Monday, 8 October 2018

Find your No Kidding tribe

I'm really happy today to do some promotion on behalf of the wonderful Jody Day, of Gateway Women. She is coming to New Zealand, and even though she is coming for a holiday, she couldn't come all this way and NOT lead a workshop! She still has places left on her Auckland Reignite Weekend on 18/19 November; you can find more details and sign up here.

I can't imagine a better way to spend a weekend than linking with other women who share our journey, and who are also struggling to come to terms with their life without children.

But if you can't do that for whatever reason, you don't need to be or feel alone. I have, as you probably know, done a huge part of my healing after infertility and loss, and my subsequent experience of acceptance, online - here on this blog, and elsewhere - with some amazing women who are now lifelong friends.

Even now, almost 15 years later, I am still astounded every day by how reassuring, empowering and encouraging it can be when you find people who understand, especially women who won't judge, or criticise, or condescend.

Whether those people are in the the same street or suburb, or across the world, I know I am not alone, and I hope you know that too.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Hundreds of little griefs

My father-in-law is grieving at the moment, and is at that raw stage when there are hundreds of little realisations that certain things will not be happening in the future. 

It reminded me of those difficult times when we first know, for certain, that we will not be having children, when everything reminds us of that fact, whether it is seeing a half-empy bottle of folic acid on the shelf, or a mobile we’d bought in Thailand for a future child, or walking past the room that is a nursery. Each time we see those things, we think along the same lines as we always have, until we’re struck with the realisation that, “wait, that’s not going to happen” or “but I won’t need that now,” and we grieve anew.

For me, the hope I had managed to feel throughout my infertility kept me going until, at the end, there was a tough period when there was no hope. Things got harder, being hit with hundreds of little griefs, before they got easier, when I found hope again for something new. I am, however, aware that losing your partner of 60 years at the age of 89 means that finding hope for something new might not be realistic, and I can just hope that his hundreds of little griefs do not linger, and that his brain manages to reprogram itself to accepting the new reality.

So at this time, I am actually thankful for my experience of grief, first encountered through pregnancy loss, infertility and childlessness, when online friends taught me so much about grief, healing, and compassion and self-compassion. I’m thankful that it not only helped me help my mother during and after my father’s death, but that it is already helping me help my husband, in-laws, and nieces and nephews get through their grief too.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Miscellaneous No Kidding issues

One of the advantages of time between those initial years of infertility and grief, and today, is that perspective begins to set in. I find I'm better able to have a more global outlook, to see comparisons, and not to react sharply, and personally, to ignorant or insensitive comments.

I find too that I'm better able to stand up for myself, and for my No Kidding sisters (and brothers). I recently mentioned that motherhood is glorified in western societies these days, and was surprised when a friend I hadn't seen in a long time was completely disbelieving. It was clear she'd never had to think about it before (because they are in the majority), and consider how biased society can be.

It has also made me really sensitive to other insensitivities, which I observed this month when two sisters of someone I know cheerfully posted a Fb meme answering questions about their happy relationships. At exactly the same time, their third sister was splitting from her husband and leaving her home.

And right now, I'm trying very hard not to think about what our own ageing and demise will be like, as I deal with an elderly relative's last weeks/days, and try to provide support without resentment.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Some repetition, worth repeating, I hope.

I did a bit of writing over the weekend for World Childless Week, here and here. So I'm a little short on inspiration now, especially for something that would fit into Microblog Monday's eight* sentences. So I thought I might be lazy, and just highlight some previous posts around those themes of being worthy and dealing with some of the nasty comments.

Probably my favourite post emphasising that we are strong, and worthy, is my post The Real Success Stories, which I then revisited earlier this year. (Apologies for the repetition.)

In terms of comments, here is my post from five years ago - Those Comments. Instead of going over examples of some of the awful comments, I hope this gives other people hope that they won't always hurt, and that they can be brushed off as we learn how to cope with them.

And finally, I will admit that - like Pamela here - I have cringed a little the last couple of weeks having to use the word "childless." I discuss it here, and share Pamela's desire to find a word that might explain us without emphasising what we are not, and what we don't have.

* Though I think I am the only person who still adheres to Mel's original suggestion of an eight sentence post for Microblog Mondays, except perhaps Mel herself. Note: Footnotes don't count as a sentence!

Saturday, 15 September 2018

World Childless Week: We Are Worthy

Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Am I not worthy too?

The single thought that erodes our confidence is this one. Am I still worthy if I don’t have children? Because I didn’t have children, does that mean I’m not worthy?

And perhaps the single thought that helped me change my thinking was acknowledging the inherent flaw in that earlier thought.

I looked at women who have children easily, who don't have losses, who have never lost their innocence in pregnancy. They have not been judged to be worthy, just as I have not been judged to be unworthy. I look at women who get pregnant when they don't want to. Why does this happen?  Well, just because it does. It doesn't mean that they are better than me. It doesn't mean they are luckier than me. They don't feel luckier, if the pregnancy wasn’t wanted. Those who struggle to cope physically, or financially, or emotionally, with a(nother) baby don't see the baby as a gift, even if that is how we would have seen one. I look at women with children who neglect them, abuse them, or abandon them, who expose them to violent or abusive partners, who pay more attention to their own needs than those of their child. Clearly, the biological act of having a baby is not evidence of their good character, or their good behaviour. These women are no better than me, or you. A child is never a reward for good behaviour, however much some of us might have wished that were so. Not having a baby is not a punishment, however much it might feel like that at times.

This whole idea that only the deserving get what they want is really dangerous. I could discuss its implications in wider society and even geopolitics, but I won’t. I’ll just say that it is wrong, and accepting this makes us see things differently, and see others differently.

It can though, take a while to reach acceptance. Women are very good at blaming ourselves. We search for answers. We expect answers. These days, when so much can be cured, solved, calculated or discovered, we can't understand why some of us can have babies and some of us can't. We get angry, and often, because there is no-one else we can blame, we blame ourselves. Pointlessly. Painfully. Sometimes destructively.

I've lived and travelled around the world. I have seen wonderful people in difficult circumstances. I have seen awful people with family they don't value, with riches they don't appreciate or do anything good with. I have seen beloved, kind, good friends die young, I've seen those who have been tortured, and I've seen the selfish and even the downright evil live till they are very old. None of this is justified or right. None of this happens for a reason. None of this is because one person was judged to be worthy or not. None of this is because they were or were not being rewarded. It just is.

No Kidding women and men are worthy. They are valued members of society. Their contributions to the world are different to those of parents, but are not lesser. Their very being shows that not everyone is the same, but that is okay. Being different does not mean less worthy. In this world we need to understand that.

Finally, I’ll leave my system of banishing negative thoughts (below) that always reminds me that I’m a decent person, deserving, worthy. We are worthy. Don't forget that.