Friday, February 26, 2021

Feeling (a little) Better

I feel terrible and I still feel better than I have in a whole year. 

While going through infertility, I lived in a heightened state. I could NOT calm down.
So when I was feeling that way again last fall, I thought, "OH HELL NO."


A year ago I was living where I didn't want to live and working a job that I didn't want to retire from (or even do anymore). I was facing a move and a job search and then the pandemic hit. I went from zero to 100 overnight in terms of my anxiety. My boyfriend and I immediately went to the worst case scenario and began ordering bulk foods and a deep freezer. (Thankfully, we got the deep freezer delivered before inventory was depleted last spring.)

We had a hard move. The company didn't have a rental truck available for us on our reserved day so we had to wait around another two weeks for a small truck, which required us to make two roundtrips. And where we moved to was over four hours away! It was the heat of the summer. Plus, it was a pandemic, so even stopping for the bathroom was majorly anxiety-provoking.


Then, just two weeks later, I started my new job and nobody wore masks regularly. 😱

I did the best I could. Despite the facts of the situation. Despite the paperwork and people-related challenges of the job on a normal day. Despite the stresses and constant changes that came with working in schools during a pandemic. Despite not being allowed to ask my younger students to wear a mask while working with me. Despite one administrator being rude to me (while I was working with a student!) about an online link not being available because I was required to attend the weekly meeting in person. Despite being the ONLY person (I saw) to wear a mask all day.

I tried.

But after three months of sitting in three to five meetings a week in rooms full of people where I was the only one wearing a mask, I couldn't do it anymore. I hit my breaking point and resigned.

I knew I was in bad shape. I knew my mental health had taken a hit. I was just so worn out. 

I have since utilized all of the self-care tools I can think of and have allowed myself lots and lots of rest. I really like cognitive-behavioral techniques and also mindful breathing, journaling, sewing, watching old tv shows, and eating haha. I am feeling better.


The connection to infertility?

My anxiety was high. I knew I didn't have to live like that. I knew I had already been through enough in the last ten years. I knew that I had just met these people and they had no authority over my life at all. They certainly had no right to make decisions that I felt put my health at risk.

Infertility gave me the boundaries I definitely needed. I know that no one understands my life. They don't have to. They don't have to live it.

I do. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Unstructured Time

Another similarity between my experiences with both infertility and the pandemic is having a lot of unstructured time. 

I didn't know I was infertile so when my husband at the time was (finally!) okay with not using contraception anymore, I quit my job in preparation to be a stay-at-home mom. So I also spent my years trying to get pregnant with very long and lonely days.

Now it's a pandemic so none of us (at least in the blogosphere anyway) are living our lives normally. As you already know, the lack of precautions were so bad at my job I resigned.  So here I am again, unemployed with lots of unstructured time.

You know, that makes me think of another time period in my life. I had a terrible accident in my early 20s that left me unable to work for a year. That was another chunk of my life with unstructured time.

So, what I'm saying is I have experience with unstructured time on my side.

I... Do not deal well with lack of structure. I thrive on routine. Without it, I can easily overwork myself (in an ineffective way) or, just the opposite, be completely unproductive... For a very long time. I can very quickly and very easily slide into another depressive episode. It takes energy to fight and live this life.

So at the beginning of January, I knew I was going to have to give myself a little bit of structure. Therefore, I wrote a short list of things I wanted to accomplish for Jan./Feb. I didn't write down too many things. I knew I'd be processing my most recent job experience, the last several years of my life, and the pandemic. But I also wanted to make good use of the gift of time I'd been given by getting crap off of my To Do list after they'd been on my mind for a couple of years.

Friends, I would like to celebrate. 

We have one more week of February left and I have finally changed my legal name on every important account I have except one! I'll figure out what I need to do for the last account this week and then I will be DONE! My original name will be fully restored and my children's last name will only appear on junk mail in the future, nothing serious or important. 

Not as significant, but I also finished unpacking the kitchen boxes from our move last summer, renewed my state professional license, and figured out solutions for several different sewing problems I had. (Turns out, my young friends in grad school were right. Just watch videos online to learn what you need to know!) I got out of bed every morning, showered most days, and stayed on top of the laundry and dishes. 

Why yes, I am congratulating myself for maintaining my own adult life for the last 2 months haha. 

My two-month list strategy was helpful, so I've already done the same for Mar./Apr. There are just a few more tasks that have been on my mind for a couple of years now. I want to take advantage of this unstructured time to take care of what I've been putting off. 

At a leisurely pace of course. ;)

I was quilting these past Friday and Saturday nights. I finally sat down for several hours each night and really enjoyed myself and the process. I thought, "Would I have the time to do this if I had had kids?" The answer is of course. The quilting world is very fertile; there are a ton of quilters with a ton of kids. The few teachers I've had all had kids and talked about teaching them how to sew. I would still sew if I was raising children. Women have literally done it for centuries.

