Emotional resilience for the win.

Yikes, I haven’t blogged in weeks. Yesterday I was finally in the mood to blog and sat at the computer all prepared to write about how I’ve been a bit down, and how that has sapped my motivation. Instead of blogging I’ve done a fair bit of thinking about how I can be very ambitious and enthusiastic but then also somewhat fragile, with life crap putting me ‘in a funk’. To be fair, it HAS been a tough few weeks, with some deep-seated issues that have had to be contemplated (family stuff) but my resilience has not been as high as I would like. Perhaps that sounds a little cold-hearted. But when I say ‘emotional resilience’ I don’t mean that I don’t want to feel things, or that I don’t want upsetting situations to affect me.

Shifting perspective on certain things in my own mind really helped. You have to find a way to cheer on the positive side of the internal debate. I was just beginning to do this with some success and then an interesting thing happened.

I was literally sitting at the computer and about to write how life has been upsetting, but now I had processed everything that I needed to, or at least organised my life to the point that I wasn’t dwelling on something that was bothering me. And then I got a message from a friend. A pregnancy announcement. Now, I consider myself an unusual infertility blogger, I don’t write a lot about how I’m heartbroken that I can’t have kids; I definitely don’t write about ‘doing whatever it takes’ (there is plenty that I won’t do) and friends in real life have described me as pretty strong when it comes to dealing with this loss. In fact, my outward demeanour when it comes to discussing my lack of reproduction is so calm that some might be forgiven for thinking that it doesn’t upset me at all. Yet those familiar with infertility blogs or simply attuned to the difficult emotional issue of infertility (or subfertility, even) know that pregnancy announcements can hurt.

For whatever reason my friend chose to announce her pregnancy in a very casual and brief Facebook message. Along the lines of ‘by the way, I’m pregnant’. So, initially the hurt was about the delivery of the message. Anyway, because I was already thinking about emotional resilience a few thoughts occurred to me in quick succession: “pfft, whatever, even though she said she wasn’t interested in having kids I am 100% not surprised and good for her, I’m happy for her”, “hang on, am I denying my own feelings here? Surely I’m a little bit jealous?”, “yup, I am upset, a week ago I was indulging negative thoughts about how worthless I am and about how my life is going nowhere, and this doesn’t help”, “but, I was just pleased with dragging my sorry self out of that funk, and this doesn’t have to change that at all”. Well, maybe for one or two minutes.

In the end I wound up really proud of myself, and that’s why I wanted to write this while it’s still fresh, as a lesson to remember. In the end it doesn’t matter how the announcement was made because the fact that she is pregnant would have hurt a little regardless. Previously I may have dwelled on that hurt for too long and struggled with an inner conflict that I couldn’t resolve because I didn’t understand it. But I’ve done enough soul searching on this topic now that I can acknowledge the hurt, shed a few tears even, but then focus on the positive things that I still have, and then I can quickly get back to the main task of living the life that is right for me.

Is that a bit vague? In real terms it meant that although something affected me enough to shed a few tears of disappointment, I knew that no-one was to blame for that hurt, that sometimes life just hurts. So instead of losing motivation and watching garbage youtube videos while eating way too many corn chips, I was able to carry on with my pleasant afternoon. Yesterday that meant hanging out the washing, making veggie stock from scraps stored in the freezer, taking out my frustrations on the mountain with late afternoon shadows growing longer as I huffed and puffed and double-checked for pockets of denial, and then cooking a favourite soup to share with friends that evening.

Writing about the whole exercise in mental gymnastics now isn’t the easiest thing to do. Processing difficult emotions is great when you can do it quickly, and going over them for the purpose of blogging feels dangerously like old bad habits of over-analysing. But it’s fine, because I’m motivated to write this post not because it’s therapeutic for me to vent (not this time anyway), but because I genuinely hope that this could help someone else. When I first got told that I wouldn’t be making humans it was upsetting and I wasn’t sure why, there was a lot to figure out. I went looking for infertility blogs and I struggled to find one that I could really identify with. The crux of the matter was that I knew I could live a good life without raising children but then why was I still upset? The answer to that is very complex, and dependent on my particular circumstances, but one thing that should resonate with others struggling with infertility is feelings of being left out.

Yes, there was a tiny little bit of jealousy upon hearing that my friend was pregnant. And yes, the delivery of the message was very blunt and with no consideration shown towards my ‘situation’, but that wasn’t really what bothered me. The tears were for my lost friendship. Now this is really hard to write about, especially as a few of my friends might end up reading this! I talked about this with my husband last night and it was really useful. We talked about how friendships are formed and strengthened via shared experience.

Kids, especially when young, take a whole lot of focus in their parent’s lives. My focus is going to be elsewhere and I know that is going to affect my friendships. This is a really hard thing for me to admit, because I like to think of myself as a loyal friend. But I’m not going to know what it’s like to raise children, and they’re not going to know what it’s like to be me. And I have to strengthen my own focus in life rather than moping about the fact that mine is different. Speaking of which, this blog is helpful, but also not the main focus of my life! So that’s enough for now. I hope I got my point across that infertility is a bugger in that there are continual brief opportunities to be hurt but that as long as you have other good stuff going on then it’s easy enough to cope with. One of the benefits of infertility is extra time that you can devote to other passions, so I’m off to do that now!

autumnleaves
It’s autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, my favourite season

P.S. To any friends who are reading this, I still love you all dearly!

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2 thoughts on “Emotional resilience for the win.

  1. I can really relate to this. Lots of people have announced to me and I’m pretty sure they all think I don’t want kids… No idea that I have an “infertility blog” out there! 😉 I’m glad you’re having time to indulge your other passions and I can definitely relate to the mental gymnastics!

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