I thought I was broken during my fertility struggles. I was emotionally and mentally in pieces and my body? Well, It wouldn’t do what I wanted. So it was broken too.
Nothing was going to plan therefore everything was broken. As I crumbled, things around me crumbled. The engine in my car blew, my daughter had terrible asthma, my husband went out of town for work, my own work slowed down, my creativity dried up.
I cried more tears than I care to admit and I am ashamed over the jealousy, envy and anger I felt towards others and their blessings. I knew the feeling of cold tile against my cheek too intimately.
I made a decision that I couldn’t be this person anymore. I spent months rebuilding my emotional self, facing off against the victim that had burrowed in my soul and fighting her into resilience and a warrior. I went to therapy and did reiki and in between the self care and day-to-day life I began healing. My reward? A pregnancy that ended with a baby in my arms. I had gotten my ultimate wish: a sibling for Claire. Life was changing and I was changing with it. I couldn’t have been happier.
In the five years of infertility and the year since having my son, I’ve continued to do a lot of growing. And recently, I’ve been concerned about the growth I did.
Until two days ago, I thought I was still broken. How could this be? After all the work I put into myself and healing my relationships and my life, how could I still feel broken? I had the two kids, the new house, the new van…How could I STILL feel broken?
Because now this brokenness took on a new form: I’m not like other fertility warriors. I don’t remember my angel babies due dates or conception dates. I don’t remember the exact dates I lost them. I didn’t name them. I don’t do anything special or specific in their honour. Ever. The icing on the cake? I don’t think of them anymore. I no longer cry or muse or wonder “what if”. I don’t long nor grieve for them anymore.
“I’m still broken,” I thought miserably. “Why am I not crying over them anymore? Why am I not doing more in their honour? Why didn’t I name them?!”
I have these four angels…wait, actually, don’t I actually have SIX angel babies? I had two abortions when I was younger. Why don’t I count them? Shame? Lack of caring? Why don’t I count those lives that we’re purposely cut too short?! It’s that damn brokenness. A brokenness that doesn’t allow me to wallow anymore. A brokenness that has pushed me to move on and focus on the now and future. A brokenness that is leaving the past behind.
But is this right? Am I actually broken? Am I cold and unfeeling? A bitch? Mean? Cruel? Are my past experiences discounted because of this? Am I less of a person? Are my angels less angels because of my earthly behaviours?
When I first met my future mother in law I wasn’t particularly fond of her. I was a flaky, flighty, emotional party girl who had no clue the meaning of hard work. I wore my heart on my sleeve and I had yet to really know to true adversities. She, on the other hand, had had a lifetime of hardships. When we met she was a single mom raising eight kids in a three bedroom house while working three jobs while also going to university. She was in a mode I hadn’t learned: the grind. She didn’t have time for emotion; there wasn’t room to wallow or play the victim. She had bills to pay, mouths to feed and an education to better her future to obtain. So my perception of her was a cold woman with a hard spine. As a self-proclaimed emotional terrorist with a huge victim complex, I couldn’t connect to someone so strong and assured. She intimidated me.
As years went on, my perception changed drastically. This wasn’t a cold woman with a hard spine. This was a resilient woman with a backbone. A woman who fought for the Life she has now. She’s intelligent and funny and her hardships aren’t lessened because she doesn’t cry woe anytime it’s brought up. She owns her every decision and her life and she now lives from a place of authenticity and peace. And I thought of her while I watched this goal cast video.
And I had my “a-ha” moment watching this. This woman’s story and perception blew me away. Her words made me realize I’m not broken. I’m healed. This is what it feels like to be WHOLE. I’m not less of a person. Nor are my angel babies, all six of them, less loved. Nor is my past trauma lessened because I’ve changed since them. I’m not a bad mom for not naming them. I’m not a bad person for not actively honouring those sweet short lives. I honour them subconsciously and unconsciously by being the me I am now. By being the Vice President of a fertility charity I honour them. By constantly striving to be better than I was yesterday, I honour them. By how I eat and exercise and pray, I honour them. Because they are a part of me forever and I’m forever changed from those lives and their subsequent traumas.
I am no longer defined by “infertility” or “recurrent miscarriage” or “endometriosis”: they were once pieces of my wholeness but they do not define my wholeness.
Who I am now is because of who they made me. Their pieces are my pieces. I’m not broken. I cannot BE broken. Rather, I’m different. But it’s a good different. Everyday I continue to heal from the experiences of life, in all facets and capacities. I’m more understanding and patient while also less likely to cater to “woe is me” attitudes. Life happens; how you respond is what makes it either good or bad. And after going through some bad shit, I know that resiliency and strength come from consciously choosing to find the light amidst the dark. And I know how easy it is to give in and play victim despite the lack of growth and change that happens from that place.
I’m more like my mother in law now- a little harder but softer still. I don’t have sympathy for people who milk systems and play the victim card until the letters wear off. I don’t support people who won’t support themselves first. But when you’re ready to step up and make change, I will be right beside you. I will hold your hand and walk in step with you. I will find resources and money and the people needed to help you be the best person you can be but only once you commit to yourself. I’m done people pleasing and trying to fix those around me. I’m living for me, my family and those I love. My worth is no longer defined by how many people I help. See, harder but also softer. What I realized two days ago is that I don’t need to DO things for my angels. By being alive and embracing every breath with gratitude, I’m doing exactly what I should be doing for them: LIVING. I don’t love them less because they have no names. I didn’t hurt less because I don’t cry more now. My experiences are still valid and real. They gave their life so my life could change.
I’m not broken. I’m healed. I’m their pieces and my pieces and together we’re part of the vast, cosmic puzzle that has aligned to bring me to now: a beautiful whole web of hard and soft, sympathetic and wise, strong and resilient, loving and capable of boundaries. I cannot be broken. Any brokenness I’ve felt has only strengthened this puzzle and I know it’s been a choice: a choice to feel broken and a choice to heal those pieces. I will always choose to put the puzzle back together and be the whole woman I know I am with my angel babies with me and all.