It's also more of an aside than a continuation of my story at this point, but hopefully my reasons for adding this in here will be clear by the end of the post (though I make no promises). A minor, possibly meaningless event in the last 24 hours, and a discovery that resulted from that, made me feel that this post was necessary.
The event was that, before I wrote yesterday's post, my mom and I went to a used book sale at the library and I bought 3 books in almost new condition for $2.50. Didn't seem that important at the time, and still might not be, but it will at least be relevant by the end of this post.
And yesterday's post was extremely hard for me to write, because it ended at the point where, when I was still living it, I started to give up. I was newly saddled with an incurable disease that was literally caused by my body attacking itself and causing chronic pain, and I was beginning to face the possibility that I would never even get the chance to even try to be a mother - the one thing that I wanted more than anything else out of life. Something that, without which, I didn't really see the point of another 30 or 40 years of life, even without chronic illness.
To be honest, I still kind of struggle to see the point of my life without children. (And I want it very clear here that I am only talking about my life specifically. I am not judging anyone who chooses not to have children or finds meaning in their own lives another way.) I know that I have more to offer the world than my possible childbearing and parenting potential, and I have other ambitions that I will get around to talking about later. I also do still find joy in other aspects of my life. But if I'm being totally honest, the thought of essentially devoting the rest of my life to my career (even if it is a helping profession) and coming home at the end of every day to an empty house just seems . . . well, empty.
But anyway, around that time, in March of 2012, I was starting to think that a terminal diagnosis would have been, in a way, kinder. A few months would have seemed like a gift compared to what at the time seemed to me to be a life sentence of physical and emotional pain. I remember thinking at the time, if I'm in this much pain at 33, how bad will it be at 73?
But I would also be lying if I said that I had given up hope completely.
I don't always necessarily think this is a good thing. It seems to me that there is some truth in the Nietzsche quote, "Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man."
But still, even though it is sometimes to my detriment, I can't seem to give up hope entirely.
Yesterday, I wrote about no longer believing in God. That wasn't really much of a stretch for me, to lose that faith. I have always had my doubts, and even as a Catholic school kid I never really had any use for organized religion. And working in social services had only challenged my beliefs further. One of my absolute worst cases was a sexual abuse case that had landed on 16 or 17 other desks before mine over the course of about ten years. The children had been removed from the home as toddlers only to be returned to their abusers within a few months. By the time I got the case, they were teenagers who had endured years of physical and sexual abuse. They were also, understandably, wary about telling anyone about it. How many adults - social workers, teachers, counselors - before me had failed to act to protect them? I consider it one of my greatest career achievements that they were removed from that home permanently under my watch, and one of the perpetrators is now serving a 45-year prison sentence thanks, in part, to my investigation. However, it is an extremely bittersweet victory, because it does not undo the years that those children suffered. And I can't help but ask, what kind of loving god would allow that to happen? God, at least in his Judeo-Christian incarnation, did not really seem worth believing in to me.
(By the way, stories like that one are the reason that I have to suppress the urge to punch anyone who says that infertility is God's way of telling people that they're not meant to have children. If that's the case, God has an awfully strange set of criteria for parenting fitness.)
Anyway, even though my faith in God was always on shaky ground, I couldn't quite shake the belief that there was some sort of balancing force - fate, synchronicity, something along those lines - or the belief that things have a way of working out the way they're supposed to in the end, even if it doesn't seem that way when you're in the middle of it all. "Everything happens for a reason" is a mantra that my grandfather always repeated to me during tough times, and I always, mostly, believed it.
But even that belief was challenged at that time in my life more than it had ever been. What possible reason could there be to have a dream I'd already given up on dangled in front of me, only to be snatched away again almost immediately, leaving me face down in the dirt? I could almost hear the universe tauntingly singing, "Nanananana, you can't reach it!"
Still, like I said, I couldn't quite stop believing it entirely. And like I said yesterday, I'm willing to consider the possibility that maybe there was a reason for things to happen the way they did. Maybe the reason that I had symptoms that prompted me to go back to my reproductive endocrinologist back in 2011, and the reason that he got me started on the baby plan, was because I was on the wrong track with the foster-to-adopt plan. And maybe the reason that the baby plan was derailed so quickly was that there is actually a person I'm supposed to be with and have children with someday. Maybe.
Although, if that's the case, it also seems to me that, I don't know, meeting that person would have been just as effective in getting the point across as an autoimmune disease and two break-ins and everything else that has happened since then.
I'm also still afraid to have hope. I have a tendency to look for meaning and reasons and signs (as do, I think, most people), and I've found meaning enough times that I think there's something to it, even though I'm well aware of what any expert on operant conditioning would have to say about that. But I've also come up empty enough times to have a fear of getting burned again.
