During those years of infertility (and the inevitable depression embedded in that experience) I had a few big aha moments. Mostly I was just miserable, but I had some breakthroughs along the way. Little nuggets of insight that felt healing, that kept me going during the worst of that time and that I still refer to today.
One was this: Are you asking the right questions?
After a few years of trying to conceive the “natural” way, I hit a wall. I had tried every alternative therapy under the sun (I live in the bay area, so believe me there are endless options) I tried acupuncture. I tried yoga. I tried talk therapy. I went to psychics, shamans and astrologers. I avoided hot tubs and wouldn’t let Matt near one either. I took my temperature every morning. I drank Robitussin. I tried to heal all my childhood wounds. (ha!) I faithfully drank bitter herbs — little dried bundles of sticks and roots I would take home from the acupuncturists office that I would boil into a witchy brew. I also did all the medical tests, but the doctors couldn’t figure it out. They called it: Unexplained infertility. (Very technical term)
And then I had a session with my life coach. And she said, “Okay. So there’s a lot of self-pity here. What about the anger? Where’s that? Aren’t you pissed off and frustrated? Where’s the ‘why-the-fuck-hasn’t-it-happened-by-now?’ Aren’t you mad at God or your body or somebody?!”
And that’s when I got it. As I stepped into the anger (okay, rage) I felt my strength, my fierceness, my aliveness in addition to my longing. I also saw how little power there was in the self-pity. The victim place is just that– totally helpless and impotent. And I had been there a long time. As we explored the anger, I found my feet firmly planted on the ground. I practiced role playing with her. We pretended people were asking me how it was going, and instead of my usual “It’s so hard…” and crying almost immediately, I practiced saying, “It fucking sucks!!! We’re fucking frustrated!!!”
And that felt better.
I got off the phone and threw all of my herbs away. I fired up the espresso pot and called off all of my appointments with various healers. I said Fuck it!!!!! Fuck being good and trying to deserve this baby! I don’t care where the help comes from, I just want help.
What’s wrong with me?
And it was at that moment that I realized I had been carrying a painful question with me for years:
What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me that this isn’t working?
Maybe I’m too depressed.
Maybe I’m not relaxed enough.
Maybe I don’t deserve this baby.
Maybe I’m too effed up.
I remember ordering a pair of pink, knee-high boots on the internet. When they arrived, I tried them on and immediately began to cry. I cried because they weren’t me at all. Cried because I could see that the reason I ordered them was that I thought I wasn’t feminine enough, womanly enough, motherly enough… and maybe these boots would help. I drove myself crazy with this. I figured if I knew what was wrong, I could fix it. In fact, I hoped something would come back positive on the tests, just so I could point to my fallopian tubes or some character flaw and say aha! it’s you! And then fix it. Fix me.
But then, in the wake of finally feeling all of the frustration and anger, a new question arrived. It was just as fierce, but a lot more loving: How can I help myself? Where can I get support? Suddenly, I didn’t care where the help came from. I just wanted help. There was a journey on the other side of this doorway, but this was the first step.
What question are you carrying?
I am remembering this now, because I think I have found myself in that place again. Different circumstances but still asking the age old question– What’s wrong with me?
And well, this question can take you down a painful road.
I am looking for a different question to hold, one that will offer a new opening. What kind of support do you need? How can I help? These are better questions. What question are you carrying in your heart? And what is a more compassionate question?