Thursday, April 29, 2010

On Karma...

"Lots of people want to ride the limo with you, but a true friend will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."-Oprah

"My Karma ran over your Dogma."-Unknown


*A little disclaimer
This post talks about Karma and self blame. Please don't think, in reading this, that I think any of you are to blame for your losses, or that Karma played a role, I am just trying to be truthful here about what has been going through my own mind.


Up until September 4, 2008, my life had been a fairly typical one, a mix of good times, and not so good times, that always seemed to find a way to continue on in an upward trend.

Here is my life... in a nutshell.

I was a very happy little kid, and a pretty happy teenager. I was captain of cheerleading, nine times out of ten my grades landed me on the honor roll, and teachers usually commented that I was "very bright, but far too social" in my classes. When I went to college, I went through a really bad breakup with a person who was NOT good for me, and while at the time I thought it was the end of the world, later I realized that freedom from that type of a relationship would be one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. My freshman year of college I got really sick with a throat infection that landed me in the hospital, and had me sidelined for the better part of my first semester, and when I came through that I went through this completely obnoxious phase of feeling invincible, and responded with a little period of rebellion that to this day makes me do a mental head slap, but for the most part wasn't outside the norm of what most kids do at one point or another. A year later I found a sense of direction, and went on to meet my husband, enjoy the start of a very successful career, and make plans to start a family... you know the rest.

I always felt peace with every part of my life (even my mistakes because I had learned from them) and if I had to do all over again, I always said I wouldn't change a thing, because it had been this succession of actions (both the right ones and the wrong ones) which led me to the exact moment of meeting my husband nearly nine years ago, and in the end, finding this amazing person to spend my life with was all that mattered. 

There is a saying about looking at life through rose colored glasses, and I think that is what I used to do, but my ability for that seems to be another victim of this loss, and when I look back now, everything seems tainted by self blame. 

Lately I can't focus on anything that represents my having any good qualities, like moments where I made someone feel loved, or proved myself to be a good friend. When I flip through scenes in my life, all I can see are moments that I might feel regret or shame over, moments where my morals and priorities were misguided, or I had been difficult or a disappointment to those who loved me, and I play through these moments wondering which one of them exactly it was that landed Karma's foot up my ass. There are idiotic moments that I used to joke about looking back on later in life, moments of being carefree and stupid that I thought would bring laughter when my life got too over-scheduled and boring. Now when I think about them I just feel dread and worry that maybe it was one of these moments that has come back to haunt me.

I am a woman.
I should have made a healthy baby.
I should be able to get pregnant.
I have failed in all these things.
Clearly I am to blame. 

When in this rut, nothing is off the table for scrutiny. Not even my accomplishments. 

I was always successful at work... is this a penance for being too cocky? 
I wanted a nice house in a nice neighborhood, one that I could be proud of... am I paying for misguided priorities?
I like to think I have always treated people with respect... is there someone from my past who feels wronged by me? 

I think you can see where this is going...

I can be very hard on myself. Brutally so. Since losing Peyton, I see myself only in the harshest light. It is a trait that my husband blames on my "Catholic guilt." I feel like maybe I have no right to happiness. Maybe Karma has deemed me not good enough. 

Yesterday I got to going down the self blame road, when something suddenly called me in a different direction. It was a conversation with a friend, an amazing loving friend, where we didn't talk about anything in particular, and yet I couldn't help feeling an appreciation for all I do have.

I have kind hearted, loving, and supportive people in my life. Some of them I have known since I was a little kid, others I met when I was in college, or during work, or fall into this newer category of people that I have connected or reconnected with because of this loss. Their commitment to me has been unyielding, and it got me to thinking... would these people who I love and admire really put in the effort to stick around me if I were really such a terrible person? 

Probably not.

The idea of Karma can be a really slippery slope. It can lead us to the darkest recesses of our minds, and make a journey that is already painfully self doubting, even worse. If Karma really existed, there wouldn't be a saying like "nice guys finish last." The truth of the matter is that some of the meanest and most judgmental people out there are also those who have never had to be tested, and some of the least deserving people, find success with the most ease. Clearly, there is no Karma in that.

Don't get me wrong, I totally believe in the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, but I also think that maybe I need to work on accepting the possibility that this hasn't been "done unto me" as a result of anything I have done. Maybe it has just been a run of really shitty luck that happened to someone who, like everyone else, has made some mistakes or had moments that she isn't particularly proud of, but in general, tries to be a good person.

Maybe it's time I give this person-myself, a break.


