12 Ways I’m Showing the Holidays Who’s Boss

The surprising benefits of themes, nuts and bolts

I haven’t been playing coy.  At least totally not on purpose anyway.  I’m well aware of what time of year it is.

The often bargain basement notion of “focusing on something else” has functioned as a dismissive annoyance for the better part of my healing process.  “Focus on the life you DO have” – when that was thrown my way for many years people may as well have been poking me with a fire iron.  So disparaging and unintelligent in its simplicity, isn’t it?  While ultimately that was what I wanted to move towards coming out of treatments (because really, who HASN’T thought of that), the trip from point a to point b is nothing short of a brutal, painstaking labyrinth.  And that’s putting it nicely.  

Not to mention that when you are putting yourself through the wringer to try to have a child, and when you are coming to terms with the fact you will never be a parent, these things ARE major parts of the life you do have.  This is not a trip to Vegas, people.  What happens in baby making and involuntary childlessness land does not merely STAY in baby making and involuntary childlessness land.

And there are always those people around you hyped to find you a “distraction”, especially when your pain reaches its peaks and needs to be felt and expressed most.  A distraction deemed for you when it is really for them, as if it’s possible to focus on anything else but trying to comprehend your missing children and make sense of this new life you didn’t ask for.

It seems though, I’ve finally figured out an application for the peripheral “focus on something else” modus operandi (perhaps there is a time and a place and a grain of truth to almost everything).  Yes boys and girls, so far this year I’ve found that “focusing on something else” during the Christmas season may be my way to go for now.

Please do let me explain. Read more

I Said Something

Pronatalism in Politics

The carefully orchestrated campaign material came in the form of a gut punching drizzle.  

First, a leaflet listing the candidate’s attributes – mom, community leader and South Shore native.  Yes, in that order.  Then a greeting card layout splattered with pictures of her children that introduced them to us – ready or not!  Followed by a brochure featuring her and her children who were holding up a handmade “Mama for Congress” sign (which they clearly did not fashion themselves).  Of the five pictures inside, two featured her children, one of which was her campaigning with one of them.  Some people may view this as going above and beyond, as an obstacle to overcome.  I view it as an opportunity I and so many like me will never have.

Two slightly more informative brochures followed.  One donned with her lifting her son out of a car seat on the cover.  With the last, a dash of hope things were heading to the realm of more substantive and relevant.  Until I flipped it over to be greeted by her speaking in front of a group while cradling her son on her hip.

I wanted to support her, I wanted to help remove the incumbent in my congressional district, but through all the parenthood drool how was I supposed to determine if she’s a good candidate?  Read more

Childless Voices Resound on IVF’s 40th Anniversary

The experience of not being able to have children when you wanted them will always be life altering.  And it has the capacity to inflict a level of grief that is, among other things, transformative.

The experience of wanting children and not being able to have them does not always have to be so inhumane, however.

What do we do when evolution is so clearly needed?  When we are driven by the common thread of leaving this experience more truthful and less pulverizing than we found it?  One doesn’t need to have their own children to have a vested interest in improving things for the next generation, that’s for sure.

We start talking. Read more

An Easter Note to Self

Pulling into the parking lot, we were overcome by an unanticipated wave of families with young children.  Someone decollapsed and snapped into position a twin stroller as I got out of my car.  On my right, as I walked into the garden center, a set of grandparents were suspended in time, gazing oozingly at their grandchild before re-entering their vehicle.

It was Good Friday, and Holy Shit indeed.   Read more

On Ritual

Honoring that which never got to be

A settled chill hung in the air as we hurriedly pulled into the flower shop on our way to buy groceries.

“Why don’t we get them at Whole Foods? Whole Foods has flowers.” my husband pointed out irritably.

I slammed the car door without a word and stomped into the flower shop, disregulated autonomic nervous system and all.

I respectfully waited for the owner to take a funeral order as my autonomic nervous system failed miserably to adjust to the cold (which is typically hard on people with dysautonomia as well as other neuropathies). But knowing what it’s like to have a loss that is not societally regarded in any way, I was not about to impatiently huff and pout in the face of someone else’s moment of acknowledgement.

I ordered an arrangement of white flowers in a low, square vase as my lightheadedness ballooned and the room spun a bit, perhaps from both the cold and harsh reality. Read more

My Two Warriors

The Merging of Old Self and New Self

The morning after we got the news I was up and running. Making phone calls, writing, plotting, planning, energizing the troops. And the next day, and the next. This centrifuge of energy continued for the next ten or so days as I found myself knee deep in files, sorting through pictures, discussing strategy and making decisions with the speed and precision with which a chef would chop an onion. Read more

SHOWERED

Our Tribe Comes Together to Honor a Milestone

I was never a fan of the concept of showers. In my twenties I felt indignant that, according to some rather dominant social systems, my deserving of a blender hinged on the status of my love life.

According to my vision, if we had to have showers at all, then ALL women (and maybe men too, who knows?) should be given one upon striking out on their own in the world, partnered or not.

By the time I had my own bridal shower at the age of 33, we kept it small. I just wasn’t that into it, plagued by my discomfort with the whole tradition and its inherent inequities.

Ten years or so later, I found myself tussling with a different set of inequities, seemingly far less black and white than the former. The obliteration of anticipated milestones for those of us who wanted children but couldn’t have them hangs heavy as one grieves and transitions into their life unexpected. Read more

I Actually Want To Do Something

Trauma’s lethargy finally cracks

Inertia. Indifference. Strangulated passion. Latent drive. A void of direction. An arduous and unchosen reconfiguration of self. All of these things are going on, or as it can feel like, NOT going on post life altering traumatic loss.

And if we are being true to our process, there is no manufacturing our way out. Amid the mysterious and painstaking unfolding all one can do is wait. And observe. And tend to the present the best one can and engage in life to whatever degree one reasonably is able.

A year and a half ago I embarked on a basic 200 hour yoga teacher training. Clocking in now at a whopping 45.5 years old (as of August 19), a peculiar kind of fascination takes over as I gaze back at my 44 year old self. You see, the conventional middle aged settled, predictable and basking in the illusion of being fully sure of one’s future does not apply here. When one sustains a life altering traumatic loss, particularly in mid-life, one undergoes evolvement and transformation that possesses a depth, velocity and trajectory that is highly abnormal for the phase of life in question.
Read more

Reflections on Grief and Feeling

You can find my latest round on Lesley Pyne’s blog HERE, dear readers.

I had mentioned in a comment on her site that I had taken my grief head on.  She asked me what that meant and if I’d be willing to write about it.

How refreshing to have someone stop and pay attention to that which most people want to avert!!  An important reminder of the power of community.  And that our involuntarily childless club needs to grieve and mourn just like any other set of humans who lost a key component in their lives that was near and dear to them.

And so I did write reflections on my grief journey and included some tools that have been useful to me that hopefully others will find empowering too.

 

XOXO

Sarah

 

 

 

Musings From the Middle

In both disenfranchised grief and resurrection, it is hard to know where you are. And often times, it feels irrelevant. Post life altering traumatic loss Road is perpetually foggy, no doubt. But is having some sort of proposed road map really going to alter the slog of now? Read more