Waking early to a chilly morning, rolling over to see if Geoff is there with me and I pause to contemplate his solid form before nudging him. I remember being roused during the night with my little cat standing on my head, a single soft front paw covering each of my closed eyes, yelling his name, and then Geoff gently pulling him off of me. As I rolled around to get comfortable again, I heard my husband’s soft voice telling me to go back to sleep.
“I’ll watch over you,” he said, stroking my hair as I drifted off again.
I wonder if there is, like, a quota of how much love you can receive from fellow humans and if Geoff alone fills mine because certainly no one else responds to me with anything more than callousness. I find myself starving for empathy and at the same time feeling guilty that maybe I am not offering enough myself. I think of the friends I’ve lost to suicide and drug overdoses (not much difference in my eyes) and I think of the people I’ve met in recovery that I did not know well but succumbed to that fate as well. Without disregarding individual responsibility at all, I see losing somebody who had a chance (and everyone does) to suicide as a failure of community of sorts. I know that is controversial — I once informed a close friend of a suicide in our recovery community and he responded by shaking his head.
“Some must die so others can live,” he stated flatly before changing the subject. I was flabbergasted by the coldness, and never forgave him, really — I still interacted with him and went to his house for visits but that singular dismissive comment was filed away and never forgotten. How can you not feel a sense of personal failure when someone you know takes their own life? Because nobody has to die at all.
But am I any better? Who have I reached out to lately?
I’ve been reading informally about the concepts of empathy and cruelty, because I once was a self-obsessed addict who treated people horribly and now I am here perhaps being punished for it, writing all day because I have a tremendous compulsion to have somebody, anybody, express some desire to understand what it is like to be a mentally ill infertile woman who has said goodbye to four much loved babies. It reeks of self-indulgence and I am acutely aware of that; at the same time, my efforts have been met (IRL) with nothing but disaffected indifference and although not suicidal I have experienced such an uncaring response from so-called loved ones that I can clearly see why some poor souls choose to check out permanently. And my trials and tribulations are, basically, first world problems (although the friend that accused me of having “rich girl problems” can straight up go to hell), nothing like the extreme hell some have lived through and died of.
I think I mentioned that I was reading a book called The Science of Evil by Simon Baron-Cohen, which I’ve read before. I’m not too far into it this time, because reading about the outrageously cruel acts of say, the Nazi regime during the Holocaust, causes me more misery than I can cope with right now. In describing cruelty, or evil (the author uses the term “empathy erosion”) Baron-Cohen discusses the theory that humans are capable of moral depravity to others because they cease seeing them as human — “dehumanization” is the favored term there. However, I recently read an article The New Yorker posted on Facebook that I can’t cite properly but that proposed that this commonly held tenet was fallacious.*
Baron-Cohen, in the very beginning of the book, tells a story told by a concentration camp survivor of a prisoner that was to be hanged. The Nazi guard made his own best friend tie the noose, and ordered him to put it over the doomed man’s head. The man in question’s hands were shaking so violently that he could not get the noose over his beloved friend’s head, so in a gesture of amazing selflessness and bravery, the friend took his hands, kissed them, and pulled the noose around his own neck. Angry, the guard kicked the chair away and the friend perished having not allowed his friend to be forced to kill him.
I grow shaken and wobbly myself reading shit like that. The guard, in my eyes, was not “dehumanizing” either man. He was punishing them precisely because they were human. “Dehumanization” is like, a word that gives the guard far more credit than he deserves. I pull my little cat (now forgiven for his late night transgressions) closer as I mull this over. Of course, I know I am incapable of such egregious acts of evil but how can I ensure that my capacity for empathy is never again eroded the way it was when I was addicted? Because now with RPL, I still feel like I’m in that cycle of addiction. And I confess to having little patience for the petty problems of others as I grieve my lost babies and consider a life denied of children. I have even withdrawn from my recovery community, feeling that I have no cares for those who struggle to get to the point of abstinence while I’ve already accomplished that and received jack shit for my efforts.
I admit I am full of anger and hate. I don’t want to become cruel, but I do find myself on occasion making snide little comments to people and rolling my eyes at their problems when I feel they have not suffered as much as I have. Am I deranged with selfishness?
I am crying and confused. I think of my mother with her pat answer of, “well, I don’t want to talk about that, I’ve never been through it,” that she gives me every time I bring up my losses. The friend I texted after the unspecified triggery event I’ve referred to this past weekend who texted back, “I don’t have time to read that now *insert sad face emoji*” after I’d agreed to read her fucking book and make notes on it for no reason other than I wish her success at her writing. You can’t read a few lines of text? Here I am, getting bitter again. How do I save my soul?
I’m staring down (not at) another bfn at 11dpo, feeling period-crampy and sad and lost in the aftermath of Saturday’s forgotten bedtime meds (not just the Geodon, but the day’s Paxil and Trileptal as well). I feel the anger and I’m hating my body and the world and all the hate is scary and isolating AF. I remember my daydream about having a child and how wonderful it was to hold my Molly, and my mom was there acting gentle and tender like she did when I was a child, and I wonder why it is that love so seamlessly turns to hate…
And for all my talk of striving for empathy, I find myself cloaked in bitterness at anyone who is still hopeful with no caveats, angry at myself for indulging in my own hopes this past weekend even though my fantasies were wrought by pharmaceutical factors…
How dare I dream of holding a living baby in my arms when I know from hard experience I cannot influence my shitty chromosomes to align in any sort of cohesive manner, my embryos testing again and again for devastating trisomies while everyone I know, fertile or not so much, pulls it off so effortlessly?
I feel rage and the hurt that comes with it pulsing through me again. I feel utterly abandoned and alone. I am reminded of the scene in Bram Stoker’s Dracula when Dracula renounces God in anger after discovering his beloved wife dead from suicide, and the chapel starts bleeding; I imagine I am bleeding as well, always bleeding, month after month as my hatred swells. My psychiatrist cannot help me with these mood swings while I insist on taking Femara. And I know someone is pregnant, right now, and her baby won’t die like mine do and nobody fucking understands, nobody fucking cares.
And I don’t want to feel this way. I hate it; I am desperately unhappy. I don’t know what to do.
*I found the article