Redefining Yourself (and Friendships)

Our latest guest post comes from Barbie. Longtime readers will remember her as a central player in a previous post from Coming2Terms. Her sister-in-law wrote about how she and her husband were trying to help those in Barbie’s life comprehend the long-standing difficulties associated with infertility. Here’s more from Barbie herself as she takes steps to redefine herself and her friendships. The quote she includes on her Facebook page comes from Joseph Campbell: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

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What an unexpected journey life has turned out to be. So much for first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage…

While I am in the beginning phase of moving toward the new path of a child-free life, society has made it hard to do. It doesn’t know what to do with those of us who don’t fit the formula … Those who don’t want kids. Those don’t want marriage. Those who can’t have kids. Those who haven’t found the right partner, etc….

In dealing with infertility I tried to remain an optimist. I am one by nature. Most people would say I am always happy, that I am not an “asker” and that I try to deal with my own crap on my own (well, except for my husband who is not exempt from my unhappy moments). It has been a difficult 7+ years in my 30s living in the suburbs amid a veritable breeding ground of families with children. My friendships have been strained — not only because I’ve felt left behind, but because we don’t share the common bond of raising children. It’s been hard for them to understand that often I don’t want to participate in their kid-centric lives — that it can been so heartbreaking.

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Yet, I have found understanding on their part due mainly to the fact that my lovely brother and sister-in-law bought our closest friends the book, Silent Sorority. What was unbearable is now bearable in many ways. It used to be “look — this is what it’s all about” as they cradled their child in their arms or complained about the baby weight, or how hard life is now. I still get the occasional “it must be nice to sleep in,” or “it must be nice to travel all the time” — somehow making ME feel bad for such a “selfish” lifestyle

“HA,” I want say to them. The trade off sucks but while you all have gloated more than you realize I will kindly travel and sleep in and not feel bad.  I have to live my loss every day for the rest of my life. I won’t feel bad that you have to deal with tantrums, no sleep, canceled plans, etc. While I am not saying it’s easy, yours are passing moments — they are what you signed up for. Ultimately, those bad days go.

I am now redefining my place on earth. As part of that I say: if having your kids makes you happy then you cannot fault me for what I do to survive, for doing what makes me happy. We both must find a middle ground between the haves and have nots.

If having kids is one of life’s greatest achievements then mine must be getting through this life without them.

I believe somehow we all go on our own journey and whatever it is should be respected.

READ  On Sisterhood, Healing and Dreaming Big

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If you would like to submit a guest post, please email me at ptsigdinos (@) yahoo dot com.

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15 thoughts on “Redefining Yourself (and Friendships)

  1. Jericho

    “If having kids is one of life’s greatest achievements then mine must be getting through this life without them.”

    AMEN. You put it very well. This isn’t the choice many people make, me included, but if its what you’re doing, and you’ve found peace and happiness…I’m so happy for you. I love the way you write…

  2. Hilary

    I am fairly new to the struggles of infertility and the term “struggles” is used rather lightly here. Several months ago, my dear friend Barbie recommended Silent Sorority to me. I can’t thank Pamela enough for this book and allowing me to put words into what I was feeling. And, a huge thank you to Barbie who is one of the very few friends who understands what I am going through and who has been an inspiration to me on so many levels.

  3. I remember the Coming2Terms post. Barbie, you are fortunate to have such a great SIL! And thank you for another great post. We STILL get those “It must be nice” comments, although perhaps not as frequently as we once did.

  4. Min

    I agree with so much that you wrote, Barbie. For so long I thought I was all alone in the world of infertility–then I found Pamela’s website and her book and I am amazed at all the stories there are of people living just like me.

    I often refer to this struggle as a journey too. I have had people make comments to me about how “good” I have it because I don’t have children. I have also drifted away from friends who began having families. It seemed to happen gradually–almost naturally–because we had less and less to talk about and less and less in common. They were busy being pregnant, having babies etc..I was at a stand still-in the grips of infertility. I don’t blame anyone–it is another fallout from infertility—yet another sadness, yet another area no one talks about–but it truly happens in real life.

