So Long Insecurity??

Standard

I think one of the things I hate most about this “condition” is how insecure it makes me feel at times.  Of course, in my teenage years I went through the standard bouts of identity crisis and insecurity and a bad boyfriend relationship that eroded my self-esteem a good bit.  By the time I was a senior in high school I had come out of that a good bit bolstered by a new uplifting boyfriend (who went on to become my husband) and personal achievements that led me to believe that I was a smart and capable young woman who might just make something out of her life.

This new-found confidence and new-found love continued on through college.  While I had the usual post-high-school adjustments and learned to adapt to both the working and college worlds I was mostly a happy and confident person.  I graduated college with honors and  was looking forward to married life with the love of my life.

Marriage was a bigger adjustment than I had realized it would be.  While E and I dated for five years you never truly know a person until you live with them; however, we were still happy, and I was adjusting to my new life fairly well and still had a good bit of confidence in myself and my abilities.

The erosion of my self confidence didn’t begin  until a few years later when we were well into trying to conceive and nothing was happening.  At this point many of my friends already had their first children and some were  pregnant with their second.  I began to feel like a loser, and while I continued to advance in my  career my self-esteem was taking hits every month I didn’t become pregnant.  It was like the continual drip, drip, drip of a faucet.  While at first it’s not that devastating, over time the disappointments and the perceived failures mount up into one big ball of aggravation and insecurity about one’s self.  This slowly began to bleed over into other aspects of my life.  It began to cripple me in taking risks in my career and in my personal life.  I started to believe that everything was going to end in disappointment so why try.  My whole life became eclipsed by this seemingly huge failure.

Over a decade later when it was decided that we were getting off the infertility rollercoaster the damage was done, and today I’m still working hard to repair the damage it did to my psyche.  There are other challenging life situations that have contributed to the damage, so I won’t lay the blame %100 on the infertility.  I also have to shoulder some of the blame on myself for allowing it to have so much influence on my sense of self and self esteem.

I read a lot of childless blogs and forums, and I have made some great friends.  While I hate that they’ve had to go through this difficult life situation too  it’s comforting to know that I’m not an oddball in how I have grieved and coped.  It’s probably one of things that has kept me this side of sanity.

However, I read about the remarkable women who find almost total healing.  They move on with their lives without children and find abundant happiness in their life after infertility.  Some even become thankful for their lack of children.  These women are superwomen in my eyes, and I so aspire to be like them.  While I’ve made significant strides in my life (I’ve moved onward and upward in my career)  I’m just not  there yet in my personal life.   When my husband is sad, mad, or stressed I worry that it’s about the childlessness, and will he one day leave me for more fertile and less jaded and bitter pastures?  When other “trigger” situations  arise I wonder if I’ll ever move on from the anger over the way I’ve/we’ve been treated differently by some family  simply because we don’t have children and bitterness over the obvious favor other family members get simply because they were able to reproduce.

So, while I know in some aspects  I’ve come a long way there’s still a lot to overcome.  I want to be one of those superwomen who gives infertility/childlessness a roundhouse kick to the face and finds happiness anyway.

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14 responses »

  1. Hi,

    I am from France so pardon my bad English. I have been reading your blog since a little while now, I myself am a mother of 2 and I am 31. Sometimes, I am exhausited because my children are very young ( 2 and 3 month old), but still, I can’t imagnien my life without them even though you’re right when you write how overwhelming it must be. Sometimes, they make you mad, sometimes, you worry for them like you never thought you would worry for someone. it is like someone cut off a part of your own body and if anything happen to them, your life is over, senseless.

    My mum and sister had a very very hard time getting pregnant and until I tried, I wasn’t sure I would ever get pregnant. I’ve always thought I would adopt if I couldn’t have my own. Anyway, I apologize if you’ve talked about it already in your blog and I haven’t found your post, and if you do not wish to answer my nosy question, I apologize already but I keep wondering, since not beeing a mum makes you so sad, why don’t you adopt ? You know, what I have learned from being a mum is that even when they’re your own, you learn to love your children, there is this protection instinct, but the true, the deep love, grows over time, with the obstacle you face together, the laugh and the cries you share… It’s not because they are my flesh and blood that I love them, and what I see in them is not my eyes or their father’s nose, it’s my extreme sensitity, the kindness of their dad…

    Thank you for this blog. I have a hard time expressing myself in English, but I would like to tell you how the way you deal with childnessless, how you question yourself and all the feeling you share on your blog are inspirationnal.

    Sincerely yours.

    • Hi Ludivine,

      Thanks for writing. You do very well expressing yourself in English!

