Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who Am I?

I've been struggling with this for several days, now. And I'm not sure how final of an answer I've come up with, but I do have many thoughts about it.

(By the way, is anyone else's head humming Les Mis after reading the post title? OK, glad I'm not the only one.)

Who am I? Have I morphed into "TCIE: The Infertile" to the point where one is no longer separable from the other?

What I've concluded is that infertility has become a large part of my life, no doubt about it. But I believe that my cross has helped to shape many other aspects of my life, not take them over. Because of my amazing experiences with the Creighton Model, I decided to become a Practitioner. Because of my efforts to support as many people as possible, I started a blog. And because of my love of NaPro Technology, I went through school to become an RDMS. I have never once heard anyone refer to me as "TCIE... you know, the barren one." (Well, ok, I may have referred to myself that way!) But I have heard myself referred to as TCIE the Sonographer, TCIE the Practitioner, TCIE, Mr. TCIE's wife, etc.

See, in my opinion, it's a question of attitude. If I had settled into my new roles in life out of a perceived necessity (i.e. "Well, I guess I'll have to do this, since I can't have kids"), it would be a different story. I don't think I've done that. I had tried to use this cross to the best of my ability, to help propel me into new and exciting territories. I love my jobs. Absolutely. If I were miserable at work all day long, then I would likely be some kind of masochist, seeing as I very deliberately chose my career. That is not the case.

But. It is also important for me to remember that while attitude is a major part of what defines ME, attitude can and does change. Do I ever resent my cross? Of course!! (Any infertile who says otherwise is either a liar or a Saint.) But how much of my daily attitude towards my cross is full of resentment?

This, I believe, is where I need to be careful. And this is where I am taking JellyBelly's advice to heart.

It is so easy to get engulfed in the feelings of remorse, frustration, resentment, jealousy, bittnerness, and depression. Dare I say, it feels good to feel sorry for myself... sometimes a little too good. I have definitely fallen into that trap more than once.

Of course, many times, as hard as we try, we just cannot lift our heads above that high tide of complete and utter sadness. Infertility has often been compared to a cliff that we climb, stumbling along the way, seemingly never getting any closer to the peak. But more appropriately, I believe that it is like being underwater in the ocean. When you're deep under water, you cannot tell how far the surface is. At times, you may swim ferociously, believing yourself to be only a few feet away from breaking through and breathing in the sweet air of success. But after swimming your heart out for a while, you begin to give up, realizing you have no idea how much further you have to swim. Additionally, there are the tides to contend with, pushing against you, threatening your hope of survival.

It is so easy to give up and just let yourself drown in the waters of infertility.

But what if you could change the attitude you have about that swim? What if you started to appreciate the ocean for everything else it had to offer? If you are so focused on reaching the surface, you may ignore everything else. But opening your eyes to what's around you will allow you to discover all the gorgeous coral, the multitude of colorful fish, the intricacies of the ocean foodchain, and maybe even find other people on their way to the surface. You don't have to stop swimming upwards, but suddenly, it no longer seems like a futile race.

I've done my best to change my attitude towards this ocean. But still, every now and then, I will wallow in it, stop swimming, and begin to sink with my eyes closed. I need to practice treading, and enjoying the environment around me.

Ironically, it was just around this time last year that I wrote this post, which I closed with this paragraph:

Not until this very moment have I fully understood the implication of my own blog name. All of these years, I strove to live up to its title, and BECOME that title. But now I see that I am not defined by This Cross I Embrace. My cross was never meant to define me as a person, but rather to be picked up, carried, and embraced for the person it will help me to become.

I still feel that way. But perhaps I have wallowed a bit too much recently to allow myself to enjoy other aspects of my life. I am infertile. I cannot change that, nor can I fight that. But infertility is not me.


anne said...

Such a great reflection! thank you for sharing this. Been following along on your blog for a while and have been very edified and encouraged by your words. Thank you for your insights.

My husband and I have been trying to conceive since April 2006 (though we have not done any aggressive treatments) and are currently stalled in the adoption process. I have been struggling against "being" the infertile, in my writing and in my day-to-day, and this post especially was precisely what I needed to hear today, surrounded by so many happy pregnant women in my life.

Down here in the murk and mire underwater, I suppose we have to rely on the Breath of God and quiet our souls to see the wonder around us. I will keep you in my prayers..

Also, I didn't think of Les Mis, but rather Zoolander: :)

barbie said...

beautiful. I just love your soul TCIE!This might be the most perfect post on infertility ever.

Sarah said...

Your reflections have just been amazing lately. This is so well said (on a topic that I think is very hard to articulate about).

