I am reading Elizabeth Lesser’s wonderful book, ‘Broken Open – How Difficult Times Help Us Grow’. Despite all the anger and turmoil that I feel about not having a child, there has always been this restless sense deep within that this is exactly what is meant to be happening right now and that I have something really important to learn.
In one of her chapters Lesser discusses the idea of Rumi’s ‘open secret’ how we are all human beings playing the roles of fine, functioning and happy people in our interactions instead of revealing our fears, mistakes and heartaches – our true selves. She says ‘The irony of hiding the dark side of our humanness is that our secret is not really a secret at all. How can it be when we’re all safeguarding the very same story?’.
So here’s my story, last week after floating through buying baby presents for my friends I experienced what can only be described a black hole of depression, anger, sadness and utter disillusionment with the world. This is not the first time it has hurt so much – I felt like cutting my arms off would be less painful. But it was a breaking open – a realisation that all the pain I was feeling was just using infertility as its hanger.
I have suffered from depression on an off for many years, I cycled through a rough childhood hunkering down to soften the pot holes and with my eyes firmly fixed on the future. The future I believed would be in my control, I would be an adult who could make the right decisions to make my life better. At first this worked wonders, I steered my boat using the compass of my parents mistakes. I saved my money, stayed away from any excess knowing that addiction was in my genes. I lived the anti-life of my parents and sighed a breath of relief that I had dodged the bullet of re-creating my parental home.
But on every journey there must rough waters and waves so big our boats appear like specks on the horizon. For all the padding and protection being a model citizen gave me, pain and sadness have sniffed me out. ‘What is not brought to consciousness, come to us as fate” says Carl Jung.
After years of believing that I could deal with everything on my own – that life was in my control, I suddenly feel like ‘my favourite love song was about a sandwich’ (27 Dresses). Everything I have grounded my life in seems utterly silly and fanciful.
So I am in the black hole and in here is sadness about things that reach so far down they go through my feet and into the centre of the earth. Feelings about my worth, my place. I have even found an old guarded belief that maybe God made a mistake with me. My doctor has put me on antidepressants and I am seeing a Counsellor and an Art Therapist at the end of this month.
This side of the infertility is so rarely seen, I have read that infertility can be more stressful than cancer and yet there are no ribbons to wear, no fun runs or walks to raise money. It is not discussed on Oprah or chat shows. The depression of infertility is like a side note, vaguely acknowledged but not made an open secret. I started this blog as a means of talking about these sorts of things, but I also wanted to offer more than my sad story, I wanted to offer what I learned to lessen the pain.
Of all the things that I have been through this has been the most painful. Because I can not keep my gaze on the future and hunker down. Because nothing I do or don’t do will change the situation. Because I truly have to live and let live. And because I must fully accept myself and this situation with love for there is nothing else to do.