Saturday, May 14, 2022

Hard Truth

Oh man, I just read a very interesting article shared on Loribeth's Weekend Odds & Ends. Like I commented on her post, I can't believe I just read in print what I've secretly thought to myself for years. The article is called I'm Retiring From Aunthood and I'm going to describe it as brave.

The author spent fifteen years pouring herself into her nieces' and nephews' lives. And for what. Now they've all moved away. She doesn't have anything to show for it. She doesn't get gifts. I assume she doesn't get phone calls. She doesn't get any special recognition for being their aunt. 

She writes with brutal honesty, "And I wonder if being an aunt really matters, at all."

Oof. I feel that.

I am of the mind that it doesn't. I mean, it does. But... It totally doesn't.

I love my niece. I love my nephew. But I have no idea what is going on in their lives. I never do. They don't tell me and neither do my sisters. Nobody thinks to tell me. Nobody gets good news to share or wants life advice and thinks, "I'm gonna call Phoenix." Nope. Never. I love them and they love me, but I'm not talking about love. I'm talking about being in active relationship.

I had a very close friend many years ago. I've written about her before. I literally screamed over the phone when she called to tell me she was pregnant. I went to the baby shower. I went to the girl's birthday party every year. Until I didn't. I had already bought her presents, but I wasn't invited to birthday party #6.

So... Biological aunt, honorary aunt, it doesn't really matter. Nobody cares. I mean, they do. But they don't. I've learned not to get my hopes up. I don't get involved with other people's kids anymore. I care about them, but I also care about myself. Nobody takes care of me, so I do.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Home is a Place and a Feeling

I'm. Not. Moving!!! My boyfriend reminded me of this today as we were not packing. ;)

I have moved five times in the last six years. Moving is hard. In so many indescribable ways.

In the spring of 2016, I moved out of the house I bought for my children and put it on the market.
My husband and I moved into an overpriced rental house back in the city where I never wanted to live again in order to shorten my commute to school. I made the best of it and, despite my grief and a terrible graduate program, I even managed to enjoy myself.

In 2018 I moved out of state into an overpriced apartment in yet another city. Even though this out-of-state move had been jointly planned and excitedly anticipated for three whole years, my husband did not move with me. He said he was going to and I thought he was going to, but he never even looked for a job. There were other contributing factors as well, and we got divorced.

In 2019 I moved out of the city (yay!) and into an overpriced condo in a traffic-ridden tourist town. 

In 2020 I moved with my boyfriend during the pandemic to a small town in the middle of nowhere into a dingy rental house with a questionable history. At least it wasn't overpriced.

In 2021 we bought a house (yay!!!) and moved one street over. His kids are grown and I'm not having any (maybe you've heard? lol) and our home is absolutely perfect for the two of us.

Now it's 2022 and I'm. Not. Moving!!! :)

(Full disclosure: I still have a storage unit back in the city, so I technically have one more move left. But hey, I WILL move out of there this summer. Or this fall at the latest. I promise myself.)

With each move, I felt like giving up every step of the way.

I could have stayed in the house I bought for my children. It was beautiful. My best friend lived nearby. There were restaurants I liked and it was near a park where I walked every week.

But I couldn't. I couldn't stay in my children's house. I couldn't stay in the city. I couldn't stay in the state. I couldn't stay in the next city. I couldn't stay in the next place. I had to keep going. I had to create a life I WANTED to live. I had to find myself a home. 

And now I'm here. I've been here. It will be a year in our house in less than two months.

I am not packing.
I am not looking for housing.
I am not changing my address.
I am not closing and opening utility accounts.

I'm staying right here.

Home.



Sunday, May 8, 2022

Mothering Myself

Oh, what a day! I slept horribly, woke up early, and tried to break through my groggy fog with coffee. But then it got good. I attended Sarah's online yoga class and it was incredible. It was so seemingly simple but also a full body experience. And I attended with four other women, two I "know" from blogging and two I didn't know. Altogether we represented three different countries. Pretty freaking awesome. I loved it.

I felt so good and grounded afterward... I ended up going out to eat at a restaurant.

What??

Yes. Yes, I did folks. After practically hibernating for 25 months I went out to eat on freaking Mother's Day. Hahahaha. I crack myself up. But it was awesome. Infection numbers are really low in our rural county so I felt comfortable. Also, we went at an off time (late afternoon--after the church crowd, before the dinner crowd) so it wasn't crowded, which added to our comfort. I ordered bacon wrapped shrimp, which I used to eat every Friday night but haven't had since I moved out of state FOUR years ago. Then a large party of four men and four teenage boys sat in the same area as us. Not a Mother's Day vibe in sight, ha! No one wished me a Happy Mother's Day and nobody offered me a flower (which, honestly, I would have taken lol). Dear God, the food was so good. Oh, it was so good. My boyfriend didn't have to cook. I didn't have to do the dishes. It. Was. Glorious! And on a day when I used to never leave the house. Wonders never cease...

So, that was my day. And below is the post that I had planned for today. I wrote it a week or two ago and now here it is for you.

Take care of yourself. You are important.

*****

Disclaimer: 

If my mother read this, she would be crushed. She has her own traumas that inform her behavior. She loves me. She really does. And I love her.

HOWEVER

This is my truth.

*****

I was emotionally neglected as a child. My feelings were discounted and invalidated. My developmentally appropriate behaviors were judged and punished. I was called names, told what to wear, and was forced to go to church three times a week. This was during a time when I was enrolled in all honors and AP classes and highly involved in extra-curricular activities. A typical day for me, from waking up to going to sleep, was at least 16 hours long. I was exhausted, not to mention clinically depressed. I was your typical overachiever, but the implied message I often got at home from my mother was that I was selfish and ungrateful.

The thing that sticks with me the most was being told, "I will always love you, but I do NOT like you. I'm going to this dinner and I will pretend in front of your father that everything is fine," as we walked out the door to celebrate my 18th birthday.

I had to be my own mother. I had to take care of myself emotionally. The skills I learned as a child and teenager have served me well in life, but at what cost? 

