An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

No, I wasn’t punched in the face, this is just what happens when I weep

The past three days have been a whirlwind of chaos, and this is honestly the first moment I’ve had since Monday to sit down and catch my breath. I had planned to sit down and write about this funny thing that happened at the grocery store the other night, but right now I’m just too sad to do it. And I’m sitting here trying not to cry because this afternoon I’m doing a taping with the local PBS station for a show that’s running tonight (see here), and when I cry my eyes swell and bloat to the size of a watermelon.

A couple of weeks ago my dear stepfather, the one who almost had me sentenced to death by firing squad for eating his last slice of bologna, was diagnosed with a lymphoma when they found a tumor the size of a football in his back. He started chemotherapy last week and has since been in and out of the emergency room for complications at least twice. I’m not quite sure how to explain my relationship with my stepfather, only that he is as important to me as my own father and has played such a significant role in Leta’s life. He is her Grandpa Rob, and she will carry with her the most amazing memories of sitting at his coffee table to put together puzzles. He has been the most indefatigable support for my mother throughout her busy career in Avon and has sacrificed many of his own ambitions so that she could be the success that she is. He is honest, stubborn, sometimes a total pain in the ass, but mostly he is the type of person who would throw his body in front of a bus if it meant helping you out in the tiniest possible way. He means everything to our family, and now we are all facing the unknown.

Suddenly I’m facing some very confusing feelings. I’m not going to get too much into that here, only to say that where once I had the Mormon religion to inform me, I’m here now without that safety net trying to piece some things together. Which I guess is a way of saying that I’m still trying to figure out what I believe. And I know that admitting that is going to open me up to all sorts of judgment, but I don’t think this makes me much different from a lot of people out there who are also trying to figure it all out. I don’t think I’m alone in saying, yeah, I don’t know, and I’m mostly okay with that. Sometimes, like right now, I’m not okay with that.

I do know that I love my stepfather deeply and want nothing more than for him to get better.

This week would also have been the 40th week of the pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage last October. Is it morbid that I remember the due date, will always remember the due date? Or that I am so incomprehensibly sad about it still? My life has changed so much since that horrible Wednesday afternoon, and Jon and I have had endless debates and conversations about our future and whether or not we should try for another baby knowing that I might have to go through that again. And if you want to know, we are still undecided. Every time I see someone who is pregnant I get a very weird feeling in my stomach, and I think it’s from a wild mixture of feelings, one of loss, one of hope, one of knowing that they are having a tremendously difficult time trying to roll over in bed at night and how exhausted they are in the morning, one of envy that they soon will meet that new little person in their life. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see someone who is pregnant and not immediately feel my stomach turn a flip.

Right now I am just barely holding my shit together, and I know that I’ll be better to handle these feelings if I could just sleep through the night. I’ve had insomnia for three straight weeks, and my body is slowly collapsing. This may be one of those many instances when I head back to my therapist and say listen, I’m having a hard time, please help me climb this mountain.

  • JB

    Best wishes for your stepfather, and good thoughts are there for you while you’re dealing with all of this. I think it’s only natural for you to question your faith and beliefs when you have so much on your plate.

  • Nancy

    Go to the therapist, and get some help through this difficult time. That’s what they are there for. And I’m very sorry about your stepfather. He sounds like a very special man in your life, and the life of your family. Be grateful you have him in your family, as I’m sure he is grateful to have you in his (in spite of the bologna). Cancer CAN be cured… just hope for the best. Sometimes we have to trust that what should happen, will. We don’t have all the answers, and we rarely understand “why.” I’m not a terribly religious person, but at times like this I sometimes tell myself… “Let go, Let God.” It seems to help. Bless you.

  • Dana

    You are a very special internet in my life – I appreciate you so much – I wait with bated breath for a post… Thanks for your amazing brain!


  • Adrien

    You will always remember the date with a little sadness – I think that is totally normal. I see 5 years olds still and think….I should have had one that age. So sorry to hear about your hard times – we are all thinking of you and sending love. (not the creepy kind either)

  • Definitely time to get your ass back to therapy. There is no better place to talk through surviving transitional periods in your life, and this is obviously a major transitional period — both in your personal and professional life. Plus, if you’re not sleeping, your anxiety isn’t under control. Simple as that.

    Many people will say “Hang in there, it’ll all get better.” And while that’s true, it’s not a luxury people with mental illness can afford. Trying to “hang in there” can throw everything, and I mean everything, out of whack. And then you’re stuck not only trying to survive the original stressors, you have to survive what the stressors have done to your hard-won balance.

    Get thee to the therapist.

