This is the second installment in the FLOW series, in which I explore different facets of my life in order to nurture my overall well-being, regain a part of the “old” me, and better cope with being infertile. See my previous post for a brief description about FLOW, and visit The Infertility Voice to get a copy of the workbook.
In my last post, I identified Connection as one key area that needs a lot of work right now. I have a couple strong connections in my life (but, truth be told, even those could use some help). They are:
- My friendship with my best friend. In some ways we are worlds apart from each other: She’s single, living in the Big City, and has no desire to have children. We both have a passion for science, literature, and art; we share a similar quirky sense of humor and love of bad movies (I’m talking bad bad, like Plan 9 From Outer Space and National Lampoon’s Last Resort bad); and we are both dealing with the ongoing fallout of some pretty shitty family drama. We’ve seen each other through the worst, and celebrated the best, and I can’t see that ever changing. Unlike most of my other friendships, which have faded over time, I can say with a great deal of certainty that this is a forever friendship. I tell my best friend things I could never share with anyone else, including my husband. She always knows the perfect thing to say, when to give advice, or when to offer to break someone’s kneecaps for me. I have never felt, nor do I ever fear, an ounce of judgement from her on anything, even when we don’t agree. We are for each other the go-to friend in times of both crisis and joy. Our friendship over the last two years has shown me that even when my world is falling apart around me, I am strong enough to be someone else’s rock when needed.
- My job. I felt a bit disconnected from my job for a while, but recently we have made some big changes in our organization, which has given me a renewed energy and passion for what I do. More and more, I’m gaining confidence in the value of what I bring to the table. I am making a real difference in communities throughout my state and I can honestly say that I have pride in what I do. My work reminds me that even if I never have kids, I am making a significant and lasting contribution that will touch many lives.
My weak connections far outnumber the strong ones, so I will focus on just the weakest, most important ones.
- My husband. When I think about how long we’ve known each other (4 years), it makes sense that I don’t feel a stronger connection to him. I know the marriage bond is supposed to be one of the strongest in a person’s life, which is why I’m concerned and determined to bring us closer, but I feel it’s important to acknowledge the fact that our relationship is still fairly new. We were engaged after just one year together, and married before we had known each other for 2 years. Certainly, there was a deep connection in the beginning. It’s cliché, but true: we were simply made for each other. We’re both pragmatic, reasonable people who see the world in much the same way. Since the loss of our first baby and with the subsequent infertility, it’s been difficult to nurture that connection. In fact, it’s been slowly eroding. Neither of us comfortable with or good at talking about our feelings, especially strong feelings like grief. I still don’t know how much our loss affected him. I don’t know what he thinks or feels about it. I’m afraid that asking him would force him either to expose emotion that he’s not ready for me to see (or doesn’t want me to see), or to push them down even further. To be honest, I’m afraid he’ll say he was relieved or that it didn’t bother him much at all. Our day-to-day conversations are trivial and repetitive. Our most passionate conversations are about issues and events to which we have little connection.
- My mother. I’ve always had a great relationship with my mom. We have similar world views and we both approach life with caution and logic. We’ve rarely, if ever, clashed over anything. She never told me what to do, but rather, in her own quiet way, guided me to make good decisions. Even though we’ve had deep conversations about things like religion, belief in a higher power, and death, we’ve never really talked about ourselves. (Hmm…. I’m beginning to sense a pattern….) My mom stayed with me the day after I miscarried, and never uttered a single cliché or insensitive word. But she also never encouraged me to talk about it. She didn’t share with me the fact that her mother had two miscarriages (one of which happened when my mom was pregnant with my older sister). We’ve never really talked about my miscarriage, or my infertility. I tell her a few things now and then, but it’s mostly just updates on the treatments we’re doing and what our next steps might be.
This brings me to my blueprint. Clearly, I need to open up more, and ask that my husband and my mom open up to me. The 2 year anniversary of my loss is coming up, along with National Infertility Awareness Week, and Mothers Day. Those are all excellent opportunities to raise the topic. Not that I need one, but it will make it easier for me.
Opening up to my mom and husband will help me feel less alone on this journey. Infertility is an isolating disease. Even though I have a wonderful support system online, in my day-to-day “real” life, I feel alone most of the time. I take responsibility for most of it, in that I don’t share as much as I want to or ask for the support I need. I think just letting people know that they can ask me about it will help. This will be my goal for the week, since today begins National Infertility Awareness Week.