"Our greatest sufferings and our greatest joys come not from our experiences,
but from the stories we tell ourselves about our experiences."
- Jeanette Westlake
I see this time and again, both with myself, and others. It is very relevant for those of us who have grieved the loss of parenthood in our future. We suffer because we have, for so long, told ourselves how happy we will be when we get pregnant/adopt/become parents. We suffer because we have told ourselves it is the only acceptable outcome. We suffer because society tells us it is the only acceptable outcome, and we've come to believe it. We suffer because we tell ourselves what we've lost.
Part of this is, of course, the normal process of grieving a loss. The length of our suffering is often affected by how long we continue to tell ourselves that we are suffering a great loss. And the turning point in healing is when we start to observe, and accept, that we can find joy in the future. I remember feeling huge hope that I would be okay when I allowed myself to feel the joy of the little things. Telling myself that all was not gloom and doom, allowing myself to laugh, to enjoy a view, to feel the sun on my back, all helped me change the story I was telling myself.
That's why I blog here, and why I know many others blog. Because we've got to the stage where we know we are okay, and we want to reinforce that by telling our stories to others, to help them know they will be okay too. And maybe it will help them to change the stories they are telling themselves.
Loss is not always just loss. As I've written in my Gifts of Infertility series, there are a lot of positives that come from loss. And even when we feel the loss acutely, because we've changed the stories we tell ourselves, we know that the pain won't last. We know we'll be okay. And that way moves aside suffering, and makes room for joy.
It is indeed all about the stories we tell ourselves. And importantly, the stories we tell others.