Time to Say Goodbye

This is the final weekend of eclipses and marks a new phase for all of us. The last eight months or so have been very unsettled and resolutions will now be seen to manifest. The past is the past, and our presents belong to clean slates.

Wow. I’m struggling even to write this. I’ve been absent from here. I have left teaching and have been establishing new routines and new ways of being. I am happy and significantly less stressed. And, I have started writing the book that my soul has been called to write for at least the last couple of years, if not longer, subconsciously.

Today, though, I needed to say goodbye to my grief about not becoming a birth mother during this incarnation. I will be eternally grateful that those people closest to me have not given up on me. I am still invited to the baby showers of my extended family. Difficult, but I am truly grateful.

I am also grateful that they all fell pregnant after most of my healing had been done, when there is some residual around Baby Showers, but nothing else.

Today, I had to resolve the last part. I didn’t know it before today, even though I had a feeling I wasn’t entirely good, but today I knew for sure.

I have been good with people falling pregnant, being pregnant, having babies. I haven’t been okay with Baby Showers and couldn’t understand why. I figured the actual baby would be more difficult to handle, but no. Not for me.

About three days ago, symptoms of anxiety started to surface. I wasn’t sure I would make it to the Baby Shower today. I kept breathing and talking sense to myself, and I knew in my heart that I needed to make sure I went. People can’t be sympathetic forever, and there comes a time when you stop being invited to events. There also comes a time when you need to move on within yourself.

I worked this morning (not that I necessarily call Sunday’s client, work at all). I came home for a shower, put the dress on I had been wanting to wear, felt overdone, and changed, resulting in feeling boganesque. I wasn’t going to win by changing outfits continually, so I stayed dressed this way, resisting the urge to wear yoga pants, cons and an oversized cardigan.

The anxiety became stronger. I started to experience heart palpitations and nausea. I questioned why I committed. At this point, I stopped, took some deep breaths, and acknowledged that I loved these people. That’s why I committed. Because I’m grateful I was invited and because I want to be part of these children’s lives because I want to be part of their parents’ lives.

These are my people, and I’ve been very absent for a very long time. IVF altered me and made me not me for a long time and I lost a lot. I didn’t know how to come back and I don’t want to lose these people.

I cried on the drive in. Thirty minutes of increasingly feeling worse. I willed myself to stop crying and to stop shaking. I tapped whilst I drove.

Even though I’m feeling exceptionally vulnerable, I completely love and accept myself.

Then, I forced myself to fake smile and visualised talking to people and feeling safe, confident, unimpacted. I debated calling ahead, asking to be met outside, asking to not go in and giving the gifts and apologies and running away. I debated turning around and going home. I debated pulling my head in and just going.

I arrived, took some deep breaths, grabbed the gifts, and walked to the door. I hugged the Mum to be and thanked her for the invitation. I spoke to my mum to be sister and burdened her for a while, then went outside to relieve her of my angsty self. I started to breathe evenly and calm myself. I spoke to people. I interacted. I think I did okay.

I left to see members of the birth family.

I drove home. I cried most of the way. I felt ridiculous. Then I spoke to myself and loved myself like I would others in this position, and I owned my grief.

It is okay to still feel this way. It is okay to hurt. There is no time limit. There is no pressure. This was the time. This was the place. This is the beginning of a new phase. I had to grieve and cry out this residual from my old phase.

It is okay. I am okay.

Whilst I had been in the shower, I had had an epiphany or realisation for why Baby Showers are such a struggle. I share this in case one day you, or a friend, or family member, go through something similar.

Baby Showers are a celebration of motherhood. And it is important to celebrate this journey.

As a middle aged woman who has failed in this society to bear children, for me, this celebration is hard. For me, it highlights my inability to conceive and carry, and it highlights that I don’t live a normal life, have never been normal, and probably won’t ever be normal.

As a middle aged woman without children, you don’t tend to fit so easily into this world. You can carve out your spot, but you don’t belong to the motherhood tribe. You can’t talk about your kids or share wisdom about raising children, with others. Often, the first question you are asked is if you have kids. Or you aren’t asked, and people assume. After all, you look old enough now to be a mother, so you must be.

I don’t think we realise how much the expectation of women is to mother. Until you can’t. And then it becomes very clear. And I think the expectation marginalises those of us that cannot fulfill the expectation. Especially those of us who try and fail.

I dunno. I’m writing about childhood trauma. If I hadn’t miscarried in 2013, my baby would be turning four next week. Maybe that’s why Baby Showers are hard. Maybe, but not likely. Meh.

What is normal? 

