I was reminded today that Summer is ending, Fall is about to begin, and Autumn is a pristine metaphor for preparing life for renewal. It also just so happens to be my favorite season (maybe because my birthday is in September), and so a fitting time for re-evaluation.
In Autumn, nature sloughs off the old in anticipation of the coming dormancy, the time when everything lies quiet beneath the surface before bursting forth refreshed and renewed from the long winter’s nap. Some may think of autumn as the dying season, but it is really the cleansing season. A time to get rid of whatever spring and summer may have built up and to prepare a blank canvas for the following seasons.
And so, to echo my last post about expectation, and in honor of the leaves that soon will golden and fall, I too am letting go. Call this my personal Lent.
I have already explained the many ways in which I have cycled through the varied definitions of expecting, so let me sum up: I am letting go of the expectations I’ve placed on myself and others along this path. They are arbitrary in the grand scheme of how little I can control the outcome of such expectations, and they only magnify disappointment (it’s a cold and vicious cycle).
And in that same vein, I am letting go of control. This is not the same as giving up, keep in mind. But this past year has taught me nothing if not the brutal truth that I am not in control of the chemistry of my body, nor am I in control of my fate. There are steps I can take to potentially influence both, but I cannot maintain the expectation that I control how things will turn out. I am one small human in this infinite universe – Hello, my name is Amanda, and I’m a control freak. Wouldn’t that be an ironic 12-step program.
In letting go of control, it is my intent to let guilt and shame fall away right with it. We, the Infertile, live with an incredible burden of both shame and guilt. I have expressed this many times before, but it is so unfair that it bears reminding. We feel guilt over our resentment toward those who have what we fight and long for. We feel shame over our inadequate bodies. We feel guilt if we stray the slightest from our rigid health and medical regimens. (*Gasp* I ate a piece of licorice today and I didn’t work out!) We feel shame in our monthly “failures.” And on it goes. Well, I say ENOUGH. Circumstance, fate and genetics have already dealt me an uphill battle. I refuse to make the path any steeper. This Fall, whenever I feel those emotions oozing and sneaking their way in, I promise to myself I will stop, take a breath, and say “enough.”
I will do my damnedest to let go of stress. That is, the stress of infertility. There are changes in the works for my husband and me in our grand pursuit – changes not yet ripe for divulging – and these have put some peace back into my ramshackle mind. From where I stand now, it is my new goal to maintain some zen, some balance and perspective, and to allow life to unfold as it will around me. Five months ago, I never imagined I could ever feel happiness again. Two months ago, I saw happy cautiously peeking over the horizon. And now, I can honestly say I feel truly happy (albeit measuredly) more often than not.
I love my friends and my family. And I love their babies. But I would be lying if I said I have never felt resentment toward what seems like their ever-growing families. And in turn, it tears my heart in two when I realize I resent their joy (see above re: guilt). Similarly, I have harbored much animosity for pregnant strangers for no reason but the fact that they have managed to become and stay pregnant, as nature intended. It is all irrational, emotional, shameful. It has been by far my least favorite side effect of infertility, and I want to let it go. To my friends and family – I want to share in your joy and learn from your own journeys. To the strangers – I will likely never meet you, but when I see you walking down the street or shopping in IKEA, I promise to wish you bliss instead of my own projected frustration.
I am letting go of the What Ifs – both past and future. The past is unchangeable. It was dark and stormy but I am stronger for it. What doesn’t kill us, right? The future is unwritten, at least in a medium my human eyes can see and my tiny mind can comprehend. If we are destined for more pain, we will deal with it. If we are destined for more of the same, we are already dealing with it. If we are destined for joy, in whatever form deemed fit for us, we will embrace it and be forever grateful.
I am letting go of February 24, 2012 – the day I conceived.
I am letting go of March 7, 2012 – the day we got our confirmation – the happiest day of my life.
I am letting go of April 16, 2012 – the day I miscarried – the day we lost an irreplaceable part of our hearts – the worst day of my life.
I am letting go of November 19, 2012 (in advance) – the day our Unborn should have been due.
So finally, I am letting go of grief. Letting go, but never forgetting. I don’t know if grief is a seven-stage process, but I’ve been through it. I was drowning in it. But somehow I managed to force my head above the water and find the air again. And while I know I’ll never be the same, I also know I can survive. I know I can find inspiration beyond the darkness. And I know it’s OK to let go – when I’m ready. And today, I am ready. It has taken every single one of the past 150 (exactly) days, and every single hug, word of sympathy and shed tear, but I have finally found that “better place.”
This Autumn, I am wiping the slate clean, going with the flow, come what may, hell or high water, and all those other lovely clichés. And when we come through on the 2013 side of winter, we’ll just see where we sit.