June 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Posted in Crazy Talk (aka: Therapy), Heartbreak | 12 Comments

I’m learning a lot about myself lately.

I think it took seeing a therapist for me to understand that there was so much more to my unhappiness than our struggle with primary AND secondary infertility.

And so over the past few months, particularly since we stopped trying, I’ve really struggled. All my previous coping mechanisms aren’t working anymore.

Because, really. My coping mechanisms? Weren’t really THAT good to begin with.

Coping Mechanism Number One: The Big CHANGE. Instead of wallowing in how crappy I feel, let me just run away! I’ll just keep making changes and the Bad Place won’t catch up to me.

Coping Mechanism Number Two: The Inner Critic. I’m not worthy to feel sad because there are people who have it SO! Much! Worse! than I do.

Coping Mechanism Number Three: The Ostrich. Pretending nothing is wrong until I completely blow my top at J, presumably over something that’s a Not Really A Big Deal. Which confuses the hell out of him and makes me feel like an irrational fool to boot.

I’ve spent 35 years honing those coping mechanisms into something that makes me feel better in the short term, but ultimately has turned me into the equivalent of an emotional vacuum.

Hear no feelings, see no feelings, speak no feelings. Boom – they don’t exist. Right?

Over the past few weeks, as I’ve been working through the morass of emotion I’ve basically denied myself over the past 35 years, I’m starting to uncover a lot of really nasty things from a long, long time ago.

Feelings of powerlessness, alienation, failure. Of not being worthy of love, of having to prove that I wasn’t what my parents thought I was. And alternately rebelling against their rules, because I hated that I had to prove to them that I was better than they thought I was.

I have spent so much time and energy for SO many years trying to hide those feelings. And they’ve never actually gone away.

It’s so sad. In my sessions, that feeling of Failure is so strong, it’s like I’m a 10 year old again, listening to my mother lecture on and on about how awful of a kid I am.

And the sad thing is that I’ve basically built my life around Proving Things. I chose a MBA because my father laughed when I told him I was considering a program. I chose to get my CPA because I knew it would shock my parents. Wait, they said. Serenity was NEVER good at math! How did she manage the CPA?

Part of what I’m struggling with is trying to really untangle this desire to have another baby. Is it instinct? Is it because I really want to create life and nurture another life within our family? Is it just because it’s what I always thought I’d do? Is it because I see walking away from treatments as giving up? Is it because I need to prove that I can do pregnancy differently, more relaxed? Is it because I want to prove to my parents that I can be a full time business professional marathon runner with two kids? Or is it because I want to show my mother that I’m a better mother than she was?

So many questions.

So few answers.

What I do know is that I really NEED this time away from ART. This break, whether it becomes indefinite or not, is very much needed.

Because I do need to figure out how to live the life I’ve the way it’s meant to be.

I just don’t know what that means.

Yet, anyway.



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  1. “Or is it because I want to show my mother that I’m better mother than she was?”

    Damn. That is some seriously self-aware, introspective stuff right there. It’s amazing how therapy kind of makes you feel like crap – you drudge up so much debris from the bottom the lake. The work is sifting through all that muck.

    I totally get the need to prove yourself. I chalk it up to being a natural born fighter b/c I was always picked on as a kid. Makin’ babies should be so simple right? I get the drive to make it happen – to prove we can do something that SEEMS so simple. I can totally respect a break from all of this right now too. Sometimes we get so caught up in the fight it’s like we forget what we were fighting for in the first place.

  2. Hello. I’m here from Prompt-ly. What a thought provoking post. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be done “dealing” with my shit and I’ve been in therapy since I was an adult. Sometimes I always think I’m going to have something I’m trying to work through.

    I really appreciated your questions about why you want to have another child. We’re thinking about trying again for #2 and I’m just not sure how I feel about it. I have a hundred different emotions and many of them contradict each other. And then of course there is my partner who feels differently than I do on a lot of them. I really want us to sit down and decide why we want this before we do it, because I know the path will probably be difficult and then having two kids will be a challenge. I just want to make sure we’re on the same page before we get started, but he’s not very good at identifying how he feels about things and why.