Offspring is one of my favourite shows and nothing can break my heart so easily. Tonight has raised a grief so deep that I am surprised by its depth. 

I’m going through something, some type of transition in my life, that will completely turn my world upside down. I’m okay with that. But it would appear that a part of it includes grieving over my childlessness that little bit more. 

And man, that’s hard. 

I am okay with my life without children. I’ve created something, or am creating something, separate to that. 

But a deep part of me cannot let go of the sadness that sings inside my soul every time someone falls pregnant, or gives birth, or celebrates their children. 

These are things I will never have, never know. When I die, that is it. There will be no child to mourn my passing or to carry my line. As I age, there will be no one to put me in a home, or to share their home with me. I don’t have, and won’t have, the magical Christmases with excited kids rushing to the tree after Santa has been. I won’t coach their soccer team. Or go to boring school presentations, assemblies, performances. 

I am it. That is all there is. 

And tonight the grief has taken over. Another thing I couldn’t control. Another reminder I don’t belong. I’m not normal. And I won’t ever be. 

Unexpected Moments 

You know when something is so funny that you laugh so hard you double over, cry and make no sound? 

That was last night with Dawn French. Continually. 

But that wasn’t all. Laughter is great. It is entertaining. But Dawn French did more than entertain. She inspired, she motivated, she validated. 

30 000 000 Minutes is the story of the poignant moments, people and wisdom that constitute her first 58 or so years. And her story, in many parts, was my story, and probably your story. Her show is the story of the human condition: trials, challenges, pain, love, laughter and lessons. Beautifully woven into comedy and storytelling, genuinely, authentically, emotionally. 

I never knew she couldn’t have children. She tried IVF and similarly to me, she miscarried. I was jolted. The serious moment, serious voice, mirrored my experience and my process. Except that I have talked about it, written about it, blogged about it. I didn’t keep it private. I think it would have killed me if I had. 

And I am grateful that times have changed enough that childlessness and infertility is not as taboo as it once was. 

I am moving in to acceptance. I have started apologising to those that I hurt during the very dark parts of my journey. I also need to thank those that supported me in a way that I could see. 

It’s not an easy journey, and definitely not a fast journey. But it is a journey that tests every fibre of your soul and your life, and those that survive it, verge on heroic, I think. As those that survive anything, verge on heroic. 

Life isn’t easy. It really wasn’t meant to be. Without the darkness we lose appreciation for the light. And the light ALWAYS emerges … in its time. 

Don’t give up. 

The light is beautiful. 

  

The Childless Choice

I had lunch yesterday with two of my besties and after a brief catch up, the conversation became quite deep quite quickly (as it does when you are speaking to people who know you).

We are all at different stages in our lives. I’m thirteen/fourteen years older than they are. I’m unmarried and childless (you all know my journey). One is married and remains childless by choice. The third of us is unmarried, single and childless. She is probably the one of us going through the most significant personal growth at the moment. 

Our discussion centred around the perceived differences between life with children and life without, and what it means in our society for someone, especially women, to be childless. 

I’ve always wanted my own children but the girls really forced me to question why. And whether those reasons are still relevant in my life today. And if there are other things that I might want more. Basically, they were asking what the pay off (as Dr Phil would say) would be for each path. And it has left me thinking. 

Fortunately, I leave Sydney tomorrow, not on a jet plane, but on a cruise ship, for two weeks, where I will have time and open ocean to consider these questions. 

My married friend and her husband enjoy their life together. They provide one another room to grow, and support each other’s interests. She says that whilst being childless is her choice, and she feels it is the right one for them, that she still acknowledges there will be times in her life when she will grieve that choice. And that’s okay. 

And that’s okay. 

What empowering words. 

And food for thought. 

There is much that I desire to achieve throughout my life. I have enjoyed my free time during the holidays. Mostly I have enjoyed reading and writing for hours on end. And I mean hours. One after the other. Silence embracing me to allow the creative spirit to enter unencumbered. No interruptions. Nothing else to do. 

And I’m left asking, do I want this more? 

My other friend, childless and single but significantly younger than me, is contemplating her future. She says that she isn’t ready for kids for at least ten years. She wants to travel, continue to have fun, and find a partner to share her life with her. She is looking in to options for child bearing that will support her choices. 

What a wonderful time in civilisation it is that we, as women, have a measure of control over our destinies. All it takes is courage to not follow the status quo. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the status quo if that is what you want. There is something wrong with it if you want something else. 

I feel very blessed to have these two as my friends. They prove to me that it is okay for us to follow our own paths, even against the status quo. I equally feel blessed to have so many of my other close friends in exceptionally happy and healthy marriages. They prove to me that the fairytale does exist and I’ve been right to not settle. 

