Thursday, January 28, 2021

Word Of The Year

Choosing a Word Of The Year is something I've heard about before. It seems like it's been a thing for several years now, at least according to my awareness. Of course, I'm often behind haha. But I like to hear about an idea and let it just wash over me, seeing what sticks, before I fully commit.

It's just like my experience with gratitude journals. I had heard of that idea many times before ever trying it. Then I got to a low point in my life and figured it couldn't hurt, so I started writing down a couple of things I was thankful for each day. I wrote in that journal several times a week for a couple of years. Then I wrote in it once a month or so. Then I wrote only every now and then. But I kept it. And I kept writing in it. When I ran out of pages, I turned the journal upside down and wrote on the backs of every page. I started that journal in 2008 and finished it almost a decade later. It was a regular routine that became an ingrained practice that slowly transformed my thinking over time. I don't currently keep a gratitude journal but keeping one for so long permanently changed my perspective on life.

But back to Word Of The Year... This is an idea I've heard about for a couple of years now. Had I formally selected a WOTY in previous years, it might have been Grieve (2012 - 2015), Accept (2016 - 2018), Create (2019), and Self-Confidence (2020). But really, I only know that in retrospect. Although, I did have some of those words consciously in the back of my mind while the years were happening (i.e., Accept and Create).

This year I formally selected a word. I invested $5 in myself and used this resource by Dominee at Blessing Manifesting. Honestly, I love this resource. The author posed a lot of good questions that I hadn't thought of before, and, yes, I sat down with a pen and some paper and actually wrote down my answers. Her questions helped me to reflect, articulate goals, and think of qualities that I want in my life. 

It was an interesting process working my way through her guidebook. The author gives you ideas for your WOTY and encourages you to honor your WOTY on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. She reminds you to consider many aspects of your life: physical wellness, relationships, finances, hobbies, etc. and how your WOTY influences them. She also gives suggestions for things you can do (crafty and otherwise) to remember your WOTY. I don't want to give away her content for free so I'm just sharing in general what her mini guidebook offers, in case you're interested too... 

I enjoyed her guidebook and I appreciate having a WOTY to give me direction, a WOTY to come back to so I can remember what's important to me. While working my way through the prompts, some words that came to mind were love, nourish, quiet, and release. Other words that I particularly liked included stillness, declutter, and rest. Words I thought of that surprised me were humble and discerning. 

With all that said, I chose more than one word for this year hahaha. But they all work together. It's just what feels right for me. So my 2021 WOTY is in/inhale/inspire. 

In reminds me to go inward. 

How am I feeling? What am I thinking? What do I need? What do I want? 

Inhale reminds me to breathe. 

It reminds me to stop and take a slow, deep breath. There is no rush. There is no hurry. This is my life and I am doing the best I can with each breath I take.

Inspire reminds me to breathe again. 

Literally. Inspire means to inhale and to give inspiration. 

At first, only the word inspire was coming to me as my WOTY, but it felt too lofty. I feel too tired for myself; how can I possibly inspire others? But then I remembered that inspire also means to inhale, so I thought maybe it was an appropriate WOTY for me. 

And then I had another thought... I want to be inspired to get the mundane done this year. I want to pay my bills and run my errands. I want to cook dinner and eat leftovers. I want to keep the house a little bit cleaner. I want to finish changing my name back on everything after getting divorced. I want to finally get my stuff out of storage and move it to where I live now. I just want to get shit DONE. And I'm gonna need some inspiration to do it all.

It all begins with where I choose to put my focus, my intentions, my breath. In. Inhale. Inspire. 

And on a completely different (but also totally related) topic, I sewed this pillowcase yesterday.
Sewing mends my soul. Beautiful things come together, stitch by stitch, one breath at a time.

 





Friday, January 22, 2021

My Old Life

In my old life I always ate at the restaurants where my ex-husband wanted to eat. If I wanted to eat somewhere different, I went by myself. 

In my old life I always drove to my friends' houses. They never came to mine. It was "just easier" because they had kids. In fact, it was also "just easier" for those that didn't have kids.

In my old life I always went wherever my family was celebrating the holidays, regardless of my work schedule and traveling difficulties. I always made it happen even if it meant a 10-hour round trip drive for a quick, less-than-24-hour celebration. I even traveled while giving myself injections during an IVF cycle. (Looking back on it, for me, that's insanity!)

In my old life I watched everyone's lives around me change with every passing season. Their children were growing up and meeting milestones. My friends and family were busy lamenting and celebrating. Their lives were always changing. 

