I try not to be a materialistic person. I have no interest in name brands (and would frankly feel like a sucker if I spent hundreds on a purse, just because the label was shiny). Our house is modest and in no one's taste but my own. I drive a 7 year old VW Beetle which I love and will only trade in when necessity dictates - hopefully for my all-time dream car: a VW Passat Wagon. Anyone who sees my clothing must know I don't place a lot of emphasis on appearance. And yet, when I need comforting, I am so drawn to *things*.
I think it might be hereditary. My mom has a shirt she's always called her Wallowing Shirt. It's a (now) paper-thin XXL grey shirt emblazoned with the phrase "Shafton High School Wrestling Team". Whenever she's in need of some serious self-pity she puts on the shirt, climbs into the closet and wallows. She whines and "why me"s for as long as necessary, then crawls out of the closet, folds up the shirt and goes about her business. That shirt was there for her when my dad was blatantly cheating and through her subsequent divorce. She wore it when her second husband convinced her to move 1200 miles from her teenage children and again when that marriage dissolved. She's offered me the shirt on occasion and I've considered taking it, but I seem perfectly capable of wallowing in my own wardrobe.
I don't have an official shirt, but I do wrap myself in my baby blanket ("blankie"), which was sewn for me while I was still in utero. My husband always found this habit odd (even though blankie has slept with us every single night we've been together) until one day when he was doing some wallowing of his own. Curled up on the couch, feeling bitter about the unfairness of it all, I pulled blankie around him, shoved Puffy (my Puffalump - also around since my very early years) in his arms and let him be. Somehow he then understood why sometimes you need a tangible manifestation of grief and self-pity.
When the going gets really tough I pull out the big guns. I drag my king-sized quilt off my bed and huddle under it in front of the TV. It's clearly too enormous to fit comfortably on my sofa, but I can wrap and wrap myself in it. A thinly veiled metaphor for armor worn to shield myself from the world, no doubt. But it gets the job done.
I don't have a problem with finding comfort in these items. They bring me peace and calm, whether I'm needing it desperately at the moment or not. But I've added to my arsenal in recent years, and my new shields are a bit more disturbing.
I was under a general anesthesia when I had the D&C that pulled my twins from me. It was my first hospital visit, my first anesthetic procedure. I knew I would be stripped and put in a hospital gown, but I never imagined that I would trade in even my socks, exchanged for bright teal hospital issue slipper-socks. I wore these cheap acrylic socks through the pre-anesthesia interview, through the blood drawing and the IV* placement. And while the rest of my body was exposed during the procedure, my feet were shielded. Those socks forming a cushion between my limp feet and the cold stirrups.
I wore them home that day, not having the energy or will to switch footwear afterwards. (And I kind of felt like I should get something out of the deal, although admittedly I made a lousy trade in swapping socks for babies.) I wore them that entire day while curled in my quilt cocoon and gratefully numbed with vicodin and valium. The next morning, while still coming to terms with the fact that my babies weren't with me, I reached for my cheap acrylic hospital socks. Maybe for warmth, but more likely for the connection they seemingly held with my twins. I'd taken off my clothing for that procedure; my earrings, my wedding and engagement rings. The only thing that was with me in my final moments with my twins was those socks.
Yesterday, when feeling cozy and quiet as Edouard passed overhead, I donned those same socks. Not because I needed comforting, but because they have become a symbol of calm in my world. And surprisingly I find that the things I listened to/watched in the days and weeks following that loss also bring a sense of calm. The Jeffrey season of Project Runway, which was on constant repeat in the hours after the procedure. "Over My Head" and "How to Save a Life" by The Fray - a band which I ordinarily would've shrugged off - now find themselves on repeat when I need to ground myself and my emotions. Grey's Anatomy, a show which I'd never seen before my miscarriage but watched from start to finish instead of working shortly after, has retained some of it's intended levity. But if I'm feeling lonely and calm it's a go-to show. And bread pudding - the physical (and only) manifestation of my mom's sympathy for me - will never be "just dessert" to me. I still eat it with reckless abandon (when not on the cursed PCOS diet - argh!) but never without recalling those days when it was all I ate.
I understand the concept of grasping for things, finding solace in stuff. I've always fallen prey. But I can't help but wonder how healthy it is to find peace and comfort in that which surrounded me in my most uncomfortable times...
(*When I went to type "IV", my fingers instinctively stuck an F at the end. What does that say about me?)