During a recent workshop support call, we were discussing loss and how to begin coming to terms with the idea of not having children. One member raised a question:
“How do you keep moving forward day-to-day?”
It’s a good question. When you’ve suffered a loss, or a series of losses, and you realize children aren’t going to be in your future, how do you keep getting out of bed and getting on with life, when what you feel like doing is curling up and wishing for the world to just leave you alone?
Another member of the group had a great suggestion:
“What helped me was staying focused on what I do have, instead of obsessing about what I don’t have,” she said.
When the goal of motherhood has been your main focus for so long, it’s natural to focus on what’s lost, what’s being given up by walking away from that goal. (And let’s face it, it can be a very long list.) But a little dose of Pollyanna can go a long way in making it through the day.
Look around you. There’s evidence everywhere to support what we do have. If you don’t live on the East Coast of the U.S, you probably have power in your home. In fact, you most likely have a home to have power in. Maybe you have good health, a strong relationship, a close family, or good friends. When you look up and look around, it’s amazing to see how much you do have.
Shifting perspective can be a good coping tool. It doesn’t diminish what’s been lost, not one bit, and it doesn’t mean there’s no excuse for grief, or sadness. That loss is real and it takes time to heal. But shifting focus can help you keep moving forward.
This Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the U.S., traditionally a time of gratitude. So, employing this perspective shift, what are you grateful for in your life? How are you lucky? What are some of the things that you do have going for you?
I’m most thankful for the good energy around me, and coming across fellow bloggers like yourself! Have a great holiday with your family and friends :))
I think what helped me most was to be reminded that Esso and I had muddled along together fairly well before TTC, and that we could do it again.
This was exactly my mindset as well… I knew we could have a good life without children… because we already did! Children would have been great, of course, but my life was already pretty good before we began ttc. I was (& still am) thankful for my dh, for good friends & family, for a good job in my field that I (mostly) enjoy and that pays (reasonably) well, that will (I hope!) allow me to retire a few years before my peers who have to put their kids through school first. 😉 And I’m eternally grateful for the support I have found online, first on message boards & then through blogging. 🙂
Gratitude was the intention my instructor set during yoga yesterday. Throughout the practice, she keept reminding us to focus on what we were grateful for. Ironic because 15 minutes before the class, I was incredibly hurt to find out my sister made plans with my other sister and my niece (who was in town visiting) and did not invite me. She does this all the time. I used it as an opportunity to focus on all that I have instead of focusing on the hurt of being excluded. I am grateful for a husband who loves me and finds me sexually irresistable at 46 years old and after 16 years together. I am grateful for my good friend Claudine who loves my company and has understood all my feelings going through infertility. I am grateful that I feel God in my life so that no matter where I go or who is with me, I never feel alone. I’m grateful for my lovely home and the crickets I hear around me at night. I’m grateful for my job because it is challenging and I’m surrounded by co-workers that like and respect me. I’m grateful that I can support myself financially, that my body is strong enough to run, bike, hike, and yoga, and that my mind is able to focus and allow me to meditate and find serenity. Finally, I’m grateful for my nieces and nephews who allowed me to experience children in my life, at least in the limited capacity as their aunt.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods says
I have what a friend has dubbed “supermodel hair”. Some times, when I’ve worked myself into a deep funk and all I seem to be focusing on is what I lack, I remind myself that I won the hair lotto. I fully acknowledge that this is trivial (and please know I also have my share of bad hair days), but just thinking it makes me laugh. And that’s what helps me begin the climb back up.
Kathleen, I recently asked a friend on FB (we had not seen each other in years) how she managed to never have a bad hair day. She responded in a private message that several years ago she began losing her hair and she wears a wig. But, she sees “never having a bad hair day as a silver lining”.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods says
Wow. She has an amazing attitude! Good friend is going through chemo right now, and her wig is gorgeous, a style she never could have pulled off with her “real” hair. Hmmm… silver linings….I think there’s another blog post topic here. 🙂
I am grateful for so much.
I’m grateful I get to sleep in on the weekend.
I’m grateful I can choose to cook dinner, or not, and it really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things (no kids to feed).
I’m grateful I get to go on amazing vacations (like my recent trip to South Africa) to locations where children aren’t allowed, and at times when kids would be at school.
I’m grateful for my husband. Like Loribeth said, we’d spent so many years together before we tried for kids, we knew we would be okay afterwards too. And we are.
I’m grateful I have good friends, and now from all over the world thanks to online communities like this.
I’m grateful summer is coming. We have little evidence of that so far – but December and Christmas and summer are all definitely on their way.
But I do wish I had supermodel hair!
This past weekend I was out of town for work. It was somewhat of a stressful weekend, and I really missed dh. I was so grateful to be home, to see him again. 🙂
In the throes of IF grief, one thing that kept me going was my anger. I promised myself that I would NEVER let infertility wreck my marriage and that my marriage and the relationship between me and hubby would be more important than the baby quest. And that anger has actually helped me a lot. Now I’m not angry anymore and I can honestly say that IF has brought us closer together. 🙂