Still, the idea that there is some kind of meaning to all of this, that it will all make sense someday is a comforting thought. I found another Nietzsche quote today when I was double checking to make sure I had the one above right, that said, "What really raises one’s indignation against suffering is not suffering intrinsically, but the senselessness of suffering." If there is no meaning to the suffering, why bother getting out of bed in the morning at all?
So, I'm choosing to be cautiously hopeful. I can't make myself give up hope entirely, and even if I could, I wouldn't really want to live out the rest of my life that way. I'll leave myself open to the possibility that there's a reason.
Another thing that I have believed, over the years, is that there is something to paranormal phenomena. Sometimes. Now, don't get me wrong, I think most of the stuff you hear about is bullshit, but I think Christopher Moore may have been onto something when he wrote that "Science you don't know just looks like magic." So while I think Ghost Hunters is a crock, I still think there are ghosts out there - after all, we are all channels for electrical energy, and who's to say that a conscious energy doesn't go on exisitng once our bodies are gone? And Sylvia Browne is a con artist, but I do think there are actual psychics - I've even met one.
And I think we all probably have a little bit of that potential, even if it's mostly subconscious. For example, that sexual abuse case that I talked about before? I had the case for two years before either of the kids started talking about what was going on, but I knew from my very first home visit with that family that something foul was happening in that home. There wasn't any logical reason for it at the time, because in those first few months that I worked the case they behaved like any other client family that I didn't have this response to, but every cell in my body recoiled from those parents in disgust from the very beginning. I can't explain it rationally, because there is no rational explanation. It was intuition. A gut feeling. Instinct. Call it what you will, but it wasn't the first time my gut feeling was right, and it was far from the last time.
I've also had psychic dreams before. It's only happened a couple times, and I didn't realize it until way later, and the only indication at the time was that the dreams were especially vivid and memorable and took a while to recover from when I woke up. That said, I have a lot of vivid dreams, so it's not much to go on in differentiating the ordinary ones from the possibly precognitive ones.
However, last winter I had a dream that I think may have been a vision of what's still ahead for me.
Of course, it's also entirely possible that it was just a wish-fulfillment dream, and that's something I have to keep telling myself to protect myself from how much it would hurt if it never happens.
Still, it met all the criteria. Extremely vivid. So much so that I could still tell you every detail of the dream, right down to tactile sensations. Extremely difficult to wake up from. Extremely intense to process afterwards.
And it came at a time when I was trying to convince myself that it was worth it to keep fighting, even if I never got the outcome that I wanted.
So I had to wonder, and I still do, if the dream was telling me to hold on, because this was still out there for me.
In the dream, I was dropping my children off at daycare. Two of them. A boy of about two, and an infant girl. And they had names.
Remember when I said I named that possible daughter that I started to imagine my future with? Her name was Lucy. It still will be, if she ever comes to be.
And it was the name of the baby girl in the dream.
Which I suppose is not really so surprising, given how much energy I had put into trying to wish her into existence for so many months. Or, at least, it wouldn't have been, if she had been the featured character in the dream. But in that moment, she wasn't. She actually wasn't even really present in the part of the dream that I can remember, except in the background. I'd already dropped her off to her caregivers. She was safe and loved and happy and cared for, and I was thrilled to have her, but she wasn't my focus at the time. She wasn't the one I was interacting with.
The boy was.
I have also had a boy name in mind for some time, and that was the part of my dream that was really surprising, because the boy's name in my dream was not the name I had in mind. It wasn't a name that I disliked, and it's a name that I would consider using. It just wouldn't have necessarily been the first name that I would come up with.
His name was Andrew. Or, as I thought of him both in the dream and afterwards, Drew.
And when I woke up in the morning, what lingered the most for me was how much I wanted to know him, and the thought that maybe, just maybe, the universe was telling me that he and his baby sister are still out there for me when I come out the other side of this journey I'm on.
I still think Drew and Lucy has a nice ring to it.
It's a long shot, I know. But I still hope. I can't help it.
And the reason that I felt it necessary to post this today is that, this morning, after I had dredged up all those unpleasant memories and feelings yesterday, and they started to weigh on me again a little bit, I picked up one of those used books I bought and started reading it. Within the first few pages, the main character introduced her two children, a boy and his younger sister, to the grandmother they'd never met before.
The children were named Andrew and Lucy.
It was so startling that I actually had to put the book down. The dream came back to me like a sensory assault, albeit a pleasant one.
Maybe it's meaningless. A random coincidence. Maybe the only meaning is that I am so desperate for a sign that things are going to work out for me that I will assign meaning to anything.
Or maybe, just maybe, it was a message from the universe, telling me not to let myself get sucked back into the abyss that I started looking back into yesterday. Because maybe Drew and Lucy, those sweet dream babies, really are in my future, if I can find my way to them.