I looked forward to mothering my own child(ren). I looked forward to holding their hand when they were sick instead of making fun of them for being dramatic. I looked forward to cooking them breakfast instead of sleeping in every day. I looked forward to supporting them through difficult jobs, relationships, and decisions instead of telling them that they didn't deserve to make more money or telling them, "That's just life."

I know it wouldn't have been fair to my child(ren). It was not up to my kids to help me heal my childhood wounds. But I will always be honest and... Honestly? I was looking forward to creating what I never had.

I didn't feel supported emotionally when I was young and I don't have a healthy adult relationship with my mother now. The criticism and attempts to control me have never stopped. I never seem to be doing the right thing. It doesn't feel good, but I no longer take 100% responsibility for it all.

My mother had a tough childhood. She has her own unresolved traumas. Older me can empathize with her and I understand that she does the best she can. I know she loves me. I know she wants the best for me, even if we don't agree on what that is. I'm an adult and I DO know what is best for me now.

It's just another thing that stings, another thing that infertility took from me. 

I don't get to mother my children. But I will continue to mother myself.

*****

To end on a funny note, my mom found this card I made her 30 years ago and texted me the picture this morning. You can't say I'm not honest! Hahahahaha.



Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Join Us this Sunday

Well, I am never shy about sharing when I am having a hard time. I think it's important to be honest about that. It's so easy to feel alone in our struggles. But we are not. We are never alone.

March was HARD. Then April sucked too. As the saying goes... Shit happens.

But, if you've been reading my blog you know that I am committed to two things:

  1.  feeling my feelings
  2.  not staying stuck (eventually... I honor when I need to stop and sit with the shit.)
When I'm really, really struggling I turn to what has comforted me in the past: books. Books are where I can feel validated. Books are where I can engage in a healthy escape from my life. Books are where I can learn about myself, the world, and new coping strategies. (P.S. I am still loving my current read, Homecoming by Dr. Thema Bryant. I wrote about it in my last post.

My second foolproof tool is yoga. Not the annoying kind of yoga led by teachers who are happy, yet clueless and inexperienced with life's hardships. And not the competitive exercise kind of yoga that I found to be so common in the suburbs. I love what I consider to be true yoga--the kind that is not flashy or flowery and is simply about connecting your movement with your breath. When I am feeling the most anxious, yoga is the only thing that helps me calm my insides. Of course, I never stop taking my medication, but it's practicing yoga that truly helps me feel better. ;)

So, after two terrible feeling months, I was ecstatic to be invited to participate in a "run through" of Sarah's upcoming yoga class. I marked my calendar and counted down the days. It definitely did not disappoint.

The yoga class led by Sarah was gentle, yet active. She told us what to do and we followed along. I knew I'd be safe in her care, so I let my worries go. Like all great yoga classes should be, Sarah's class was perfect for both beginners and experienced yoga practitioners. 

Additionally, I was just so grateful to be in the company of women I've yet to meet but have been blogging with for over five years. Even more so, I could hardly believe that I was sharing a space online with the woman who wrote the book that gave me hope for life after infertility when I had none (Silent Sorority), a book I read many years before I ever even started blogging.

Wow.

And that's how the whole class felt. Safe. Friendly. Familiar. It was a priceless gift.

Something in me shifted. I woke up the next day, not sore necessarily, but I could tell I had invited movement into my body. It felt so good. I also felt lighter in my mood. I could tell May was going to be a better month.

And here's the great news: you can join us for Sarah's next yoga class! It's free (which is always affordable) and you can sign up HERE. It's on Sunday (cough, Mother's Day, cough) at 12:00 ET.

Let's be honest. If you're anything like me, you may want to sign up but be too nervous to commit. Do it anyway! Then, if you're anything like me, you will sign up but as the day approaches, you will feel anxious and not want to attend. Do it anyway! Then again, if you're anything like me, when the actual time comes you might not want to log in and show up. Do it anyway!

You'll be so glad you did.

Hope to see you there 💜




                                             


Monday, April 25, 2022

Not A Book Review

I started reading a great book. I'm really savoring it and thinking on it, so it will be awhile before I finish it. I can't write a book review since I haven't finished reading it yet, but I also can't wait until later to tell you about it.

What if you need this book now??


The book is called Homecoming and it is written by the President-elect of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Thema Bryant. I'm 29 pages in and... It feels like I'm coming home to myself, which is exactly the point of the book.

I love to look at a book's table of contents and this one did not disappoint. It begins with an introduction called "Homesick and Disconnected." Then Part One is called "Longing for Home" and includes chapters about recognizing that you need a homecoming, internal signs of disconnection, and external signs of disconnection. Part Two is called "Packing Light: What to Carry on the Journey Home" and contains the following chapters: reparenting yourself, emotional intelligence, community care and self-care, building self-confidence, and spiritual practices. Part Three is called "Recovering from Roadblocks on the Journey Home" and covers the following topics: mourning invisible losses (!!!), healing from breakups and divorce, coping and healing from a toxic workplace, recovering from childhood trauma, and resisting oppression. The book concludes with "Welcome Home: The Journey Continues" and provides additional resources.

I was hooked at the table of contents. I immediately ordered the book.

If you're wondering what you're in for, allow me to share the following quotes that I have highlighted in my reading so far:

  • "This book facilitates your journey back to who you really are."

  • "Before we begin the journey home, honor yourself for the ways you have survived."

  • "I had already experienced some valleys myself and understood the value of being heard, seen, and supported."

  • "Homecoming is about living fully, abundantly, and taking up space--not adjusting to a life of dissatisfaction and discontent."

  • "Coming home to yourself is giving yourself... the things you thought only others could give you."

  • "Some of us become emotionally shut down from exhaustion... The disconnection can be a way of protecting yourself."

  • "Stressful and traumatic experiences may have created within you a core belief about yourself that is untrue."

  • "Homecoming is a decision to occupy your life, to engage with what animates you and breathes new life into the dry bones of your circumstances."

