Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Twilight Zone

I am familiar with the feelings that come when my own life is falling apart.
But navigating my feelings when the world around me is falling apart is a much bigger task.

I write this blog as I live my life after infertility without raising children. Infertility, for me, was life-altering and extremely traumatic. But that's how I also feel about the pandemic for everyone. It is a life-altering traumatic time period. The economic and social changes it has already caused have been devastating. As one of my friends succinctly said, "This pandemic is ruining lives." 

The future is unknown and any illusion of certainty has been removed. As survivors of infertility, we've already experienced this uncertainty on an intensely personal level. But this is bigger than each of our own individual lives. This pandemic is affecting everyone everywhere worldwide.

How are you feeling? How are you doing? How are your loved ones? How is your area?

  • I feel worried, anxious, and scared. 
  • I stay home as much as I can and wear a mask when I need to go out. I'm noticing and respecting my higher-than-usual anxiety levels, and I'm trying to be more patient with myself. I take everything one step at a time and I rest in between.
  • I think the majority of my closest friends (spread out across the country) are also staying home. That's good!
  • My family? I'm not so sure... As for now, everyone is healthy, although they take unnecessary (and irresponsible?) risks in my opinion. Several of them got together to celebrate a birthday at a restaurant/bar with an outdoor space last weekend. I most definitely didn't approve of this, but nobody asked me.
  • I don't know many people in the small town where I currently live, but I will say that it's a tourist town and I observed wayyy too many people out and about this weekend. I go for drives just to get out of the house and I saw way too many people on the roads, filling up parking lots, walking around, gathering at parks, etc. Why??? 

I feel like I'm living in The Twilight Zone.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

House Hunting Hurts

So I'm moving again. For those keeping count, this will be my third move since starting this blog. It will be my fourth move since selling the house I bought for my children. Moving is hard, but each situation I move myself into is such an improvement for my mental health.

For this move, I considered renting and buying. I want to rent first to make sure I like the area before buying a place, but there isn't a lot available to rent. Also, I'm sick of moving and I'm just ready to settle down and I pick this town. I got a job there and I can quilt anywhere. Eventually, I will meet a friend or two. Or at least have friendly faces at work.

The pandemic is making everything so much harder.

And I wasn't exactly at the top of my mental and physical health game before this. I give myself a ton of credit for all of the work I have done with processing my grief, but I am still emotionally injured.

Overall, I am so grateful. I have love and meaning in my life. My boyfriend is wonderful and I love my new career. The last missing piece is a Home. I know that home is where the heart is and home is what you make it and all that, but I really desire a single physical spot where I can put all of my books on the shelves. I want to stop changing my address and I want to finally unpack all of my boxes.

I'm 40. I'm ready to settle down and live the rest of my life. If possible.
But as always, I will go with what reality brings.

So back to moving. I started looking at houses to buy. At first it was kind of fun, looking at places and trying to imagine myself living there. But then three different houses I was interested in went into pending in one week and I felt such a disproportionate amount of loss that I knew I needed to step away from the process.

I cried all last week. By now you probably know that I'm a crier. It's how I usually process my feelings. But those tears HURT. Those tears were all about getting excited about something major for the rest of my life and then losing it before it ever happened. Way way way too familiar.

It took me by surprise. At first, I was so mad at myself. "I'm so damaged, I can't even look at houses to buy like 'normal' people do?" But then I was more compassionate with myself. "It's okay. You've been through a lot. Your resources have been low for years now but look at what all you've done anyway. You will get through this, but it's okay to take a break for now."

So that's what I'm doing. House hunting hurts too much right now. I'm taking a break.
Fortunately, I can share extremely good news: I found a place to rent! It is a HUGE relief.

So I will be okay. I am doing just fine.
I will continue to respect my healing process and where I'm at with things.

💜

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Summer Solstice 2020

Happy Summer Solstice (to Most)! 🌞

(And Happy Winter Solstice to Mali! ⛄)


To learn more about what this day means, I found an article I like. I enjoyed a lot of its ideas:

  1. The article describes the solstice as a time for reflection and, as it signifies the changing of the season, a time for new beginnings.

  2. In particular, the seasonal change of the summer solstice is marked by the peak of sunlight which symbolizes "the triumph of light over darkness in the individual."

  3. The author also writes that it is a time to slow down, saying "the seeds of spring have been planted... It's time to let nature take its course."

