Sunday, August 28, 2022

Stress, Celebrations, & Choice

I'm in a tough spot. I've got a lot of thoughts in my head, but I haven't quite sorted them out yet. I don't know what to do and I can't write about what I don't understand. Needless to say, I am stressed and the weight of the stress and the unknown is weighing on me. 

This too shall pass.

I took a sabbatical this past winter to heal. My nerves were frayed, my confidence was shot, and I knew I needed to take some time for some serious mental rest. I used savings to pay my bills.

So wouldn't you know it... Now I'm having a home repair emergency. I need some major plumbing work done and I'm waiting on the estimate to see if what's left of my savings will cover the cost.

Logically, I can tell myself that everything will be okay. The repair is not a choice. It has to happen. So that leaves me spending my savings or shopping for loans. Both are doable. The other upsides to the situation are the problem was found, the problem is fixable, and the repair people have availability in their schedule to get it done next month. Lots to be thankful for. I just have to live with this constant level of stress until it's over.

It got me thinking... Is life ever NOT stressful? It's just felt so nonstop for the last decade.

And money and plumbing issues aren't even the whole picture. My relationship is a big part of the unknown as well. Changes need to be made, but those changes aren't in my control. 

And just like with infertility, I don't like my options. Stay with how things are? Nope. Break up? Not interested. A third option I've thought of is to change my perspective, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet. Probably because the changes that need to happen just really need to happen. Even if I change my perspective, I am still in an unsustainable situation. I guess we will see what this week brings. Or not.

Oh, hello again limbo! 

Because that's what it is. Limbo.
Waiting. Wondering what to do. Feeling uncomfortable and hating my options.


So with all that vaguely said... Let's celebrate the positive.

I moved out of my storage unit!!! I repeat, I moved out of my storage unit!!! In other words, for the first time in over six years, I do NOT have a storage unit. Mission freaking accomplished.

(The rainbow picture above was taken after we loaded up our last load and drove out of the city.)

Instead, I am surrounded by boxes. Again. 
Life can be so repetitive, lol.

So I'm out! It took three days, a rental truck, and two additional car loads, with each roundtrip costing at least eight hours in gas and time. But, I'm out!! That will save money every month, and now I can finally go through my stuff I've saved. I saved it all because I didn't know where I'd end up. Well, it's here apparently. I will get the plumbing fixed and then live the rest of my life here. So what doesn't fit in my home can be passed along to others. Or thrown away.

But I'm really thankful I get the choice about which stuff I keep, donate, and throw away.

Choice. What a powerful thing...

That's it! That's my empty unit.
Yes, it was so momentous of an occasion that I had to take a picture.


So, my break from school has been just that: a break from school. But it hasn't been a break. I've been moving, hosting family, and dealing with major plumbing issues. But hey, at least I had a break from assignments.

School starts again tomorrow. 

So despite my current stressors, sadness, and confusion, I'm relieved to be out of my storage unit. Also, I've been determined to relax this weekend. Can one be determined to relax? That seems contradictory... But, it's where I am at this point. Stressed but determined to relax.

My insides have been racing with anxiety, so I'm doing what helps me feel better. I'm sewing. I don't remember what I did before I started sewing in April 2019. I think I just lived with anxiety.

I picked out fabric on Friday and started a new quilt top. This quilt is for me. It will be all flannel for the top and the backing, and the batting in the middle will be wool. I made a similar quilt for my boyfriend last year, and it's the warmest quilt we have. So I'm making one for myself before winter comes. It's a simple pattern just made up of squares, but I'm already halfway done with the top.

It's not the greatest picture, but you can see the fabric that I'm using: scribble stars, polar bears, skiers, and textured solid blenders (brown, purple, green, and blue). 

Thankfully, when I choose to sew, it does make me feel better. It must be the repetitive motions, the purr of the sewing machine, and the soft feeling of fabric. It is all very comforting for me. I turn on the tv, watch 20th century movies and tv shows, and feel at ease. 

So, it's only appropriate that my mom brought me this sign when she came to visit:

How do people with kids afford life? It's just me and I am pretty stressed to the max right now. 

But I know how they do it. They just do it. They have to. Their kids depend on them. Just like I'll get my plumbing fixed. I have to. Functioning in my life depends on indoor plumbing at my home. 

We just do it. Stress, celebrations, and all. 

