It’s really hard sometimes to write when you have all this STUFF swirling around in your head and heart.
But it’s been like this for a while now, and I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon, so I really want to try to make sense of things.
So that’s your fair warning: this post will likely be disjointed and maybe won’t have a point. And it might be boring or ridiculous. But I’m going to write it down, because I really, really, want to start writing more.
And the only way to write more is to write more, right?
* * * *
I’ve been working with my current therapist now for three years. Three years of weekly appointments, and I’m only JUST feeling like we’re getting below the surface anxiety into what makes me tick.
One of the things I’ve been noticing lately is that I am very closed off in my marriage. I spend time DOING things for Charlie to show him I love him. Whenever the gas in his car is low, I fill it. I create our weekly dinner menu with his preferences in mind. I will run at 4 in the morning or 10 at night in order to get more family time in on a given day. I take care of as much of the family stuff as I can – vet and doctor appointments for Lucky, school stuff, making lunches, bus dropoff/pickup – so that Charlie has one less thing to stress about.
But when it comes to showing my husband love and affection, I am a freaking Scrooge. I hide behind stress and anxiety, I keep myself busy so I don’t have to take time out to hug.
I’ve JUST noticed it, quite honestly: the way I am clipped and stressed whenever he arrives home from work, or how I find things to get annoyed over, like lights left on, when I arrive home when they are home. How I bury myself in my task list, the computer, my phone, laundry. It’s like I find excuses and justification to stay closed off, ways to avoid connecting with him.
I think it’s because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that Charlie, with his high blood pressure and ridiculous stress levels, is a heart attack waiting to happen. What happens if I really allow myself to love him, to rely on him, and he dies suddenly on me? How will I survive?
Or maybe I’m afraid of relying on him too much, where my need becomes another stressor for him, and all of a sudden he realizes he can’t deal with the energy suck of his wife anymore.
Or maybe I’m worried that he’ll disappoint me. What if I rely on him and he can’t be there?
Or maybe it’s none of these things. I don’t honestly know why I’m so scared, why I am so stingy with showing love and affection.
What I know is that it needs to change.
* * * *
I listen to audiobooks on my long ass commute into Boston; I download them to my phone from the library. It’s a great way to pass the time stuck in traffic, provided the book is a good one.
The one I’m listening to now? It’s a good one. It’s this one – a true story about the chaplain of the Maine Warden Service. Listening to her story, told from her viewpoint, I can only marvel at her openness and love. And her faith, or non-faith.
How is it, after losing her husband in an accident, and working search-and-rescues and seeing all facets of death, she can be so enthusiastic, open, and loving?
And if she can do it, can I as well?
* * * *
Written in Athena for the month of August is this: Cultivate Love.
I’m starting simply.
Next week we are heading to my happy place – the cabin on the lake. I’m going to disconnect from the internet. No Facebook, no email, no running board, no Myfitnesspal. I’m bringing paper plates and bowls, and bottles of wine and board games and cribbage and royalty. I’m going work on cultivating a connection between us and with the three of us as a family. And when I find myself getting stressed or anxious, I’m going to stop what I’m doing and hug someone.
And when we get back, I’m going to kiss my husband goodbye and hello every day. I’m going to take a moment every day, when he walks through the door, to greet him and welcome him home.
When Lucky tells me he’s cold and wants to sit on my lap, or wants me to stop what I’m doing to watch him do something, or he wants me to sit with him and watch a TV show, I’m going to stop what I’m doing and be with him, in the moment.
THIS is my family, right here, right now. And I love them so much and am so grateful I have Charlie and Lucky and Happy in my life.
And I need to learn how to open up more.
I, frankly, don’t give a shit if Lance Armstrong doped during any of his Tour de France wins. I don’t care that people feel “betrayed” by a guy who was too vehement, really, to believe that he was clean.
I ALSO don’t give a shit that someone from Notre Dame either made up a story about his girlfriend dying or someone made it up ABOUT him.
A month ago, 20 first graders and 6 adults trying to protect them were gunned down by someone who decided to inflict carnage before taking his own life. 20 parents lost their children in the most violent and unimaginable scenario possible.
And now, the parents and teachers and people who HELPED the surviving children are being harrassed by self-proclaimed “truthers:” conspiracy theorists, who somehow figure that the government STAGED the whole thing in order to take away people’s rights.