In my old life everything stayed the same. I was an infertile housewife whose husband went to the sports bar every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I had moved to the suburbs where I knew no one. I volunteered weekly at the nearby elementary school, spending time with whomever the school counselor thought would benefit from some one-on-one, uninterrupted attention from a safe and caring adult. I brought a crate on wheels filled with books, games, and craft supplies and, for an hour every week, we did whatever the kid wanted to do. 

Other than that one hour at the elementary school every week, I was very lonely.
At least I had my dog.

In my old life I accommodated everyone. I did what was easiest for them. I did not value my own unique life and what it looked like and required. I ignored where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. I assumed it was just easier for everyone if we went with their plans, their schedule, their expectations. Ex-husband, friends, and family alike.

I loved my loved ones, but I hated my old life. I needed to get a new one...

To state the obvious, changing myself changed everything.

It started with friends. I just stopped reaching out if the relationship felt unreciprocated. It was a painful transition as I watched the majority of whom I thought I was in relation with just drift away. (With the help of a wonderful counselor, I was able to learn that this is normal in life. But at the time, while still dealing with infertility, it felt so painful and unbearable. Each lost friendship felt like a mini-death.) 

It moved to my marriage. My ex-husband knew I wanted to live differently. He promised me we would. As soon as we moved out of the suburbs he said. As soon as we moved out of the city he said. As soon as we moved to a new state he said. Things never changed. In fact, they just got worse.

My family relationships continue to be a dance. My parents and sisters are the relationships I've had all of my life, so those are a little more challenging to change in terms of patterns and habits, especially considering all of the history there. But they've definitely changed! It's an up and down experience, where sometimes my boundaries are respected and other times they are questioned and criticized.

In my old life I did not realize I was putting myself last. I thought I was being giving and loving to everyone. "Hi!!! I'm here!! Let's hang out! What do you want to do? What do you need??" But sidelining your own needs is giving yourself away and giving yourself away is not giving or loving to anyone. It is most certainly not giving and loving to ourselves. 

I still struggle with balance, as evidenced by my frequent bouts with feeling depleted, but I am so much better now at striving for balance and being compassionate with myself when I don't achieve it.

­čĺť

(This post was inspired by Anon S's brilliant comment on this Childless By Marriage post.)

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Grieving My Job

How are you? Are you a pile of mush? In my opinion, Jess said it best: January 2021 has felt like one long hangover from 2020. (And I'm not even drinking right now lol.) Personally, I have felt like crap, been very emotional, been slow to do anyyything, and basically feel like I'm just draaagging.

And like I always say, that's okay! I respect where I am.

The truth is I am grieving again. I am grieving the job I quit that I thought I wanted to retire from. 

I jumped in immediately last August, without looking, feet first, all systems go. I paid for and took expensive trainings. I bought a lot of books, materials, and supplies. I began building a collection of articles to support a research-based practice. I went ALL IN. Complete with expectations and everything. 

Ohhh... Expectations again. Thinking things were going to be one way and then. they. weren't.

Oh. Damn.
Plans foiled again...
...I shall do something else!

But first, I have to grieve what I expected and what I experienced. I have to because I feel it.

I'm journaling again. I'm sewing a little almost every day. I'm slowly but surely bringing back my yoga practice. I'm focusing on eating, sleeping, showering, doing what makes me feel good, and redirecting my negative thinking. It takes everything I have. Again, that is okay. With the pandemic still raging, it is an appropriate time to be still and quiet at home.

I'm exhausted. I cry a lot. I'm easily irritated. I've even had insomnia, which is very unusual for me. I accept it all. I welcome it. I pull up a chair and allow my sadness, anger, and massive disappointment to stay a minute. I recognize and acknowledge all of these longtime acquaintances of mine.

I feel the pressure to go get another job as soon as possible. I also know that's not possible right now. I cannot take in any new information at this time. I need to grieve and heal a little before starting my next new thing. I need to honor the fact that I have learned three different new careers in the last 18 months (teaching middle school, working in acute care at a hospital, and then working as a service provider for a school district) and I am tired. I need mental and emotional rest. (Did you read Mel's post about the seven kinds of rest on Monday? So good!!) And it's up to me to give myself what I need.

I wish our society didn't suck so much at grief. People don't understand my years-long grieving process for my children and motherhood. They sure as hell won't understand my need to grieve a job that I voluntarily quit. Well, F that noise. Grief is real and grieving is necessary. For so many different experiences.

I will jump back in the working game. I am looking forward to it. As I've shared before, caring for patients gives my life meaning. But, first, I need some time to rest. 

