Where did IT go?

When one of our nephews was very little, he had this really funny, super cute way of saying “where did it go?” whenever you played ball with him. Because he was so little and couldn’t enunciate very well yet, it sounded more like “wheredeego?”. He’d look at you with his big eyes and actually shrug, his arms at an angle and his hands in the air. It’s was so funny and so adorable that, well over a decade later, I still remember it. I also remember that it was the first time I felt that pang in my heart, the thought of having children with my husband.

What made me think about this today is the fact that I feel like I’ve lost my zest of life. I feel gray and drab pretty much most of the time. I try hard to lift my spirits and count my blessings, to move forward in a more positive way – but, honestly, I kind of feel like I’m down for the count. I keep dusting myself off and getting back up, but rather than standing tall, I feel like I’m crouched like an old, arthritic woman. I can’t remember the last time I actually wore lipstick, heels, jewelry or anything else I used to revel in doing. My skin and my hair look lackluster to me, and so on top of all the other mental crap, it’s like another nail in the coffin: I feel like a loser.

Today, I’m trying to get back to my motivational journal. I started it about 6 years ago – and even the way I wrote it in it back then conveys so much more energy and “attitude” than I can bring to the table these days. I sat at our dining room table after breakfast and thought, ok – I need these visual cues. I need to remind myself of who I am, deep down – and make myself a “scrapbook” of sorts to get me back on track. But I’m flailing.The motivational cues and sayings are falling flat before my eyes because I just don’t believe any of it, right now. I can feel it because I’m not enjoying the process like I used to. I feel like I’m faking it. I don’t know where IT went: my life force, for lack of a better term. I’m not really a weak person, generally speaking; but in the past year or so, I often feel like the fight is just drained out of me and I’m too tired to keep trying to make my life into something I can love, again – even if it’s not the life I thought I’d be leading at this point.

I keep thinking about a quote by Margaret Thatcher that I read somewhere a long time ago:

“Watch your thoughts for they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
What we think, we become.”

It gives me pause because I feel like none of my good habits have survived the onslaught of IF, the family strife and the grief following the death of several of them. I feel like I’ve become more closed-minded, resentful and judgmental – none of those things are what I want to be, obviously. Sometimes I don’t even realize how much of myself I’ve lost until I see it reflected in the eyes of someone else – through their words, their perception, of how I come across to others. At times, I want to cry and say, THIS ISN’T ME! I’m not really like this!! I used to be funny – so funny, in fact, that when I was in college people kept telling me I should be on Friends. I made people laugh – and that, in turn, made me happy. I enjoyed being around others, talking about anything and everything, learning about their experiences without judgment.

This, in turn, brings me to the other issue that I know is playing a big role in my state of mind right now is how isolated I’ve allowed myself to become because of IF. I’m so terrified, at this point, of having to field questions about our childless state that I haven’t tried to make new friends or socialize in a long, long time – longer, in fact, than I can believe or admit. And this is a vicious circle: the more time I spend alone with all those thoughts and anxieties, the more I turn into a nervous wreck – to the point where, as horrible as it is to fess up about something I’m incredibly embarrassed about, I honestly don’t know how to connect with others anymore.

It used to be so easy for me. I was always really outgoing, vivacious – one of those people who loved “getting out there”, mingle, meeting new people, having fun. Shy, me? Not on your life! Social situations never really worried or scared me. But now, as both of us are heading down-hill towards 40 at what feels like an alarming speed (propelled, I’m certain, by the time pressures of our combined IF issues), I just don’t know how to act anymore. I feel like admitting to wanting children with a response of “not YET” to inevitable questions about whether we have children will invite derisive snorts. I’m also uncomfortable with people who ask a lot of personal questions – especially when you’ve just met them – and don’t really know how to deal with that without coming across as…mmm, a battleaxe, shall we say? (picture me cringing at this point, btw).

So what I do is avoid those situations altogether, because I know that, at the moment, my knee-jerk reaction would be to go on the defensive – either by pretending I’m “sort of vaguely” considering motherhood “at some point in the as yet to be determined future” (in other words, a complete lie); or by snarling. Yep, that’s right, snarling. Because I feel like I have to justify myself and our childless state – completely ridiculous, of course – to what I assume would be smugness of women my age with a gaggle of kids. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail:

Do you ever feel you’ve become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora’s box of all the secret, hateful parts – your arrogance, your spite, your condescension – has sprung open? Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and moving on, you zing them. “Hello, it’s Mr Nasty.” I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about.

I can’t allow myself to believe that this is what I’ve become without thinking that there’s still hope for me, that there’s reason to carry the torch for who I really am beneath the rubble of what used to be my life.

Which is why I really wanted to take a moment to thank my fellow bloggers and IFers – your encouragement and comments are more valuable to me than you know. Even if you (politely but firmly) disagree with me on some issues or my approach to certain topics – I appreciate the time you take to read my posts, to comment, and to share you own thoughts and experiences with me. Sometimes I let fear cloud my judgment; I let the dark clouds of self-doubt and anxiety take over my heart and soul. But I’m a fighter, and in the words of a woman far more eloquent and insightful than myself:

I AM NOT AFRAID OF STORMS FOR I AM LEARNING TO SAIL MY SHIP. (Louisa May Alcott)

Running With Stabby Nachos

Sometimes, there are moments in this stupid IF journey that feel like someone kicked me in the face without so much as a “Hello, I’m going to rearrange your visage for free!” My heart skips a beat, the familiar constriction in my throat is a foreboding of impending tears. But I’m trying to turn a corner on a lifetime of guilt and self-loathing, of feeling like everything under the sun is somehow my fault – no matter who or what may be the real root of it.