These grieving parents, husbands, wives, siblings are being HARASSED. In the midst of the nightmare that is the aftermath of losing their children. They wake up every morning and remember: their son, their daughter, is dead.
And then they get calls, and emails, and people telling them THEY MADE IT UP. They’re paid actors.
No. They’re HUMAN.
And I really just don’t understand.
Where the hell did our humanity GO?
Look, I understand that people believe lots of different things. I personally, believe in stricter gun laws. I disagree with the fact that athletes have “hero” status in our society. I believe that two people who love each other should be able to get married without obstacle. I believe a woman should have the choice to start – or not start – a family whenever she wants to, without interference.
But I also understand that there are people who feel differently than I do.
What I don’t understand is how AGGRESSIVE we are about it. And maybe it’s the prevalence of social media, but I see it everywhere: people trying to FORCE their beliefs on others. About religion. About politics. About parenting, and healthy eating, and gun control. About abortion rights. About gay marriage.
About anything and everything they believe.
And when there’s a disagreement? It’s PERSONAL.
When did it become OKAY to harrass people? When did it become okay to call someone who is planning vote for Mitt Romney an idiot on Facebook*?
How is it even okay to actually CALL someone who just lost a child in an unprecedented act of violence a FAKER?
Where did our compassion go? Our gentleness? Our patience?
We’ve turned into a society of haters and screamers.
And sometimes I feel like Rodney King in the midst of the fires of a riot, wondering aloud, Can’t we all just get along?
We’re all human. We love, we sleep, we eat, we cry, we feel pain. We live, we die.
I wish I felt like we all remembered that.
*I’m not kidding, either: the night of the election, a Facebook “friend” of mine posted that as her status update. Not that I planned on voting for Mitt Romney at the time, but I also don’t believe that people who voted for him were idiots.
I’m not sure what it was about my last post that made it seem like I am not thankful to have my husband here, as short as his stay this weekend might be, but I want to apologize if I came across that way.
I miss him when he’s gone. And I don’t relish the idea that he’s getting back on a plane this week.
But just like I am thankful to have Lucky in my life, I am also thankful for Charlie. And I am thankful that I am not a single parent 100% of the time.
That doesn’t mean I can’t miss him when he’s gone, or talk about how I dislike his travel schedule either. My story, right now, includes missing my husband when he’s gone. Still my story.
And this is kind of an appropriate topic, because yesterday Charlie and I went to a wedding, where they had a Catholic ceremony; one of my few experiences with Mass (goodness, is it even capitalized?).
I was intrigued by the responses that everyone seemed to know by rote, the kneeling, the pagentry of the Communion. I sat next to a friend who is Catholic, and after the ceremony, we talked at length about how things were really different from when we were all kids: confession now is a face to face conversation with a priest. Even some of the rituals of the church, like Communion, are much different.
And I have to admit, I was so curious about the priest. As a person who did not grow up Catholic and is not very religous, the idea that the elderly priest believed in a God so deeply that he would eschew a wife and/or kids and dedicate his life to the church was fascinating to me.
It was interesting, too, to see the KIND of teachings the priest talked about.
Our friends that got married yesterday are not planning on having children; they are one of the rare few people who have decided that being parents is not for them. And (because of course I’m sensitive to the whole “child(ren)” discussion right now) I paid attention to how often the topic of children came up.
First reading: Adam and Eve, and God tells them to go and “be fertile.” Second reading: Be welcoming. The priest, in his homily, tells them that the wedding, today, is about welcoming each other as husband and wife. And welcoming children, which will create their family. They actually vowed to welcome children with open arms as part of their wedding vows.
This idea that children made you a family somehow seemed an integral part of the service.
And it made me think about this whole idea of creating family, and how I felt about the definition of family, and how the newly married couple defines their family differently than what the priest talked about. And then I started thinking about how my feelings about creating family have changed over the years.
When we were trying for children, I believed that only kids would make Charlie and I a family. I’m not sure why I felt this way, honestly. Maybe I internalized the teachings of my childhood church more than I thought. Maybe I felt like a family was something you had to work to create; that a person, or people, who were a combination of Charlie and me bonded us as a family more than any ceremony could. I don’t know.
What I DO know is that now I feel completely different.
Charlie and I, when we moved in together, created our family. When we pledged to each other to build a life, when we merged our possessions, when we went to family events as a team, together. When we realized that we loved each other and wanted to wake up next to each other for the rest of our lives.
