When We Whisper In The Dark

 

Photo: "Empty Cradle" by Cory Marchand. Image links to source.
Photo: “Empty Cradle” by Cory Marchand. Image links to source.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate TruthIt was originally published on August 8, 2013.

I stumbled across a short post the other day that has had me in its grips ever since. This is an thought that has taken root deep inside my heart and it is burning brighter than anything I’ve come across recently. I’m working on putting together a project that means a lot to me called I Have a Voice, and one of the guidelines I gave is to write about what burns in you. Well, people, this is burning in me.

Frankly, it freaks me out to write about it. But I strongly believe it needs to be said.

Infertility

I hate this word. I hate the hush hush nature that comes with it, and I hate going through this alone. I hate that very, very few people talk about it, talk about what it is like to be on the dark side of the room.

It is a sensitive topic and one that for me at least, makes me struggle with feeling damaged, broken, which I already feel anyway.

I hate the cynicism that comes from feeling incredibly disappointed time and time again. My mom was pregnant 14 or 15 times, during one year, she was pregnant 3 times. I thought the path to expanding our little family would be easy, quick, one thing that would actually go smoothly when it came to my body. My dad used to joke that my mom was a “fertile myrtle” and would say that all he had to do was look at her and she would be pregnant. It made sense that that would be the case for me.

But the past year and a half has been utter torture on my body. No longer can I count on actually making it through the month on a normal schedule. Add that to the massive shaking of my entire mental, emotional, and physical state of being, and it’s been another personal hell.

I don’t talk about my siblings often on my blog. Being the oldest of 9 isn’t really something I like to advertise. It’s not because I’m ashamed of them, it’s because I have a hard time explaining what life was like being their second mother, being the chief cook and bottle-washer, being the housemaid, being the one who had more responsibilities than all of the kids put together. I don’t like trying to explain what it was like being hated by my siblings because I got to do certain things. They couldn’t see the back breaking effort I had to put in to get those special things.

It is especially difficult when someone asks me how many kids Phil and I want to have.

I feel like I have to give many prerequisites as to why Phil and I don’t want a large family. Or I have to give a prerequisite for why we even want children to begin with. I will not repeat my family. I will not repeat it out of a lack of love, but because I want to be able love my children individually and give them the love and affection I never experienced. Our goal is to be able give as much love and care to each child and if that means only have a few (2-4) then we are okay with that.

Many young women who grew up in the type of environment I did are freaked out by even the idea of having children. I get that, I really do. Being the oldest of 9 (or more/less kids) is not something I’d wish on even my worst enemy.

You either come out from that specific situation never wanting to see children again, or you don’t.

Every person is affected differently by their life’s circumstances. I felt like I had to join them and stand with their banner. I then realized that I couldn’t apologize for something that burns so deep and inexhaustibly in my soul that even though I have tried to give up completely, it still burns with increasing intensity. Danielle, at from two to one, asked this question the other day, “Why have kids?” I felt an immediate answer and told my therapist when I sat in front of her on Tuesday.

I want a child so I can love that little one in the ways I never felt loved.

I want to see who God will create with part of Phil and part of me. Will our little one have Phil’s nose, but my eyes? Will our little one have the quirky personality of their dad? Will they have Phil’s and my love for music? I want to see Phil be a dad, he’s going to be an incredibly awesome dad and will love our children as my dad has never loved. Our children will be safe with him. I can’t protect my siblings, but I can start over with my children.

I want to be the mom I was meant to be, not a mom to my siblings.

I feel like Jesus has given me a glimpse of what being healed will look like for me. I want to replace the memories I have of my mom with being a loving mother to my child.

It would be like walking down a street which holds ugly memories and creating new, beautiful memories to replace the old ones. It will be another massive step towards healing. This is what burns in me and is not letting me go no matter how much I sob and try to wrench it out of my heart.

