“At my first wedding, instead of a champagne toast, we served limoncello as a nod to my Italian heritage. For each table of eight guests, we had one bottle chilling as a centerpiece on the table. When the time came to have the toast, everyone shot back the lemon-flavored holy water and proceeded to get sh*t faced! Like totally sh*t faced. Never did we expect to see anything like it, but our guests were in love with it, pouring it into their water glasses and downing it like a glass of milk. OOPS. The dancing, falling and comedic outtakes that ensued thereafter were priceless. I saw the most buttoned-up, boring people laughing and behaving as though it was their last night on earth. It was an unforgettable evening and despite the massive hangovers that followed in the morning sun, I wouldn’t change a thing. Anyway, what does this have to do with the story I’m about to tell? Well, it’s a fun memory from one of the best nights of my life and a good spot to begin my story. And, well, limoncello!
Some of the worst things that have ever happened to me in life brought me the greatest rewards. I’ll say that again for the people in the cheap seats: the worst things that ever happened to me brought me the greatest joys of my life. I realize this makes me sound crazy, or masochistic, but there is so much truth to this statement. Please allow me to elaborate.
Every bad thing that has ever happened to me ended up bringing me the greatest happiness in my life. At the time, while I was going through the sad and horrible thing, I didn’t see it as a blessing. But looking back on it, I can now see that without that really tragic event, I wouldn’t have gotten the incredible gift that followed. Mind you, this excludes death. The loved ones I’ve lost in my life, I miss dearly and would give anything for one more day with them. I can’t think of anything that came from their deaths worth having. But I don’t consider their deaths as something that happened to ME. Their deaths happened to THEM. I just wanted to clarify that, in case anyone thinks I’m insensitive. Excluding death, all the other bad things brought me joy. Moving on.
After my beautiful wedding and amazingly fun reception, I thought married life would be this easy journey I was totally prepared for. We had a new home, new dishes, new flatware, and I had a brand-new last name. I was happy. But that happiness didn’t last a lifetime like we had planned. It barely lasted three years.
Soon after becoming a Mrs., my Mr. started going out a lot, without me. Truth was, I could’ve gone, but I had a job that was demanding and a commute that was even worse, so I chose to stay home, night after night, in order to function properly the next day. My new husband could stay out until 2 a.m. and then get up for work like it was no big deal. We were total opposites that way, as my hangovers usually lasted two days. Staying out till 2 a.m. is what he did, multiple times a week, which left me home alone. At first, it didn’t really bother me. I liked the peace and quiet. I would have a glass of wine, watch my favorite crime show or a documentary he’d hate, and head to bed by 10 p.m. But after a while, it became lonely. And loneliness in a marriage is a recipe for disaster.
During this time, we were trying to have a baby. Month after month, I would anxiously await a missed period, and month after month, I would cry when that period came. I became so focused on getting pregnant, I stopped seeing the problems that were developing in our relationship. We were spending too much time apart. The time we did spend together was usually brief and involved alcohol and other people.
In October , my husband was on a camping trip with his friends and I was awaiting a period that was now several days late. On a Friday morning before work, I peed on a stick to finally see that positive pregnancy test I had been hoping for over a year. The next two months brought us closer as we started planning for a new baby, coming up with names and going to doctor visits. But at my 10-week appointment in December, just four days before Christmas, we found out the baby had no heartbeat. The pregnancy was over. And that’s where the real trouble began.
My miscarriage was devastating. One because I was so sad and disappointed over the loss, but also because I had a horrible experience during the process and had to go to the emergency room. I honestly, no exaggeration, thought I was dying. The pain was so bad, all I did was writhe in pain and vomit for about 8 hours. After it was over, I felt an incredible emptiness. I took off work for a few days and avoided holiday parties like the plague. It was indescribable really. A few hours ago, life was inside of me and now life was gone. In the blink of an eye. There is a quote by Edward de Bono that best describes the way I felt during this time, ‘A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.’ The baby was gone but the memory of being pregnant and having her inside of me was still very much there.