THAT is when we started our family, he and I. And when we finally brought home Lucky, our family – the one we created – expanded to include him.
Familes are created every day. And none look alike. Whereas Charlie and I went the traditional route of getting married and having a child, our friends B&C have decided that they are a family, just the two of them. My friend K, who swore to me after her divorce that she will never marry again, has her family: two children with her partner. We have girlfriends who, thankfully, are allowed to marry in Massachusetts, who have been living together for the past two years, who have decided to marry, but who insist that they are a family already. I’d guess that if pressed, the priest would say that his family is his church and God.
Family is one of those things that YOU, as a person, define. And that definition changes over the years.
Today I define our family as Charlie, Lucky, and I.
And I am very thankful for my family.
So the whole drama with my mother has been wearing on me.
Lucky wrote his FIRST SENTENCE, with me only sounding out the phonetics of the letters, on a card meant for her. I have yet to get a response from her.
Nor has Charlie heard from my dad since he emailed him, at work, to tell him about my miscarriage and resulting D&E.
I can tell you the discussions that’s happened in my parents’ house. My father tells my mother, Charlie Brown emailed me. Serenity had a miscarriage and surgery.
My mother’s response: I don’t care if she had to have a foot amputated. There is NO excuse for the way she treated me and I’m not calling her until she apologizes.
Which is why I haven’t heard from them, I’m certain.
And right now, I want to laugh from the sheer absurdity of it all. My mother will not talk to me until I apologize? Over a stupid phone call? She’s willing to walk away from a relationship with me, her son in law, and her grandson because she didn’t like what I had to say – no, wait, the WAY I SAID IT?
Seriously? Is this happening?
I very nearly called her yesterday. My plan was to ask, Are we really DOING this, Mom? Because it seems pretty ridiculous to stop talking because of a phone call.
But then I thought through it. One of the things my mother might do is lecture me on how hard it is on HER to have surgery, deal with all the recovery crap and physical therapy and whatnot. And how she has such bad allergies, and can’t travel. And that will make me angry, because honestly, her shit isn’t that bad.
I have a son who has life-threatening allergies, where we’ve ended up in the Emergency Room. TWICE this year. I had a miscarriage and D&E, which by the way, was surgery. And we’re traveling.
Can I keep my cool when listening to her woes? Not sure I can.
I’ve been thinking about our relationship and what I want from my mother. Because I know I’ll never get what I really WANT – someone who actually thinks about ME and asks about me. Someone who cares about me, as a person, and what makes me tick.
It’s not that my mom is a bad person. She just can’t see past herself to look at others, to really care about others. Her world is myopically focused on herself. Her health “issues.” The weather in Texas and the things SHE likes to do.
That’s the reality of our relationship. And I’ve known this for years.
So why can’t I accept it? Why can’t I smile and nod when she talks? Why can’t I humor her, like everyone else does?
I don’t know.
I want a relationship with her for my son. My grandfather was the light of my life when I was a child. My parents are really, really good grandparents. Restricting Lucky’s access to his grandparents because I’m pissed off that my mother is selfish doesn’t FEEL right to me.
Which means I HAVE to humor her. Accept that she’s selfish, and will never travel to us, and that if I want Lucky to have a relationship with his Texas grandparents, it’s going to be work. For me.
With that in mind, I just drafted an email to her.
It struck me yesterday, on the way home from work, that this whole situation is really kind of ridiculous. Are we really doing this – not speaking because of a telephone conversation?
I am sorry if you felt like I was yelling at you. It was not my intention to yell. I admit: I struggle a lot with the fact that you and Dad live really far away and don’t like to travel much. It hurts to hear that you won’t come to Massachusetts because the weather is never good enough for you, and I was looking at the Christmas thing as yet another reason not to travel. Which isn’t fair, because I know that surgery is hard and you NEEDED to get it done.
I also had some things going on with me. We’ve spent the past 2 years trying for another baby, which for us requires surgeries and doctors, because we need in-vitro fertilization (apparently many) to get pregnant. I finally got pregnant about a month ago, which turned out not to be viable. Our conversation happened in the midst of the waiting to find out if it was viable and then to finally miscarry. There was a lot of emotion not related to you in there.