I have a purpose, I have an inextinguishable dream, but I’ve been waiting for it longer than I thought I’d have to wait. Do you know what it’s like to have a specific day coming, you just know it’s going to be good news, your hope starts rising? Your heart beats faster as the day gets closer, you pray harder and you choose to ignore the dark whispers taunting you. The day arrives and with it debilitating disappointment. The thing you eagerly hoped for, excitedly anticipated, held your breath for was held back.

Imagine this happening 5 times in a row, 10 times, 15 times, 20 times.

I thought I knew disappointment when I wasn’t able to shake the fibromyaglia. I thought I knew hope crushed when my headaches came back more intense than before. I was wrong. Pieces of me are torn from me each month my period comes. Holding that negative test in my hands, knowing the thermometer never lies, my heart dies. My therapist looked at me straight in the eyes a few months ago and asked if I felt like not being able to get pregnant was a punishment. I started crying and nodded my head because I knew she was right.

After this past month, I looked at my therapist on Tuesday and told her I’ve given up. The deepest level of my heart has truly given up. I don’t feel like I can trust God with this. I feel alone, but I know I am not alone, but no one talks about it. That part of me that holds this dream and fuels the fire will not let me give up, but a part of me already has.

I feel like God has let me down.

Praying for him to answer someone else’s prayer is easy, but praying for myself, trusting that I will actually get pregnant is another matter altogether. There have been months that have gone by where I have one day full of tears, questions, doubts, disappointed sobs, and I can’t find God. I can’t find anything good. I believe, even if it is just for an instance, that it is my fault. I am broken. I am messed up. I am being punished. I didn’t pray enough. I didn’t ask God early enough during that cycle. I have even gone through cycles telling myself I wasn’t going to pray because maybe, just maybe that would change something.

God has become less real to me over the past 18 months of trying. 

18 fricking times I have crawled back into bed, trying hard not to cry, but tears always come. The feeling of being incompetent always come. The feelings of being incapable of doing the one thing me, as a woman, is supposed to be able to do. The one thing God specifically created me to do; carry a child in my body. The feeling of having done something wrong and not knowing what I did creeps up on me. The dark despair of feeling like my body is utterly broken beyond repair haunts me for days on end at times.

There are days when these feelings are very present, but for most of the month I stuff it all down and try to not think about it.

I have no idea what the next year is going to bring. Medical science has only advanced to a certain point and there a lot of things it can’t yet explain. I had so many doctors tell me that they couldn’t find anything wrong with me when I was physically fading away with the fibromyalgia. Do you know what it’s like for a doctor cheerily looking you in the face to tell you everything looks great when you can barely sit still on the table because of stifling pain? I do. I am already starting to experience that feeling again of not being believed  with infertility. That feeling when you walk out of the doctor’s office, they just told you everything looks great, but you know deep inside that something isn’t right.

Can I tell you guys something? Telling me that I’m so young I have nothing to worry about, or that when I stop thinking or worrying I will get pregnant are some of the worst things to tell me. Yes, I am young, but that doesn’t make my choice any less important.

Please don’t tell me that I have to live my life more before having a baby.

Hearing that makes me question the things that I know for sure. There are so few things right now that are solid and sure for me. Questioning those things I am confident in only makes it worse.

Can we please stop whispering in the dark about this issue and instead come alongside each other and lift one another up? Can we simply say “I’m sorry,” and give comfort and love to someone dealing with chronic illnesses or situations?  

Can we?

I Am Not A Spartan

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate TruthIt was originally published on May 18, 2013.

Write the hard thing.

I have not been able to write the hard thing this week because I have not been able to figure out what that hard thing is. As I am writing this, I am listening to a conference call for my Story 101 class and we are talking about writing the hard things.

I feel like there is something that is sitting right under the surface for me.

There is something floating right there about my emotions, something about not blaming my parents but being in deep emotional pain. Something about being made sick with memories that I don’t want to face because they hurt so very much. I don’t want to face those memories because they continue to tear my heart up even though it’s been years since those first happened.