As an aside, in a book that is not even about infertility, she mentions infertility! On page 22 (as she is discussing envy and the complexity of emotions) she writes,"You can grieve your difficulties with infertility and still celebrate the birth of your friend's child." I literally did a double-take when I read that sentence last night. I am so accustomed to never seeing my trauma given as an example of trauma.

Do you feel lost? Are you missing yourself? Are you homesick? The author quotes Cecelia Ahern when she writes, "Home is not a place... It's a feeling."

I am homesick. I am missing myself. Currently, I am depressed. I know this; it's not my first time. But, even with my decades-long experience with depression, I am out of ideas for how to cope. So, I picked this book up. It's easy to read and, even better, reading it makes me feel good.

I couldn't wait until I finished reading it to tell you about it. I had to tell you now.

💛

 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Two Years In

Oh gawd WHEN will this end? How will this end??
HOW do I get through this? What is left for me in this life?!?

Those are the questions I asked myself after enduring two years of trying to conceive.
These are the questions I ask myself now during the pandemic.

So I am doing now what I did then: digging deep and not giving up on life.

Back then I relied on my (then) husband. We went to Vegas and concerts and sports events. I read infertility books and blogs to not feel so alone and misunderstood. I went out every Friday night and had fun, making jokes about not needing a babysitter. Did it relieve the pain of childlessness? Absolutely not. But it was better than sitting in my recliner while perseverating on what I could not change.

And now? I am relying on my boyfriend who is also my best friend. We cook together and go for walks around the neighborhood. I read books (mostly non-fiction but some fiction too for a good, healthy escape) and infertility blogs. I order pizza every couple of weeks and watch movies from the 80s and 90s. Mostly, I quilt. I take scraps and turn them into beautiful things. Slowly. One stitch at a time.

I don't know when this will end. I don't know how. I don't know what life will look like after.
I am getting through the pandemic one day at a time. On the harder days, it is one hour at a time.

I mourn. I mourn my old life. I mourn the life I thought I'd have at this point.
I count my blessings. I get annoyed at looking at the bright side of things, but it's important to do. 

Everything is temporary. Nothing stays the same. This fact comforts me in my darkest moments. 

Of course, my childlessness isn't temporary, but how I feel about it has changed. I've moved from desperate despondency to basic functioning to, unbelievably, pursuing new interests. 

So... Something will change. The pandemic will end or we will adapt to its being endemic. I don't want to think about the latter because it's too overwhelming for me right now, but I know it's true.

Hold on for now. Seek more support if you need it. We will get through this. 

We've already survived so much.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Similarities, Still Tired

Last month I felt strong feelings regarding infertility and my childlessness. This month? I'm just tired. Completely worn out. It's hard to write, it's hard to think, and it's hard to get things done. As usual, I'm giving myself grace. Or trying to anyway.

It's the pandemic, not me.
It's society's cognitive dissonance, not me.
It's trauma (infertility) after trauma (divorce) after trauma (again, the pandemic), not me.

I REFUSE to take personal responsibility for the state of the world, but I do have to deal with it. And I have to do this among the rest of the population which has arbitrarily determined the pandemic to be over. I have to navigate my life and find my own way. Just like with infertility.

Do the similarities between my experience with the pandemic and being CNBC ever end?

Infertility: I don't have children like the rest of my friends and family. Because of this, my life is structured entirely differently. I don't often feel supported because, generally speaking, people always seem to want you to do exactly what they are doing.

Pandemic: My mother is mad that I'm not currently traveling. She thinks I'm living in fear. (She told me so.) One of my sisters thinks I'm glad to miss events. (She also told me so.) My family no longer takes precautions and they will not alter their social behavior so that I feel more comfortable visiting. There is no give and take, only judgment.

Man, did childlessness prepare me for this or what.

I already know what it's like to live a life others don't try to understand. I already know what it's like to be judged for my choices and lifestyle. I already know what it's like to be the only person living the way I do.

I'm doing okay... But, dammit, I am tired. 



Monday, April 4, 2022

A Fresh Restart

Hello from the other side of March! Not gonna lie, that month was tough for me this year. 

I have felt so much better when waking up these last several days. My boyfriend thinks it's directly related to the seasons/weather/sunshine, but I am not so convinced... I really think it's related to trauma. But, as it is with a lot of things, it's probably a little bit of both. I also think there's something to the fact that it was finally a safe time for me to feel so miserable. 

Damn. 

Last month had some dark moments.
They were exhausting. It sucked. And now it's in the past.

There were a couple of times where I wondered if I needed to bring in some more support. I am not afraid to ask for help, but I'm not always aware of when I reach that point. I informally assessed my life but determined I was still functioning. So I just continued to feel and process.

And now I am here... Just simply feeling better. Maybe it's the weather; maybe it was the passing of time. Maybe it's just the ebb and flow of life.

Hard times happen.
Pause, acknowledge, and keep going.



I stepped outside my front door and look! Something is growing! Someone has previously planted something here! I'm excited to see what it is (as long as the animals don't eat it first).

Also, I have to admit, I am really looking forward to seeing everyone's gardening pictures. I know there are several bloggers who are good at keeping plants alive and spring will soon be sprung. 


I hope this food picture doesn't look gross. 
(Sometime I think food pictures look really gross. Although, now that I think about it, maybe that's just pictures of babies eating with food smeared all over their faces... Anyway!) 

So, yes, here's a food picture. It's kind of a comfort food of mine and I don't remember the last time I made it. But, I was really craving some vegetables, so I made this and it felt really good to take care of myself.

If you'd like to make some, it's roasted vegetables (carrot, onion, and celery with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper) mixed with quinoa and feta cheese (sometimes I use crumbled goat cheese).


Here's my latest quilt! It's for my dad; he's a huge baseball fan. 

I call myself a sloppy quilter because all of my quilts are full of mistakes. But that's one of the many reasons why I love quilting. You can make mistakes and it's still a quilt! So, as someone who identifies as a sloppy quilter, I am very proud of this binding corner. I think it's the best one I've sewed so far. 




Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Still In Process

This may be the hardest March I've had since ending treatments.

