May 23, 2013 by Katia
Today’s contribution to Donate a Post is a very special one. Alice is an actress currently playing Marilyn Monroe and this reblogged post is an open letter to the great star touching on one of the subjects through which Alice connected with her mentor, the loss of a baby.
The post also resonated with me as it raises the topic of guilt, a feeling so many of us who miscarried share. In an understandable attempt to make sense of what happened and to reassure ourselves that it is in our power to prevent it from happening again, we start looking for the source, always tracing it back to something we could have done differently, in other words, we blame ourselves. When I received confirmation of the news I dreaded it was delivered to me by the best possible messenger. The Doctor in charge of the unpleasant task was as comforting as possible. One of the things he brought up without me having to ask “do you think that maybe I should not have carried my three-year-old down the stairs or lift him up when he asked me to” was don’t look for what you could have done differently. Unless you did drugs followed by 5 sessions of hot yoga, it wasn’t you (my words, not his).
The stage is yours, Alice, thank you so very much for sharing this very unique post with my readers!
I fear I am somehow losing the ability to write from my heart. In recent years we have been privy to many of your letters and journals and I find it quite comforting to know that you sat down with pen in hand and spilled out the contents of your heart. I can see your effort and struggle to find the right words. I can see that you didn’t intend for those words to be seen. And here I am, years later so grateful for a look inside your messiness; your insatiable desire to understand life.
I think I am like you in this regard.
I wanted to tell you that we have something else in common. I too lost a baby. We called her Ella, although we didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl. The night before I miscarried I was performing on stage. I started spotting before the performance, but decided to go on anyway. Oh God, I wanted Ella.
Please forgive me for bringing up a painful subject. I just wanted to let you know that I too have felt the spasms of my body doing exactly what I didn’t want it to do. I have lain on my side in the dark feeling the enormity of the event while my hips pushed out a baby too tiny for life.
Did you feel, as I did, that you had been chosen when you found out you were pregnant? Like everything was finally right in the universe?
I felt that there were many questions that I needn’t worry about anymore. Especially the whole “Why Am I Here” one.
Once the hormones kicked in I started to fear my own body. I was afraid to let go of control and let this baby take over. I struggled with quitting caffeine and never fully did which probably increased my chances of miscarriage. I was trying to do a lot and I was tired. My father told me after the miscarriage “Next time you get pregnant, just be pregnant.”
Now I am nearing forty and I don’t know if there will be a next time. Like you, I always thought I would be a mother. How do I reconcile my lifelong dreams with this reality of time marching on? Where do I find meaning in life if not with a child? While this thought is scary, there is also some bit of liberation. What if I do get to skip that whole thing? There are certainly enough babies in the world.
The miscarriage led me directly to you and the rest of this project. As I dive deeper into this I see it is a way for me to work with all these identities (mother/actor/wife/buddhist/daughter/sister/woman) and see what is underneath them.
Without putting too much pressure on you, I think becoming you might be an opportunity for me to create something. Something that is not really you and not really me, but both of us too. Do you mind if we work together in this way?
You see, you are the guardian of a part of my heart that threatens to harden with all this real life stuff. As a child I looked at your image on my bedroom wall and knew that all things were possible. As I got older I felt less and less possibility. I don’t want to harden my heart, Marilyn. I’m sorry if this is strange for you, but you are the person I choose to accompany me on the first part of this journey. I think you might understand. I imagine you saw all things possible in Marilyn Monroe too.
Thank you for your beautiful spirit that just gives and gives even these fifty years later. I’ll write again soon.
Alice Toohey lives in Los Angeles with her husband and small dog, Finn. She has an MFA in acting from Brooklyn College and has been studying Buddhism for about five years. She is currently transforming into Marilyn Monroe as part of an ongoing performance project which explores the boundaries of identity as well as the intersection between performance and contemplative meditation. Follow her blog at www.alicetoohey.com and on Twitter @alicestoohey