  • I read on The Pioneer Woman’s site ( that if you put two spoons in the freezer for awhile, and then apply them to your eyelids, it will take away the puffiness and that “I’ve been crying all day” look.

    Best of luck, Heather. I know this isn’t an easy time for you, and just know that all your fans are hoping for the best.

  • Shannon

    Heather, I don’t have anything good to say except to hang in there and just keep breathing for now. You are amazing, and you bring so much light into my life and the lives of thousands of others. Don’t be afraid to lean on everyone around you. You are so loved. It’s okay to let others be your strength when you need it.

  • bluestar

    It’s such a long list, but I wanted to add my name to those of others who are thinking of you and sending you as many positive vibes as possible. I don’t know you personally, but your writing brings people in so close that it’s hard to hear that you’re feeling so awful. Take care of yourself.

  • Megan

    I hope for strength and friendship for you, and peace. I’m thinking about you and your family today…

  • I’m so sorry about your step-dad.

    *hugs* I think about the baby I miscarried 4 years ago on its due date.

  • Andrea

    Yes, you will always remember the due date- no, it won’t always hurt so bad to think of it. It isn’t morbid at all. The baby I miscarried would be 19 (!) this June. I have three other babies that all came after that horrible week.
    Hang in there- I read once that the strongest women of faith doubt the most. I think it is impossible not to, especially when hit with crap like this in life.
    I do believe, and I will pray for you and your stepfather.

  • Everyone has the right to question what to believe in. I will always say religion is a PERSONAL choice, so leave it to that person to decide what’s best for them.

    Hoping your StepDad gets through all this ok.

    Sometimes one child is enough. (I only have one!)

  • ywinchell

    my little sister died of cancer two months ago after being sick for a few years. she was 39 and her daughters are 4 and 7.

    days before she died. i had been reading eve ensler’s “insecure at last” — the part about grief and it was so poignant, timely and relevant. it’s about why grief is so very important, cleansing and powerful.

    be well — find your inner strength within the pain and know that you are not alone. we are all one (us humans).

  • Christy

    So sorry to hear of your miscarriage. I am new to your blog and it makes me laugh each day during my lunch hour. I also had a miscarriage in October (my 2nd), and this past Monday the 12th was the due date. I had been feeling bad and behaving worse and couldn’t determine why. and feeling guilty about pinning the blame on the loss of the baby, and then feeling guilty about THAT because…why shouldn’t I feel bad and act out?? our beautiful four-year-old son David saves me every day.

    you are right; you help people feel less alone and less inadequate for not having all the answers. thank you so much!

  • Michelle

    I’m so sorry about all the sadness and loss that you’re dealing with. I can totally relate to being okay with not knowing what you believe until the shit hits the fan–that’s when it would be nice to feel some firmer ground under your feet. But regardless of your beliefs, you have an amazing support system, so lean on all the people who love you. I’ll send positive energy and prayer your way.

  • Oh Heather, I’m so sorry. I know I’m just one of a bazillion readers out here in the world, but please know that I am thinking of you and praying for you and your family. Just to answer your questions, for what it’s worth: you are not any different than about 99.9% of the world when you reach out in the dark to put the pieces together. Even the most devout of religious followers have their own “dark night of the soul”, and those who claim they don’t are either lying or in denial. And I think I’m in a very small minority of women who have had miscarriages and deliberately forgot both due dates. It’s not morbid to remember – it’s part of grieving and letting them go.

    I pray for sleep and for peace for you, my dear. You deserve every happiness this world can provide, including a good night (or several) of shut-eye.

  • I don’t know quite what to say but I wanted to let you know that I’m thinking about you a sending good thoughts your way at this increadibly trying time in your life.

  • leslie

    I know religion has played a part in your life….or at least I can read that it does. 🙂
    religion isnt what i believe, its spirituality that I think is important. To say you are Mormon, Catholic, etc doesnt mean much to me and doesnt mean you are any better person than someone else. I think people need to transcend that way of thinking. I pray everyday, I say thank you and ask for guidance and strength, and whatever else God has instore or I think I need. 🙂 YOu can do the same. You must be strong to deal with comments and misunderstandings you receive b/c of your blog. Its a different kind of strength when dealing with something like cancer or death of a child b/c these hurt so badly and tend to make no sense at all, but you can still channel what you within you.
    Talk to us, talk to your therapist, and allow yourself to be sad for a time. This is my advice to you.

    Take care,


  • Take care of yourself. I’m so sorry to hear about your stepdad, and about your current state. Just take deep breaths – and – pray (even if you don’t know what you believe right now).

    You’re cared about – far more than just in your personal life. I hope you feel better soon.

    Take care!

  • Sending your entire family love and prayers.