I need some time to grieve what was and what I thought would be.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Around the Corner

I can't believe I'm quoting Gwen Stefani on my blog. It's not that I have anything against her. I remember seeing No Doubt play twice back in the late 90s. I just never thought I'd be quoting her. But here I go:

"It's weird how things happen and you just don't see things
that are right around the corner after such devastation."

I was reading an article on People where Gwen was talking about how lucky she felt to have fallen in love again. I love love and feel lucky that my boyfriend and I crossed paths when we did, so the romantic in me was really enjoying the article. But that quote was really powerful to me. After infertility. After divorce. While still not yet having found my place in my new career.

*****

I talked to my mom yesterday. She is always pushing back on me. I never seem to be doing the right thing according to her. She called me yesterday and, even though I was in the middle of quilting for the first time in weeks, I answered my phone to visit with her for a bit. She asked what I was doing, I told her, and she immediately said with a weird judgmental tone, "Do you ever do anything else besides quilting?"

What's wrong with quilting?

What's wrong with me? 

And, to be quite honest, why aren't you worried about my sisters?
They both currently have significant issues that are affecting them.

However, my sisters are married, have kids, own their houses, and have jobs. I am divorced, without kids, a renter, and unemployed. Huh. It turns out going against the norm really bothers some people. (Oh well. Their problem, not mine.)

*****

I definitely don't feel like I need a partner to be happy. But I do have a partner and he does make me happy, so I am incredibly thankful for that. Despite living in similar places across the same three states throughout both of our lives, our paths never crossed (that we know of) until we were in our late 30s. It was the perfect time for the two of us to meet for so many reasons. Any earlier would not have been the right time. But now is perfect.

I didn't know I was going to meet him. Meeting someone was the last thing on my mind. I was busy and I was content. I had just moved to a new state and had a new life to create. I had worked hard to be where I was and I was at peace on my own.

I had no idea what was just around the corner... :)

*****

In a way, it makes me feel a tiny bit better about the future. In a time when our country is experiencing so much open hate and violence, it's helpful for me to remember that I do not yet know the good that is coming.

Thank you for the reminder, Gwen. 


Monday, January 11, 2021

How Quickly I Forget

I already forgot. In my last post I reminded myself to keep today's date in mind, that it was fast approaching. And then I promptly forgot about it.

I woke up early this morning and braved the cold to go grocery shopping right when the store opened. I am usually the only shopper at that time as was the case again today. They don't do curbside pickup here, so it's the safest way for me to get groceries. I didn't feel that great while shopping, but I went through my list and got what I wanted since I was already there.

When I got home, I got sick. And I could just tell it was stress-related (not anything that worried me), but I was so perplexed. I went back to bed while my boyfriend put away the groceries.

I slept for a couple of hours, woke up, and got sick again. I felt a little sorry for myself, but mostly I was annoyed and confused. What stress am I under? I thought... Well, yeah, there's my new unemployment. But I have a plan for my job search. There's also the pandemic and missing my family and friends, but we are on month ten of that so that's nothing new. Aren't we all stressed? Aren't we all maxed out? I fell back asleep again.

When I woke up again at 1:30, it hit me. It's the date; it's the freaking 11th. The exact same thing happened to me last year too and I just wrote about it last week. I did a literal facepalm while still lying in bed.

Six years ago today I learned that my first IVF did not result in pregnancy. I didn't have any positive feeling that it had, but it was still devastating to get that phone call. 

I swear it doesn't hurt like it used to. I promise I'm telling the truth when I say I like my life. But I also have to acknowledge what a huge deal childlessness after infertility is and how damaging failed fertility treatments can be. Even when I don't consciously remember the date, my body remembers on a physical level EVERY SINGLE YEAR. That's how big of a loss it is for me. 

And that is why I will keep blogging.

But, for now, I've had some rest, some saltines and soda, and I'm gonna call it an early night. 

Be gentle with yourselves, my friends. This shit is hard.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Reviewing Last Year

We all know what a unique year 2020 was for the world. Mali wrote a great post where she looked back and highlighted some favorite posts of hers from 2020. I liked the idea and decided to do the same. It was pretty interesting to go back and reread my posts. After reviewing them all, I know two things for sure. One, I am tired. (Ha!) Two, I refuse to give up.

And so without further ado, my favorite posts of mine from 2020...

In January, I wrote about feeling emotional, not knowing why, and then remembering it was the fifth anniversary of my first IVF results. This is probably a good thing for me to keep in the back of my mind, seeing as this date is fast approaching again. It is true: the body remembers.

Later that month I was reminded that I don't have to explain myself to anyone, especially when it comes to presumed baby shower attendance.

