind him. Books and highlighters become his new best friends and good times shooting ball on the courts fade away. His parents, still fighting their own beasts of debt, forget the pat on the back. He struggles and fails but is determined to achieve his goals.

Years later he graduates from high school with a higher than stellar gpa and scholarships  for college. He excels through college, graduating in the top of his class. His parents are older now with withered hands and sad eyes but finally proud. His heart breaks as cancer eats at his fathers pride but he keeps his head up and makes promises. His parents nod and smile, they know where they come from and no one they grew up with had ever made it out. The rays of the sun have beaten their souls and the shackles of life have torn them apart.

Eric started as an intern, with pressed collars and loafers. He learned the walk and took pride in his ability to stride. He rose through the ranks and soon a placard with his name etched in gold lines the door and desk of a corner office. He buys his parents a new house and he pays for their bills. Their eyes light up as the final grasps of freedom can be felt with their finger tips.

Back home, despite his attempts to give back to the community that raised him, Eric’s old buddies curse his name. They spit on his shoes and call him a traitor. How dare he make a better man out of himself? They ask him who he thinks he is and refused to take his so-called charity. Estranged family members, who’d dapped in between video game wins, now show up with hands out stretched and angry faces. You owe us, we had circumstances. Blood means give. After dishing out all he can bare to give, Eric is worn down and even though they see his bleeding eyes they keep asking for more. Eventually he retreats back to his office and donates from afar. He’s got places to go and promises to keep. Now with a family of his own, he’s the man in charge and makes sure his kids know what it means to give to others but not give until there is nothing left.

While reading The Allegory of the Cave, something really struck home for me. You might think that I would glean something about religion or believing the government’s lies but my thoughts went down another path. I thought about the prisoners in the cave as us, African Americans and the shadows on the walls as the so called truths we’ve been fed from others about ourselves. Outside opinions that we take on faith because it’s been ingrained in our upbringing.

We, as black people, have been oppressed, yes. We’ve been beaten down, run over and held back. We’ve been taught about the violence of our own people, warned against the false intelligence of our own people and suspicious of our own people. Generations trickled self hatred and ignorance. We poured the inability to rise above our limitations down the throats of our youth and branded anyone who squeezed through the cracks a deceiver, a Judas, an Uncle Tom.

For generations we have been stuck in this phase of anger. It is all the evidence we need to believe that we are stunted. We have a fixed mindset of what the truth is. To some, the truth is that we can not make it. We dream to, we aspire to but do we honestly believe we can? The shadows on the walls of our ancestors who couldn’t fight back make no noise due to their stolen voices. We watch them with our heads locked forward unable to turn away from the lull. When one of us dares to break free of his chains we smile and nod but block out the noise of their excitement. He will be back, we say and we continue to stare at the shapes stretching before us.

He begins his journey, continuously pulled down and degraded by his own people. As he struggles forward, he starts to believe. I can make it! No one believed me but I did it! He returns to the cave, staring up at the shapes of his ancestors, hoping to enlighten his peers. Look, look what I’ve done! I told you this could happen. Come, join me. They deny him.

Do we expect to fail? How many times do we trash our wealthy brothers and sisters just for making better decisions in life than we did? Especially the ones who come from our same streets. The ones that we can’t use the excuse ‘they had it better than me’. How many times do we say ‘I knew he’d be back’ when one of our own returns to the nest after failing their great try?

Another thing that hit me was that this goes both ways. Will he remember how hard it was for him to see others succeed? After he’s achieved his goals and reached the top tier, does he say to himself “I understand how they feel, I remember being that kid that would say ‘this old black man with his tailored suits just don’t get me!’ ” One thing that I wrote down while taking notes was “Eyes can be confused in two ways”.

Anyway, I know this was something different than what I usually do but I really wanted to share my thoughts on this. I’m not really one that will spend my time spouting about “The Man”, etc but this is something I definitely think about. This is one of the major reasons why I wanted to go back to college and finish my degree. I love to learn, to experience new things, new ways of thought. I’ve already opened my mind more than I thought possible and I still have far to go.

Please let me know what your thoughts are. Did you get this from The Allegory of the Cave? If not, what did you take from it?

Good Readance,
Jade