  • ly

    i cried reading this entry. i miscarried 8 years ago. the due date is still as hard. i still feel envious of every pregnant women i see. i’m sorry you’re going through so much. be kind to yourself.

  • Hannah

    Heather, you are so loved by so many. You will be in my thoughts this weekend..I hope you find the strength, peace and comfort that you need right now.

  • Paula

    Crap! That is a lot to deal with in one week! I am sorry about it all.

    When I feel like crying I hum the Chicken Dance. Works every time!

    Wishing you good things!

  • Shannon

    My heart goes out to you in thinking about your miscarriage and your stepdad.

    You don’t have to have a set religious belief to be stunned sometimes by the very fact that we are here. It’s a pretty powerful feeling. And sometimes despite not having formal religious beliefs I do get a very strong feeling that the universe makes sense in a strange way and that it can provide in some uncanny ways. This gives me a lot of comfort without havingto pretend I have answers. I wouldn’t want to have a mindless belief in something- I really do believe that faith is for the unseen, not the untrue.

    I hope you have some trust in your path, where you’re at- I think you do. It helps.

  • Will you please, please read this book called The New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle. Just ignore the Oprah sticker on the front. As a completely areligious person, it really helped me understand what I believe. It changed the way I look at and react to my world, and a lot of scary things became less scary. Give it a try.

  • Traca

    I second the suggestion of melatonin for sleeping, it helps me without drugging me up. I also like Valerian for chilling out except that it smells like something that comes out of Satan’s ass.

    I am a complete hypocritical agnostic and that is the way it is. If it helps you to believe in the Easter Bunny at this time in your life, then go right ahead. If you feel the need to pray, then pray. You do what you need to do to make it work. Fuck it.

    My thoughts will be with you and your family.

  • Anonymous

    It means so much to read your struggles as well as your triumphs. Remember to count your blessings. You have a lot of them!

  • Take good care, it sounds like you are on the path to doing so. I will think thoughts of happiness, health, and grace for you and your family.

  • Kristina Gideon

    sorry to hear about your difficult time with your step-father. sounds like you are having a scary and emotional time with also remembering your miscarriage. I read that although you miscarry and are no longer pregnant, your body remembers. my first pregnancy was a miscarriage and around my due date, I began to feel really rather depressed and moody and could not figure out why. then I remembered that this was around the time when I would have given birth. I was taking a painting class at the time, and used that as an outlet. It helped. I now have 2 kids. anyways, sorry this is longer than your actual blog post. I hope there are better days ahead for you and your family.

  • Anonymous

    You and yours are in my prayers.

  • Jennifer

    You have a right to be sad and overwhelmed. What a terrible collation of events. I’m a recovering Catholic who has never found a formal religion that works for me. I firmly believe that it does not matter what I believe, only that I believe. That may not be enough for you, and it IS ok that it’s not. Whatever feels right in this troubling time, go with it. Everyone has their own path, you’ll find yours eventually.
    Sending you and your family all the hope and support the internet can provide.

  • I understand exactly what you’re saying; I still have those bizarre wistful thoughts when I see pregnant bellies- I never got one, although I did get very lucky and have two live births despite complications and many, many weeks of NICU experience. You’ll get thrugh this as you seem to get through everything else in your life- one breath at a time, with the support of Jon and Leta, and with that quirky combination of grace and sarcastic wit that has inspired me time and again.

  • You know I’ve read your blog for awhile and I’ve never felt compelled to leave a comment until now. I hope that things work out okay with your stepfather and that he’ll be okay. And I don’t think it’s morbid that you remember the date of your miscarriage. My second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and it is devastating. But I’m happy to say that I had two successful pregnancies after that. Although, I felt like I was walking on eggshells for the first 3 months of each, fearful of another miscarriage. Now I’m tearing my hair out chasing three girls. I kid.
    Best of luck and my thoughts are with you.

  • I think it’s always hard to think of the right thing to say at these times but I’ll say this beings I’ve dealt with both of your dilemmas…..

    Embrace each and every day like it’s your last and be grateful for what and who is in your life.

    Tell them that you love them and just be there to listen, share and support.

    As for yourself, you have such a blessing already with your precious princess……Oh, and go for a spa treatment and take a day for yourself!

    Good luck’ve are in my thoughts and and your family.

  • Be strong, you have it all in you! It shows all the way through the internet!

    Believe in yourself!

  • Wen

    Ah lady, I totally understand what you’re going through with your step dad. My dad was just diagnosed with advanced lung cancer a month ago.

    All I know is that getting the news and processing it is like standing chest deep in the ocean while wave after wave of fear, anger, and sadness ebb and flow. And occasionally crash over my head all at once. All in the space of a minute. It’s not getting easier. So yeah, call your therapist.