So, here's to reflecting and beginning again. Here's to also slowing down and allowing what we've already worked for to come to fruition. Here's to honoring our own light and sharing it with others. 



(Photo Credit: Me; Can you believe I saw this massive rainbow earlier this month? Wow.)

Friday, June 5, 2020

Finding Meaning Again

It's a difficult time right now. For so many reasons.
And things were hard before this current time. Now everything is harder. Much harder.

Some things feel impossible. And these feelings are all way too familiar from my years spent in the throes of infertility. Maybe something I have learned while recreating my life after trauma and devastation will help you. For one, when all feels lost, hopeless, and without purpose, please know that meaning can be found again.

*****

During my darkest years, everything lost meaning. What was the point of anything? I had no important milestones left. There was nothing else I wanted to achieve. There were no other roles I wanted to fill. I didn't care about anything other than being a mother and raising children and that wasn't working out for me. I was afraid nothing would ever have meaning again. I thought I would never feel joy. I thought I was in for a bleak existence and there was nothing I could do about it. I shrugged and trudged on.

One day (five years and three months ago) I was scrolling through one of my social media feeds (during a break from reading fertility boards and some newly found infertility blogs) when I came across an informative video that combined two of my favorite interests. I felt something. I felt something for the first time in a long time, so long that I didn't even recognize the feeling at first.

It was excitement. Or inspiration.
Overall, it was interest and happiness and it felt good.

I felt confused for the rest of the day. I didn't know what to do with this newly rediscovered spark of a feeling. I decided to explore it. I decided to check out the profession that I saw featured on the video.

Literally.

I went to the library and checked out a bunch of books about the profession. I checked out the Occupational Outlook Handbook by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics to read about the average salaries and projected growth in the field. I checked out technical books to browse the language and topics within the profession's scope of practice. I even checked out a couple of introductory textbooks to see if I felt like studying that information for the next several years.

I learned everything I could to see if anything turned me off. Nothing did. I kept going.

Then I explored affordable schools in my area, determined what all I needed to do to apply, and just jumped in to see how much, if all, I could get done by the application deadline in five months.

I did it all. And, as I've written before, it all sucked haha. I cried the whole way through the process. But I'm extremely glad I did it, even more so now that it is all over and done and I am employed in my new field (my part-time job at the hospital--I'm back on the schedule, yay!).

I noticed, I explored, I learned, and I pursued.
I applied, I got in, I worked hard, and I graduated.
I studied, I took my board exam, I passed, and I got licensed.

And the day before yesterday? The day before yesterday I left my job filled with such intense satisfaction, contentment, and gratitude. My spirit soared. I just felt so damn good. One overwhelming thought filled my heart and brain and energized my spirit:

Providing comfort and care for my patients gives my life meaning. 

My life feels meaningful again. And I will never ever ever take that for granted.

*****

Finding meaning again is possible (and you don't even have to believe me right now). Yours will most likely look very different from mine, but please hear me when I say that life can be meaningful again. You deserve purpose and you deserve joy. 💜


Thursday, May 28, 2020

One Less Stressor

Last week I fell apart emotionally. I just ran out of steam. I could no longer deal. This week I fell apart physically. I got sick from stress and exhaustion. Running on empty tends to do that to me.

I felt like just giving up and lying around on the couch and feeling sorry for myself, not concerning myself with moving forward in any way. But then I dug in and resolved to fight the good fight. I've worked so hard to get where I am. Why allow myself to passively slide back into a hole?

I lost myself sometime over the last month or two and I hadn't even realized it.
Then Loribeth posted this:



Have I mentioned how thankful I am for the CNBC online community?
Someone is always there to be a friend and/or tell me what I need to hear.

So.

Yes, life is stressful. Infertility, failed treatments, graduate school, moving cross country, changing careers, getting divorced, enduring a pandemic. These are all extremely stressful life events.

Yes, I am tired. I've been writing that since I started this blog and I've been thinking it even longer. But I refuse to give up. The dark emptiness that I had for years is no longer just below the surface, but I know it could return if I give in and give up. Despite all of the stress, I don't want to give up. I deserve to do better for myself.

All that to say... I canceled my surgery date for the hysterectomy procedure. The doctor always said it was my choice. She would support my decision either way, that she would either perform the surgery now or continue to monitor my health and possibly perform the surgery later. After a lot of thought, I've realized that I just can't do it right now. I cannot voluntarily deal with managing one more major life stressor at this time.