  1. if you can't blame yourself physically for what has happened in the loss of your child, then you start blaming yourself on all sorts of other levels.... i even started thinking that it was because i had set up the nursery too soon that harvey died, or that me buying harveys winter clothes when it was still summer somehow prompted his dying earlier than he would have. then there was karma and reincarnation, i'm not indian or hindi or even believe in this. but late one night in the er at our local hospital after harveys heart had stopped beating and i had to resuscitate him while waiting for the ambulance, the only thing going through my mind was ' what kind of monster must i have been in my past life to have to learn a lesson like this!' when i say these things out loud, i can see how irrational they seem. because of them, i no longer plan ahead, i live in the moment, i know the Buddhist's encourage that not sure what their take on karma is though. i don't know why these things have happened in our lives, perhaps we're the chosen ones, perhaps we are the lucky ones, perhaps we will be the ones who teach. i do know that we can see ourselves reflected in those surrounding us and if you are surrounded by loving friends and family it is safe to assume that it is because you are a good and loving person yourself xxx anne

  2. I never wanted to get married or have children. I often think about those vibes I sent myself as a teenager. I had my whole life planned out and the plan was working... Then I met Peter and my world was flipped on its head. Suddenly, everything I'd worked for was for shit and all I wanted was to be married to this perfect man and have his beautiful children. I cant tell you the times that I thought my infertility and, later, my children's deaths, were a result of my thoughts.

  3. Please do give yourself a break. Really bad things happen to really normal, good people. It is so hard not to blame yourself. I have struggled with infertility and miscarriages and the added guilt of having terminated a pregnancy many years before. I went through bitter, resentful and desperate times before we adopted our son (he's now 18) and then had two huge surprises (now 12 and 13). I lost a good few friends along the way when I was at my darkest but they were never the "good" friends. Years later, I can still feel the pain and sadness you feel. You need to know that in spite of all your pain and anguish - the sun does not stop shining and you will learn to see it again. Your post about your garden is proof of that. But feel free to rant and rave about the unfairness of your life right now. People who have walked the same road as you understand and will never judge you. All my best wishes come to you across the ocean from South Africa. Embrace your friends who are there because they choose you to be their friend - sadness and all. Sally x

  4. Went thorugh that phase for months after H died. It's not your fault...nothing oyu've done and nothing that you would have done to cause any of this.

    I don't believe in Karma, I am not willing to accept that everything crappy that happens to a person is from their own doing. There is no way I can believe that you haven't done great good in this world.

    You are a great person.

  5. I wish there was something I could say about this post. You are and were a mom. All halfway decent moms are very hard on themselves to raise the bar on behalf of their kids so it stands to reason you will crush yourself with guilt over Peyton.

    I know every day I walk a tightrope of guilt and fear of doing or having done the wrong thing as a mother.

    You did right by your family for all the goodness and good choices you made in your life. It wasn't and isn't a charmed life, so karma is not out to bite you in the butt. You've had heartache and agony and pain, over love and loss and not just from the loss of Peyton.

    Actually you should be commended (and your parents too) for raising you up right to have made the good choices, ones I hope my kids will make... just as you did, and do.

    hugs always a momma. You know I am one of your biggest cheerleaders, having once been one myself... the anti-cheerleader who ended up quitting because I could not stand the elitism (I have a sister who mentally and physically impaired and the "leaders" always taunted and mocked her and others who were "different"). I pride myself on my leadership capabilities and my difference, in not being a "follower" (except following via Twit or blogs, he he).

    I know you are one of those. Your parents should be proud, and I bet they are!

    the grey lady... old enough 2 b ur momma.

  6. Good for you- you deserves a break. There's many things in life that are out of our own personal control- and when we finally see that- it's very freeing.

  7. Ah, yes. No-one does guilt like the Catholics...I blame myself, too. Please do give yourself a break. IVF alone is a trudge through the muck, and you've dealt with so much more...
    It is so hard when the life we feel we should have had, and want so badly, has been taken from us, and we don't know why.

  8. We have analysed our shitty situations in much the same way. I can relate to so much of this. I also think Hope dying was karma biting me in the ass.

  9. I know this is not really funny, and honestly, I don't mean to offend anyone, but a good friend of mine (who IS Catholic) told me I'd make a great Catholic because I do guilt like no-one's business.

    And as a teacher who has ALWAYS told her students, "What goes around, comes around." I've always, always believed it. Whether it was called Karma or the Golden Rule or God's blessings and admonishments...I've always thought there definitely was some truth to that statement.

    And don't think for one second that I wonder if that little 'incident' in Key West or many other things like that that probably wouldn't even begin to hit the realm of WILD for most but for me were outrageous--somehow are rearing their ugly heads right now.

    I think that's normal, because in a world where we can handpick sperm, inject them in eggs and *sometimes* get pregnant that way, we feel like we have control. And since we can have some sort of control in stuff like that, surely we have control in everything else...which means that the good we were responsible for and the bad...we were responsible for.

    My sister-in-law reminded me yesterday--control is an illusion. And as much as that pains this OCD control-freak, she's right.

    Any time I think *I* may have somehow brought this on...or am being paid back for something....I look at the suffering all over the world--babies dying in orphanages, children starving in famine-ridden countries....situations where there can be NO doubt that innocents suffer.

    I'm not saying I'm an innocent, but I know that there are many who are and suffer...and many who are evil who don't.

    And that blows my theory to bits. (Most of the time!)