    My heart to goes out to you. And your Mom.

  • nashvegas

    Heather, even though we’ve never met, thousands of us have your back as you make that climb.
    The confusion is normal. Even those of us with a specific belief system stop and wonder when it comes to something like this. It’s being human. We WANT to believe and know that everything will be okay in the end.
    Huge healing thoughts are going out to you and your family. As one of the earlier commenters said – take a break and take care of you. You deserve it.
    Thank you for everything.

  • Margaux

    I find it easier in times like this to hold on to hope with what little I know, so that when I least expect it, I’m left with something new to believe in. And prayer? I’m sure you know it needn’t be directed to any”one” or any”thing” – sometimes it’s best just to get the message out in to thin air, mostly for yourself. Hope you find what you’re looking for; for your family and for yourself. Thinking of you.

  • Eileen

    Well I’ll pray for you and your family, and I don’t have a clue what/who my higher power is or how it all works, I just have faith that SOMEthing is there for me…might not pull any strings, but at least I have a supernatural homey.

    I just got back from get biopsied in the crotchal area so I’m feeling your pain in all the shitty areas.

    Good luck to you all

  • I am so sorry to hear of the struggles you are going through. I hope you can find some of the answers you are searching for, or at the very least some comfort soon.

    I had to re-examine my position in alot of life situations last month….I can to the conclusion that everyone else can fark-right off, I’m doing things my way from now on, and dealing with it in MY way. If that means I’m ditching an appointment and just sitting in the sun to think for an hour, then that’s exactly what I’m going to do. So far so good.

    I don’t want to “tell you what to do” – but I don’t think anyone should ever expect or be expected to “get over” the loss of a child. No matter what stage or age. I think it’s something that just hurts a little less in time….

    Hope things start looking sunny soon!

    PS Random acts of annoyance always cheer me up….for instance when someone is tailgating me and I’m already cranky…well, my windshield needs ALOOOOOT of washing. Works every time.

  • Morgan M.

    My father just went through a tough cancer treatment, I know the feeling of not knowing how you feel. If it were possible to send a hug through the internet I would send you one.

  • You are as courageous as you are talented. I salute you. That you can talk about these things to strangers (us out here on the ‘webs) is most impressive. I wish you and your family the best.

  • Vicki

    I’m so sorry you’re going through all this. I’m thinking of you and your family.

  • Mari

    I’m so so sorry to hear about your stepfather. I know what you mean about religion in situations like this. I’m not a believer, but in awful situations, you sometimes wish you had religion to fall back on (I don’t mean that in a condescending way to religious people at all).

    I don’t think it’s abnormal at all that you are still grieving the loss of your pregnancy and remember your due date. By all means, get some additional help from your therapist. I’m sure that some day, in one way or another, you will have another baby.

    Thanks for this very moving post.
    p.s. – OT, but did you happen to see the story in the NY Times about bloggers with mental illness? One in particular has really captured my attention – Liz Spikol. She suffers from bipolar disorder. Her youtube videos are especially compelling. Anyway, you are probably already familiar with her, but I thought I’m mention it just in case.

  • June

    Heather – you’re so amazing. The way you wear your heart on your sarcastic sleeve is so admirable. I love Dooce and your writing and the images – and just know that you have an entire Internet out here praying for you and your family.

  • Sav

    Hang in there. My brother-in-law just beat his lymphnoma in his chest the size of softball. It is doable.

    And as far as religion – my thought is that as long as you believe in something you are doing good, even if you don’t know yet what that something is.

  • robinv

    Heather, I think “what we believe” is a constantly evolving thing. I feel that we are suppose to question and challenge to come to a place in our beliefs that make sense. Faith is personal and different for everyone.

    I often think that the devout around me, who have been devout all their lives or for a very long time…must have questions, even if those questions are stuffed into that dark place they never want to look.

    Good luck to your family and remember, love can be the best medicine for everyone.

  • Lots of love and strength and hope to you, Dear Heather. You are a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for.

  • I realize there is little I can say here to really make you feel better. However, I definitely understand where you are coming from. My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer last summer and while he’s ok right now there is still that eliment of the unknown. I understand the questions about religion as I struggle with that everyday. It’s so frustrating to know there is nothing you can do to change it and, if there is a god, why would something like this would happen to your family?

    I hope he gets healthy and I hope things get easier for you. Either way I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and I hope the kind words of a stranger can bring a least a little comfort to you now.

  • You are most certainly NOT alone. In any of it. Thank you for sharing today and everyday. You make a difference, and hopefully these many comments make a difference to you too. Be well.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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