“It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on. It takes a lot of strength to let go.” – J.C. Watts
The concept of letting things go is not a new one. But, letting go of what? Once something is in my grasp, I hold it tight and God help the poor sap who tries to take it from me. I have been known to feel intense amounts of uncontrollable anger when someone messes with my plans – even Mother Nature. Especially Mother Nature. She certainly has it out for me, sometimes, and when I cannot blame another human being for when things fall apart, I shake my fist at her and curse. My husband laughs every time he thinks of the weekend we visited the place where we would be getting married. The plan was for both sets of parents to fly down to meet us, and I was thrilled because they would finally be meeting each other. Well, a tropical storm came through and cancelled my in-laws’ flight, so they could not come. I just remember sitting in the rental car, on our way to the hotel, furious tears streaming down my face because “the whole weekend [was] ruined!!!!”.
I do realize this kind of reaction may not be the most healthy thing in the world…
But, I’ve always been that way. When things happened during my childhood that I could not fix, I blamed myself, even though most of the time those things were completely out of my control. Maybe that’s why I have such issues with it. I’m making up for all the times I couldn’t control my life and my circumstances then.
So, what does this have to do with my infertility journey? Everything. Because even in this, I am a control freak. And I’m beginning to realize that holding tight to my circumstance has become detrimental. By gripping my problems in tight fists, how can I ever fully give them over to God?
And so, I have decided to let go.
Yes, I can see the irony in a blog post titled “letting go” on a blog called “Holding onto Dreams.” But this post isn’t about letting go of dreams. This post is about letting go of all the things that, as infertility sufferers, may in fact be holding us back from those dreams. And like the quote above, I don’t want to be weak anymore. I want to be strong. Don’t you? And to do that, we need to let go.
1. Let go of blame
Infertility is not an excuse to play the blame game. No one is at fault. Not your husband. Not your doctor. Not God. And, especially not me or you! We need to stop beating ourselves up over something that we have no control over (see, there’s that C word again). Infertility can happen at any moment and to anyone. There is no rhyme or reason (mostly). Instead of blame, seek comfort and love. Don’t push people away. Hold on tighter. We need all the support we can get through this tough time.
2. Let go of worry and uncertainty
Worry, especially continuous and unrelenting worry, is flat out unhealthy. And, in cases of infertility, downright damaging. I have spent countless hours worrying over what-ifs. What if we never get pregnant? What if I miscarry? What if we spend all this money and go into debt all for nothing? What if we don’t spend all this money and we regret it? What if, what if, what if? It’s enough to drive anyone insane. I for one am done worrying.
3. Let go of the past
Dwelling on what has already happened or wallowing in self-pity because of the cards we have been dealt in life will not change a. single. thing. Focusing on the future and all its infinite possibilities? Now that’s something to hold onto.
4. Let go of anger
This kind of goes with blame. Anger is a release, but it is a destructive one. Find a better channel for release, something that makes you happy and something that helps you to focus on all the wonderful things you already have. Don’t ever forget all the ways you are blessed, because as soon as you do, that’s when the anger and the resentment starts to creep in.
5. Let go of jealousy
Jealousy, like anger, is destructive. It ruins friendships, it breaks apart families – and in a time like this, we NEED those friends and our family to help us through. Don’t feel envy when someone tells you they are pregnant (trust me, I deal with this all the time, so I get it). Instead, be happy for them and try to remember that each person may be hiding a struggle similar to ours. And don’t envy those people because although they may be getting the one thing you want more than anything in the world, they may be struggling in some other (or many other) area(s) in their lives. We don’t know, and we should never assume.
Obviously, that is just the tip of the iceberg, and these things may not be issues you deal with. That said, what other things do you think that would be better off being let go? Feel free to add them in the comments. Or, make a list of your own. Either way, remember that many times we have to lose before we can gain.
Since deciding that I need to focus all my energy, for now, not on getting pregnant but on making myself pregnancy-ready, I have been feeling more positive about things. I have lost a total of 30 lbs in the past year, which is a big deal for me. I’ve started taking a lot of supplements (under medical supervision) to help fix a lot of deficiencies I have because of my thyroid dysfunction. I have gone gluten-free and (mostly) dairy-free because of a newly-discovered gluten intolerance (yet another side-effect of an autoimmune disorder).
Frankly, I have been feeling wonderful! My hubby and I work out almost every day of the week, and we exercise like fiends. Running, walking, aerobics, strength/resistance training… you name it, we do it all. But, that’s not even what this post is about. No, this post is about when other people say things that (on-purpose or not) threaten to derail all my good intentions.