I also feel very blessed that in my travels in the last five years I have met many over forty childless by choice women who are empowered and living their dream. 

And I feel blessed to have shared the fertility/infertility journey with other women. One of whom, after failed attempts at IVF, is currently in another country celebrating her freedom. 

I have some deep searching to do during my cruise. I stand at an important cross roads: What do I really want? 

  

Processing Time

My head has been working hard for the last month or so, processing many things, some of which I do not have access to. 

My birthday is coming up. 

I generally love birthdays but the last two have only served to remind me how different I am. How alone I am. 

Not lonely but alone. I blame my 38th birthday for this. That was the birthday that changed me. I came home from a lovely dinner to reflect on and then act on my childlessness. 

Six years later I am still childless. 

And I’m not sure how I feel about that. 

I sacrificed a lot to undertake that path. And I have lost a great deal as a result. And I’m not quite sure where that leaves me. 

I’ve always felt like I’m different to other people. My life hasn’t ever really followed a mainstream path and for the better part of my life I have been grateful for that. I have done a lot of things; achieved a lot of things; created a significant life for myself. 

And I do acknowledge that I have been mother to many. 

After my 41st birthday I stopped organising birthday celebrations for myself. Very unusual for me but I didn’t feel like I had much to celebrate. By my own choice. I’m weird. 

I’m not married. I’m childless. I don’t own property (yet). I’ve been in my school for a long time (people have said that I’m too scared to move and fail to understand that I am just, most of the time, happy there – still learning, still growing, still making a difference – so why must I leave). I’ve travelled. I’ve written. I’ve done many things; learned many things. I feel deeply. And I give way too much. 

Usually to the wrong people. 

I’ve almost accepted my weirdness. 

Almost. 

Liz Gilbert posted about shame this morning. Last night I watched Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability, connected to shame. 

As much as I have lived my own life and been very authentic throughout the vast majority of that pursuit, which has yielded great fulfillment, and funnily this sentence now needs to change but I can’t delete what I’ve written. Aha. Epiphany. I have spent most of my life fulfilled in service. And happy. Blissfully. 

I have also experienced extreme depression, been suicidal countless times (none recently – in 2008 I painstakingly prepared my death and organised my life and only stopped the process when I realised someone would have to find me and that would cause trauma to them), but have accepted all of that as part of the process, my process on my journey throughout my life. 

And whilst I’ve always held strong to doing what I feel called upon to do, I still feel guilt sometimes for who I am. Shame. I don’t live a normal life and I’m not a normal person or teacher or writer or healer. And whilst I am good with that inside of myself, the older I become, the more shame I feel that I have not been normal. 

Devastatingly tragic. 

And funny. 

Childlessness has forced me to appraise myself and my life along a continuum of normal that I have never subscribed to – NEVER. In fact, that I have intentionally flouted for most of my life. And the last two years, since I lost connection with a soul mate, have left me feeling lost, disconnected and broken. 

Epiphany after epiphany this morning lol. 

One of the reasons I haven’t written much recently is that I’ve had minimal clarity in my thoughts; they’ve been swirling aimlessly trying to roost after consuming too much Red Bull (my thoughts, not me – I don’t touch the dangerous stuff). I feel like that is reflected here. 

I think the point that I was supposed to reach this morning is that none of it matters. None of it. It doesn’t matter that I’m childless or different. It really doesn’t. As long as I live my life, not just exist, and as long as my life is rich. And my internal life is very rich. My external life lacks balance – yep, still trying to rein that balance in. Have I spelt rein correctly. I don’t think so. Goddamn I used to have flawless spelling. There just isn’t enough time in each day to do all that I want to do. 

I think my childlessness will scar me. Many things have in my lifetimes. But I tried. I think there is more that I could have done but I wasn’t able to at the time and I’m at peace with that. I think that maybe I was just meant to try. 

I think I’m meant to do lots more in my life too. My head keeps returning me to my idealistic 15 year old self. I think that there are children in Africa and Nepal that I am supposed to meet. Not yet but soon. Other places to visit. And I’ve almost successfully conquered the fear regarding those adventures that have kept me reined in (again with that word. Why does the brain select words which create uncertainty in its own peace). Should there be a g or is that the one where we are in power. MFC! Exasperation. And I can’t google it because I’ll lose my flow. Nuts. 

I need to write my list. I need to set more goals. I need to say no to things that don’t fit me anymore. Work to do. 

Gotta love holidays. 

I’ve also come up with the first few chapters of a new book. Just need to start writing them outside of my head. 

PS. Hours later I find the following image on Facebook. Timing.