March 2015: final IVF did not result in pregnancy
March 2016: packed, moved, and put my children's house on the market
March 2017: was in grad school (very stressful)
March 2018: still in school, packing for an out-of-state move
March 2019: divorce would be final in a month
March 2020: pandemic started
March 2021: unemployed, unvaccinated, and uncertain

So maybe the fact is that March 2022 was the safest March for me to fall apart. 

I'm not trying to achieve anything or get anywhere. 
I'm home. I'm safe. I'm loved.
I can feel the worst of my worst feelings and survive.

Trauma... Its effects are definitely lifelong.

I don't think I will ever get over infertility. I think I'm moving through it though. I have felt very stuck this month. Lots of pain and lots of tears. I can't even put it into words. Very tired. Foggy. Sad. 

But maybe pausing and being in the awfulness isn't necessarily being stuck. 
Maybe it's also part of the process.

When my boyfriend found me crying in the living room this morning, he first suggested I eat something. Then he tried to crack a joke. (It did make me smile.) Then he suggested a shower. I decided to take a shower. It really was helpful. At least I felt better physically. I ate some food, did some laundry, and started sewing a new quilt top from fabric I'd previously cut into strips. 

And the world turns another day...  💖


"Self-care helps stop the spiral of destructive emotions."
Image and quote by Dominee, creator of Self-Love Rainbow
Click here to read her excellent article about what is self-care and how to do it. 
I've read a lot of articles on the topic and this one might just be the best.



Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Can't Stop Won't Stop

I can't stop...

Crying? 

Quilting? 

Grieving?

D) All of the above

And that's the truth.

***

I spilled coffee EVERYWHERE this morning because of course I did. I knocked my full mug off the tv tray so its contents got to get some trajectory behind its fall. Clean up involved mopping. Towels just didn't cut it. (I also admit to adding milk and chocolate syrup to my coffee, which made it even more important to do a thorough cleanup job.)

Then I did it again. Knocked over a half full mug of coffee (thankfully plain this time) and it spilled all over the counter and behind the refrigerator.

At least I hadn't dumped the mop water yet.

***

Today is my 7th Survivor Anniversary. Grief affects cognition, which can in turn affect things like motor skills. I've written about this before here and here.

I'm just glad I was able to clear my calendar for today and I don't have to drive anywhere.

It keeps us all safer.

***

My boyfriend got frustrated with the first coffee spill. He got really annoyed with the second one. I was annoyed at his annoyance, but, at the same time, I recognized that he is allowed to have his own feelings. (I mean, he is going through a pandemic and his own life stressors too.)

He got snappy. I told him to go outside. He took the suggestion. Then I burst into tears.
They started out as tears of frustration but they ended up being the Big Feelings kind of tears. 

I went to the bathroom for privacy and had a good, long, and hard cry. I felt as bad, if not worse, than I did on this exact day seven years ago. It was AWFUL. I thought to myself, "What do I do with this?? Where do I go from here?! What do I even do today?" And the answer was... Nothing. 

So I sat there and cried and howled and missed my children.

***

Later I joined my boyfriend outside. He said, "I hate today." I replied, "Eh, hate this morning, not the whole day. Who knows what the afternoon will be like." He said, "Well, I hope it doesn't involve more spilled coffee." And I said, "If it does, we'll just clean it up. My tears this morning had nothing to do with you or with coffee. I don't give a shit about spilled coffee. No offense."

***

And that's what it's like being with me. ;) 

Because that's what it's like for me living without being the mother I always thought I'd be. I have no children to raise. There are no children in my home to love, encourage, and watch grow up.

And it hurts. 

And there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

***

But I'm still here so I go on... 

The afternoon feels much better than this morning. My boyfriend and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. It is still cold and crisp, but the sun is shining and the snow is melting. It's really obvious that the season is changing. 

Now I'm home in my faithful recliner (see pic) writing you all. Next, I will watch a movie and do some handsewing on the couch. I really do enjoy the little things.

I can't stop/won't stop: crying, grieving, quilting, loving, laughing, healing, and trying to have fun.


My latest project is a simple pillow case. I had an extra block left after I made a quilt top and my boyfriend suggested I make a pillow case. Duhhh. Of course! So I did. And I love it. 

Sewing mends the soul. It is literally putting scraps together to make something beautiful/useful.
The metaphors for sewing, mending, and healing are endless...








Sunday, March 20, 2022

My 7th Survivor Anniversary

In just a few days it will be 7 years since my last fertility treatment didn't result in pregnancy. The year was 2015 and I was completely empty. It seems like it wasn't that long ago, but then it also seems like it was a couple of lifetimes ago.

If you are new here, these posts will catch you up:
  • last month when I summed up where I currently am with living with infertility
  • last year when I wrote about not feeling settled in life yet but happy anyway
  • the year before that where I kept it short but linked to my past anniversary posts

And now we are here, the first day of spring 2022.

I don't have anything new to offer in this moment. 

I just want to encourage you to stop and appreciate your own hard work. Grieving is HARD. It's lonely and devastating and tiring and soul-sucking and nobody seems to understand.  

After quitting my last job, I decided to take some time off. I was tired, I was sad, and I had worked way too hard for far too long to feel that bad. So I stopped. I rested, sewed, and got outside. 

I'm glad I did. I will never regret taking these past three months for myself.

After losing my lifelong dream of motherhood, I spent seven years working to create a new life for myself. It was, by far, the hardest thing I've ever done. But I did it. I created a life I want to life. 

So I stopped for a season to enjoy it. 😎














Saturday, March 12, 2022

Marching On

I didn't cry today, but I cried hard yesterday. Twice. It's not just my upcoming infertility survivor anniversary. It's also the pandemic. It's two years of the pandemic. It's the fact that tomorrow will mark exactly two years since my boyfriend and I last ate in a restaurant. That can easily sound superficial when so many people are suffering worldwide, but it represents that every routine and element of structure in my life changed entirely. Over a weekend.

It's a lot for all of us to absorb, process, and endure.

I think that's why I'm moving even slower this March.

Last night I read my journal entries from this month last year. Thankfully, I'm definitely feeling better than I was then. For one, I'm vaccinated. That offers some relief. Also, I have my new (old) house. Buying a home wasn't even on my radar screen this time last year.