But much more importantly, the answer doesn't matter. Because the fact of my life is I'm not raising kids. And right now I DO have unstructured time. That's just how it is. I don't have to apologize for my life, explain it, or make excuses for it. 

But with you all, who understand, I am happy to share that I am living my life. I am using my time well, getting stuff done and enjoying life along the way.

 ✨ I finished my 10th quilt last night! ✨
"Sewing mends the soul."

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Rereading Old Posts


We are six weeks into the new year and I have been processing A LOT, including, but not limited to, quitting my job, my marriage and divorce, relationships with family members, my relationship with myself, and how I continue to live my life after infertility without my children. It hasn't been easy. I thought I cried a lot before 2021? Well, this year has been especially... Cleansing.

I do feel a strong internal pressure to get moving (i.e., get a new job), but I know that if I do right now I will not be effective in whatever I do next. How do I explain that in a professional way in my next job interview? "Yeah, I took some time off to finally process, uninterrupted, the last traumatic decade of my life?" No... I'll have to come up with a different answer. In the meantime, I will continue to replenish my resources.

I have a lot to be thankful for, but that's not what I'm processing. I am processing the onslaught of meanness that I allowed in my life for so long. I am realizing what I need to feel loved and known and I am learning how to communicate my boundaries, whether they are respected or not.

I don't want to constantly analyze my feelings and interactions, but I am TIRED of reliving the same dynamics over and over. I must think and read and reflect about all of this stuff so that I can empower myself to change my ingrained patterns. 

I've worked hard and I deserve to enjoy the happiness I've found and created for myself. I don't have to explain or justify it, no matter who is demanding answers from me (e.g., my mom). I don't have to answer the phone if I know I am only going to be insulted (e.g., my middle sister).


While going through infertility, I lost the majority of my friendships. It HURT SO BAD. But it changed me forever. I am no longer eager to have people in my life just because I've known them a long time or because we are related. I need people that support me and that I can support. I don't need a big group of people. I have definitely learned that lesson.

I'm going through and rereading my old posts so I can add labels to them. When I was first reading IF blogs, this was one of my favorite ways to read people's old posts. I would click on a label that resonated with me that day and read all of the related posts. So that is what I am going back and doing for my posts now.

Wow. It has been an interesting experience going back and reading what I wrote. I'm so glad I started blogging when I did or I would have forgotten so many thoughts and feelings from my recovery process. I have grown. A LOT. I can see it in my own writing. I am stronger, more self-confident, and more self-assured. I have my experiences with infertility and my hard-earned recovery from it to thank for my newfound clarity.

But you know what? Growth is lonely. Growth is change. And people don't do well when you start changing. You can't be their subconscious punching bag anymore. You can't be the person they know that is worse off than them. (Yes, this gives certain personality types a vast amount of comfort.) You aren't the same person anymore and they don't know how to handle the new you. Some people will celebrate with you. Some people are up for the excitement of getting to know the new you and your growth. Others simply fade away.


I'm thankful for my growth. I'm glad I was willing to face my loneliness. I am still frustrated and processing a lot, but I am not where I used to be. I like myself and, pandemic aside, I like my life.

I no longer deal with the haters.

The statement above is a goodie I saw on twitter.

And I had to share another fabric pic... Meow! ;) 


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Love & Anger

I've been in a tough spot lately.
My sister is going through a major medical event and I've been struggling with how to support her.

On the one hand, it's easy. Send a text! Give her a call! Mail a card! On the other hand, it's not easy. I don't think she really wants to talk about it and she has plenty of people closer to her other than me to offer support. I've tried texting and calling, but she is hot and cold on whether or not she returns my texts or calls. I don't judge her for that. She's totally allowed to respond or not respond, especially when she's dealing with something difficult.

My problem is my own feelings. They are ugly.
And I will be honest about them out loud with my boyfriend and here on this blog only. 

When I think about my sister and how I can support her, I immediately feel resentful. I feel angry, and I feel hurt. This sister was not supportive to me during infertility. Not only was she unsupportive, quite honestly, she was cruel. I wrote a very popular blog post about some of the things she said to me over the years. They were unhelpful, unnecessary, and just plain mean. She vaguely apologized many years later but that's about it. I was excited at the time and wrote a post about it, thinking it might be the start of a new phase for our relationship. But it wasn't.

I love my sister, in case that isn't obvious. Our relationship has an incredible foundation because she was the greatest big sister to me while I was growing up. She played with me and took me places and did fun stuff with me all of the time. I missed her badly when she went off to college. But, relationships change and evolve over the decades, and we haven't been extremely close in a really long time. But the love between us is definitely there.

