Thankfully, the emotional firestorm of January 14-16 is officially over. It was a productive bout of drama though that led to the drawing of lines in the sand.
#1: I’m done with being infertile and childless.
“What do you mean”, you say. Of course, I’m always going to be infertile and childless, but I’m done with those two adjectives controlling my life, my emotions, and the dictating of my self-worth. My husband reminded me on Saturday that I told him several years ago that I really did not want a child badly enough to go through the rigors of adoption. He reminded me of how stressed out (a.k.a. crazy—my words, not his) I became when we were presented with the opportunities to adopt (none of which panned out, of course). It was like a reminder to me that maybe emotion more than desire deceives me into believing that at one time I was willing to go to the ends of the earth to have children. Obviously, the decisions we jointly made in the building (or the not building) of our family were good ones for us and our sanity.
I do have to account and deal with the loss, and it was a loss, a big one; however, that loss is not who I am, and if I allow it to define who I am I take on the persona of loser. Is that what I want for my life? Not only no, but HECK NO! That’s not how I roll…
I also had to face the issue of secondary gain. Sometimes people with emotional (or addiction) problems would rather hold on to their emotional problems because they draw some kind of positive reward from it. It’s what the psychiatric community calls “secondary gain” (I did transcription work for an alcohol/drug rehab facility long enough to get very acquainted with this phenomenon). People with emotional and/or addiction problems can get attention, money, gifts; people do their work for them, or let them off the hook for responsibilities they should be taking in their lives because of their problem(s). Sometimes the gains seem to outweigh negatives of their problems or addictions, so they hang on their problems to continue getting the secondary gains.
While I don’t believe I draw any real secondary gains from my “state” I have been a secondary gain seeker. I’ll admit that sometimes I want people to feel sorry for me, comfort me, and give me attention. It was a weird realization, because as a norm I’m not an attention seeker. For example, I often shy away from bright colors when I go to church, a party etc., because I don’t want to draw attention to myself. That’s because I have social anxiety and can be a bit of an introvert (until I get to know you then I’ll talk your head off). That’s just socially, but deep down inside I realize I want attention from others.
When it comes to my childlessness I just want to be validated that I’ve been dealt an unfair blow…not exactly pitied, but I want to be recognized for what I’ve gone through and the fact that I’ve somehow managed to live (and at times thrive) through it. Sometimes it just feels like no one cares or they think its time for me to be over it, and I get mad about that.
Weird isn’t it? I’ll be the first to admit I’m weird, but I think we all have our own idiosyncrasies. I just have to learn to accept mine for what they are and flow with them.
#2 I can no longer blame myself for my parents’ grandchildlessness. I have to let myself off the hook. I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve got to start living it. In fact, I had a good talk with my mother on Monday. She called and admitted to me that she is depressed over several things including the fact that she has no grandchildren. She said she is so tired of her sister calling her and bragging about her newly adopted grandchild. Her sister was also grandchildless until 2 years ago. This sister (my aunt) now has a biological grandson and now a newly adopted grand-daughter. Mom feels totally alone now and upset that her sister now has amnesia to what it’s like to be grandchildless. I took this opportunity to relate to her how I felt, and how I’ve had to deal with every one of my friends and numerous family members becoming parents over the last 20 years. Other than a few friends…mostly my online friends…I am alone in my peer group. I also told her how much it hurts me that I cannot give her grandchildren. She told me (in tears) that she does not want me to feel like it’s my fault or that she blames me for her state.
This was a big relief moment for me, because while I really didn’t think she directly blamed me for her condition I have always felt responsible for it. We had not spoken so frankly on the subject in about eight years. Right before we moved to Charlotte we had taken a mom-daughter day, and had talked about my impending move and my inability to conceive. A lot of water had gone under the bridge in eight years, and I just needed to for her to confirm her feelings to me again. I cannot fault her for the fact that things like pregnancy, birth, and adoption announcements in the family are bittersweet for her, because they are for me too. We need to talk about the daily irritations such as when someone incessantly brags about their children and grandchildren we both get the strong desire to slap a piece of super-glue-reinforced duct tape across their mouths. We agreed that we needed to be a support system for each other since we both deal with a lot of the same emotions. We don’t need to try and protect the other from our feelings. Both of us are wounded and have felt loss. It’s done. There’s no protecting each other from what has already occurred.
I feel more confident as of this week that because I don’t have kids my life is not over. My biggest issue is comparing my journey with others and thinking that mine is somehow lacking in light of my childless state. That “stinkin’ thinkin’s” got to change. Life’s too short not to be happy.