This time last year I was still in disbelief about quitting my previous job (due to lack of covid precautions) and was worried about finding a new job. I actually wrote that I wanted to avoid getting into another negative work situation.

Oops.

I quit a hazardous job just to get a new job that was hostile. Once I realized, I tried what I could. And then when there was nothing I could do to change my situation at work, I quit.

And here I am again, processing my latest job and worried about finding a new one. And just like last year, as time passes, memories of random experiences from that last job fly up into my consciousness and I feel things all over again.

It was a really bad experience.

It was bad for many reasons. I won't bore you with the details or the insults. However, for this blog, there is one detail worth noting: I felt like my co-worker judged me for not having children. 

Here are just some of the comments she made to me:

  • "I have to check my phone. I have kids." (Implying that I don't have to check my phone? That I don't have important people in my life? Just thoughtless, really...)

  • "I don't have time to read articles at home like you. I have to do everything late at night after my kids go to bed." (Okay... I was only asking when she found the time at work to read recent research.)

  • "I can't afford to buy things for work. I have my own children to buy for." (Ouch. I didn't even say anything to her. That comment was completely voluntary after I brought in a couple of things.)

Maybe those comments aren't that big of a deal. Maybe in isolation they're pretty harmless. Maybe I'm reading into things. Here's what I do know. I was on a two-person team and the other person was lying to me and lying about me to our manager, so it wasn't very hard for me to be "overly sensitive" and take her comments personally.

She just wasn't nice to me.

I got the feeling she didn't view me as being on the same level as the other adults in the office. She didn't talk to me conversationally, only the other parents in the office. She associated me with the single co-workers in their 20s. And it seemed to be very important to her to periodically tell me that I was a new grad. Then I would remind her that, yes, I was new to our particular field, but I was coming with 25 years of experience working with kids. One time I also reminded her that she and I were only 4 years apart.

But what's that lesson I've learned since quitting that job and reading that book?

Oh yeah. I don't have to explain myself. ;)

Marching on... We're almost halfway through!

💚🍀💚


Saturday, March 5, 2022

Hello Again March

My brain slows down in March. Tasks seem to demand more of me. A low level of malaise permeates my mood. Not constantly. But often enough to notice. Year after year. 

I experienced an incident of partner abuse in March 2002. I ended fertility treatments (and trying to conceive altogether) in March 2015. Then, of course, the pandemic hit in March 2020. So it's not like any of us have escaped the month of March unscathed.

But I'm not going to write off an entire month. I don't resign myself to 1/12th of my life completely sucking every year. I just try to remember it's a lot to overcome and none of it is my fault.

It was hard to concentrate this week. Time moved slowly. I felt unproductive. I know I'm not alone.

But I know I'm doing stuff. I've been keeping a short list of things I've accomplished each month.

  1. I include paying the mortgage each month because I am so thankful for my home. Finally! A place to be. A place for me and my stuff. I'm comfortable here. Now I can really get organized, put down some roots, and dig deep.

  2. I took an online class about creating websites with WordPress. That made me feel good because it was out of my comfort zone; it was all new information for me. But now I know some basics and the basics are actually pretty easy.

  3. Drumroll please... After many, many years of being sedentary (thanks to grad school and then the pandemic), I have exercised at least once a week this year! One of my favorite things to do is yoga in my living room with videos that my friend posts on patreon. Email me if you're interested.

  4. I keep sewing! I'm finishing up a quilt for my dad, I started one for my mom, I'm finishing one for myself, and I've got at least three more started but I don't know whose they are yet.
I've had several new ideas for blog posts related to infertility, but I haven't written them yet. I jotted the ideas down so I won't forget them. I just haven't had the mental energy to sit down and write at the end (or beginning) of the day. I've been busy working on applications and my house. Slowly but surely, the next chapters in my life are beginning to take shape. 

So I'm keeping busy. March isn't my favorite, but I don't completely hate it. 
Although, as much as I love winter, I will admit... I'm looking forward to spring. :)


(Image by SelfLoveRainbow.com)





Thursday, February 24, 2022

Saying Something In the Moment

Sometimes I can fire off a snappy, assertive retort when I need to. But, let's be real, that's not the case most of the time. Frequently, I don't say anything in the moment. I don't always have the words. However, it can be great when I stumble through anyway and say how I feel. Saying something in the moment can help clear up misunderstandings right away.

Like with one of my sisters for example. I was talking to her on the phone recently and it was awesome. We haven't seen each other in a looong time and we haven't been to each other's homes even longer. We genuinely miss each other and we were visiting because we hadn't talked since the holidays. It was nice to catch up.

Then she said something that sucked. AND I realized in the moment that I didn't like it. So then I said something about it. All of this is progress, yay! 

First, some background info. She's been going through a lot. She got a bad diagnosis and has been going through tests and treatments and medical crap. The good news is things are finally going well. Maybe this experience will come to an end for her and she can heal and move on.

So back to the thing she said that sucked.

She said, "I'm glad that, out of the three of us, it's me that's going through this. I can handle it."

I immediately took that as my sister saying she was more resilient than me or our other sister.

I spoke up. I said something like, "That's not nice," or "I don't agree with that." I honestly don't remember specifically.

I do remember what she said. My sister said, "What? All I meant was I'm the meanest. I can tell everyone to stay away when I need them to while I'm going through this."

Literal lol. I burst out laughing. Turns out, I had misunderstood what my sister meant. I definitely took it the wrong way. It really paid off that I realized my feelings in the moment and spoke up.

And another thing... She referenced a major surgery she has coming up, something neither one of us had yet mentioned throughout our phone conversation. And I, remembering how much I hated talking about procedures and medical stuff while going through infertility, offhandedly said, "Oh, I was just gonna pretend that wasn't happening until it was over."

This time she immediately laughed out loud. She said, "And that's why I love talking to you. With mom, it's always a million questions and plans. With you, I don't have to say anything."

So there's my feel good story that I wanted to share. I love my sister (yes, the insensitive one).

