Strong At The Broken Places

This week my TV viewing intersected with life in a meaningful way.  Larger than life characters reminded me that in the long march of time, it’s how we cope with what comes our way that defines us.

In turbulent times, sanity and clear thinking can be in short supply. That was made abundantly clear in The Roosevelts.  More than a history lesson, it overflows with wisdom, lessons learned and inspiring tales of overcoming adversity.  Eleanor Roosevelt is a stand out. Her fearlessness, empathy and no-nonsense pragmatism make a large impression. (Silent Sorority readers might recall that I use one of her many quotes on the book’s dedication page.)

There is no experience from which you can’t learn something. When you stop learning you stop living in any vital and meaningful sense. And the purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

Anna Eleanor RooseveltWhile Eleanor didn’t experience infertility she did face many other trials of fire and setbacks throughout her life and she always managed to come through them stronger, rededicating herself to being of service to others.

Toward the end of her life she described her philosophy this way: “you have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best you have to give.”

Expression of similar themes — those involving strength, fortitude and courage — giving the best we have — is something I’ve always admired from infertility bloggers and those who comment here. When we open ourselves up and share lessons about coming to terms with loss, dreams unrealized or the hard work of reinvention — we do so in the service of others.

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That brings me to Lisa Manterfield. Many of you have come to know her through her blog and book, I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home.  For several years she has graciously nurtured a community on her website Life Without Baby. After reading her story I was fortunate to meet and get to know her personally, to see her blossom and grow as she distilled what she’s learned and put together a program of workshops.

In our last exchange she told me about her latest work, a series of ebooks, aimed at guiding women through what may be one of the most difficult decisions we ever have to make: choosing to let go of the dream of motherhood and moving towards accepting a life without parenting. The first one, Letting Go of the Dream of Motherhood, comes out on October 6 but you can pre-order now.  If you or someone you know is struggling with how to begin to let go of the motherhood dream, I heartily recommend this ebook series.

With an advance copy in hand this weekend I read her constructive counsel and related exercises. Lisa calmly and clearly provides a much needed framework and helps put into context competing desires, raw emotions and overwhelming grief and sadness.  Chapter by chapter readers get the opportunity to take inventory and gain new insights. She helps readers understand how, if left unchecked, the motherhood desire can morph into an unhealthy obsession.

That obsession is not easy to cop to or to work through in the midst of today’s mommy mad, pronatal society.

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I tried to imagine the me of a decade ago reading Lisa’s book. It would have been such a valuable lifeline, a tremendous support at a time when I was thrashing about lost in a maze of murky what ifs, uncertain about how to find balance and without a path forward. One of my favorite passages from this ebook series: “Making a conscious decision to stop the quest for motherhood and working on coming to terms with that decision isn’t losing hope. It’s changing the desired outcome.”

Like Lisa and many others who read this blog, we didn’t give up on the idea of having children, we gave birth to a new idea of what our life can be. In the process of doing so we grew strong at the broken places.

Scary as it was, I learned the hard way that the first step in letting go was giving myself permission to explore a new reality. With Lisa’s ebook series a new generation of women will find not only gentle reassurance but a road map to regain their sanity.

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On a related note, for those collecting resources, I’m pleased to share that my friends at the Seleni Institute reposted my Infertility Etiquette 101 piece on The Huffington Post last week. It seems to be resonating … it’s approaching 4,000 likes. Encourage you to check it out.