I’ve been trying to find the words for this post for about a week. Some of it is immensely personal and downright embarrassing. I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to share it online because there’s some risk in doing this, but I feel that I must share it in some public way in order for it to be a turning point for me.
I still don’t know just how to start it, so I’ll just dive in…
When I was in my thirties and well into my journey with infertility I looked at my future in this way: “By age 40 I’ll either have a child, and if not I will have moved on with my life.” It turns out that both parts of that deduction were wrong. By the age of 40 I did not have a child and I had not moved on with my life.
Now at 41-1/2 I still don’t have a child and I still haven’t moved on with my life, and I’m doggone depressed about it. It doesn’t matter how many times I put on my “big-girl panties” and will myself to “suck it up and move on” I get pulled back to the bottom by outside forces…specifically by those that I love who are deeply affected by my inability to produce offspring. It’s one thing to have a disappointment that you alone feel, but it’s another to have a disappointment that sends a thermonuclear shock wave throughout your family.
Every visit, vacation and holiday with the family on some level becomes an exercise in torture. Even if you are really enjoying yourself the realization that your children are not there eventually pervades the reverie and joy. I see my husband’s face cloud and feel his emotional withdrawal when his niece and nephews open presents at Christmas and birthdays…I see my mom (the non-grandmother-not-by-choice) fight back tears when her peers produce grandbaby pictures or announce that a new grandchild is on the way…all subtle but glaring reminders that your inability to have children has affected everyone in your family to a great extent.
Then there are times when a family member grieves so openly that it feels like you’ll forever be in an emotional concentration camp over something you have absolutely no control over. At those times you will feel like running away from them…maybe even running away from the whole family.
I will admit that I am THERE and have been THERE for a while. I have been miserable. I’ve made my husband miserable, and I don’t want to face it anymore. I want it to go away, but it won’t. I cannot enjoy any family-oriented event. I know my family loves me, and I them, but I’ve come to the place I honestly cannot face another visit…holiday…or just an ordinary day with them with this cloud over my head and this albatross on my shoulders.
Last week something happened that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I had what I would call a “nervous breakdown” I screamed and I broke things, and I cut my hand in the process. I scared my husband (and myself) to death. For about 5 to 10 minutes I lost touch with reality…even though I remember bits and pieces of it. I felt totally detached from my body and had the sense that I was going to die. I’ve had similar episodes in the past although this one was the worst to date. All of the “episodes” have had one thing in common…they are a result of the despair my condition has thrust on my marriage, family and my inability to “fix it” for them and my inability to fix the emotional wound it has inflicted on my soul.
This burden had completely broken my spirit. For two days I did not care if I lived or died. The first day after the episode I was unable to work and had to self-medicate just to sleep. It was literally all I could do to hold my head upright and put one foot in front of the other. I was completely and utterly broken.
I slowly recovered…the fear that I would have to be hospitalized shook me out of it. I WOULD NOT resort to that even though there are times the thought of a padded cell and time away from this now 18-year-long barren-womb prison sentence would be a God-send.
Once I came out of that fog I came to a complete realization of what 18 years of walking this path can do. It can be devastating and emotionally and spiritually crippling. Your personality can be changed so drastically that your spouse doesn’t know you or how to react to you anymore. You can become so disillusioned and angry with God that your faith begins to ring hollow. Worst of all, you become a person that even you don’t recognize anymore.
That is where I am, but it’s certainly not where I want to be.
I meet women who are unable to have children who seem to have it all together, but deep down inside I wonder “Do they really have it all together? How do they go on with their lives so easily when 18 years later I feel like I’m constantly starting back at square one?” My goal has been to find how God wants me to minister to others through all of this, but I always end up being the one having to be ministered to.
For my mental and physical well-being I know I have to really move on whether or not others will let me, although it’s unreasonable to expect them not to grieve and to “shape up” just for me. Everyone who is affected by my barren womb will have to deal with their grief in their own way. It’s also unreasonable for them to expect me to carry their grief and mine. I’m not even supposed to carry mine (nor they theirs). We’re supposed to let God do it. Even if it means that relationships are forever changed I cannot continue blame myself and consequently beat myself up for this anymore. Emotional boundaries have to be set, and *gasp* holidays, vacations and special occasions may have to be different for my family (“family ” meaning my husband and I) from here on out.
Consequently, my husband has requested that I find another identity for myself beyond just being a childless woman, and I’m starting on a journey to do that. I don’t know what this journey is going to look like, although right now it feels like it’s going to be at least 3,000 miles long. I think of the scene in Forrest Gump (my all-time favorite movie) where his grief gets the best of him, and he just takes off running with no particular clue on why he’s running and where he’s going.
He says, “I just ran”. I can now understand why Forrest “just ran.” He needed to get away from the noise of his grief and concentrate on something else for a while. So, I have to find my equivalent of the 3,000-mile Forrest Gump marathon and find something else to concentrate on besides my loss…what that will be I still don’t know. It may be something as simple as changing my daily routine/thinking patterns, or may be something as big as going to school…a career change…or a location change. My husband is on this journey with me, so I have to be careful and be sensitive to his needs and desires along the way.
It may also mean a change in how I blog about my journey. Last week I thought about just deleting my blog and not telling anyone where I went, but I thought better of it. That wouldn’t be fair to my handful of readers. I owe you more than that. I decided not to make any drastic decisions in the fragile state I was in last week.
So, I may choose not to blog at all or more infrequently. I may blog more…who knows? Remember, you’re dealing with a mentally unstable person here at the moment. Please be gentle with me.
Anyhoo…for those of you who understand what I just rambled on about you might be interested in another blog I found today by the author who wrote the book Silent Sorority. It’s one of the best blogs I have found for women who went through infertility and came out on the other end with empty arms. I’m going to purchase the book when my bank account recovers from some recent unexpected expenses, and planned expenses such as the birthday present (Blu-Ray player) I just bought for my hubby.
For those of you who don’t understand…that’s okay…this blog post wasn’t for you. If you know me and now have judged that I’ve completely gone off the deep end #1 You may be right, and #2 you can choose to continue loving me or not. This is my journey and evidently God’s plan for my life. I don’t understand it, but I have to accept it once and for all.
And as Forrest says, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”