    Words are words–they convey feelings- but the actuality of it is that living with infertility is sometimes beyond words. Sometimes we all use words that fails to truly explain the sense of loss, the pain, the never ending disappointment we survive with each day as infertiles. I never question the “words” people choose to use when discussing infertility—because when you live it–you know it–all too well.
    So thank you Barbie and Pamela–your voices can be heard and understood loud and clear by me. :)

  5. Diane

    Another bravo for “If having kids is one of life’s greatest achievements then mine must be getting through this life without them.” Thanks for saying it so well.

  6. Rebecca Desjardins

    I, to, am touched and inspired by your succinct expression of this path – getting through life without kids, one day at a time is indeed what I am doing.

    Thank you for sharing your clarity and experiences – invaluable, I appreciate it more than I can say

  7. Val

    Well said. I’m struggling to find new friendships … people without kids whose every other sentence reminds me of what I don’t and never will have. It’s not that my friends mean to keep talking about their kids but that’s what their lives revolve around and I feel like an outsider who hasn’t been admitted to the club. We have no common ground anymore. It’s a difficult transition from assuming that one day I’ll be the one with the baby to realizing it’s not going to be to accepting it. I don’t think that people who haven’t walked in the footsteps of infertility or pregnancy loss ever truly understand the blessing they have. I try to remember that when they complain about what their child/children are doing … even when my mind is screaming that I would love to have their problems to deal with.

  8. happynenes

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m in my early 30s and lately I am REALLY struggling with bitterness towards my friends who are having children. I hate feeling that way.

    I actually completely cut myself off from one of my close friends recently. For reasons I couldn’t elucidate, I just stopped taking her calls. I have been feeling so guilty about it all year! What kind of a person would hurt a friend like that – for no good reason? I just felt I didn’t have the energy to deal with her. I felt like a horrible person. I appreciate you sharing this because it makes me feel my response is probably a natural one, and no, I’m not a horrible person.

    I really like the idea of finding new friendships with other folks who have chosen to live child-free.

  9. Pamela

    Thanks Happynenes, Min, Jericho, Val, Rebecca, Loribeth, Diane, Lisa, Hilary and, of course, Barbie, for sharing your thoughts and commenting here. The ability to hear from and appreciate each other opens up possibilities for a different kind of peace … and affords us the opportunity to be comfortable with who and where we are.

    And, how nice to not have to explain but — and this is a refreshing change of pace — simply share a deep bond of understanding.

  10. Like others here I particularly responded to “if having kids is one of life’s greatest achievements then mine must be getting through without them”. What an elegant way of putting the trial and something I think the fertile can finally understand. It also gives those of us involved in the struggle the power to say we are strong and worthy, which is what we should be saying but sometimes secretly wonder about.

    Thanks for a beautiful post.

  11. Barbie

    Thank you everyone for your comments! I am happy to help out any way possible! It is a tough road and the best way to get through it is with the understanding of others!

  12. Jennifer

    You seriously need to copyright – “if having kids is one of life’s greatest achievements then mine must be getting through without them”. That really, really struck me and I think is a great slogan for National Infertility Awareness Week. I know some people with kids still wouldn’t get it but maybe a few would understand how all of us feel every time we hear that having kids is the greatest thing that ever happened to them or my kids are my greatest achievement. Thanks so much for your post.

  13. Izumi

    I got the book Silent Sorority and wow, was I blown away by it!!!

    To Barbie, please write blogs more often…you have no idea how much this is a healing balm for many of us.

    Be blessed for expressing so eloquently what so many of us feel by not being able to conceive.

  14. Pamela

    Thanks, Izumi, for writing. I’m glad you found the book a good read…wishing you much happiness.

  15. Fiona Gellatly

    I have found my journey through infertility a continuous redefining process through questioning what my life’s purpose is now that I cannot have children, I have turned my back so to speak on friends who have had children as it has been too painful a reminder of what I will never have; I find that I have more in common with single people without partners and children, I dont seem to meet married or partnered women who are childless, next door to me is an older couple who are childless I feel that I want to reach out to them however dont know their personal journey. Recently I have felt a bit paranoid in the sense that I am ‘odd’ in a society that is full of breeders, families, where do I belong in such a place? I realise on my good days that I am a unique individual and have a lot to contribute to this world and not having children does not define who I am or make me a lesser human being just because I am not part of the baby production factory. In the UK there are infertilty support groups however I never really use them as most people on it go onto have a child, this a is great site, thanks Pamela

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