The good news is I signed a contract for a new job last week. I felt immensely relieved and grateful. But, this also requires me to move several hours from where I am now. My lease ends soon and I don't have a new place yet. So, at this point, I don't even know where I would be healing and recovering from major surgery if I was having it next month... And that would be assuming I was able to move all of my stuff somewhere before surgery. That, combined with the fact that I never did get any conclusive results that indicated I needed surgery immediately, I am just going to wait and have another check-up in the fall. If I don't have to, I don't want to. Not right now. No surgery for me this summer.

So that's one less stressor. :)


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Scattered, Depleted, and Sad

I am emotional and that, my friends, is an understatement. Today has been, excuse my language, a royal clusterfuck. I just haven't been able to stop crying.

I left this morning to go run an errand in the city. Driving in the city makes me anxious. Running errands makes me anxious. The pandemic makes me anxious. Seeing everyone in masks is off-putting and makes me anxious (although it is much preferred to people NOT wearing masks!). I'm not the greatest driver and I made a really bad mistake while driving. Thankfully, I didn't wreck but I've been having a hard time forgiving myself for it all day.

And something was up before that. I started crying as I was driving to the city, thinking about how I've wasted my life and how I would've lived my life differently if I'd known I was infertile (while also remembering that I had, in fact, already written a blog post saying just the opposite--that I WOULDN'T have changed anything about my life). The rational side of me immediately piped up and tried to talk me out of this line of thinking, but... I wasn't successful with myself.

Oof. I've started crying again. I swear, I've been crying all damn day. And I don't know why.

But I can guess.

The pandemic, my teaching job ended, I need to move, I need to find a place to move to, and I am so so so sick of moving. Everything is harder in a pandemic. I'm stressed, I'm maxed out, I'm emotional. My mom has been a total jerk to me for a solid year and a half now and I have run out of ideas for how to manage our relationship. I'm still healing from infertility, I think I'm still processing my divorce (which I know was the right decision but it's still very difficult to process), and I have not had a break from major life stressors in NINE years.

Did I mention the pandemic? Everything was hard enough before the virus; now everything feels almost insurmountable.

Plus I've struck out on all three important errands I tried to take care of this week.

Did I mention I can't stop crying? That's my go-to response when I am completely scattered, depleted, and sad. I don't even know how to cope today. I got home from my unsuccessful errand, went to bed, and cried. Then I got up and did dishes. Then I went back to bed and read until I started crying again. Then I took a shower. Then I got back in bed but made myself get out when I determined it would be better for my mental health if I got up. I am driving myself crazy.

I know this will pass. I've had the same mental health my whole life. I have forty years of experience with dealing with myself. And I am soooo much more compassionate with myself now than I was in my teens and twenties. It still sucks. But it will pass.

This post doesn't say much, but I'm having a really hard day and I know that I am never alone, so I am writing this for the other women out there having a hard day too for whatever reason.

It sucks. But it will pass. And you are not alone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Congratulating Myself

My school year is basically ending this week. 
Teaching online school has been... A lot of things. It often felt exhausting and chaotic, but my students, co-workers, and I held on and got through it. I constantly wondered how effective my colleagues and I were being. However, it's the last week of classes and my students are still doing assignments and showing up for their regularly scheduled video conferences, so I think we did all right. I think my team and I provided structure, connection, and meaning during a critical time when that was what was needed most. I'm just sorry the school year had to end this way.

My students did so well this year. 
They came in timid and full of deficits in many basic study skills. So basically, they were normal middle schoolers. ;) The academic and social-emotional growth I saw this year was incredible. Some days were really hard, but the year was fun. I hammered the basics (math, reading, and writing) and taught them about other important things like manners, hygiene, and Gardner's Multiple Intelligences theory. My classroom was a place where they knew they could take a break if that's what they needed. I respected them and they respected me. I knew we had established positive working relationships when I realized how clean everyone was leaving my classroom every day.

I did so well this year. 
I jumped back into the classroom full-time for the first time since my years of trying to conceive and enduring fertility treatments. Technology had changed a lot, but human behavior stayed basically the same. And that's true for both students and co-workers, haha. I enjoyed teaching and I loved getting to know my students. I liked eating lunch with my friendly co-workers every day. There were a lot of stressful days and tons of awesome moments. Overall, I am happy to be moving on, but this will be one of those special years that I will always remember. I learned it is possible (and not hurtful) for me to work extensively with kids again.

🏆💜