I love you and Dad both, and I very much want a relationship with you. The irony of this whole thing is that I’m frustrated because I’d like to see you both MORE than we do. And I really would like for this whole thing to be over, if you’re willing.
Anyway. I’m working from home today if you want to talk.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written about how I feel about the ALI community. I’ve been thinking about it for days, now, though – ever since Mel posted about it.
And I read comments, and re-read comments, and then today’s post too.
When I started regularly blogging 6 years ago, it was to put my experience with infertility out into the universe in the hopes that I’d help people. My goal was to blog about my life honestly, the ups and the downs and the rollercoaster of emotion and happiness and fear in the hopes that maybe someone who was struggling would find my experience helpful in some way. And along the way, I found an amazingly supportive community of women who held me up when I couldn’t stand on my own, and who cheered with me when Lucky was delivered into my arms. And I found some of my best friends through this community; women who I am proud to call part of my family.
I admit I’ve struggled a bit with this blog lately. Blogging has changed pretty significantly in the past 6 years, as has my life. I feel like a blogger really has to work at keeping readers; linking to twitter and facebook and marketing a blog in some way. It’s not enough to click through and comment and read other people anymore, you have to stay on top of it more than I’ve had time for.
And over the years I’ve seen my commenters dwindle. Which hasn’t been a huge deal for me, really. Until last year, when I really struggled with trying again. The support that was my lifeline when we were trying for Lucky seemed to be gone. I started getting in my own head, making assumptions about my readers. Maybe it was because people felt I should be happy with what I have. Maybe I was being a drama queen because I wasn’t able to handle something that, on the whole, is a good problem to have. Maybe I should just relax. Maybe I wasn’t marketing my blog enough.
Maybe I am just a boring, repetitive, bitter old infertile who needs to stop blogging.
Charlie Brown remarked last night, in jest, that I had two moods: angry and tired. And then, for the rest of the night, whenever I said something, he said, See? Anger! or See? Tired!
I am, you know. Angry and tired. Probably all the time. And I don’t know how to fix it. I’ve certainly blogged about my struggles here.
But you know, I am starting to sound like a tired old country song.
I can’t have more kids and I’m tired all the time
And I hate my life and well, shouldn’t I be fine?
Because I have my Lucky and damn is he great
Shouldn’t I be happy even without a new due date?
I know that in the grand scheme of all the things that could go wrong with my life, the fact that I’m (yes, still) infertile is one tiny part. I mean, seriously. I am married to a really good man. I just switched jobs for one that allows me not only a day off a week, but a schedule where I could run every day of the week, pick up Lucky from school, get dinner on the table, clean up, AND prep for the next day – without feeling like I’m doing too much.
I mean, seriously. There are people out there who deal with FAR worse things than being unable to have a second kid. Especially in the ALI community. There are heartbreaking losses and starting over and fear that they will never be a parent.
So why is it I, personally, can’t handle trying this second time around?
And I think that’s where I’ve gone wrong, you see. The intentions of this blog, when I first started, was to put my experience out there in the hopes that it might help that person. Over the years it’s turned into a narcissistic need to have people validate my journey. A need for support, for help.
For people to tell me what to do.
Somewhere over the years, I seem to have lost my compass – my Intention for my life. I don’t know it happened; maybe in the overwhelmed, sleep deprived months after Lucky’s birth, where I really truly had no sense of me as a person anymore, where I could barely PEE on my timeline. And then going to work, in the environment where nothing I did was enough, I needed to do more more more more. And then trying again, where no one can really tell us why IVF isn’t working for us, but let’s try this in the hopes that we’ll come out on the other side of the odds. And then, with having a nearly four year old who really does hold me captive to whether or not I want to fight THIS battle, right now. And then, being injured, not being able to run as much or as fast or at all for so long now.
I haven’t felt like I had control over ANYTHING for a while now. And when I do feel good, it’s that I’ve managed to stay on top of all the things in which I have no control, rather than a real accomplishment of creating an outcome.
And that needs to stop.
The thing about Mel’s post today that was most jarring to me was the implicit assumption that you can create a world in which you want to inhabit.
Wait, what??? You are actually in control of creating your life?
And the thing is: I used to believe that, back in the day. I blogged about finding the positive in our IF experience, working really hard NOT to cede my life to it, to remind myself that life was good otherwise. I HAD that idea, that I could create my life to be what *I* wanted it to be. And, well. Lately I haven’t had the energy to do so now; I’ve gotten lazy, or unwilling to do the work it requires to change my perspective.
