Recently, while sitting in a doctor’s office, perusing a seemingly superficial magazine, I came across a quote from Audre Lorde that has not left my mind since, “Your silence will not protect you.” These words resonated deeply because it has been two years of internal struggle as a writer. I’ve been through a lot and the way I deal with things is to write about them. Sometimes in the privacy of my journal, other times in the openness of publication. But, it is hard to know what is “okay” to write or what will be a “trigger” or how my words will alter the way others feel about me. Sometimes my words make people uncomfortable because I write about hard stuff. I have not always done so, but in recent years, happenings in my life are ones I feel are shrouded in social shame and I’m tired of it. By not writing, by being silent, I’m contributing to that to social stigma. I’m not okay with that and let me explain.
The day before my fateful magazine find, I sat with a tattoo artist designing a new tattoo to honor twins I lost eight years ago. It has taken me a very long time to process this loss because although miscarriage is common, it is not talked about. There is severe shame around this issue on many levels.
I had a late miscarriage and it was horrific.
I had no idea how to move through this grief and I sunk in a dark space. I had two small children at home and there were days I could not get out of bed. My breakthrough moment was when my then four-year-old climbed into my bed, rested her head on my shoulder, and said, “Mummy, y’know, I don’t believe in angels because I can’t see them. I think those babies turned into butterflies and flew away but will come back to visit us.” In that instant, the choking sorrow was pushed down by my daughter’s words. Such a complex issue solved with such beauty in a child’s voice. With that, I began to write about my experience, all of it. I no longer remained silent. The silence was slowly eating away at me and one word at a time, I began to heal.
I posted a picture of my new tattoo, two butterflies, and within twenty four hours, I heard from a varied group of people, all thanking me for writing about miscarriage. A few were friends, more were strangers, but what they had in common was a shared experience of not knowing how to talk, grieve, or move on after miscarriage. I am not a professional, but I am a writer. I know my words matter. I know that sometimes as I sob and type at my computer, the cathartic tears may soon transfer to some stranger that just needs to know it is okay to honor pain, open up to sorrow, and accept joy.
It’s not about notoriety, publicity, or approval for me. Rather, it is about my words carrying truth, healing, and compassion to whomever may read them. This is why I write about the hard stuff and this is why Audre Lorde’s words rung true to me. I will not hide behind comfort and let silence suffocate me. I will continue to write.