Saturday, November 27, 2021

Opposite Traumas

Hello and Happy Holiday Weekend!

I can't believe it's been two weeks since I've written. Not much has happened, although I did get good results from my colposcopy! All three samples taken were negative for malignancy. Yay!!! Getting that good news was very relieving.

Other than that, I'm still experiencing heightened anxiety. The pandemic doesn't help. Neither does my current situation at work. I spent some time today reading several articles about being gaslit in the workplace. Signs, symptoms, what to do about it. It all made sense, so, unfortunately, I think that's the situation I am in right now. To cope, I am practicing redirecting my thoughts (so I'm not always thinking about it) and focusing on the things I do enjoy (sewing and reading blogs).

I'm honestly annoyed. And tired. And I wonder if I'm not still experiencing some trauma-related entitlement. I feel like I've already been through so much, I don't want to deal with a crappy situation at work. I don't want to quit and look for another job. But I also don't want to stay and deal with drama.

You know what I really want? And I'm sure everyone feels this way. A break. I want a freaking break. I've been going nonstop since 2015 and I think my nerves are shot. All of my trauma started in 2011 and I'd really like to just put the last decade to rest. I want to rest. I need to rest. We all do.

I am also incredibly thankful for so much. I'm probably more thankful right now than ever before.  First, the tangible, I have a HOME. Then the intangible, I have clarity. Well, somewhat. Well, maybe not clarity exactly... But I have a strong sense of self. I have my experiences and values. I have boundaries. I have a new life. And I have my grieving process to thank for all of it.

Infertility sucks. It completely sucks all of the energy out of you and all of the meaning out of life. I feel like not having kids--not through trying to conceive, fertility treatments, or adoption--is the worst thing that could have happened to me. I'm so damn maternal. It runs deep. I was born to be a mother. Or so I thought. 

I dreamt of raising kids throughout my whole life. I wanted it to happen in my early thirties, but it didn't. It was completely traumatizing and life altering.

Which brings me to the point/title of this post...

My boyfriend and I have opposite traumas.
I'm an infertile woman. He was a teen dad. 

It's a pretty significant detail. I've had his permission to share here, but it just never seemed to be the right time. I never found the right words. Even now, this post isn't flowing like I normally like. 

But Thanksgiving came and his young adult children drove up to see us. We hadn't seen his son since January and we hadn't seen his stepdaughter since the pandemic. It was so good to see them both. They stayed two nights and the four of us ate an early Thanksgiving feast on Monday.

My boyfriend raised them both, his son from birth and his stepdaughter from toddlerhood, with their mother. I can only imagine how hard it was. While teen parents may get a lot in terms of judgment, they don't often get a lot in terms of actual support. At least my boyfriend and his partner at the time didn't. They just got jobs and juggled childcare and made it happen.

It's weird for me. My boyfriend raised children. There's lots I could say here. There's lots that I have said to my boyfriend. Take Thanksgiving for example. I loved seeing his kids and having them stay with us. But it also felt weird. Like I was hanging out with some other woman's family. And it made me sad that I didn't get to raise them. But hell, I was nowhere near around over twenty years ago. 

So that's our opposite trauma. I'm infertile and my boyfriend was a teen dad. 

We have more in common than I would have ever guessed. For one, we are both missing our peer group. Most people our age are raising kids, but I'm not (obviously) and he's done doing that. So... We find ourselves hanging out with much younger or much older people. 

Well, before the pandemic anyway... Nowadays we are at home.
(But at least we have a home. We do not take that for granted.)

So now you know. 

I am not a mom or stepmom; I did not raise children. But my boyfriend is a dad. He raised children and now has two young adults in their early twenties. I love them both very much. I tell them whenever I see them and they know me as stable, practical, dependable, and effusive with my feelings for them haha.