Monday, August 22, 2022

Renewed Appreciation

The biggest reason why I have kept this blog anonymous (hopefully!) is because I have written very honestly about my family. What they have said to me and how I have felt about different things throughout the years... This blog has been a safe place for me to vent, and I'd hate for them to find it, read it, and get their feelings hurt.

I love my family.

I love my mom, my dad, and my sisters. They gave me the greatest childhood, and I know I can count on them if I need anything. 

No, they don't understand infertility. Kind of, like, not at all... But they do know how sad I was and how much I suffered. They know I left my marriage (obviously), moved to a new state (also obviously), and created a whole new life for myself. They haven't always understood it, but they are so happy for me that I am happy.

My parents and oldest sister just visited for the weekend. I cried when they left. (By now, you know that I am a crier lol.) They were tears of happiness because I love them so much and tears of sadness because I miss them already.

Families are weird. We are just born into our family and that's who our family is. They remember all the embarrassing stuff we did growing up and they kinda get fixed ideas about us. 

For example, I'm the stressed out, anxious planner in my family. Yes, I need to chill out a little, but I also accept myself. Our strengths are our weaknesses and our weaknesses are our strengths. Channeling my anxiety productively has led to my new home, my new profession, and my newfound happiness. (Also, when my family needs to know something they call me! Lol. They know I have everything written down.)

Oh man, I needed to see my family. It reconnected me to them and to myself in ways I can't describe and didn't anticipate.

I didn't get to have my kids and raise them. But I do get to have my parents and sisters in my life.

I'm done taking that for granted.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

A Newborn Picture that Didn't Hurt

I'm so glad it gets better. I really had no idea how I was going to live the rest of my life with the amount of pain and the weight of devastation that I was carrying. 

In my last post I wrote about my best friends from high school (and their kids). I had to take some space from these friendships for several years. It really, really hurt. All of it. Infertility, feeling stuck in limbo, watching my friends' lives go on, missing my friends. All of it hurt. Badly. Deeply.

I couldn't even handle pictures.
And I don't fault myself for that. 

But a couple of weeks ago, I texted a very friendly woman from the quilt guild because I didn't see her at the last meeting and wanted to check in with her. 

She immediately texted me back a picture.
Of a newborn.
And it didn't even annoy me. 

The newborn was wrapped in the cutest quilt, and I know that's why my friend sent me the picture. She had made the quilt for her new family member, a nephew's kid or a cousin or something. I don't know. I don't know these people. But I loved the quilt. Haha. 

The moment really stood out to me.

I have CRIED over pictures of newborns. Many, many tears shed over many different pictures.

But now... It's just different. 

It's okay that it was painful before.
It's okay that it is not painful now.

Time makes a difference. As does gaining experience. And perspective.

Learning others' stories helps too. Like, my quilting friend. We are still new friends and don't know each other well, but I do know she lost a high school-aged daughter in a tragic car wreck.

We have all been through so much.

And now I can find joy in a picture of a lovingly made quilt wrapped around a newborn.


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

High School Best Friends (& their kids)

I am thankful for texting. Because of texting, it is easy to stay in touch with important people even if it's only a couple of times a year or so. If you would have told me 25 years ago, that I'd still be in touch with my best friends, well... One, I'd be happy to hear it. Two, I wouldn't be surprised because that's what I expected before I realized what a whirlwind life can be and how things can completely change over the years. So, I'm surprised to still be in touch with my best friends from high school, even if it's what my younger self expected. Lol.

I had one best friend in high school that went to the same school as me. She introduced me to two friends of hers that went to a different school than us. We all became really good friends, I love these girls (lol, women!) more than anything. We've stayed in touch throughout the years, through the four different colleges we attended, four marriages, seven kids, and two divorces. 

These are the kind of friends where you could show up on their doorstep in the middle of the night without warning and they'd take you in and make you dinner, or at least pour you a glass of wine. Except I don't drink wine. And one of us quit drinking altogether. But you get what I mean. They are the real MVPs. The kind of chicks that will always have your back.

I'm so glad it doesn't hurt anymore to be friends with these women I love so much.

I'm the only one without kids.

Last night one of them texted the rest of us just asking how everyone was doing. We all gave updates, and I got to share about my new jobs! They all know I went through failed IVF. They all came to my going away party when I moved out of state. They are very supportive of me.

But of course last night's update texts led to pictures of everyone's kids...