So when I checked my email and received a reply that wasn’t meant for me because, you know, some people still haven’t figured out how NOT to reply to the entire list that the original email was addressed to – I was confronted with the following:

“I didn’t know babies snored.”

A perfectly innocuous sentence, one would think – right? Nothing to get upset about, make a fuss about, certainly not worthy of a meltdown. But for a split second I kind of wanted to put my fist through the computer screen. WHAT. THE.  !!@#(*@##$^&#%#%$. !!!! (Look at me getting creative and trying hard not to swear. Yay me! Of course, what I really need at times like these is my very own Russel Dunbar – someone who can tell others that they “kinda are” total a$$faces. OOPS.)

For anyone who’s what we in the “industry” – bwahahahaha – like to call an IF veteran*, my reaction is probably not at all surprising. If you’ve been TTC for 2 months you’ll probably fail to grasp why I didn’t just think, awwwww, how cute – snoring baby! Must tweet! Oh, no – not cute or sweet to me. And not because, obviously, I would SO think it was cute if this was MY baby snoring. I can imagine myself perched over a crib, or gazing down at a little drooling mini-ME slobbering and snoring like my grandfather after a copious meal – and yes, if I were in that situation, with MY baby in my arms, I would absolutely think it was cute. I’d probably chuckle. I’d marvel at how otherwise irritating or annoying things are so much less so when done by babies. I’d sigh contentedly because, finally, I’d know the bliss of motherhood.

Instead, I was sitting there all by myself – and the only snoring I was hearing was from one of my dogs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s kind of cute in a way because she has the weirdest way of sleeping sometimes – but those 5 words made me feel like someone had spat in my face. After chewing tobacco. Yeah, think about that for a minute.

For a split second, I was so irate that I wanted to fire back a reply to the person – someone who knows me, knows my situation, and therefore should OBVIOUSLY have realized that this was not information that would be happily received by me, especially in relation to the baby of someone I’m not on speaking terms with. I wanted to email back and say, could you PLEASE stop using modern technology if you haven’t grasped the basic concepts thereof and are apparently unaware that you’re launching emotional grenades my way? Or should I just block you? Because, you know – this stuff is NOT good for my waistline.

But of course I knew that I was overreacting. I knew that it wasn’t intentional. The person in question doesn’t even get how absolutely horrific the mere possibility of a life without biological offspring would be – having not been confronted with this issue personally – and therefore also has absolutely no idea that the tiniest, most seemingly insignificant sentence, picture or event can cause an emotional earthquake.

So I thought – hah, I’m just going to write my annoyance away somewhere else. Because, lately, I’m finally starting to realize more and more that all the things I’ve carried around with me for years – it’s not always about me. Sometimes, it’s not my fault – it’s not me. It’s someone else who’s being an idiot, who’s being inconsiderate, who doesn’t have the wherewithal or brain power to think beyond the tip of their nose because it doesn’t affect them personally. My husband has been trying to tell me this for years – bless his heart, he’s always been my biggest champion and has been working overtime for a decade to repair the damage done by people who shall remain nameless. So, rather than lash out, stomp my feet or shove a big cupcake in my mouth (although, the truth here is that I don’t have a cupcake and I’m to lazy to make one from scratch. Ahem.), I thought to myself: yep, that’s just typical of someone who doesn’t THINK. BEFORE. THEY. ACT. And If I’m going to feel that way about someone else, maybe I should apply the same standards to myself.

At this point, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with the headline of this blog post. Honestly? Nothing at all. You see, when I sat down to write, I was feeling really annoyed and irritated – and for some reason, the expression “running with scissors” came into my mind. But I was already starting to turn the corner and kind of laughing about how something as silly as a snoring baby had almost derailed my self-composure (yet another lovely side effect of long-term IF – the gift that keeps on crapping on your doorstep)…and somehow thought about the hilarious story that floated around years ago and had been forwarded to me by a friend. It was a parody about the “feud” between then BFFs Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton, which referenced Stavros Niarchos III, heir of a Greek shipping magnate, incorrectly as “Stabby Nachos”:

http://gofugyourself.com/the-simple-fug4-10-2006

I still remember being in tears from laughing so hard the first time I read this (snorting and guffawing may have been involved) – a perfect (albeit fictitious) soliloquy of vapid reality tv “stars”. I will admit that, even though I think Paris Hilton is just awful, I kind of thought The Simple Life was a little bit hilarious – although very obviously staged – and Nicole Richie may have been the only “celebrity” I didn’t hate for being pregnant. Because, you know, it was either motherhood or death by anorexia. Plus? How cute was her daughter Harlow? And I will say that I just ADORE her fashion style since she became a mom.

ANYWAY. 

My point is that writing is cathartic and sometimes finding the right way to put your feelings into words – even if it’s in a diary that only you read – can act like a pressure valve. Plus, laughter really is the best medicine – you know, so long as the source isn’t excessive schadenfreude.

And you know what? I feel better already. 🙂

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(*NB: I’m not sure I “technically” qualify as a “veteran” since I haven’t yet gone through a litany of ARTs. But since I have been on the TTC rollercoaster for what seems like FOREVER and am starting to feel as old as dust, I’m going to consider that my honorary badge. Sad, but true. )