Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Roadside Help from an Angel

I've just returned from a whirlwind trip to help my parents move. I took two flights and rented a car for a three-hour drive to get there. (In case you're curious: I'm still masking on planes. Not many people are. But, thanks to infertility, it doesn't bother me like it used to to stand out as different.)

The thing about moving is there is always more stuff than you realize. Always. There is always more. My mom kept saying the closets were giving birth. Fertile metaphor aside, I was starting to feel like she was right. Haha.

Anyway, it was hard work, but it was good. I got to spend time with my parents and my oldest sister. I got to see my parents' home of twenty years for the last time. We ate food, shared laughs, and conquered the overwhelming task at hand. 

It was my drive home that turned into a real adventure.

There I am, driving this rental SUV that is packed to the brim. Some of it is my stuff, and some of it is my parents' stuff that I am going to store. It's a full day's drive, but I upgraded my rental package so I could listen to Tom Petty Radio for the whole time. :) 

I'm on a skinny, curvy one-lane road on the side of the mountain. I'm enjoying the beautiful view, driving slowly, and scanning the road for wildlife. I take a turn and BAM! In the middle of the road is a large rock. To the right of me is the mountain. To the left of me is an oncoming car. There is also a car right behind me, so I don't want to slam on the brakes. Plus, there isn't enough time. I have nowhere to go and maybe 2 seconds to decide what to do.

I decide the rock is the least damaging option. I hope for the best and keep driving. 

Immediately, there's a loud sound and the tire light comes on. I know I have to get off of the road. But where? Fortunately, around the next turn there is a gravel area where I can pull off and park. 

I pause for a second and take some deep breaths. I'm thankful I didn't wreck. I'm thankful I'm not hurt. I'm also worried about how roadside assistance is going to find me and help me. Thankfully, my cell phone has a signal. I start making phone calls. I also unpack the car a third of the way to see if there is a spare tire in the back. Thankfully, there is.

As I am on the phone with roadside assistance, a pickup truck drives by, slows down, and goes into reverse. I think to myself, "This person is either going to help me or hurt me." I stay on the phone while the man rolls down his window and asks what is going on. I do not have a single bad feeling in my body, so I tell roadside assistance that a Good Samaritan has stopped to help me and I hang up.

This man. Bless this man. This total stranger stopped on the side of the mountain to help me. I explained that I hit a rock and popped my tire. He asked if I had a spare, and I said yes. He asked if I knew how to change it, and I said no. Then he parked his truck and proceeded to direct me to park on a firmer patch of ground so he could get started. Did I mention it's completely muddy?

I introduced myself. When he told me his name, it was the first time I got chills. His name was a name that is significant to me. 

Then, as he was teaching me how to change a tire (that's right, he didn't just do it, he also told me what he was doing each step of the way so I could learn), I could just picture him teaching his daughter when she was growing up. I asked him if he had children, and he said, "No, I wasn't blessed in that way." I got chills again.

I also blubbered, "I don't have kids either. I wanted them real bad, but that didn't work out for me." A few minutes later I added, "I'm sorry I asked if you had children. That question used to really hurt me, but it doesn't bother me like it used to anymore." He said, "Oh, it's all right. I understand that's how people make conversation."

The whole thing took less than an hour. But if he hadn't stopped... I would have been on the side of that mountain for awhile. I wasn't totally stranded, but I don't think roadside assistance was going to be there anytime soon. Did I mention it was a Sunday?

I told the older gentleman that I had some cash. He said he didn't need any cash. I grabbed several twenties anyway and said, "Please, at least have dinner on me." But he refused. He said, "You are a child of God. If we didn't stop and do something nice for someone every now and then, what is the point?"

I got chills for a third time.

Was he real? I shook his hand. He felt real to me. But the fact that he stopped on this curvy mountain road to change my tire for me. His name... His childlessness... His words to me...

He was my angel.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Monday, April 10, 2023

The Heaviness Has Lifted

I can tell it's not January, February, or March anymore. And it's not just because of the sun shining and the snow melting. I no longer feel an inexplicable heaviness. 