Oh my gosh, they are all getting so big!!! And all of the kids look just like their mothers!! <3

The oldest set of kids are two boys, about 16 and 14 now. I remember when they were born. I remember thinking how crazy it was that one of my best friends was already married and having kids on purpose. Haha. I was nowhere near ready to be a mother. I wanted to be a mother badly... Just not yet. 

The next set of kids are about 9 and 7. This is how old my kids would be if kids had worked out for me. This friend and I were actively trying to get pregnant at the same time. Obviously, it worked out for her. I have to say though, even though the timing of her children's pregnancies and births were painful for me, this friend was the most compassionate toward me out of everyone in my life. She was the first (and one of only a few) that flat out said to me. "This sucks," when we were talking about my problems with getting pregnant.

The final set of kids are about 4 and 1.5. There's an older kid and a younger set of twins. All three babies are the result of successful IVF. 

All seven kids were... Gorgeous. Is that weird to say? I hate to focus on kids' appearances. I am much more interested in their academics, sports, creative arts, and, most importantly, their manners and how they treat themselves and others. But my friends' kids are gorgeous. It's inside and out. I can tell from the pictures that they are all happy kids. And they all look like my friends! It's crazy!! 

Yeah, I was a little sad. What would my kids look like?

But overall, I wasn't. I don't have kids. I've had some time to get used to this idea. 

And I wouldn't live here if I did have kids. I doubt I'd be divorced, although you never know... But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be living here. And I love it here. My home, the geographical area.

I like my life, and I'm happy that my friends and their kids are happy. I'm grateful and amazed that pictures don't bother me like they used to. And I'm hopeful they will all plan a vacation out here sometime over the next couple of years! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Stamina Galore

I survived my rigorous two weeks of training for two new jobs while finishing up the first semester of my doctoral program. A typical day had me up early in the morning to work on assignments before driving an hour away to the hospital for an 8-hour shift, followed by seeing several more patients at the nearby nursing home, driving an hour back home, and working on assignments for another hour or two before going to bed. It was exhausting! 

And my family says I don't have any stamina... (insert eye roll)

But of course I survived. It's what we do. A grueling two-week period? Ha!!! I can do that over and over and over and over for, well, years. That's what I did for... Years!!! 

Although, I prefer school work, commuting, and job training to injections, ultrasounds, blood draws, and, oh, soul-crushing devastation.

Now I am spending my break between semesters shifting boxes around and unpacking a bit. I am making room for the stuff in my storage unit that I am determined to move out of this month... If I can rent a moving truck!! (That's another hassle.)

We finally have flooring in our bedroom, and we got new siding on our house too. I got a loan to make it all happen, but I found a great guy to do the work and I am so thankful it is done! July was a long (and expensive) month full of job interviews during the weekdays and construction workers at the house during the weekends, but it was worth it. All of it was worth it.

My family thinks I'm weak. They think I cannot handle much. I do not know where this false narrative began. Maybe it started when I was in high school and was always tired. Of course, school started at 7:25 am and I often did not get home until 8:30 or 9pm so, I don't know, maybe I was just... Tired? 

During my first three years of teaching full-time, I went to graduate school part-time.

Several years ago, I was teaching Monday through Friday and then working full shifts at the hospital on the weekends.

Then there were the whole endure-infertility, survive-failed-IVFs, and divorce-my-husband years.

Yeah, I don't buy it when they say I have no stamina. I used to correct them, but it never changed what they said. Now I just say, "That's a false narrative," and I think they've run out of energy to argue with me. So who's the one with no stamina?? Ha.

So, I recreated my life after losing my lifelong dream of motherhood. We all know that. I'm still tweaking it and making corrections here and there, so I set myself up with employment and housing that I can enjoy for the second half of my life. 

It's hard work, but it is worth it. My life keeps getting better and better.

It's not all roses. Of course not. It never is. 

My boyfriend and I are going through what I call a "growth period." I don't know how to make sense of it, and I feel limited on what I can do about it. All I know is I will survive this too, whatever the outcome ends up being. 

But that's what we do. We survive. We endure. We persist. 

We quit things (treatments, houses, partners, jobs) that no longer serve us.

We feel our feelings and keep moving forward.

We appreciate what we have, and we enjoy the little things.

I am so thankful for you all. We may not have met in person yet, but... Even when I am busy with life, I feel your presence and understanding. Thank you!