So I recognize and accept my conflicted feelings. I respect the fact that I'm still hurt and angry, and I can still be supportive to my sister anyway. Because of the pandemic and the precautions I am taking, I don't feel like it's safe to be around my family. Therefore, I can't visit her or provide any direct care. (My boyfriend says she doesn't want this from me anyway and I think he's probably right. She has other people in her life that can help her directly right now.)

I decided to mail a care package. It's better than nothing. I can't be there physically. (This pandemic sucks!!!) And she doesn't really want to talk to me about it. Also, if I'm being honest with myself, I don't want to be the person in her life who listens in detail. It's too hard for me. Too lopsided, too off balance. But I can let her know I'm thinking about her and that I love her.

To problem solve, I focused on what was most important to me in the moment: showing my sister my love. As I felt my resentment and anger from past hurts, I acknowledged them. And then I returned to my focus, put on a mask, and went on a quick shopping trip at the nearby drugstore for care package goodies. It was fun.

So I mailed her a bunch of random things with a card (that did NOT say "Everything happens for a reason" or "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" or any other bullshit platitudes that anyone in pain doesn't need to hear). I sent a fancy chocolate bar, some magazines, some fun Valentine stuff I saw on the shelves, soft fuzzy socks, and a small stuffed animal. I figure everyone likes mail that's not a bill. :)

That's where I'm at. It's hard. I don't like how mean my sister was when I was going through the darkest time of my life, and I also haven't forgotten it. I don't like how my feelings about that resurface when I think about how I can support her while she's going through something awful. But I'm only human.

I love my sister. Feelings, relationships, navigating trauma, and life overall... It's all complicated.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

What's Saving Me

Oh, I liked this post from Loribeth about what's saving her life right now. She credits other bloggers that have written on the same topic. Apparently, it was started years ago by a prominent blogger as a way of marking the mid-point of winter (which is often a difficult time for many). 

Here is what is saving my life/sanity right now:

  • Reading and Writing

    Things are hard right now, but I've been through hard times before so I know what I can do to help myself. Basically, I am a nerd. My go-to problem solving solution is to read. So I have been reading all sorts of articles about divorce (as I'm still processing mine), personality disorders (because I think this will help me manage some relationships with family members), and being an empath (to learn more coping strategies and how to deal with the intense feelings that I can have).

    Plus, I check in on the blogosphere, reading and commenting several times a week. In addition to reading and commenting, I am (obviously) also writing my own blog posts. This space has been so helpful in so many ways over the years and just saying that is a huge understatement.

    I also started writing in a journal most nights before I go to sleep. I'm documenting what I did for self-care that day. After doing it for over a week, I was starting to think it was a silly practice and then I had a day last week where I really crashed and burned, so maybe it's not a silly practice after all. I'm gonna keep doing it for now.

  • WOTY

    I wrote a post at the end of January about Word Of The Year. This year I formally chose a word (er, "words" plural) for my WOTY and I've used at least one of them every day this year. They remind me of my current intentions and they guide me through difficult moments. In. Inhale. Inspire.

  • Music

    I saw a counselor back in 2009 that helped me with a few small things. I was really struggling with my situation at the time. I had choice A or choice B, but I didn't like either one. She told me that we don't always like the choices we are given in life. It was a difficult lesson for me. (This was years before infertility.)

    She also asked me what I was listening to at the time, if I lit any scented candles or cooked, and if I went on walks or got out in nature. Basically, she was encouraging me to activate my senses. Honestly, I thought it sounded dumb at the time. I'm depressed? Well, hell, I'll just go get a candle!

    But, she was on to something... What WAS I doing to enjoy the little things? I took a brief inventory of my life at the time and noticed a glaring absence of little things that I enjoyed... I'm thankful she brought my awareness to the issue. :)

    All that to say, I've been listening to my entire music library on shuffle while quilting and I have been loving it. It cracks me up because I have a wide range of musical taste so I may listen to a punk song followed by a Broadway song followed by Tom Petty, but it's all my music so I love it.

  • Quilting

    There are so many metaphors in quilting. Sewing is literally putting things together. Piecing scraps is taking what you have and creating something you like. Sewing is truly mending my soul. It is also a good way for me to get in the flow, where I think about everything and think about nothing all at the same time. Problems just solve themselves (or don't! haha) while I am sewing. It's beautiful.