I talked about my marriage and divorce a little bit here. I am thankful but still processing it all.

I recognized that my grief is lifelong in this post, but I also recognized why some things don't hurt as much as they used to in this post.

Overall, I was very happy to learn this year that I can work with kids again without it hurting!

But, my Top 3 Favorite Posts of 2020 are as follows:

3. When Elaine helped me realize that I have a lot of love to give

2. When I chose to give advice lol. At least I called it what it was: my unsolicited advice

1. When I found meaning again


Thank you for reading! We will see what 2021 brings, what we learn from it and what we do with it. May our lives be full of peace, love, warmth, good health, strength, clarity, connection, and laughter. Wishing us all the best!!! 

­čĺť

Monday, January 4, 2021

Hello Dear Reader

Hello anonymous reader. I hope this post finds you holding on. 

I imagine you're here because you want to have kids and be a parent so badly it hurts in the deepest ways on a physical, emotional, spiritual, and existential level. Maybe you are single, maybe your partner doesn't want kids (or more kids), or maybe you are already dealing with other health and/or financial problems right now and can't birth or adopt a child. Maybe you are like I was. Maybe you are going through fertility treatments but allowing yourself to read about other people's lives without children in case that becomes your lifelong reality. 

Whatever brings you here, you are welcome. You are welcome, worthy, and wanted.

So I hear it's International Blog Delurking Week, January 3 - 9, 2021. :) 

Like I've said before, I read blogs for yearsss before I ever commented. I was too scared and nervous to comment. But, quite honestly, I was lonely and I needed friends. Even if they were "just" on the internet. I saw other bloggers writing and commenting on each other's posts and I wanted to join the community. So I did. I started blogging over four years ago and haven't looked back. And even though I haven't met anyone in real life (yet!), I have a lot of friends here now. 

So if you're a reader, I'd love it if you said Hello. Or you can say hello privately in an email if you prefer. My email address is my full blog name, infertilephoenix, and it's a gmail account. 

You don't have to say Hello! You are still more than welcome to keep reading. I don't know where you are with things and grief can really incapacitate us for a long time. I honor and respect wherever you are in your process.

But... If you are able to comment or send me an email... I'd love to say Hello back. 

You are very important to me.

­čĺť


(This beautiful badge was created by Mel at Stirrup Queens.
If you haven't explored her blog yet, it is a wealth of support and resources!)


Friday, January 1, 2021

Then & Now

People often look forward on New Year's, but I do not. I remember.
I will always remember what I was doing on this day.

Six years ago today I had my first embryo transfer. I was scared. I was nervous. I was trying to be optimistic. But, quite honestly, I was over it all. I had so much anxiety that there would be a natural disaster or we would have car trouble and not make it to the clinic on time that I could barely think straight. My spirit was dying, I felt all alone, and those words don't even begin to describe how desperate and hopeless I was feeling at the time. But I definitely remember it.

It was a scary, anxiety-soaked IVF cycle due to my own mental health. I was barely hanging on. It was really bad. I was doing IVF after three back-to-back unsuccessful medicated IUIs. I never wanted to do IVF but had decided to try anyway. I traveled with my medications and syringes to my sister's house five hours away for an early Xmas celebration with my family. I traveled home and had my egg retrieval. I waited and waited and waited. They got a small number of eggs, fewer fertilized, and only two were still going strong on the day of transfer. So that's what we transferred. On New Year's Day. 2015.

Six long and short years ago.

So much has happened since then. Not motherhood of course, not for me. But everything else. 

(Selling my house I bought for my children. Going back to school for a new career. Losing my dog. Getting divorced. Enduring a pandemic. Moving four times, within two states and among two big cities and two small towns. Getting a full-time job in my old career. Finding a part-time job in my new career. Developing an unshakeable inner resolve and self-confidence. Landing a full-time job in my new career. Quitting that full-time job. Currently recovering from that experience. And soon I will look ahead as to how I want to financially support myself next... I finally live where I want to live so I will take it from there. Er, here.)

So, yes, the future is open.
But, for me, today isn't about that. 


Today is about remembering. And honoring what wasn't. And honoring what came from that.


I carry my losses with me daily as my grief ebbs and flows. 

I honor and feel my feelings without judgment. (Ok, I try to anyway lol.)


There is now room for light. 

I have energy for enthusiasm. 

I love myself and I like my life.


I am here now.

*****

After sitting in our dark holes for however long we need to, 
(and while still grieving) 
We Can All 
RISE 
from the ashes of our destroyed dreams 
and create a life we want to live.