Once there was a party girl. Who thought it was a good solution to hang with the grape and grain girls.

Where’s this going? I had an idea this morning that I should write about my past a little bit. My past hangs out in my mind like a holiday resort that I visit semi frequently.  Parts of it are a little dingy and seedy. Some areas I never want to visit again. It’s familiar to the point of being expected and a little boring in places.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this metaphor either; I guess I’m thinking that it’s important you know. That there are building blocks of myself in there in memory. We hang out a lot in memory and in future fantasising.

Even things that were stressful or unpleasant at the time get the sheen of cinematic romance when viewed through the lens of memory. The emotional pain is careful excised and set to the side to be sampled as a kind of garnish. It’s not all tangled together now, it’s all just imagined.

Take the loss of Aramis. I know, you don’t know what I’m talking about yet. Our first IVF procedure: I had OHSS (overstimulated ovaries) and it wouldn’t have been safe to transfer a fresh embryo, so they had to freeze them and wait a month. However 8 blastocysts (Day 5 embryos) were frozen and a month later they transferred two.

I remember the morning I took the pregnancy test. The line didn’t come through for about 5 minutes. It was faint, but definitely there. I remember our first scan and the definite presence of a little growing bean inside. Then two weeks later I remember the scan of lack, the scan of absence. The tiny embryo was still there – it had even grown somewhat. But his heartbeat was gone.

The pain of the experience was so intense I didn’t even feel it straight away. And then it rushed in all at once and consumed everything of what I was at the time. I wasn’t set up to cope with it. I analysed and over-analysed everything I had done. Games I played, books I was reading and shows I was watching were all binned, and I still wouldn’t even consider a return to them now. Even though that pain is just something I can remember and describe, it’s no longer something I feel.

But I carried it, and subsequent resentment of so much that I felt I lacked for a number of years. My pain crystallised into black spikes of bitterness and even lances of hatred, especially in the direction of Mr. X, who at the time was expecting a first child with his girlfriend. I held this up as a personal slight, rimned with the following: a couple of years before I left Japan, he had pressured me into having an abortion I didn’t want*; I didn’t find out from him about the pregnancy, but via the girlfriend’s social media. The combination felt like a thorny slap in my face.

(*) I bear my share of responsibility for making decisions that were contrary to what I knew I wanted to do, but I also recognise that I felt I was in a very lonely, alone, isolated – felt like powerless and choiceless situation. I’m abdicating nothing here, but there’s definitely responsibility to be doled out in his direction, and yeah, even blame; he used his position of relative power to exert pressure on me, and I folded to it.

***

My babies have healed so much in me. As difficult as life is in raising them, it’s nothing compared to the hollowed out, self-hating shell of myself that I became in the years trying to make them. I wound the strings of other people’s lives around me, cutting me with self-judgement and comparison. I isolated because of the pain of that comparison. I felt everything as a lack – physically my body was suffering, but I also couldn’t appreciate anything I did have because all I could think of was what was missing.

If I had the time to do over I know how I might treat myself differently. But a more compassionate me, a me with a changed Pointy Plague Doctor might not have had the determination to push again and again ’til I got what I wanted.

We don’t ever get the chance to walk an old path a different way, regardless of our regrets or new perspective. I don’t have to abandon my past like an old seaside town closed down for the winter, but I’m also feeling less of a draw to give it my tourism.

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