    Oh my, so much to think about.

    I look forward to following you!

  3. I think it would take a lot of therapy sessions for most people to identify one of their coping mechanisms, let alone several. Mine are probably quitting and refusal to apologize/blame shifting. Hmmm.

    Have you read the IF book “Unsung Lullabies”? I liked it a lot more than Ali Domar’s book because it talked about the psychological wounds of IF, esp. in view of family-of-origin background and childhood ideals.

  4. We are on a similar path even if our coping mechanisms are different.

    I have been questioning the drive to wanting another and wondering if it isn’t also tied up with A) thinking that being a mother is what I do best and B) if we do not have another, then what?

    I hope you can find the tools to silence your critic because I don’t see that as helpful to getting to an end state, whatever that is.

    Therapy is a GOOD THING!

  5. I strongly believe the desire to have a child (or two or …) is to a large degree instinctive. I would have walked away long ago otherwise, I think.
    Of course lots of other factors weigh in.

    I’m glad you feel therapy is getting you somewhere. It’s an investment, some return is good.

  6. It is clearly instinctive, in my opinion. IF wouldn’t hurt so much otherwise. At the same time, you feel like it has to do with your parents, and going through with it means that you are under their “control” somehow. I hope that wasn’t your reason for stopping TTC…and I hope you get back on the “hope train”. ::hugs::

  7. You have an excellent therapist!

  8. HUGS. You are brave to face all of this.

    I think the urge to have babies is instinctive and deep-set. And I think having a baby rewires our brains.

    I’m glad you have a therapist you trust enough to talk about these issues.

  9. This is really powerful stuff, Serenity. The fact that you’re able to articulate all of these questions, even without the answers, is incredible. I’m glad that you’re working through this … while I’m also sorry that you’ve found yourself here, with so many years of baggage that your parents left you with. We survive in spite of our parents, I think, sometimes. You are a survivor … and you will figure this out. *hugs*

  10. Not to speak ill of someone else’s parent (I do speak ill of my own, LOL), you are a better parent than what you had if you never question what your child’s abilities are. My mother always used to tell me I was so un-coordinated when I was growing up. So I never felt like I could be athletic or cool. In my 30s I learned that I could be athletic and that coordination is a skill that can be gained. I would never ever tell my children that they aren’t good at something. And I’ve been tested on that too. Our daughter is 10-years-old now and as all people, she has her weaknesses, but I never point them out to her, but if she brings something up, I always say, “But you can work on that!” in a very positive voice. Maybe it’s naive, but I’ve learned (and it sounds you have too) that a positive can-do attitude is 80-90% of the task.

  11. Aw, man. We have to THINK about this stuff to actually GROW as a person. This is why I hate therapy. It hurts and you hope that in figuring out all this stuff it helps you feel more grounded. Sometimes, though, after therapy I find myself struggling more after than I was before. This being said, in order to be the best mom, wife, friend, person possible, it’s better to really understand yourself and how to help yourself be happy (ish).

  12. It’s so hard to answer the question about why you want to have kids. And it does bring up a lot of past stuff. I found that too, but obviously in a different way, at a different place in the process, with a different history, etc etc. To be honest, even now I am constantly trying to improve my coping mechanisms. I feel like I don’t know the right way to react to the little trials of every day life. A big shake-up like what you’re facing can really become a catalyst to massive personal growth if you put the necessary work in, but I don’t think the process ever really finishes… you have to keep making steady improvements at each new turn.

    This is a bit jumbled, I have so much to catch up on and I haven’t been here as much as I should have lately. I think walking away – for now or forever, whatever it turns out to be – was definitely the right choice. I am wishing you luck and wisdom figuring out the next right step.


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