After my miscarriages, I don’t remember being fully aware of all the different emotions I was feeling. Some were right in the foreground, taking up a lot of space. Grief, sadness, anger, disappointment. Others were just sort of niggling at me from somewhere below the surface. It was those feelings from underneath that eventually bubbled up where I could look them in the face and identify them.
One of them was shame. “There is no shame in miscarriage”, I kept reading on the internet. Of course there isn’t. It wasn’t my fault. There was nothing I could have done about it. I knew that in my head. But deep in the centre of my body, was this icky feeling. This sort of embarrassment at admitting to something that seemed so intimate. This feeling that my body betrayed me. There was this notion that I wasn’t quite measuring up to all the other women whose bodies had accepted pregnancy and carried a baby to full term.
I have my own theories as to why we feel that shame. And you may not agree with me. I’m not even certain myself.
I believe part of it comes from society. This notion that we shouldn’t tell anyone that we’re pregnant until “it’s safe”. Before we’re through the first trimester. But why shouldn’t we tell anyone? Where did that idea even come from? I believe it’s because we might have to tell them that something went wrong. If society is telling women that they shouldn’t talk when something goes wrong with a pregnancy, it’s telling them that it doesn’t want to hear about it when it does. And it makes those of us who’ve had a miscarriage feel like we’re not worthy of being heard and understood. There’s shame in that.
I also believe that some of it comes from within. When our bodies don’t work the way they are supposed to, when we see other women going on to have healthy pregnancies but we can’t, it makes us feel less-than. Shame is rooted in feelings of not enough. Not being good enough. Not measuring up.
It was actually years after my first miscarriage that I was finally able to recognize what I was feeling and put a label on it. Once I knew what I was, I could get to work on healing it. Brene Brown taught me some of this and I added what worked for me. Here’s how I did it:
- Call it by it’s name. Simply calling out what it is, immediately starts to dissolve shame. So if you’re feeling that icky feeling, recognize it for what it is.
- Lean into it. What do I mean by that? Don’t push it back down. Allow the feelings to surface. It’s just an emotion. Don’t be afraid of it.
- Write about it. Get out a journal and a pen and free-write. Don’t think, just write. Allow all your thoughts to come out on the paper. Write about where the feelings are coming from. Describe them.
- Talk about it. Putting a voice to the feeling also helps to dissolve shame. Find someone you can share this with. Talk to yourself in a mirror. Talk to me or even just put a comment below this post.
If you’re feeling the way I did, I encourage you to try some of these tips. It feels so much better to release the painful emotion of shame. If you’re comfortable, share in the comments what has worked for you. And if you do want someone to talk to, someone who understands how you feel, talk to me. Schedule a complimentary session with me here.