I have been wanting to write this last blog post for quite a while. But I guess the time wasn’t right….until now. Maybe I felt scared about saying goodbye to the blog, like I was tempting fate by admitting publicly that I don’t need it anymore. It’s true. I know I don’t need it anymore – not this particular blog, which I started for the purpose of sharing my infertility story and the continued struggles I experience beyond having conceived and birthed our beautiful little miracle baby, now two and a half years old. The blog was my cry for help. It served as a public platform for me to purge myself of some of the guilt and shame which was holding me prisoner and forming a barricade around my heart.
However, I slowly learned that this platform could never provide me with the opportunity to truly heal. I received so many beautiful comments and words of support that helped me feel validated. But the emptiness, fear and pain still lingered on. It took me some time to realise that I needed to stop seeking validation and confirmation from others that I deserved to express my pain. I needed to say this to myself!
On the day I signed up to do Sheryl Paul’s online ‘Open Your Heart’ programme, I cried – just as I had done the day I published my first blog post and the day I went to see my GP to ask for help. These tears came from a soft, vulnerable place inside me and although I may have looked like a quivering wreck, I actually felt a profound sense of freedom and a surge of gratitude towards myself for having had the courage to take another giant step forward.
Sheryl Paul’s programme has been transformational. She has taught me how to breathe into the discomfort and accept whatever arises with compassion and curiosity. In simple words, I am learning how to go easy on myself, to become my own friend and slowly but surely say goodbye to that long-standing shadow of my true self who used to chastise and berate me day after day until I felt like an empty shell, a soulless passenger being driven recklessly along the edge of a cliff face.
Before I started this healing process, I did what most of us do in our western culture – I set myself goals! I wanted to be healed, eradicated of fear, anger and all those negative emotions and to be euphorically ‘at one’ with myself and the world. It’s taking me quite some time to slowly dissolve these expectations and in actual fact, to embrace groundlessness as an opportunity to really listen to myself, because until we offer ourselves that helping hand with no strings attached, no ultimatums, deadlines or ‘what ifs’, we will always feel pressure. And when there’s pressure, there is no space to learn or to grow.
I’ve discovered that healing isn’t about ‘getting over it”, but rather allowing yourself to move through it and embracing whatever feeling happens to come along in the moment….
Last weekend, I felt a mounting sense of stress as I tried to run about making everything perfect for our little girl’s first new ‘big bed’. As I flitted around from shop to shop, searching for the perfect new duvet cover and matching sheets, I lost composure and felt myself almost tip over the edge…..until I was able to just stop for a moment to breathe and simply recognise that I was hurting. I was hurting because it is a bittersweet moment saying goodbye to your baby’s cot, packing it away to go up the loft, not knowing if it will ever be needed again.
On another day last week, I heard the news that a friend was expecting her second child and I felt a sharp stab in my gut as I fought back a tear. Almost simultaneously, an unwanted jealous thought fired through my brain, creating a downward spiralling cascade of negative emotion. It’s still hard being reminded of my inability to achieve what a lot of other women seem to find so easy.
The very act of writing and publishing this last blog post has stirred up my emotions in such a confusing way that I don't exactly understand. I guess it's that I am partly sad to let go...which I know sounds crazy, but it's just that letting go means moving forward and moving through your pain and that can be scary.
These are just a few examples to illustrate the fact that I do, of course, still have my ‘off’ moments/days or weeks. But I have realised that as long as I recognise my pain without any judgement, the jealousy, stress, anger, irritation – whatever form of protection has clamped its grip around me, almost magically subsides and in its place, I am able to enjoy gratitude…pure, untainted gratitude that is no longer overshadowed by the weight of shame. It was torturous walking around for so long with such a closed heart. I denied myself permission to feel joy, just as I denied myself permission to feel the full extent of my pain. The two go hand in hand.
When I started the Open Your Heart course, I imagined that it would involve a lot of intense work and at the end of the five weeks, whether or not I’d be ‘cured’, that would be that – back to the ‘normal’ routine. But I have since realised that this self-healing path is really quite addictive once you get sucked in! J Yes, it is hard work, both emotionally and physically (in the sense of making time for it). But as soon as I twigged that it was a vehicle towards reconnecting with myself and with the people I most love in this world, I knew I would always be fully committed to it. As Brene Brown says, “we are wired for connection.” I would never have offered myself this helping hand a few months ago if it was all just for me. Daniel Siegel says in his wonderful book, “Mindsight” (which I highly recommend to everyone!):
“Some people are concerned that [Mindsight] is just another way to become more self-absorbed – a form of navel-gazing, of becoming preoccupied with reflection instead of living fully……While it is true that being self-obsessed decreases happiness, mindsight actually frees you to become less self-absorbed, not more. When we are not taken over by our thoughts and feelings, we can become clearer in our own internal world as well as more receptive to the inner world of another.”
Writing this blog was a pivotal chapter in my story, a conscious departure from the emotional suppression to which I was subjecting myself for so long. I began my journey by first of all jotting down the story of our five year long struggle to conceive our little girl. I remember that being the first truly catharctic exercise I allowed myself to conduct. The blog came shortly after that and it lead me to where I am now…. I just wanted to thank you so much for supporting me by simply reading what I had to say. I hope that it has also been helpful to other people out there who are suffering from infertility, past or present, in whatever form. I am going to leave you with a beautiful blog post written by Sheryl Paul, called “The Holy Day of Mothers Day”:
This is an excerpt from it. Please click here to read the entire post.
“The cultural definition says that Mother’s Day is to celebrate literal mothers, meaning someone who has children. And it seems our culture even wants to squeeze this definition into the tightest possible corset: a mother is someone who has given birth to biological children or raised a baby from birth. So it doesn’t allow room to celebrate step-children, foster children, adult children that someone has chosen to mother later in life. It doesn’t allow room for all manifestations of mother, both literal and metaphorical.
For we are all mothers. We mother friends, siblings, animals, creative projects and the Earth. We mother others and we mother ourselves. And the divine feminine lives in all of us, both male and female. It’s the slow, creative, receptive energy that pulses like a great wild cat through the invisible veins of our lives. She needs us and we need her, now more than ever…”