Speak up when you think of it. Practice recognizing your feelings in the moment. Give yourself grace when you realize stuff after the moment. How many millions of times have I thought of something good to say long after an interaction... 

But we all get better with practice. 


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Lessons Learned

Where I am today with infertility and living my life without children:

  • Nothing will make up for my lack of children and loss of motherhood. Nothing. Not a career, not a partner, not a pastime. No thing. Not a single thing, not a million things.
  • I miss my children every day and I think of them as my guardian angels.

Also

  • I'm playing the shit out of the hand I was dealt.
  • My life (losses & pandemic aside) may be better than anything I could have planned.

Also

  • My current life came at a cost I can't explain.
  • Once I lost what I most cared about, I gained a freedom I can't explain.

Also

  • Part of having boundaries includes not explaining myself. ;)


What have you learned? Where are you today?
"Good" or "bad," I will meet you wherever you are.






Thursday, February 10, 2022

The Primer on Boundaries I Always Needed

I've mentioned the awesome counselor I got to see for a year and a half. I started seeing her right before I went through my first IVF cycle. In my first appointment, I told her I was going to be an extremely anxious pregnant woman or I was going to be completely devastated and at a loss for what to do with my life. Either way, I was going to need her.

I am so grateful for her. I learned so much. I think I've also mentioned before that I told her, "I came for the infertility support; I stayed for the boundary education." Because, whew, boundaries... I didn't have them.

I started feeling the need for boundaries (even though I didn't know that's what it was at the time) when I started seeing a fertility doctor. I didn't want everyone anyone knowing what I was going through. It was hard enough going through it; I couldn't talk about it or explain it to someone else at the same time.

So, for maybe the first time in my life at the age of 34, I stopped sharing. From what I've now learned, I went from having porous boundaries to having rigid boundaries. Overnight. No wonder my friends and family were confused.

So. Boundaries... Most simply put, they're important. Also, having them often includes engaging in behaviors that you may not initially associate with boundaries.

Which brings me to my book review/suggestion! I first mentioned it during my post about Jody Day's Reclaiming the Childless Holidays. She mentioned it there. I jotted down the title, looked at the table of contents on the yellow-themed shopping website that I don't use, and ordered it from thriftbooks dot com.

Oh yes, the book haha. It's called Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab. And it is great! It's so informative and easy to read. I read it with a highlighter and found a gem for myself on every other page.

The book is divided into two parts: "Understanding the Importance of Boundaries" and "This is How You Do the Work of Setting Boundaries." It was part 2 that I was most in need of. A primer, a How To for establishing and maintaining boundaries, if you will. Finally! 

The whole book is good.
Here are some of my favorite bits from part 1:

  • "The root of self-care is setting boundaries: it's saying no to something in order to say yes to your own emotional, physical, and mental well-being."
  • "Healthy boundaries... are an indication of how you allow people to show up for you and how you show up for others."
  • "If you experience depression, it can be helpful to set boundaries about how many things you expect yourself to do in a single day... Highlight the small wins."


  • She describes six different types of boundaries, gives examples of violations, and offers ways to set and honor boundaries for each type. Those six areas of boundaries are physical, sexual, intellectual, emotional, material, and time.


  • She spends an entire chapter explaining what boundary violations look like. This was really helpful for me! I needed specific examples to help me really understand what having boundaries looks like.


  • "The healthiest way to communicate your boundaries is to be assertive... Communicate your feelings openly and without attacking others."
  • "When making our expectations known, we worry about saying the right thing. The 'right thing' is a matter of stating what we need through assertiveness."
  • "Someone else's opinion about your life isn't more valuable than your own."


  • She provides a long list of boundaries to consider. I particularly resonated with these:
    --I protect my energy against people who threaten my sanity.
    --I allow myself to feel and not judge my feelings.
    --I create space for activities that bring me joy.


  • And then, the most important point of all for me was this: "It's okay to create boundaries about what you share with others. For example, you don't have to share any of the following... what's next in your life, how you spend your time... your lifestyle... Remember, you have a choice about what conversations you are willing to have with others."

And that was just part 1! 

Part 2 covers boundaries with family, romantic relationships, friendships, work, and social media and technology. It was part 2 that I was most excited about because that's the part that gave me the specific information that I needed: signs I need boundaries, what boundaries look like, and what boundaries sound like. (Yes!! A script! Scripts can be so helpful, even if it's just a sentence.) 

Here are three important take aways from part 2:
  • "Your boundaries are a reflection of how willing you are to advocate for the life that you want."

  • "Self-discipline is the act of creating boundaries for yourself."

  • "Your wellness hinges on your boundaries."

Such. Good. Stuff.
But that's not all!

There were three things in particular that I could relate to my experiences with infertility.
  1. In a chapter about blurred boundaries (when we aren't clear with others about what we want or need), the author talks about instances of when people tell other people how to live their lives. Basically, she's not a fan of doing that. Lol. The author writes: According to Kate Kenfield, a sex and relationship educator, "My absolute favorite question anyone asks me when I'm struggling is, 'Do you want empathy or a strategy right now?'"

    Wow. How awesome is that. Do I need empathy or a strategy? Can you imagine if someone would have asked us that when we were deep in our grief?? How considerate.

  2. In that same chapter, the author writes about accepting and letting go when a relationship ends. Since most of us have experienced the "friendship apocalypse" that often happens with infertility, I thought she had some good thoughts for us. She writes, "When a relationship ends, it's okay to grieve the loss (cry, be angry, feel sad)... process what you learned about yourself... [and] determine how you would like to show up in your present and future relationships." I thought those were some helpful steps for how to move forward when a friendship ends. Because that shit hurts!

  3. Finally, in the chapter about identifying and communicating boundaries, the author gave me a good reminder. She is addressing the guilt that can come with setting boundaries, but, really, the message is applicable to all emotions. I can replace the word "guilt" with the words "profound sadness" and it still works. She writes, "Like all feelings, guilt will come and go... Embrace it as part of a complicated process--just one piece, not the entirety of the experience."