No one really talks about miscarriages. It’s not something you post about on social media or call your friends up to chat about. It’s sad and depressing and still a bit taboo. I just went about my days like nothing horrific had happened to me. That was a huge mistake. What I should have done was get counseling and talk it through with a professional. But I dumbed it down to no big deal.
When people would tell me they were sorry, I’d immediately say, ‘Oh it’s okay’ to help them not feel so awkward or ‘I was lucky, I know a girl who had to deliver stillborn twins at 8 months. My miscarriage was nothing compared to her loss.’ That was the line that got me through months of people’s pity and months of feeling my own self-pity. ‘It could’ve been worse. I was only 10 weeks, it’s not like we told everyone, I could have had to deliver a dead baby, at least I’m okay.’ STOP.
I want to take a moment to pause here and say this: It is okay to grieve your loss no matter how small of a loss you think it is. Your sadness is not in relation to someone else’s. You are allowed to mourn. You need to mourn or else you will self-destruct from the weight of it and destroy other parts of your life. My marriage became collateral damage to my miscarriage. And I just excused myself through it, like I had no right to be as upset as the woman who delivered her stillborn twins.
Whatever you take away from reading my words, please take away this, mourn as much as you need to. Don’t compare your tragedy to someone else’s and don’t feel like you have to rush through the grief in order to make other people feel comfortable. I learned that lesson too late.
When the new year began, I muddled through my days, full of sadness, trying to find answers as to what I did wrong. Why did I lose the baby? What now? Unfortunately, nothing changed in my marriage. My husband still went out with his friends and we continued to lead mostly separate lives as we had before the pregnancy. But now I was different. The miscarriage changed me. The possibility of not having children was a giant spotlight that shone on my marriage and it revealed every crack in the foundation, every warped floorboard, all the busted and broken sh*t was now bathed in a harsh and unflattering light. And I ran.
I ran away from the marriage and from my vows and became a new person. Someone who resembled the girl I knew a long time ago, who wanted more from her life and wasn’t okay sitting at home playing second fiddle to bars and buddies and camping trips. I blame myself for our divorce, for not seeing a therapist, and handling my sh*t, for sweeping it all under the rug and pretending the loneliness wasn’t consuming me. We had a rather amicable divorce. Turns out, he grew tired of my staying home all the time. He fell out of love long before I even suspected, and his escape from it was to go out and drink it away.
Here’s the thing: all this sadness, all this tragedy happened for a reason. Without the miscarriage, I wouldn’t have seen how unhappy we actually were. We weren’t meant to be together. We wanted two totally different life experiences. Had it not happened that way, we would’ve never sought marriage counseling, which opened me up to the healing world of therapy. Hallelujah, did I need therapy. I started going by myself after we divorced, and the lessons I learned about who I was and what I truly wanted opened me up to the possibilities of what my life could be.
After our divorce, I went on to do things I only dreamed I would do. I traveled to Europe for the first time with a friend and then went back again a few months later by myself. I spent two weeks in Italy with my family. I got promoted at my job and started making six figures a year. I grew my side business. I got in shape. I got on the cover of a local magazine. I met a guy who would later become my husband. All that therapy helped me recognize the goodness in him and broke the bad relationship habits that had doomed me throughout my twenties. Without therapy, I wouldn’t have had the gumption or the courage to do any of those things.
Fast forward to 2016, my now-husband Rocky and I were trying to have a baby. After so many failed IVF attempts and donor disasters, we came to adoption. At the time I saw those losses as the worst things to happen to me, next to the miscarriage, but once we got to adoption, I realized it was my true purpose in life to adopt a baby. I was at peace with those failures. Without those IVF failures, I wouldn’t be adopting a baby, and that made me happier than anything in the whole world.
