How To Master The French Braid
Last week, Grazia published a piece about miscarriage from a first person perspective. In the week since it published, writer Jude Rogers has received an overwhelming response. Here she explains why she felt she had to break the taboo #breakthetaboo
For last week's issue of Grazia, I wrote a piece about my recent experience of miscarriage, the taboos that surround the subject, and the need to break them. I'll admit it: I'd been terrified about it coming out. Questions kept circling in my head like tornados. Was it too much to put myself out there? Would people think me egotistical to bang on about my loss? Worse still, would this piece make me look vulnerable? I knew the answers to all of these questions should obviously be no. But my fears reveal the taboos about miscarriage that still linger.
The responses I've had to my piece have been overwhelming, though. Some people have taken time to share their own stories, which has been great. Other people have thanked me for being brave. That reaction is sweet, but I don't really want to feel brave. I want all women to feel like they can talk about things that have happened to them, without feeling they're doing something bold, edgy or dangerous. If my piece had any driving purpose behind it, I suppose, it was this: I want it to be normal to talk about normal things.
I first started writing about my miscarriage a week after it happened, for myself on my laptop, to help me get through it. I'm a writer, innit – tapping away at all times is what I do. And it felt genuinely cathartic, a good way of untangling all those messy emotions. But I didn't plan to do anything with that little Word document sitting quietly on the desktop.
As the weeks went by though, the desire to do something with it really grew. By this point, I had heard about so many other women – strong, successful women to boot – that had hidden similar feelings away, which felt ridiculous to me. They hadn't done anything wrong, after all.
Then I saw Beyonce's Life Is But A Dream, which knocked me for six. She made her miscarriage such a big part of her film, and nobody was addressing that. What an amazing thing it was for her to do, I thought – show how loss can really change the way you are. Ordinary women should feel like that too, went my brain. And so I went back to the document on my desktop.
I was also driven by something else. I found it odd that some friends didn't broach what had happened to me when they saw me, and I wanted them to. I know that the acknowledgement of grief in any form isn't easy, especially in social situations. But it is easy to step aside for a moment to let someone know that you're thinking of them, or call, or send a text. There's a risk that they might get upset, but I found it more upsetting to feel ignored. So if you know someone who has gone through what I have, do ask them how they are.
A friend on Facebook also said something revealing after the article came out. Modern society encourages women not to talk about things that break the illusion of us as strong, beautiful creatures. This is horribly true. Show any weakness, goes the world, and you're exposing yourself to the possibility of everything falling apart.
But I didn't feel weak. I felt driven. I also badgered the Grazia team throughout the process of putting-together this piece, to make sure I was presented as I felt, in both words and images. The team were amazing throughout – kind, knowledgeable and sensitive. I take my hat off to all of them.
Above everything, they understood how much I wanted to look like me and sound like me – and present my experience as normal, which of course it was. So I really hope this piece can help us discuss miscarriage more openly. Social networks can help share messages these days too, so do this pass this post on. After all, only by breaking the silence can we break the taboo.
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