I needed this information. I needed this boundary education. I honestly needed this book my whole life. But, as it is with a lot of things, I probably came across it when I was ready to hear its messages. (Well, that and it was just published in 2021! Hahaha.)

5 stars, 2 thumbs up, 10/10 would recommend!!

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Winter Ramblings

I thought I was going to be productive last week. I was not. I was cold instead. 

Maybe I will be productive this week, but maybe not. Because it's still going to be cold.

Who cares, I keep reminding myself. It's a pandemic. It's burnout. It's existential fatigue. Who cares about my made up plans for myself. There is no To Do list police. As long as my bills are paid and I'm doing what I need to do to maintain, who cares what extra stuff, if any, I am accomplishing. Who. Freaking. Cares.

Well... As someone who manages depression, it's important for me to care about *something* but I don't need to care about everything and I don't need to care about society's unrealistic expectations for me, especially regarding productivity in the moment.

I rested in January. After the decade that was 2011 - 2021 (TTC, infertility, and rebuilding), I was tired. There's a Japanese proverb that says "Fall down 7 times, stand up 8." Well, my last job experience really knocked me down. It drained me. Instead of immediately standing back up, I decided to just lie down for a bit. Ha. So all month I ate good food that my boyfriend cooked and went to bed early. I read two books and worked on some quilts. I gave my body a break and tried to get my mind to cooperate and rest too.

I am still tired. We all are. But we all go on anyway. Like I always say: what's the alternative? 

This is my CNBC life. And lately, living my life as a childless woman has been going okay. 

I still think about it a lot. I don't talk to many people about it, but I don't currently talk to that many people in general. My boyfriend listens a lot. I read blogs, write posts, and connect through comments. I'm eternally thankful for this space.

My last period was awful. So emotional. It sucked. I just went with it. Cried a lot. Felt irritable. Restless. General malaise. And then it ended. Thankfully.

I continue to think that I wouldn't be living here in this house if I'd had kids. I wouldn't be living this life at all if I was raising children. But it's a good life. A damn good life. The life I had planned would have been good too. But this is the life that I have. 

This is the life that I'm living and, even with my losses, I love it.


(I took this picture recently. It's a good thing I love winter.
And it's a good thing winter doesn't last 12 months, haha. To every thing there is a season...
I continue to learn from nature. Now is not the time to be productive.)


Friday, January 28, 2022

Unexpected Admission

Times are hard. But I don't have to tell you that. Just like I don't have to tell you that life was hard before the pandemic. But now things are even harder. In unpredictable ways.

It reminds me of a very unexpected thing a co-worker told me a couple of years ago.

I'd been working at my first hospital for a couple of months and noticed this one woman hadn't mentioned any kids. I don't usually ask people if they have kids. If they have them, they eventually come up in conversation. But she hadn't mentioned anyone except her husband, so I decided to just ask her. What she voluntarily told me took me by surprise. I'd never heard anyone before or since say anything like it.


Me: Do you have any kids?

Her: No. I mean... We wanted to, but my husband and I decided not to. We don't think it's fair to bring a child into this world. We don't know what the future looks like with gun violence and climate change and everything.


I was shocked. She didn't know anything about me or my perspectives and she just fearlessly and shamelessly told me how she decided not to have children. I wasn't expecting her to say something so stark and realistic, especially so casually at work.

And this conversation happened before the pandemic! I have thought about it often ever since.

It's not like I had a choice about not having children. And it's not like parents got a choice about the pandemic. We are all just living through these hard times, some of us while parenting and some of us while grieving and healing from the lack thereof.

But I often think about that co-worker and the reasoning that informed her difficult decision.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Another Good Cry

I had another good cry today. It came out of seemingly nowhere. Then again, it does happen to be seven years and one week after my first IVF didn't result in pregnancy. I always seem to cry more January through March. Like this morning. Tears streamed down my face for at least ten minutes.

All I could think was, "Thirty-five years is a long time to think you're going to be a mother. It has only been seven years of knowing I won't be a mom... Go easy on yourself..." 

So I sat there. And cried.
Then I went on with my day. 

I don't really know what else to do. If I don't cry, I just feel cranky and irritable all day. So, I cry. 

I'm happy. I'm sad. I'm both at the same time. It's complicated. I know you understand. 💜

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Good News To Share

I was texting with a friend from grad school earlier today. After living elsewhere for several years, she will soon be moving back to her home state to be near her family. She and her husband found and bought a house that they love. Then she interviewed for two different jobs and she just accepted the position she wanted. I know you don't know this person, but isn't that great news?! 

I need more good news in my life.

My negative thought loop has recently included the pandemic, unemployment, inflation, and how to navigate difficult relationships with loved ones, which usually loops me back to the pandemic... Sigh... 

Then I was texting with my friend this morning and I was so happy to hear all of her good news!

I need more of that in my life.
So how about it? What's your good news?

As for me, I am enjoying the last few days of this month-long break I've given myself since ending my last job. Here's some of my good news lately:

  • I went and saw a lot of my family over the holidays. I saw my parents (for the second time since 2020), one of my sisters (for the first time since the pandemic!), and my aunt, uncle, and cousins (for the first time in three years!!). Additionally, I had a couple of very good conversations with my other sister on the phone over the weekend. I did not like traveling at all, but I wore N95 masks and took all the precautions I could. I didn't get covid so I can say the trip was worth it. Thank God I saw my family.

  • My boyfriend and I are making the best of our time at home during this period of high infection rates. I started a new quilt for my dad's upcoming birthday, plus a couple of other quilts that I want to try and sell. My boyfriend makes whatever recipe he feels that day and I get to reap the benefits. I've had everything from homemade beer bread to smoked chicken to chocolate chip and coffee cookies lately. We really miss hanging out with other people, but we are thankful for our home.

  • I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do for the next part of my career. I have several ideas and I kind of just want to try everything at once. Maybe things will figure themselves out. What will work out will work out, and what won't, won't. I figure, as long as I am willing to put in the work, *something* will work out...

