I am almost a hundred years old; waiting for the end, and thinking about the beginning. There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes? I know you are unable to imagine this.
Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel.
The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and it’s dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.
In the first couple of years of my struggle to have children, I would occasionally wake up from very dark dreams. Dreams where i had died.
This wasn’t about suicide or a wish to die. It was my sub-conscious expressing my inability to imagine a fulfilling life without children.
Image from http://www.thesil.ca
Infertility can be a complex emotional journey – the path littered with strong emotions – hope, sadness, shame, anger, joyful possibility, guilt, envy etc.
My sense of self had always included motherhood. From my late teens, I had randomly collected baby clothes, furniture, fertility books, children’s books, toys etc. (Yes, i’d always been a hobbit hoarder!)
It was a matter of waiting for the right circumstances. After a bumpy twenties, i met kev and we tried for over ten years to conceive a child.
We went through many options, including IVF, and just recently, we have ended our infertility journey.
To never be a mother was a pain beyond anything i could express, which is why i held on, trying for so long.
Image from http://www.aminoapps.com
The invisible grief, as children arrived for others, the media bombardment of happy family images, the assault on my sense of identity, my anticipated future crumbled away…
Sadly, infertility is not new to human society, yet it leaves many unsure about what to say. It is hard to explain the unpredictability of the emotional journey, the ongoing sense of grief. There are emotional and sad days, but after lots of healing and grief work, life is actually pretty good.
The last decade has been an incredible journey of growth and connection. Infertility has been the most incredible teacher.
Image from http://www.undefeateddiva.com
There are so many unexpected gifts. Connection with my body; deepening my relationships; connection with spirituality, deep wisdom and other dreams; communion with others experiencing similar struggles etc.
Yet, like other complex grief, looking on the bright side, doesn’t make the sadness go away and is best arrived at oneself.
Infertility is one of those griefs from which you may never completely move on, but you can move forward and integrate the loss. Slowly, step by step, walking through the grief and starting to imagine a life of new possibilities.
My focus is slowly shifting from looking back with regret and sadness. From defining my life by what is missing, to looking forward and creating a fertile life. To embrace the future that is opening up to me now that being a parent is no longer an option.
This month, I took a big step.
Image from http://www.hitrecord.org
On my computer I opened a folder called my “secret dream project”.
I wanted to start collecting ideas and research on one secret dream. A possibility that childlessness opens for me.
My dream is to do wilderness trekking trips in different parts of the world.
I don’t know when, how, where, cost or any of the details. For now, it’s for collecting images, ideas, location details, logistics, equipment ideas etc.
It’s me dipping my toe in the pond of possibility.
Image from http://www.ideaschampion.com
I’d love to hear from you.
What has helped you rebuild following great life disappointments?
If you have felt beaten down, perhaps you could gently try this idea if it resonates.