Maybe they will come up in future posts. Maybe I will write about incidents that happened in the past couple of years. Maybe I will share the unexpected things my boyfriend and I have in common through our opposite traumas. Maybe I will just write as an infertile woman who is in love with a man who raised children. 

Who knows what the future holds. But for now, I am thankful.

Part of our feast! Cranberry sauce, two kinds of dressing, green bean casserole, and that big silver pot is holding our homemade macaroni and cheese. Not pictured: the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and two pies (pumpkin and cherry).

Here's something I'm thankful for! I finally unpacked my fabric. I can lie on the guest bed and be surrounded by shelves of books and fabric. It's so relaxing! I love it!!

Did anyone listen to Jody Day's Reclaiming the Childless Holidays? It was really, really good. I took notes. I should write a review post. She and the other panelists encouraged us to enjoy the parts of the holidays that we've always liked. One of things I've always enjoyed about the holidays is ornaments. Even during my darkest years, I never stopped buying myself an annual ornament. And pictured above is this year's ornament! It's designed to look like a Welcome mat. :)

And, in keeping with my own traditions, I put up the Xmas tree on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. You can count on me enjoying the Xmas tree lights every night for the rest of this year. I'm thankful for the little things that make me happy. What little things do you enjoy?


  1. Opposite traumas. Yes. It can be complicated. But it sounds as if you are both in a great place, and you have been able to accept his kids in your life. As you say, you're not a mom or stepmom, and you're allowed to grieve the lack of that in your life. But I hope you partner's adult kids bring you much joy. I know they're lucky to have you!

    And I can't believe I'm seeing Christmas trees already! Yours is beautiful! But it is that time of year when trauma starts coming up around the lead-up to Christmas. I'm going to listen to Jody's podcast. I wrote a post 11 years ago titled Reclaiming Christmas ( Maybe I should have copyrighted the title! lol But really, I am very pleased that the idea is out there now. And we know that Christmas or other holidays are for all of us, and we can take what we want from the traditions to make them our own.

    1. We talk VERY honestly in our relationship lol. I don't know if a fertile person has ever heard an infertile person process so much! But I listen to him too. It goes both ways. Neither one of our lives went as planned but we did the best we could and we are happy with who we are, who we're with, and where we are now.

      I LOVE his kids. I feel an unconditional love for them. It's a natural extension of my love for my boyfriend. But it's hard. It has hurt me a lot over the last several years. They do not know my pain as a childless woman (nor should they) and they are self-centered young adults (in a developmentally-appropriate way! I do not mean that as criticism). All I can do is tell them whenever I see them that I love them and that I'm always here for them if they need anything.

      The holidays are hard. I enjoy the lead up, but Xmas morning is actually kind of depressing for me. Having experience under my belt helps. So does reclaiming the parts I enjoy.

    2. "All I can do is tell them whenever I see them that I love them and that I'm always here for them if they need anything." That's what I've done with the two nieces I have a close relationship with. It is important, I think, so they know there's a back-up even if they don't need it.

      And yes to reclaiming the parts you enjoy. Sending hugs.

  2. I love your fabric display (I think you call it "storage" ha ha)! The tree and ornament are great, too.

    Wow, that is an interesting dichotomy with you and your boyfriend. I love how you said you're both kind of out of sync with peers, that although your experiences are different, they are also similar. I love your strong communication with each other. And having a relationship with adult children is interesting, because the dynamic is different and I would think less conflict-y. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Jess. I made some fabric orders over the holiday weekend, but I'm going to stop fabric shopping for awhile... I have enough to make many quilts now. :)

      The thing is, my boyfriend didn't want kids. He knew that growing up. But once he had his son in his late teens, he raised and provided for him and his sister. And now my boyfriend is Done. I asked him once if kids were a dealbreaker for him and he said no, he would've considered dating a woman with kids. I think that's funny because I always considered kids to be a dealbreaker for me, just too much to navigate. But his kids aren't minors so that changed it for me. Well, that and L-o-O-o-v-e lol.