  • Wisdom I Learned from Infertility

    • I don't have to like what I am experiencing, but I will get through it. 
    • I am stronger than I ever wanted to know. 
    • I didn't ask for this life, but I am living it. 
    • I don't like the cards I was dealt, but I am playing the shit out of my hand. 
    • There is not much in my control, but there are some things that I can control for myself: where I live, what I do, how I treat myself, and how I let others treat me. 
    • I don't want to sound like a cliche, but I believe in the power of cultivating gratitude and enjoying the little things. 
    • But it all happens in time. First, we must grieve. Grieve the loss of our children, the loss of motherhood, the loss of life as we knew it before infertility and before the pandemic. 
    • Better times ARE ahead but we don't have to feel it right now. Whatever we're feeling, doing, and not doing right now is fine. 
    • Enduring trauma isn't easy, especially when society as a whole isn't recognizing it (the endurance OR the trauma).

And now, because I always love seeing everyone else's pictures (especially all of the gardens because I've never had a garden before), here are some pictures of what's currently saving my life and sanity... 

My sewing room! 

I spent the first half of January building shelves, organizing fabric, and realizing what all I had collected over the past year and a half. I definitely have the basics and now I finally have a stash!

This tall shelf holds, from top to bottom:
my scrap baskets, yardage of novelty prints (wrapped on comic book boards),
yardage of solids (folded and stacked), fat quarters (organized in baskets by color),
a basket of patterns, and folded yardage of minky and other extra-wide fabric for quilt backings.

These short shelves hold the following:
my blenders and tone-on-tone fabrics (organized by color) on the top rows
and, on the bottom rows,
nature-related fabric that I plan on collecting for a couple of years;
purple cubes to hold my precuts, rulers, and thread;
and a stack of fabric of which I have 3 or more yards. 

Every quilter has scraps.

I wanted to come up with a system for organizing my scraps that was easy to maintain and didn't drive me crazy. I kept it simple. I have one basket for strips (pictured above) and another basket for bigger scrap pieces. All of my scraps fit into one of those two categories so I can just throw them in the baskets for later use.

I don't throw anything away. As for all of the small pieces of scrap fabric and snips of thread, I'm collecting it in a bag that I will use for stuffing once I start making teddy bears out of my scraps. I love how quilting is all about using material and not wasting anything. :)

I saved my favorite picture for last! 

This is a close-up of one of the shelves on my tall bookshelf. It's all of my favorite fabric.
Looking left to right, there are snowflakes, skiers, skis, skulls and crossbones, stars, leopard prints, rock instruments, mix tapes, safety pins, a variety of playful fabrics, a beautiful purple solid, roller skates, library book due date stamps, and yardage of girls playing in swings and trees outside. Love!!!


Thank you for joining me as I shared what's currently saving me.

What's saving your life/sanity right now?

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Bad Day, Hard Times

Well, I had a terrible day. I got mad about something early in the morning and then my feelings spiraled from there. I found myself crying and thinking, "What is this about??" while also telling myself, "Gahhh, you do not have to analyze everything!!" at the same time. Yeah, it was fun.

Anyway, I think it's the obvious. I think it's the pandemic. It's probably several things, but it all comes down to the pandemic. I think I'm mad and sad and unhappy and easily irritated because we are on month 11 of this bullshit. I haven't been to a restaurant since mid-March last year. I go grocery shopping once a month at 5:30 in the morning because people here don't wear masks. I haven't hung out with a friend since last May (and even that was masked, outside, and physically distanced). I also quit my job because I didn't feel safe. 

But... My family members (none of whom live near me) and my new community where I live now continue to dine out and go to the gym and travel and shop and socialize and do whatever they seemingly feel like.

It's such a mind warp.
And it's affecting me. 

Like, there is a pandemic going on, right? It hasn't gone away yet, right? Thousands of people are dying every day and the best thing I can do is just stay home, right?

But this is an infertility blog, not a pandemic blog...

I'm just so sad because, like infertility, I don't see the pandemic ending. I see it as something that I just have to learn to deal with. Like my infertility and childlessness, the pandemic hasn't gone away. I need to figure out how I am going to live my life for the long-term like this because it has been a year and the pandemic is still here.

It was a really bad day. It manifested physically and I got sick. Repeatedly. I called my doctor for some anti-nausea medication, but I've only seen her once so she doesn't know me well and doesn't know that this is what my body does under stress so... No meds for me. No hard feelings though. I understand the doctor wanting to see me before prescribing anything. 

But it left me in bed all day, feeling awful and feeling sorry for myself.

I'm feeling better now, both physically and emotionally. Things have calmed down and I just wanted to write a post, even if I had nothing much to say. My girlfriends/social life consists of the blogosphere and texting these days, so I really appreciate you. I just want you to know that.

If you're having a hard time or just a really bad day, I am sorry.
Infertility and the pandemic.
It's hard and it sucks. But YOU don't suck, and you are not alone.