Also, as one training to be a CrMS practitioner, I relate to the motives for choosing a career and how a cross can result in exploring new territories.

Meg @ True, Good and Beautiful said...

I remember discovering that I had become "Meg the Infertile" Very humbling moment:

It wasn't until I had some spiritual direction that I realized how one-dimensional I had become, and it was really a turning point in my spirituality and in my life.

Love your reflections, TCIE!

Rebecca said...

Your reflections and heart are so beautiful. What you write about here is my biggest fear. That's right, it's not 'not having a baby,' but rather looking back some day and realizing I missed out on my life. Realizing that I was given so many many gifts and I didn't see them because I was focusing on what I didn't get instead. I almost have to be careful that I don't get stuck being Rebecca-the infertile who was afraid to be known as Rebecca, the infertile (that made more sense in my head ;)).
Anyway, thank-you for sharing this, it is one more reminder to keep things in perspective, to see the beauty of the ocen around me.

Hebrews 11:1 said...

Les Mis was TOTALLY the first thing that came to my mind. :)

I'm so glad you wrote this post. I had been struggling with this issue quite a bit myself..what am I besides infertile? IF takes so much from us, and it's so easy to allow it to engulf our identity. And I think you are absolutely right with your reflection--we can't stop IF from being a part of our identity. But we CAN focus on the person we are becoming, the graces that come from our cross, rather than wallowing. I myself was guilty of frequent wallowing. That, or I tried to pretend IF wasn't a part of my identity at all. But you've nailed it in this post.

Do you want to know who I think you are? A wonderful, inspirational person (with great taste in baseball teams and musicals) who, in every aspect of her life, touches and lifts up everyone she meets. I know I am a better person for having known you. And I know I'm not the only one. And making people better = helping them get to Heaven.

And THAT'S who I think you are.

Ania said...

I say this all the time. Infertility does not define who I am, but is a big part of what I'm experiencing. Our experiences shape us and you're right, our attitude can often determine the outcome of the shaping.

Someone onece told me, "Feelings aren't right or wrong, it's what you choose to do with them". Infertility is inevitably sad and that's ok. You are doing something beautiful with the sadness!

E said...

No, hun, IF isn't you at all. You are a daughter of God and I have found so much peace in that and just striving to love Him more.

But also IF is still ingrained in my thinking and belief about myself. I just try to let it purify me, but some days I sink, too!!

lavishedwithlemons said...

Beautiful, as always. I agree completely with you analogy about being under water.

Anonymous said...

Totally with you on the Les Mis front. It will probably be going through my head all night.

I also really have to seek out the calm and the connection with God to not define myself in categories like IF, my job, the short one with the big hair ... my pride as well as sorrow or frustration are so often a stumbling block.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

JellyBelly said...

Perhaps you and Mr. TCIE can come up here and see Les Miz when they're here in TO... Just planting a seed...

First off, I am so flattered that you took my crazy rambling advice to heart. I know a big part of my happiness, despite being IF, is due to the fact that I have found so many things that I am passionate about (it's almost to the point that there are too many things distracting me!).

I guess having a bird's eye view of your struggle reminded me so much of the pain that I used to carry around (and still do, I can be a very good actress when needed). The decision to look at the positive aspects of my life has really helped me stay afloat.

You are not IF. I tell myself that all the time. I was so tired of spinning my wheels and waiting that I just had to do something about it in order to save my sanity.

God has given you so many gifts. You are able to help so many because of your experiences with your cross, but please remember that most of all you need to be kind to yourself. I struggle with forgiving myself for my broken body, but recognizing the fact that I need to do so has been a big part of my happiness.

You are such a special person TCIE, I am so blessed to call you one of my closest friends. I continue to pray for you every day and I know that the Lord is going to give us a break, and hopefully soon!

Made For Another World said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful post. I heard an analogy once that our personalities aren't like a quilt- all compartmentalized. We are like a tapestry- the parts of us are woven together. Yes, infertility is one thread, and at some points in the tapestry, it may be used more than other threads. It sounds like you are ready to pick up some other threads to add to your tapestry. Thank you again TCIE for sharing your journey so that we may all be touched by your example and story.

Made For Another World said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful post. I heard an analogy once that our personalities aren't like a quilt- all compartmentalized. We are like a tapestry- the parts of us are woven together. Yes, infertility is one thread, and at some points in the tapestry, it may be used more than other threads. It sounds like you are ready to pick up some other threads to add to your tapestry. Thank you again TCIE for sharing your journey so that we may all be touched by your example and story.

Beth said...

Love the ocean analogy

All in His Perfect Timing said...

Beautiful post! You are inspiring, as always!