Life, in general, feels a little lighter.

I am interested in learning more about grief. How it feels, how we process it, how it reoccurs. I'd like to help people with it. Everyone deals with loss of some sort. After I graduate, I'll explore more therapeutic approaches to grief and loss. 

My plate is currently full. Pleasantly full. Full of things I chose.
My jobs, my studies, my sewing projects, my home.

I shared several months ago that my boyfriend and I were going through something. Honestly, I thought we were going to break up. We didn't. I'm glad. :)

We are both growing in our own ways--me as a communicator, him overcoming depression. It got me thinking so much about infertility and not having kids. I developed so much resilience and so many survival strategies after losing my children and dreams of motherhood. It makes it hard when I see others struggling and perceive that they're not doing anything about it.

Nobody can solve our problems for us. Nobody can instill us with enthusiasm or a will to live.

We have to save ourselves. No one else can.

The past year of our relationship was tough. There were plenty of fun moments. He is one of my best friends after all. But still... It was very tough. 

It got me thinking about how childlessness has a way of changing everything. I realized that what I need in a relationship has changed. Drastically. I realized I assumed things about him just because he had raised children. (Pronatalism is so insidious. It gets to all of us. And also, no, he is NOT organized or orderly lol, something I thought came automatically after raising kids.)

It's been interesting. Thinking about my choices and patterns in relationships throughout my life. Comparing different time periods and my different expectations for partners. Considering how traumatic teen parenthood can be (for him) and childlessness after infertility can be (for me). 

But even during the toughest days, my boyfriend and I always had trust and communication. And trust me, I've held NOTHING back hahaha. And neither has he. It's important that we both share our perspectives.

Anyway, just kind of a rambling post... 

I wanted to share my good news. My relationship limbo is over! I ended it this weekend. I decided to stay and we are moving forward together. None of that is directly related to infertility (except for the fact that somehow most everything relates to infertility for me AND the fact that he has witnessed a shit ton of my healing, which is priceless), but it got me thinking about all sorts of new angles on the topic. 

But after thinking and analyzing nonstop for the last several months, I am giving myself a break. You all know I am good at that. ;) Breaks are important. Breaks are essential.

So today I am working on schoolwork while snuggled under my latest quilt. I like myself, my relationship feels fun and stable, and I'm happy at home. 

I hope you are feeling some lighter moments these days too.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

The Importance of Rest

The last week of March always feels so hard and heavy, like there's an invisible hand pushing me down and I'm moving through molasses. I think part of it is the anniversary of my last IVF and all of the trauma that comes with that, but I think another part of it is the first three months of the new year and the ending of winter combined with the time change. 

To put it simply, (for me anyway) the last week of March feels brutal.


Allow me to talk about the importance of rest.

In an overscheduled society that is always going on and on about "self-care" but doesn't actually do anything to make self-care anything other than another scheduled item on a To Do list, we have to make time to do nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Sit there in a chair or on a couch. Sit on the floor or stand in the middle of your kitchen. Lie down in your living room or sit in the bathtub. Sit there, stand there, lie there. Whatever you choose, just make sure and do nothing while you're doing it.  

As your mind inevitably starts to think about something (your To Do list, your most recent inner conflict, your stressors of the day), redirect your thoughts to nothing. 

Tell yourself: "Yes, yes, there goes my brain, always thinking... But I don't have to follow it."

Picture your thoughts packed in a suitcase that you're carrying. Set that suitcase down for a few minutes. You can come back for it later. Or not.

Come up with a resting place for your brain. I picture a bench and rest my brain there. Maybe you're a beach person or a mountain person or a field person. Picture your brain and body doing nothing wherever feels peaceful to you.

It's not an easy practice. We are used to going, going, going. Thinking, thinking, thinking. Doing, doing, doing. It takes practice to do nothing.

But rest is different from sleep. We need both. 

Our health depends on it.