  • Which brings me to my Word Of The Year for 2022: figure! Hahaha. I wrote about my WOTY for 2021 here. This year I looked at one of my favorite resources again, The Self-Love Rainbow. I did not go through a journaling process this time, mainly because the same phrase kept coming to me over and over. "I will figure it out." My next job? My finances? Starting a small business? Going back to school? (Yes, that's something I'm considering.) Enduring a pandemic?

    "I will f*&%ing figure it out."

    So, "figure" it is! It's a simple WOTY, but it feels right for me right now.

Again, how about you? What's your good news? 

Do you have a WOTY? What little things are you enjoying? Did you notice yourself thinking positively about yourself any time recently? (Because, hey girl, you ARE badass and beautiful!!) 

Tell me good things. I want to celebrate with you!

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Choosing My Thoughts

Today was another tough one.
I imagine this may be somewhat of a collective experience right now.

I felt irritated and restless. Then I felt sad and depressed. I didn't want to do ANYTHING.
Not read or sew or watch tv or eat or shower or organize... All the things I usually feel like doing.

I woke up earlier than usual (naturally, definitely not on purpose haha), got up, drank coffee, ran to get milk and laundry detergent (masked in an N95), and... Went back to bed.

It's the pandemic.
It's month 23 and the infection numbers are higher than ever.
It's scary and depressing. And annoying. And exhausting.

I can't live in bed. I know this. But when I feel like this, I allow it for a day. 

So there I was, lying in bed, snuggled under the covers, alternating between being weepy and being sleepy. It reminded me of dealing with infertility. When there was nothing in my control and no end in sight. 

I thought about what was in my control. And then I thought about how I get to choose what I think about. I realized I was tired of the same 3 - 4 things I'd been thinking about and decided to think of other topics to let my brain rest on. 

Usually I can daydream about quilting lol. I like to think of design ideas, fabric combinations, and the next steps I will take on various projects. But that wasn't working for me today. So I had to find other topics to think about. After letting myself jump around to a bunch of different things on my mind, I rested on being grateful for my home and looking forward to having it put together.

It can be hard to redirect our thoughts, but it's something we can get better at with practice. 


(picture from Ralph Marston at greatday.com)



Monday, January 3, 2022

First Day of 2022 & 2021 Year in Review

Happy New Year! I'm kind of excited about 2022. There are so many quilts I want to make, lol.

*****

Even though I'm looking forward to making quilts and working on my home, the first day of 2022 found me in tears. Loud, wailing tears. I felt so sad and devastated. I really missed my children.

Overall, I like to share how much I love my new life that I've created. The happiness and contentment that I have are very real. But so are the massive losses that prompted all of it. And sometimes I feel my losses and the longing for my children very, very strongly. It's important that I share this part of my life too.

It happened on Saturday morning (1/1/22). I was hanging out with my boyfriend at home when all of a sudden I started tearing up, told him I was having feelings, and went to the bedroom and had a massive cry. A very loud, very painful, very visceral, and very real cry. I did what I could in the moment. I felt it. And it sucked.

Seven years prior (1/1/15) I had my first embryo transfer.

Oh. Yeah...
And January, February, and March have sucked ever since.
(Well, some things can lessen over time... Maybe they will suck less this year?)

So that's how 2022 started. I also felt better later in the day. I really do appreciate all that I do have. I put up the Xmas ornaments, cleaned out the fridge, and did some laundry. I made sausage and jalapeno queso because it felt like a festive thing to do. And, of course, I sewed.

So that's how 2022 started (crying) and how I'm feeling about it (enthusiastic anyway, haha)...

***** 

As for 2021, I read Mali's recent year in review post and wanted to reflect myself.

We all know life has been hard for the last couple of years...
(And, in our CNBC community, we all know it was hard before then too.) 

But... 

DANG, thanks to books, blogs, and a commitment to personal insight and change, 2021 was a major year of personal growth for me. I wrote about it a lot, but here are 3 of my favorite posts.

My first post of the year was written on Jan. 1st when I was feeling strong feelings just like this past Saturday. (Fertility treatments can be so traumatizing. The body definitely remembers!)

Then later in January I wrote a very honest post about how I used to always put everyone else first. It was important that I was honest with myself about this lifelong pattern of mine.

Continuing with my personal growth, I read four books this year:

  • Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood
  • The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Dr. Judith Orloff
  • When Your Mother Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Daniel S. Lobel
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.
I wrote a post about a topic I read about in the second book, Dr. Orloff's concept of energy vampires. All of the books were helpful though. I read the first three when I was unemployed last spring and I read the last one while I was unemployed this past month. So, hey, I take advantage of my time when I'm not working. Cheers to personal growth lol.

Which brings me to my Top 5 Most Read posts of 2021:

     5. My Name is Mine 

(I finished changing my name on everything. I no longer have the last name that my children would've had.)

     4. Feeling Insecure 

(I think feeling insecure is relatable in general. With regard to this post specifically, in hindsight, I think all of my weird feelings about my job were my intuitive instincts just screaming at me to run in the opposite direction. But, it can be hard to know in the moment. Going through infertility definitely shook my sense of security. And my nerves are still frayed.)

     3. Awkward Introduction 

(Yeah, geez, that job was weird... This post highlights the fertile bias that was overwhelmingly present at my new job orientation.)

     2. Fifth Times's the Charm

(The absolute best part of 2021, and hell, from the whole decade of 2011 - 2021 was buying my home. It's not a house I would've bought if I was raising children. It's not even in a town where I would live if I was raising children. But it is perfect. It's perfect for me, perfect for my boyfriend, and perfect for our lives together. Anyway, this post describes all five of the moves I've made since knowing I would be living life after infertility without kids.)

     1. Relatable Words from Others

(I'm surprised this is my most popular post of the year, but it is probably because Mali wrote about it here. Thank you Mali!! This post is about two different patients I had and the comments they made to me. I love providing patient care. I look forward to my next job where I get to do that.)

Then, last but not least, I also really liked my last post of the year.
Each year is full of "insignificant" days.
We deserve to enjoy them.


My first 8-point star blocks!

(Sorry for the bad lighting; it was late at night. This quilt will be for a knitter. Do any of you readers like to knit? I don't know any knitters. I just felt compelled to make these blocks.)