Ahem, so, I have gotten two or three comments recently telling me how ‘strong’ I am or must be. These have come via social media channels, but I have had it said to my face over the years as well, and it’s got me thinking. I want to be very clear, I am enormously grateful to people who take the time to read my blog, tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts, and I am especially thankful to anyone who then goes on to comment, retweet, repost, follow, etc., etc. I am truly touched when someone says that what I have written resonates with them and I am also saddened by this, because it usually means they have also experienced the heartbreak of baby loss in some way. But I’m not strong. Really, I’m not. Neither am I weak, by the way. Neither am I ‘brave’, strong’s naive twin, but I’m not a coward either. It got me thinking of words and language and labels and who those labels serve and if I was going to label myself I would choose: Courageously Broken. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?! I am now imaging introducing myself to all new people I meet: ‘Hello, I’m Courageously Broken, pleased to meet you’ or maybe putting it on my business cards: Hayley Manning, Courageously Broken Ltd., Director…! It does fit better, it’s probably the most truthful. I am a broken human being and I am not afraid to admit it, which I think takes courage in our culture today. I am unafraid of saying ‘this is who I am, this is what has happened to me, I am still here despite of it, but it still hurts everyday and I don’t think it will ever stop hurting, and I’m okay with that’. In fact, my mental health depends on me being able to express this whether to others, or even to myself. Courageously Broken. I’ve been crazy glued back together again more than a dozen times, I am not the same person I was even a year ago…and I know I won’t be the same person in a year from now. Which actually I find pretty anxiety inducing if I think about it too much (who will this person be?!? Fuck, will I even recognise her?), but I know it to be the truth, it’s an unstoppable truth. Instead, I try to ride the waves. Strength has really nothing to do with it, you don’t need strength to float. Joy. Pain. These two things will keep on happening to me for the rest of my life – I can’t stop them. They will keep shaping and defining who I am, who I will become. I’ll continue to get broken up into little pieces and I’ll have to go around gathering them all up, only to find that some of them have changed unrecognisably, or are just missing altogether…maybe to get replaced by something else. Courageously Broken. It’s a ‘thing’, I’m sure of it now. It does take courage to admit to being broken, and even more to say ‘There’s nothing to fix. Everything is as it should be’. Now, if there was some magic that could bring me Luna, I would take it, without a second thought. Of course I would. However, as this is impossible, I’ll take the broken bits instead and keep them where they are, because they are the marker of her existence, she was/is real. If I can’t have her, I will instead have myself as Courageously Broken, or not at all.