Curiously sauntering through a garden of taboos. That seems to be the human experience. So much to see, to smell, to wonder, and just as much to avoid discussion. We're guided though the garden, encouraged to experience and appreciate the tour, but urged to not ask questions. There are parts of the garden we don't necessarily know how to navigate, simply because it wasn't included in the handout. Unkempt and wildly ignored, yet so glaringly obvious and accessible. So many of us stumble into that unkempt part of the garden. It comes with the tour, except no one told you about it. It's not a selling point. Sure every now and then someone will point a finger to the weed ridden trellis most of us walk underneath, but never anything more than a brief mention.
We know what's in the garden. rampant sexism, domestic abuse, women's bodies, emotional and mental wellness within men, and miscarriage to name a few. A lot of us will experience and see these parts of the garden, but very few of us will get a helpful description.
Recently I took a stroll through miscarriage.
It came hard and it came fast. And no one warned us. No one mentions the possibility, and I get that. Why dose something so human and pure with worry? I get it. But something else no one mentions is how absolutely common miscarriage is. Most women and families will walk underneath that trellis, and no one tells you how heartbreakingly painful and barren that saunter is. They play up the better parts of the garden while you stand underneath the trellis, looking for a present bloom or overlooked stone.
Earlier this year Molly and I found ourselves underneath that trellis. We rounded the corner and got a brief glimpse before we found ourselves underneath it. Another thing no one mentions is just how unbelievably different that trellis looks to two people who have to walk underneath it.
The world owes women a great deal. We owe womanhood and the experience of being a woman a resounding apology and a valiant effort to stand by that apology. There are areas in which I've gotten the blessing to see where we treat the women of this planet with respect and grace, and sadly enough miscarriage is one of them. I would love to see the day we treat women and females with the same amount of love, compassion and respect day to day as we do when they're stricken with grief and tragedy. And even then, it's hurried and fleeting.
I try to stay aware and conscientious of the privileges and experiences being a male has afforded me. There's a great deal of trouble, hardship, and downright unfairness that I get to avoid by default, simply due to a biological difference, and a simple one at that. There are a few strifes that I'm afforded simply by being a man, and while there's no comparison nor is oppression or hardship a pissing match- that trellis gifted me something painfully unique and entirely unanticipated.
After the miscarriage, Molly and I were yet again swept up and compellingly taken care of this year. Friends and family came to share the pain, company, and love. Molly was going to be ok, not only because she's made of the toughest stuff, but because we have the best people. That trellis was only temporary and I knew Molly could just get past it, so much more of that garden would await and welcome us. It was such a terrifying and new thing to digest and experience, and I wanted that experience to pass for Molly more than anything at the present moment. More so than for me.
During this tour though, I was gifted with a bit of insight and a very specific sort of experience that yielded it's own lessons and bittersweet knowledge- experiencing a miscarriage as man.
Yes, miscarriage is rarely talked about- it is so potently taboo. In the few times I've been privy to someone's miscarriage or miscarriage experience, I was left woefully ignorant of the other half. I believe this is for a few reasons, one of which is so strikingly obvious and acceptable. I did not have to experience the physical agony of the miscarriage. The process itself is a heartbreakingly painful ordeal, one that doesn't leave much room or time for a spectrum of emotions. In that moment one thing matters- one thing prioritized itself over all things, "Is she ok." Being so obviously helpless during the whole thing unearthed some past experiences and trauma I thought I had passed along this tour, but some trellises don't come in many different shapes.
After the miscarriage, we found ourselves amongst friends and family. All at one table, Molly surrounded by loving arms and words, with me at the end of the table. It was a pattern I didn't notice at first. It was a phenomenon I was oblivious too until Molly was doing better and she pulled me aside in the greenhouse and said "But how are YOU doing?"
Humans are incredible and incredibly complex. Not only do we do our best to hide ourselves from others but I think we do a better job at hiding ourselves from ourselves. I had myself so convinced that I was ok. That I was doing well. I almost didn't even know I was masking the immense pain, heartbreak, anticipated memories that were stolen, self induced hopes. All of it. It took this incredible woman to go past my facade and talk directly to the Tyler I was trying to ignore. It took Molly asking Tyler "But how are YOU doing?" It completely undid me. I had spent the last few weeks unaware of my wellness. I had distracted myself to such a degree that I didn't even realize that this may have been the first time I was asked that since the miscarriage. I don't think I gave Molly an answer that day. For the first time I asked myself that question as well. And I felt. Felt for a couple of weeks. And I was so painfully aware of how much society didn't want me to "feel". I wasn't supposed to. Everything screamed "This isn't about you." "You're not going through this." and those were sentiments I had repeated to myself directly after the physical miscarriage. I found myself feeling guilty for feeling at all. I thought to myself, "I didn't have the miscarriage, so I shouldn't feel these things." and I felt that coming from everyone around us. The sick part is, it was never intentional. NEVER. It's just sort of a subconscious part of the trellis. I found our people gathering around and embracing Molly. Providing an emotional foundation that she did truly need and deserve. But I also found these same people physically separating Molly and I. They never embraced US, and said "How are you TWO doing?" I was at the end of the table watching people comfort my wife about our loss. And it was confusing and scary. Still is. There's still a narrative in my head that shouts "You're not allowed to feel. You're not apart of this." And as much as I know that's not true, I know the rest of the world doesn't necessarily share that with me. I know that I was fighting for the permission to feel sorrow and grief in a situation others didn't give me the room for. While yes I didn't share the physical trauma and pain Molly endured, I did share every other last bit. And those were the bits others were only willing to talk about. There were countless moments where others reminded me of what I was to Molly with little room for negotiation. "Make sure she's alright." "Make sure you're there for her" "How's she's doing" "Are you helping her" "She needs ________, makes sure she gets it." And yes, these are all incredibly valid quotes. But I felt no more purpose than a nurse overlooking someone else's wellness and thats the role I felt compelled to embrace. Nothing more.
That dammned trellis. No one really talks about but more than that, no one really talks about how different it looks to others. I had no idea what to expect being a man who's experiencing a miscarriage. Feeling like I wasn't allowed to grieve a loss that was equally mine and feel a pain equally as valid and scarring. Miscarriage is a pain we don't seem to want to acknowledge and its definitely not a pain we believe is shared.
That trellis is there, and it's not coming down. We have so much we owe women, girls, and moms. We also can not forget the work we owe towards good men and almost dads.
This is an experience I never could've anticipated nor would I ever want to, but I'm glad for it. And I'm glad to have the means to articulate and share it.
With all of this being said, there's hopeful and compelling rainbow in the garden. Molly and I are expecting a baby next May. And more than anything, I'm eager to walk them through this garden. I'm hoping I'll be a tour guide worth my salt.