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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.)