SideBar: I know I know, you’re thinking, ‘Yeah but if you would’ve gotten pregnant, you’d be just as happy.’ And you know what, you are probably right. But when I was in those moments of loss and despair, I didn’t think there was another way. Now that I was here, becoming an adoptive mother, I was so proud and happy I made it through and found a purpose for it all. If anything, this is about seeing your life through to its purpose. Taking the negative and turning it into a positive. Taking those lemons. So many lemons. And making the most delicious bottle of limoncello, to drink and share and enjoy. End scene!
In 2017, we were matched with a birth mother in Alabama. This was it! My chance to become a mother was really here, and I was so over the moon and thankful for the path that had led me here. No matter how sad and lonely it had been at times, it was bringing me to my son, and I couldn’t have been more grateful. But something about her, our birthmother, just didn’t feel right. I had learned over the years, through all my struggles to trust my intuition. I had honed it in recent years and even when it was telling me something I didn’t want to hear. I knew it was almost always right on the money. When my intuition started flaring up over our Alabama birth mom, I started getting scared of what the outcome might be. We had already experienced so much loss over the past year, I was sure another would destroy me.
Two and a half months before the baby was due, we found out we were part of a massive adoption scam. Our birth mom, the one who set my female intuition into overdrive, had promised her baby to three other families and was scamming us all to make a quick buck. Now that right there is the whole damn lemon grove. This was it! This was the worst moment of my life. It was worse than the miscarriage, worse than the divorce. It was the bottom of the bottom and I just knew I’d never recover.
Just like all those other horrible things that had happened before, this tragedy too would turn into the greatest gift of my life. Our adoption scam was so bad, several news channels ran our story. A woman who I like to call my Earth Angel saw us on TV and contacted the reporters who interviewed us. She was 6 months pregnant and due with a baby boy in February. She needed to give the baby up for adoption and didn’t know what to do or who to trust. Seeing us on the news and hearing our story, she knew we were the family for her son. The rest is history.
We helped deliver our baby boy, Mac James, on February 6th, 2018 at 1:49 a.m. He is perfection times 10,000! But without the wretched Alabama birth mom betraying us and stealing our money, we would have never made it to the news. Our Earth Angel would’ve never found us. I wouldn’t be holding my son right now as I type this. Our loss had to be so bad that it was newsworthy. Without it, Mac wouldn’t be here with us. If I didn’t believe it before, I now most certainly knew that every damn thing that happened TO ME over the last 40 years of my life actually happened FOR ME.
The point of this article is, you can view your life’s letdowns and tragedies as anchors or you can see them as springboards to what came next. Try it. Go back to a time where you were so sad, so down on your luck, so hopeless, and play it back like a movie in your mind. What happened after the tragedy? Who did you meet? What did you learn? Did you grow? Did you accomplish something you never thought possible? Did you become braver, stronger? Are you happier now? Take those lemons and make lemonade out them. Or if you’re like me, add vodka and make delicious limoncello. The more lemons, the better the taste.
I know this is all so cliché, the whole lemons to lemonade bullsh*t. So fine, let’s make a new one. Take all the tomatoes life is pelting you in the face with and add a little salt for a delicious marinara sauce. Is that better? The reason these sayings exist is because there is truth to them. You’ve got to take the sh*t that life hands you and do something with it other than wallow and suffer. It’s not always easy, and you might not even recognize it at the moment. No one in the middle of a catastrophe is like, ‘Boy, is there an opportunity here,’ not unless they are a total psycho.
When the winds do stop blowing and they will, you can come out of your bunker, take a look around, assess the situation, and see the destruction as a chance to rebuild. Trust me when I say, the rebuild is lovelier than you can imagine. You might even decide to plant a few lemon trees.
Next time things aren’t going your way, look life right in the face and say, ‘I like my lemons sour and I’m gonna need about ten to make this bottle.'”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Beth of Pennsylvania. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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