I have friends and family members who have recently told me of their pregnancies, and I am sincerely happy for them. However, during conversations there are times when I have to mentally force myself not to read more into things that are said. And, I have to bite my tongue more often than not lest the angry green monster rears its ugly head. How many times have I wanted to say, “I’ll trade you!” or make some snide remark whenever people complain about their pregnancy. Complaining about the physical hardships of pregnancy is a rite of passage, I get that – and when I am pregnant (Lord willing) I will be oh-so-happy to join in with the masses gone before me who have whined about swollen feet and morning sickness. But right now, it’s hard to be on the other end of the fence looking in and wanting, needing, hoping, and trying not to feel bitter.
At those moments, all my focus goes right out of all the good strides I am making and I begin to focus on my infertility again, and how unfair it all is, and why does she get to have her second child, third child (hell, even first child) after only a short time of trying (and for me, a short time is anything less than 2 years) when I can’t even have my first after FIVE. LONG. YEARS? I want to just stop all the good things I was doing and just wallow in self pity. I wanted to throw in the towel.
But, do you know what? I’ve been getting better. When those thoughts start to creep in, I put on some loud, happy music, and I shove aside all that negative energy. Because what I am doing is more than just about getting pregnant (though that is a huge motivation). It is about making myself better, more whole, and more healthy. I can’t control my infertility. But I can control how I deal with it, and the parts of my infertility I can control that *may* help in the long run, I am choosing to focus on those.
The rest, I just have to keep giving to God and have faith.
During a random Google search, I found this image and I have to say that the words really hit home. I cannot even begin to think of the number of times I have been so focused on what I don’t have that all the wonderful blessings in my life seemed to fade away, like they didn’t even exist.
So, I want to spend a few moments thinking of all the top 10 wonderful ways God has blessed me. (The list could go on forever, but for time’s sake…)
1. My husband.
Okay, I know y’all are thinking – ugh. How cliche. But it’s true! He is my best friend and my rock, and I love him a little more every day. He has pulled me through so many dark moments, and throughout all of this infertility drama, he has been the one person who understands most what I am going through, because he is going through it, too. I tend to forget that. For as much as I long to be a mother, he longs to be a father. We are in this together.
2. My family.
Another cliche. But, I love my family (and my in-laws!), and I am much luckier than most. My parents are still married, I have wonderful siblings, a gaggle of nieces and nephews to lavish my love on (I love being an aunt!)
3. My pets.
Bet you thought I was going to put my friends next. I thought about it! But, I think my pets deserve a slightly higher ranking because, let’s face it, those of us going through infertility, well… our pets are our furry little children. They know when I am upset and need cuddles, and they know when I need to laugh. They are wonderful stress-relievers, and I honestly don’t know how I would get through all of this without them.
4. My friends.
That’s not to say that my friends aren’t equally as important! They also are supremely supportive. They pray for me and they are sensitive to my needs, especially since most of them are already mothers. A small few have gone through infertility and/or loss of a child (which thankfully I have not experienced), so they really do understand. And I love them all. 🙂
5. My job.
Yep, I’m one of those rare folks who actually loves what they do for a living. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am and God has really helped me to land a wonderful career and I couldn’t be happier with who I work for and with.
6. My hobbies.
I am a huge fan of art and writing, so of course I have to put on here how blessed I am to get to do something I enjoy. Writing and drawing/painting help me to escape (oh, and books – huge bookworm right here!) and they give me a sense of purpose. They help me to get my feelings out so that I can work through them, rather than let them sit and fester (hence why I started this blog!).
7. My health.
Well, mostly. I’m certainly not without my issues (thyroid dysfunction being the top), but overall, I can’t complain. I could be dealing with a whole host of scary, life-threatening illnesses, but nothing I have had to deal with up to this point in my life have been anything near that scary. So, I consider myself very blessed.
8. My dreams.
We all have them. And, although some of the dreams are unfulfilled, I consider it a blessing to have goals to work toward. Without goals, without dreams, what purpose do we have? I always need something to strive toward so that I don’t become complacent. More than anything, I want to learn and grow, to be a better person inside and out.
9. My home.
Honestly, how many people can say that they consider their home a sanctuary? So many people try to escape their homes, not escape TO them. But, I never feel quite as comfortable and as at-peace than I do when I step through my door and greet my little fur babies waiting for me. I love to sit on our back porch and listen to the wind rustle through the trees or watch the sun set. In those moments, I truly feel like nothing can get to me.
It sounds silly, but I am truly blessed to have today. I am trying to keep that in the forefront of my mind so that I don’t forget and start worrying about tomorrow or dwelling on yesterday. After all, all we really have is today. Tomorrow is never a certainty. Yesterday is in the past. So as long as I stay in the present, I don’t feel quite so overwhelmed. I take things one day at a time, and one step at a time, and that keeps me sane.
So, there you have it. There are so many more things I am grateful to have, but I think you get the idea. Now, I recommend you take a moment and write down what YOU are grateful to have. In fact, we should think of things we are grateful for every day, instead of focusing on what we may not. It really makes life a whole lot more enjoyable.