But I can’t go on like this. Angry and tired is NOT the world I want to inhabit. I don’t WANT to come here and blog incessantly about how I’m scared and overwhelmed and how much IF hurts. I want to be honest, but I want it to be MY honest.
And my honest needs to start with me: changing my perspective, seeing the little things, gathering up those moments where I am gloriously happy and breathing them in. Reframing the bad stuff into a different perspective, letting go of the worries I have zero control over, and refocusing on my purpose in life.
My purpose has GOT to be more than being tired and angry all the time.
My relationship with the universe is complicated.
Because. I don’t really believe in Signs. Or God. Or angels. Or Destiny.
At least, not the way that we were taught as kids. I don’t really believe that God has a Plan for me and that that all the bad stuff that happens to people – myself included – isn’t really all that bad because, well, there’s a plan. And God is good.
I call bullshit on that. Because bad stuff happens to good people. And it SUCKS. It’s not BETTER because God has some stupid plan for that person. It doesn’t make the pain go away. It’s a stupid sentiment and makes me angry whenever I hear someone say that.
At the end of the day, I create my OWN life. And fate.
I will say, however: sometimes I wish I had that blind faith and optimism that my life would all work out the way it’s supposed to.
(I mean, it OBviously WILL work out. We as humans are incredibly adaptable.)
But it would take a lot of pressure off of me to have to make decisions, wondering if it’s the RIGHT one.
What I DO believe in, however, is The Law of Conservation of Energy.
Which basically says that energy can neither be created or destroyed. But that it can change forms, and flow from one place to another.
I believe that we all have an energy that’s uniquely ours. Call it a soul, heart, mind/body connection, whatever. It’s what makes all of us US. And when we die, that energy goes back into the universe. It may combine with other energy and manifest itself in very different ways. But it’s still ours.
So this whole job thing. I’ve been unhappy with my job for a LONG time now.It’s been awful: a low-grade stress which pops every once in a while and makes Sunday nights completely miserable. And it’s been this way for two years if I do the math.
But I’ve been sticking it out, trying to make it work.
Partly because I wanted Charlie Brown to have the flexibility of finding a job that’s better suited to him.
Partly because I don’t like the idea of quitting when things get rough.
Partly because I was scared, too.
Partly because I knew my job had IF coverage, and I wanted that flexibility. Because I’m not really okay with saying that it’s final – we’re done.
The blowup here a couple of weeks ago, though… it set into motion a chain of events that I can only say seem like Signs.
Because it blew up, I gathered the strength to give my notice, without any sort of firm new job offer. It was the first time in a long time that I’ve gone on faith that I’d figure something out, and being out of a toxic (for me) environment was the bigger priority.
So a couple of things happened this week.
My boss has approached me again and mentioned some consulting work when I finish up here on February 24. Suggested by the auditors (oh, the irony. The very people who made the issue blow up in the first place want to make sure I stay on. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up!). Mostly to help my company get through year end, but because there’s a LOT of work and my boss is now worried that someone new won’t be able to handle it.
(Again. The irony. But whatever.)
But also, yesterday, I got the word that I start my new part time consulting gig on a new client. On Tuesday February 28.
And I talked with a friend who is self employed, who pointed to some Massachusetts state insurance plans for people who are self-employed.
For those of you following along? It might mean that IF we decide we want to spend more energy on building our family, we’d have insurance coverage for it.
I’m pricing some things out, but if I am the one to purchase the health insurance for me, and Charlie Brown has Lucky covered under his insurance, we might be able to make it work.
So no gap in work, or money. Potential for the whole insurance thing to work out.
I had this feeling yesterday: Really? Is this my life? Aren’t I supposed to have to FIGHT for this?
I am, dare I say it?
I don’t want to be all dramatic, but the past few years… well, I’ve had to fight a LOT. There have been days where it’s been a fight to get out of bed in the morning.
And though I have been in therapy, working on figuring out how to be happy, I’ve had this niggling worry.
Have I have lost the capability to be happy?
So yes, right now there’s a sense that maybe there’s another shoe poised somewhere in the universe, ready to drop and squash these free and happy feelings.
But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy it.
And maybe, just maybe, I should start believing in Signs.