It is overwhelming because I don’t want to blame my parents, I don’t want to blame my mom, but I have pain.

I have excruciating pain that makes me physically sick as I remember being left at the MRI clinic. I have pain when I wanted — no, needed — comfort from my mom, I needed my mom and she wasn’t there. I needed that comfort and the tight hug accompanied with a whisper of “it’s going to be okay, I’m here.” I hate this pain, I hate the depth that is reaches because it kills me every time I face those memories or something triggers them. I hate that I feel pain when I face my mom, I hate that my heart breaks all over again when I look at my dad and remember the pain of finding out what he had done.

I feel shame.

I feel like I am a terrible person, and I feel like this deeply emotional shredding of my heart is something I should feel guilty about, like it is something that is disgusting and makes me worthless.

Facing these feelings of shame, guilt, and worthless and hearing my therapist softly tell me that no, I am not bitter, I am not blaming, I am feeling the pain I should because I have a heart and it deeply feels and that is good.

My heart is soft, my heart is easily broken, my heart beats to help others heal, and it seeks to comfort and protect those from the pain it has felt already. Some of my deepest fears involve fearing a stone cold heart, and fearing the bitterness and blaming that comes with a hard heart. I have always felt frustrated as I feel the pain, I have felt anger when something strikes my heart with resounding accuracy because my heart is easily reached. I used to think that setting up guardrails or those walls to keep the arrows out was okay.

I used to think that that was more important than letting myself feel.

I used to fight the feelings and try to be stoic and unfeeling. I felt like feelings were dirty, shameful, and something we should fight, not allow in, and certainly not allow out.

Friends use to tell me that I was being too emotional whenever I had some sort of emotional response to their words. They would tell me in such a way that it seemed like they looked down on me for emotionally responding, good or bad, to what they were talking with me about. They were the friends who first made me feel like I had to shut my emotions down. They were the ones who first told me, in their own stoic, spartan way, that emotions were not acceptable. Emotions were disgusting and worth very little.

Emotions were a failed sinful part of our human bodies and not to be trusted or allowed a voice.

Those friends were the ones who made me feel ashamed of the glorious, beautiful, redeemed emotions that the Lord of the Universe has created within me.

Hear me say this: I am gloriously emotional and I am a gift.

I am gloriously emotional and I am a gift.

It has taken me a long time to accept the emotions that bubble up within me as a good and beautiful thing. It has taken hearing my therapist’s gentle words of reminding me that I should be feeling this pain to accept the pain. It still totally sucks, and I find myself drained after a wrestling match with those memories. It still is difficult when I feel something so acutely and feel like I have to be a spartan and hide my feelings.

The hard thing is accepting the truth about myself and reveling in the beauty of a torn heart. Yes, there is beauty in a broken heart. There is a certain amount of glorious vulnerability that comes from allowing the broken to be revealed.

There is an astounding amount of release when I acknowledge the pain that has driven me to weep time and time again.

I no longer fight this pain but simply let the tears flow, the pain wrenching my heart. It is my way of healing, it is an act of letting the tears bind up a deep and bleeding wound. Those tears are my heart’s way of telling me yes, I can still feel, I am not a spartan robot, I am a redeemed emotional woman.

I believe that women are created specifically to feel the hard things, the painful things, the gut wrenching things. I believe that I am supposed to feel the pain deeply, I am supposed to and should cry because I have been deeply wounded. To not cry would be killing the specifically designed voice I have deep within me that allows for those feelings to be let out.

I am done killing my “wild voice.” I am done hiding the emotions I once felt ashamed of.

I am ready to stand up and point down to the feelings I once turned my nose up at and called dirty. I am now ready to announce them beautiful and precious.

My hard thing is accepting the emotions that course freely through my heart and soul. My hard thing is allowing for my eyes to be overwhelmed with tears as I feel the pain and am reminded of what I have faced.

Crying, weeping, letting the Holy Spirit decipher the deep groans for which we have no words is a beautiful, glorious, healing thing.