    Glad you are moving toward giving yourself a break. You absolutely, positively deserve it.
    Many hugs!

  10. I agree. Give yourself a break. Someone once said to me "be kind to yourself" after my Jordan's loss and when I was in my "self-blame/trying to be everything to everyone" phase. When I find myself going back there a little voice tells it to me again and again until I listen.

    Karma can kiss my butt. But you knew I felt that way. Lol.

    And you might want to check out Angie's blog. She wrote a post a while back about the Buddist concept of Karma (the real concept not the stuff bandied about that makes us feel like crap). It was really interesting.


  11. Very early on on this road I realized I no longer believe in that thing called Karma.y whole life over & found EVERYTHING that could have made me deserve losing our daughter. I realized that making silly choices or acting selfish is all a part of growing up & no matter what thing I may or may not have done.. NOTHING, NOTHING could compare or make me deserve the devastating pain of burying our child. My mind still wanders there evry know & then & I have to make conscious decision to stop it in its tracks. If I let it go on too long the effects of such thoughts can affect me for days & bring me backwards on this path. I have only "known" you for a short time & I can tell that you are an amazing woman.

  12. YES!!!! Please give yourself a break! But I do believe the questions you're asking yourself, the issue of karma you're grappling with, is one that every one of us battling infertility or loss has had to face at one point or another. When are hearts are broken and feel as if they'll never heal its natural to look for blame and to point it at ourselves.
    But there can be no deed so wicked as to be deserving of the loss of your precious Peyton and there is no woay the world could be so cruel as to make an innocent suffer as punishment for something else someone has done. She did not die because you were in anyway deserving.
    It sounds so corny and trivial, especially in relation to the death of a child, but I've really started to believe that sometimes shit just happens. There is no ryme or reason and looking for one will prove to be futile.

  13. "I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me" Proverb 8:17

    "O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
    2Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint;
    O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
    3My soul is in anguish.
    How long, O Lord, how long?" Psalm 6
    i will try to post from the Bible everytime, hoping that you'll find something good.
    hugs and love

  14. I can't begin to imagine what you have been through! I truly cannot so I will not claim to. My heart goes out to you and all that you have been through. I can identify with the infertility. We struggled with that for years, failed IUI, failed IVF, I have been there. I know what your mind can do, those dark places it can go.

    I don't believe in karma, at all! I believe that we live in a fallen world, that many many years ago sin entered it and forevermore it will be tainted with sin. The beauty for me is that this world, this life, is not all there is. There is eternity, there is a heaven and we can chose to go there by accepting the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6. I believe we can't ever be "good enough" we all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and that sin separates us from God. We can be reconciled to him (John 3:16) and we can know the Lord personally.

    My personal relationship with the Lord is what it's all about for me. When we were trying to get pregnant (to be a mom was all I ever wanted) I had to decide if I was going to trust the Lord. Was I going to trust Him even if it never lead to the family I wanted? Was I going to choose Him, knowing that He loved me, would I believe that His way would be best? Would I believe in Him even if my dream never came true? I'm not saying these dreams don't sometimes come true, but I believe that God wants our trust in Him in the midst of the trial. It's easy to look back and trust, when everything has worked out. But to trust in the midst when it's storming...that's His desire for us.

    I am praying for you. Praying for your heart to feel the love of God. I know He loves you, I know He wants you to run to Him and find your refugee in Him. You can wail and scream and cry to him...He's big enough to handle that. He can handle our grief, our fears, our hurts, but we have to bring them to Him.

    I'm so sorry if this sounds like's hard to convey emotion with typing. But I say this in love and compassion and a heart that wants you to know the love and safety I have felt in the Lord's arms during my darkest hours!

  15. Dear Kristin

    I realised, in a session with my therapist some mmonths ago that I had a belief that if only I tried hard enough and was good enough, good things would happen. I realised for me that this was a false and unhelpful belief, stemming from the way I was raised - being 'good' rather than authentic was paramount.

    It also has its flip side which is exactly what you are describing. If my trying doesn't necessarily result in good things, rewards from the universe, when BAD things happen, they are certainly not my fault or some kind of cosmic punishment - they 'just' are. Some may see a bleakness in that. I don't. I think it's liberating.

    I still catch myself making bargains with who knows what - climb to the top of the hill without stopping and xyz will happen - but I think we all do that type of magical thinking to some extent, especially when things feel out of control.


  16. Here's my take on Karma. Karma is not, in fact, a payback system.

    I think that Karma is much more in the present moment than we realise. It is this: what we focus most of our attention on, is what we get more of.

    E.g. If you were to steal something from a shop, your guilty conscience would give you a sense of being different, being more wrong than other people. You start to act out even more because of your new identity, that you are focussing so much attention and guilt on. And so the spiral starts. You start to believe that you deserve punishment, and by no coincidence, punishment starts to appear in your life. And that person might look back and say, well I deserved that, it was Karma.

    I too am going through a period of deep shame for the silly things I have done in my life. It's natural. But please, don't let it create your future.

    Love and hugs, always.