Inside/Outside

Trigger Warning: If you’re upset by or easily creeped out by skeletons, you probably want to skip this.  If you’re in mourning this may upset you, and I don’t want to do that.  I don’t think my photos are any worse than the scene in “Return of the King” in the halls of the dead where all the skulls come crashing out, for an idea of rating.  And yes, this is a real place.

As I’ve expressed recently, there’s a lot of emotion for me surrounding pregnancy announcements.  In as many days, I’ve heard two more.  Strangely, a third set of emotions suddenly opened up, totally different from what I described previously.  These were acquaintances, people I’m not close to, so I didn’t feel obligated to express joy, and I also didn’t feel the hostility that seems to bubble just under the surface these days.

Instead, it was just a curious sense of defeat and worry.  Like someone has poked a bruise that’s slowly healing.  It’s not a sharp pain, or a particularly pronounced one.  It’s just uncomfortable.  More a feeling of anxiety, really, or anticipated pain.  Sometimes, I think that’s the most hellish thing about infertility.  On the outside, I look completely normal.  There’s no sign that points particularly to my condition (unless you count the frustrating new breakouts on my skin that PCOS has left me with since stopping the birth control).  Unless you happen to catch something in my voice or a quick flicker of emotion when someone mentions babies, you’d never guess.

Recently, I was looking through some photos of a trip Arthur and I took to central/Eastern Europe, and it just sort of struck me.  A picture’s worth a thousand words, right?  These sort of sum the whole feeling up better than pages and pages of text.

Here’s how I look on the outside:

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Pretty normal, right?  Basic, nice, nothing major to see here.

If we start talking, we work together, or we just get acquainted, you might see this:

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Again, fairly normal.  A nice place to think, pray, perhaps.  Nothing particularly special, just nice.

This is what I feel like on the inside since the diagnosis, though:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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Full of artfully arranged (metaphoric) skeletons and crappy stuff and sadness.  It doesn’t matter how amazingly sculpted the candelabra is or how much skill it took, it’s still made out of bones.  And that’s the thing.  No matter how normal I look and act on the outside, the internal emotions and monologue suck.  No matter how many times I try to blog or write out my emotions to arrange them into something resembling art, they still are what they are.  It’s like trying to sculpt with skeletons.  The end result still ends up feeling depressing.  One of these days I’ll get back to writing happy things or finding some good emotions, but damn, I’m depressed these days.  I know it’s all part of the process, but I’d still like to be done with the whole grief thing.

(For anyone who’s curious, this is the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic.  Throughout history, there have been a lot of plagues, famines, and wars in this area of the world.  In 1278, the abbot in Sedlec traveled to Jerusalem in the Holy Land and brought back, essentially, a jar of dirt which he sprinkled over the grounds where the church was later built.  Being buried in consecrated soil was a big deal, and not only was this church yard consecrated, it was viewed as more or less specially holy because of the connection to the Holy Land.  Lots of people wanted to be buried there or bury relatives there.  By the 1800s, there were over 40,000 skeletons in the crypt and the disarray was enormous, so a woodworker was hired to organize the bones.  The above was the rather fascinating but completely creepy result.  If you’re ever in the Czech Republic, it’s definitely worth a visit.)

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