      On the adoption issue. We did try to adopt twice, but each time we ran into a dead end. After over a decade of infertility treatments and two failed adoptions for my own sanity I/we had to step off that rollercoaster. Adoption is not an easy path, and it’s not for everyone. It’s not that I couldn’t love a child that was not my own biologically the expenses were an issue, and the fact that you could go through the whole process and still not end up with a child. It was very devastating that it happened to us twice, although fortunately we were not too involved (financially or emotionally) before the doors closed each time. Still, we were emotionally and financially spent at that point.

      There were times I questioned myself about whether or not we did all we could do, but I’ve come to the realization that we did. It was just not meant to be. It’s a process that one has to go through to accept that you are definitely going to be childless the rest of your days.

      Thanks for visiting and your input.

      Blessings,
      Vicki

  2. OMG, I totally understand the insecurity. I never thought I’d get married, and when I finally did, I spent the first few years waking up each morning wondering why he was still there… Not only was he there, but he was still treating me as if I mattered, him and his whole family to boot. The marriage was nothing about ownership or a ball and chain that so many people had warned me about. The person I’d fallen in love with didn’t change overnight when we signed the paper. And he didn’t change when we bought a house. Yet he was still there, as if I mattered to him or something, my many imperfections included. Imagine that.

    I still lay in bed many mornings and watch him sleep, wondering why he’s still here, but I’ve found out since that he wonders the same thing about why I’m still here, and what he did to deserve /me/.

    My point is that even though YOU think you’re not the “greener pasture,” someone else does.

  3. Hi Vicky
    As someone who has voluntarily chosen not to have children, I cannot know how it feels to not have them in your life when you truly want them. It saddens me to see the pain childless women feel regarding not feeling like a real woman,etc…because it is all due to how our society still largely views women as mothers and nothing else. I know it is easier said than done, but please never feel like you are less than or not a real woman because you could not have children.

    When we do not have something, we tend to romanticize it and this increases our suffering even more for not having it…we can fantasize about having a different type of life, but unless we actually experienced it, we have no way of knowing if it would have matched our expectations. Maybe you could have ended up one of those mothers secretly confessing on the internet how much they hate being a parent, who knows? 🙂 Again, I know we view the absence of children in our lives very differently, but your situation gives you an opportunity to conduct your life in a way that is just not possible when you are a parent. You have a right to grieve your loss but it does not have to consume you. I hope that you one day become one of those women you admire so much…I have no doubt that you can!

    While I think there are lots of great things about having children, it is also an extremely difficult job and there is a huge taboo about talking about this stuff in the open…this creates a lot of parents greatly exaggerating or completely lying about how they feel about having children. This pressure to tow the party line about how great it is does a great disservice to society and one of these effects is women like you feeling like crap because you are led to believe that you are missing out on something that is purported to be a person’s greatest source of happiness, when for some, it is the exact opposite.

    We always have a choice on how to view our lives and it sounds like you are trying to improve your perspective, a perspective where having children is not the end all be all of a woman’s existence. Do not beat yourself up too badly when you have your moments of low self-esteem, you are only human. Just try to remember a lot of what you are feeling is influenced by forces outside yourself, forces that have been drilling their ideas of what is right and wrong, what makes a woman and a man and other arbitrary declarations about what life is supposed to be like and what we are supposed to be like.

    Again, good luck in your journey and your road to healing!

  4. Hi Vicki

    I too want to be one of those women. Some people who know my journey already think I am that woman – but I know I am not. I want to live with clarity and joy and spur others on.

    I am glad I stumbled upon your blog this morning. Only a crazed woman looking for answers about her situation would type in “a woman without children” as a search!! Well named – hopefully you will be a hand of hope to many other women struggling through this seemingly “infertile” season of life. I don’t know if you have heard about Lynnette Lewis but I stumbled upon her last week and listening to much of what she has to say about dreaming and keeping life in perspective struck a chord with me.
    I watched older friends of mine lose themselves for years and years to IVF treatments and the pursuit of a family and as a naive, hapless 20 something – determined that would NEVER be me if I found myself in their situation. I pursued my dreams fervently for years and realised many of them – a marriage to an amazing man, courses of study, jobs, performance…but looming large in the backdrop was the belief that all this would end soon with the arrival of my brood. In those early days, I believe there was a knowing developing in me that something was not right. I would wake in the middle of the night and sense a deep darkness (I also think that house was haunted! but that’s another story). Years went by and by the time my rather casual doctor gave the green light for fertility treatment – we were emotionally exhausted and had come to the conclusion that IVF was not for us and we would rather pursue adoption. We gave IVF a few attempts – at the most invasive level and then confidently moved in the direction of adoption.
    I never gave a second thought to a life without children of our own. That was just too much to contemplate. Now I am staring straight down that barrel – wondering how to stop it blowing up in my face!! 🙂
    As I write this, I am at the end of a 6 year adoption journey that appears to be ending without a child. I live in Australia – possibly one of the most anti-adoption government cultures in the world. Shifts in legislation and trends in research mean that we are being asked to agree to things about our adoption that we were completely unprepared for. Just over 12 months ago I was rejected from an intercountry program because I was taking anti-depressants (let me tell you!! THAT was depressing).
    My husband and I have spent much of our lives encouraging others and it is a rude awakening to be in a system where noone wants to encourage you in what is one of the most emotionally gruelling journeys on the planet. Adoption is not for everyone.

