I’m in a play right now. You might have heard of it. Pink is my signature color.
Steel Magnolias, anyone?
Doesn’t that conjure up images of a giant red-velvet armadillo wedding cake and big 80’s hair?
So much fun!
Evidently the film is a cult-classic. Iconic is the word. Dolly Parton, Sally Fields, Julia Roberts, the list goes on…
I think I might be the single solitary southern girl who had never seen the movie.
When I got word that our community theater was holding auditions I was ecstatic.
I love acting in comedies. And that is what I thought Steel Magnolias was- a classic southern comedy.
Then I read the play synopsis.
I was dead wrong (pun intended!).
Yes, there are moments of sheer hilarity. But no one ever told me that it is also full of sadness. Spoiler alert- Shelby dies.
I was cast as Shelby–the spunky diabetic girl who risks pregnancy and forfeits her life.
Does anyone else see the connection? The irony?
Shelby dies due to diabetic complications of putting her body through pregnancy and I write about grief related to pregnancy loss.
Lord have mercy! I can’t escape grief for trying.
But this play has taught me something. Something I’ve struggled with for years.
In Act II the sassy ladies are sitting around Truvy’s beauty salon getting all dolled up and gossiping.
Truvy is busy rolling up Shelby’s sleeves so that she can paint Shelby’s nails the perfect shade of pink.
Truvy lays eyes on Shelby’s bruised arms.
All the ladies quickly gather round and learn that Shelby is on dialysis.
Clairee bellows an entitled, “Why haven’t I been told?”
Shelby responds, “Sometimes you just don’t want to talk about things.”
Plain and simple, right? Full of truth. Sometimes you don’t want to talk about things.
I refused to talk to talk, too.
It’s too long of a story to recount right now, but I was physically miscarrying my child while teaching an online class. I was chatting away about the value of multi-cultural literature while my dream was escaping my body. While my body reeled in pain.
I’d felt the blood literally minutes before the start of class, but used every acting skill I possessed to stay in control of the situation. I acted like nothing was wrong. Denial can do that for us.
But I did fall apart when my husband arrived home.
And a few weeks later I was at a social function when an acquaintance stubbornly told me it was time for me to have more children. Her mouth was stuffed full of food and she was reaching for her coca-cola. I thought about telling her about my plight, but I didn’t. I figured my child’s death deserved a bit more respect than a conversation over a chili dog.
But I did lay out my heart to an acquaintance over sweat tea and a BLT at a local diner while we were discussing illnesses. She teared up and told me she’d lost a baby, too.
Still, it’s bothered me for years. Why didn’t I talk to everyone? Why did I omit portions of my life to some people?
Steel Magnolias has taught me that sometimes you don’t want to talk about things.
And that is perfectly okay.
At my most tender moments of time I only wanted to share my heartache with those who I knew would be gentle. My husband. My friends. The lady I chatted with over a sweet tea.
Miscarriage was new for me. Something I didn’t expect to occur.
I needed to be in control of the conversation.
Most importantly, I needed to be in control of who I invited into the dialogue of my soul.
A sacred, sacred event had happened inside my womb. A child had been lovingly conceived and a child died.
Although I was very mad at my body for failing me, I recognized that my body had been a temple carrying a sacred vessel.
I wanted to honor that tiny soul. And for me that meant only sharing my treasure with those I thought worthy.
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Mathew 7:6
I heard a wise woman once say that where matters of the heart are concerned we must be careful to guard our pearls so they don’t become trampled upon.
My treasure was my pregnancy and I didn’t want it to be trampled with insensitive comments or pat advice.
I told my best friends and my immediate family. They wrapped me in loving arms and kept me safe. I also shared with women in online communities who had been in my situation.
We all need that community where we can be vulnerable.
As I got further away from the actual event of loss I became more vocal. Heck, I’m so public I write a blog about the topic. I think it is important to talk about pregnancy loss, but not when it might impede our personal mending.
You see time has given me space to process my feelings. It has given me an opportunity to articulate my thoughts.
I feel safer sharing my story now. But I wasn’t ready to share while it was happening.
I’m not saying the lady eating a chili dog was a swine or a dog, but I had sacred information and I wanted to be careful in sharing my truth.
We all need a place to talk. A place to speak. But we have to be ready and willing to speak our pain.
The lesson I’ve learned is that it is okay to be choosy about with whom we share our most sacred emotions. Cancer. Miscarriage. Death. Divorce.
Likewise, it’s okay if we are vocal from day one. We are all different. And we must respect and honor our varied needs.
Once Shelby was ready she did open her soul.
And those southern ladies rallied around her. Bringing food, prayers, and laughter.
We all need people to rally around us. To love on us.
It’s a fine line to walk. Being vulnerable and protecting your heart.
Trust your instinct. Expect some people to hurt you with their words, but know that many empathetic dears will wrap you in a warm embrace of support.
You probably need that support right now. I hope you have those people in your life.
But, if you don’t, I do invite you to join our Loved Baby Christian Pregnancy Loss Support & Encouragement
It’s a sisterhood of women who understand.
And Steel Magnolias fans, did you know that the play was written based on a true story?
Shelby is based upon the playwright’s sister. Robert Harling wrote it based upon his life.
One piece of advice….
If you are hurting right now and need something mindless to binge watch I invite you to run to your nearest video store (uuum, that’s not right). I mean go on NetFlix and stream in Steel Magnolias.
I finally watched it. I laughed and I cried. It’s a true reflection of life.
We all need a little laughter through tears.
Love and blessings to you,
When and if you are ready, I invite you to visit Don’t Talk About the Baby. You can share you story and read the accounts of other families.