Friday, August 9, 2013


(This is one of those longer-than-you-thought-possible posts.)

I've been feeling the draw of writing again lately. So I'm back on the interwebs for a little while, at least. And after much deliberation (a full 7 seconds at my keyboard), I have decided to join the Adult World and include capital letters in my posts for now. I know. This is a big deal.

An aside: my name will ALWAYS be elyssa, not [E]lyssa. It's been 14 years since I last wrote my name that other way, including on formal/legal documents as of at least 10 years ago, and I don't see myself changing that. I apologize to those people who will always be disturbed or offended by my obstinate mule-faced need to avoid associating my identity with the visually offensive capital e.

Moving on!

These past two years have been an incubating period of personal growth for me. Much of my learning and stretching has been the inevitable outcome of newfound responsibility for a little human, and I am so grateful that this little human decided to join our family almost a year and a half ago. I am forever changed and changing because of his constant presence in my life. There are few better examples of the undying curiosity, the unconditional love, the intentional living, the quick forgiveness, and the pure, unadulterated ecstasy that precedes and accompanies the consumption of good food that God intended us to possess than my little towhead.

Oh, yeah, he's blond now:

This picture is pre-haircut-that-killed-the-mullet, so enjoy that little gem. Also, he's obsessed--nay, Obsessed!--with airplanes and has been for almost a year, much to Nick's utter delight.

And it's been one of my greatest privileges to love on this precious soul and to learn a little better how to put someone else's needs above my own and to peek a little deeper into my Creator's love and plan for me.

But Jethro hasn't been my only source of growingness this year. Not every piece has been dramatic or surprising or painful or delightful; in fact, much of it has been quiet, veryvery gradual, and the result of deliberate work. It's been real learning. As such, I sincerely hope it's the kind that will stick, and I hope to explore bits of it in the next while on this here blog, if it feels right.

There is one thing I would like to share at the moment, and here is the preface:

There are people who have the gift of being Silently Strong Suffering Soldiers, and I admire those people. 

I am not one of them. 

I've realized that one of my gifts, instead, is to be one of those people that makes other people feel really good about their ability to deal with their crap. Just kidding. I think my gift is being able to verbalize my own human frailties and allowing people to feel less alone in their personal struggles and weaknesses and heartaches. Maybe that's patting myself on the back too much, but there it is. I suffer publicly, not just through painful events, but through all of those annoying traits we all have and hate about ourselves, and I've come to a point where I don't feel the need to try to change that part of myself. I'm starting to think it's there for a reason--it connects me to the world, and I believe connections are a necessary part of life. So I'm rolling with it.

And that brings me to this video:

Her music is my style in some ways, and in a lot of ways it's not at all, but despite the elements that would normally turn me off to it, this song's been on repeat this afternoon over here.

In January, much to my shock and delight, I discovered that I'd be having another baby the first week of October. We'd expected another long period of trying before #2 came along, and this baby felt like an enormous, personal gift--I'd always wanted to have an October baby for some reason, and I wanted my kids crazyclosetogether, and I felt like I was getting a happy nod from heaven with that immediate pregnancy.

In early March, during the morning hours that are still dark, I miscarried at 10 weeks while Nick was at work (yes, at 4am) and I was making cavewoman sounds... in my in-laws' bathroom. It was a much more traumatizing experience physically than I ever anticipated, and it was obviously emotionally painful. I would never wish pregnancy loss on anyone. That said, I was and am very aware that as far as pregnancy loss goes, there are much bigger demons. But that's not my point here.

My point is growth, and that miscarriage was the first time in my whooooole life that I greeted a challenge with squared shoulders and declared the proverbial, "Not my will, but thine," and even as my heart was breaking, I meant it. And guess what? That Unspeakable Event that I'd always imagined would crush my soul forever did not, in fact, destroy me. I felt no anger, no "why me?" groanings, no illusions that this was any kind of Special Suffering; all I felt was sadness and quiet acceptance that this is mortality, and that I'm not exempt from the realities of mortality. And guess what else? In the weeks of pondering that followed, I learned that that pregnancy was an enormous, personal gift, just as I'd thought. And so was the early end of it. I have learned more about eternity and womanhood and the potential divinity within every person from the aftermath of that one event than anything else. No joke.

I have learned that creating my family was never intended to be and never will be easy. And I'm grateful for the struggles I've encountered so far and will indubitably continue to stumble through as I pursue this endeavor, because they've taught me lessons I needed to learn. I've also started to learn the concept portrayed in the above song: nothing here is ours. And once we can accept and embrace that fact, we can learn peace and real love. I expect I still have a long way to go on that one.

Also... I want every single girl and woman to go buy and read a copy of this book. I don't agree with every single word in it, and I'm normally not a huge fan of LDS books, but please do it. At the risk of high drama, I declare it done changed my life. Read it and love it and love yourself and your life. That is all.

Finally, as a temporary epilogue to this story, I am pregnant again. It appears my previous lack of fertility has vanished for the time being. This time I'm due February 14, during my least favorite month of the year and on my least favorite holiday (because I am a curmudgeon). And this time I recognize that none of that matters at all; what matters is that I'm housing another spirit on loan to me for this time, and that is breathtakingly awesome. What matters is that I'm a goddess-in-training, if you will, learning what it means to create, and so is every woman who has never been pregnant and every woman who has borne 15 babies. I also know more clearly that this pregnancy is not a guarantee of a sibling for Jethro, because life carries no guarantees. And I still embrace all of it--mine, the one I'm carrying, and the bigger-picture Life I hope to help create for any and all of the little souls that will make up our family, no matter what kind of bumps (or sinkholes full of crocodiles, or whatever else) in the road are ahead. I hope I can teach them to love every part of that road, because what else is there? We can feel joy through all of it, and that's what we're here to learn.

So to all my sistas who've struggled through pregnancies, pregnancy losses, labors, babies, and/or the lack of all of the above, here's my salute. Know that you're not alone, and that the work that we're doing is worth all of it and more. And feel free to remind me of that when I'm waking up every two hours again and cleaning projectile poop off the walls.

The End.

Phew. I promise I'll write something short and funny next time. Fo rilz.


Heaths said...

I love you, Elyssa. You are a very, very special person. (Forgive me for not being able to think of a less-cliche way to word that right now and please know that it is sincere.)

Also, my deepest, most heartfelt congratulations to you guys. I am so so so happy for you.

Jamie said...

I love your words and I've missed them. And you. That is all. P.S. congratulations!

Jamie said...

I love your words and I've missed them. And you. That is all. P.S. congratulations!

KReynold said...

Your ability to write and share such a deeply personal experience is a gift to the world. I could intensly feel from both spirit and soul- this is an inspired piece. Not a word more or less. Elements of our deepest emotions-faith, joy, pain to name all few-all beautifully woven into this message that will touch the reader-man, woman, faithful or faithless, neighbor, friend, family member... as the Lord sees fit. There is so much that I love from what you have shared. Your point of view as both woman and LDS woman is positively refreshing

Kilee Luthi said...

You are amazing. I love you so much! Thanks for sharing this. It's inspiring and beautiful :D

Briana said...

thanks so much for your post elyssa!!! i'm so happy for you guys and hope this pregnancy goes well for you...thanks for being such an amazing and inspiring writer. whenever i find out you have posted again i sing a hallelujah. thank you.

heidi peterson said...