    I think one of the things you are saying Vicki is that you grieve not just for the children but for the thousand other losses and years and for the fact that you have not handled it as well as you might have. I know that kind of regret. This journey has almost swallowed me – but I do believe we can make a choice to stand up and walk out. Fear of hoping is the greatest damage because a childfree very much requires a hopeful, joyful spirit.

    I am committed to rediscovering my faith first of all – it has taken a severe battering- and taking ACTIVE steps in the direction of my dreams. I would love to hear what other dreams you have and the steps you take towards them. Our lives are precious gems – let’s scrape the muddy crap off this year!! You can do it!! I am sure God wants to give you and me that healing.

    • Sarah I also live in Australia – it’s certainly not the US when it comes to adoption! Try being single as well – I have so many people ask me why I don’t adopt – I just tell them as a single woman you can’t. It’s easier than explaing that there are only 2 countries you can adopt from the Phillipines if you’re Christian (I’m not – and they want lots of confirmation) or China if you want a child with such debilitating special needs that no-one else wants to take them – i.e. they’ve been rejected by couples for a period of about 3 months.
      Anyway great post Vicki and if you want to follow my blog Sarah it’s:
      http://mylifeisbeinglived.blogspot.com.au/

  5. I worry a little about the husband issue too. While we’re Childless by Choice, I sometimes wonder if he would have been better off marrying a girl who really wanted to have kids. I know he’d be a great father, and I worry that me being unenthusiastic about having kids is preventing him from having the family that maybe he should have had. I guess it’s just something I’ll always have to wonder about.

  6. I never talk about my childlessness with my mom, or with anyone but the closest of my friends, and even then, only a rare very few, as others are not really equipped to provide the support I feel I need. These blogs have been life support for me as they are the only places where my own thoughts, fears, worries are reflected and understood. I do not think I am someone with a whole lot of self-esteem. In the past, I have often worried about what others might think or say about me, and I have often put others ahead of myself. This is mostly out of kindness, but also out of a sense of not wanting to infringe or to ask for help, and I think this harks back to self-esteem issues. I also graduated with top honors, did very well at my job, then went back for a doctorate and this along with infertility, put extreme pressure on my sense of self… I was depressed over the isolation and the tedious process of writing a dissertation while going through infertility in my late 30s/early 40s and really feeling sorrow over the idea that the possibility of having a biological child was coming to an end. (For those who suggest adoption as the answer, please note that those of us who cannot have children are aware that people become parents through adoption, but that unless you yourself have experienced it, there is also often a very deep sense of loss over the inability to create a life with your beloved and to experience all that leads up to the birth and those early moments, weeks, months of your child’s life.) I always thought I would adopt as well, but now financial stress over paying back student loans, not being able to find a full time job in the same city my husband and family reside in, and my husband’s age (over 50), make adoption less likely.

    This December I made the resolution that I was going to be grateful for all that was in my life, and that I was not going to dwell in the negativity that has surrounded me like a cloak over the past years. I try hard to switch my mind from the negative thoughts the moment they pop into my head. Unfortunately, they are very much still there in my subconscious and they pop up in my dreams all the time… Hopefully one day they’ll be gone entirely, or almost anyhow.

  7. Hi Everyone,

    Sorry i haven’t responded much to all the great comments on this thread. I’ve been very busy, but i have read every one and can so relate to how you feel. I’m sure infertility isnt the only life situation that lends itself to these type of issues but it certainly has its unique challenges. Blessings to you all.

    Vicki

  8. Maybe, just maybe, there isn’t a ” I’m free of sorrow and doubt from now on ” superwoman event or time. Perhaps we all just feel better or less better at different times as the ebb and flow of different life experiences and situations occur as time goes on. And thinking about it *that* way, hopefully we’ll not beat ourselves up so much when a deep valley of grief or anger might happen after we think (hope) we’re ” cured “.

  9. Excellent post. I too feel like my life is failing me, I think back to when I was younger and what kind of life I wanted and THIS IS NOT IT! Maybe it was a fairy tale maybe not, but the infertile part of me eclipses everything else and leaves me empty and feeling worthless which is terrible as I am only 30 and starting to believe I will never have a happy ending and I KNOW in my heart that this is madness!
    I too like you am taking inspiration from the amazing women who are seemingly together, I say seemingly as I bet that they too have their off days, they look to You/Us for support just as we look to them.

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