As I approach a significant birthday in a few weeks, I’m beginning to reflect on the journey my life has been through and make peace with what I have, but more importantly, what I don’t have. Listen, I LOVE my life – I LOVE who I am. I’ve got this amazing job that I’m so passionate about, I give everything to my clients, my family and friends, I have a wonderful husband, but something BIG is missing.
Every month, part of my self care routine is to get a reiki massage. I was skeptical of this practice but when I first tried it, it was amazing. It’s all about energies and reading your body’s flow. Your massage therapist can tell you things about yourself that you haven’t openly expressed. Strange but true. I like to think that God is speaking through my massage therapist. During my most recent massage with Laurie, she sensed a lot of sadness in me. While she was over my heart chakra (don’t ask me what that actually means because I’m clueless), she was getting the words “MOM” and “SAD” — hearing that a lot. And when she would look at me it would look like I was ready to cry, though I was completely relaxed and enjoying the massage. When she shared all this with me after the message, she said, “I feel like you have some really deep unresolved issues with your mom that you need to address.” I took a second to think about it – because though she’s getting the words from God, it’s my job to interpret them. I realized then that the sadness she was sensing and the word mom were coming from the fact that I AM NOT A MOM. Not that I had issues with my mom, but rather that I was so sad that I don’t have children. Laurie asked me to deal with this because my energy can’t flow in my body. So, instead of writing all this in my journal (God knows my hand would be in pain writing all of this) I’m taking it to my blog. I’m sure the that my story isn’t unique, and hopefully my vulnerability here can help someone else. Many women struggle with this – I’ve seen it in my clients. Letting this out is part of my own self-love journey. So buckle up, as I deal with something that’s been weighing on me heavily for a few years.
Every time I start to think about not being a mom at this point in my life, a lump hits my throat. I know that if I let it out I’m going to cry, get angry then the deep sadness comes. This sadness permeates my life – I don’t talk much, I sit alone, I don’t laugh. So, instead of letting it all out and dealing with these feelings, I swallow that lump. In reality that’s not doing me any good. I have to come face to face with the sadness, disappointment, resentment and hurt I feel. I somehow feel like I’m mourning the life I thought I’d have at this point. No physical death has occurred but an emotional death has happened, and I can no longer run and hide from my grief.
Yes, grief. That’s a strong word, but hear me out a little. I always wanted to be a mother. When I was younger, I wanted like 10 kids (Yes, I realize how unrealistic this is). I thought during college I’d meet the love of my life, get married and have babies. That’s what I envisioned for my life. I’ve always loved children and felt like I have so much love to give as a mother. That deep down, my heart could love a child like no one else. A tiny human, as big as that responsibility was, I knew I could raise a child with all the love I have in my heart. Well, I did not meet the love of my life in college, I waited another 11 years to get married to the most amazing man I know.
When I met Tony, I was very clear about my intentions about being a mom. I told him at the start that if he didn’t want kids that this relationship wasn’t going anywhere. I knew what I wanted and I didn’t want to waste my time on someone that didn’t share the same goal as me. He agreed with the children thing and our relationship blossomed into marriage. Then, for the first time since we’d been together, Tony’s depression resurfaced. And, to be honest, I don’t think it’s ever really gone away. He suffers from true clinical depression where something just shuts off in him. He’s an amazing man – so loving, caring and supportive – he takes care of me and is a very patient man. But, the depression causes him to struggle with planning for the future and getting scared of what life would be like with a child.
So, I waited and waited…..and waited for his depression to get better. It hasn’t. I began to realize about 4 years into our marriage that having children may not be something that’s in the cards for me. Maybe I’d been projecting this love of having a child to over compensate for something else that was lacking in my life. This is when I began praying heavily. Asking God to change MY HEART. That if kids weren’t in the plan for me that he start to fix me. Turn me away from these feelings, help me find another path. That’s a hard thing to pray. Something you’ve wanted your ENTIRE life and you now want to change that. Oh, God. Fix me. Change me so that I’m comfortable not being a mother. Because, the fact was, I wasn’t comfortable.
Now, don’t go thinking that I wasn’t happy for friends and family who were having babies! I was through the moon happy for them. I can still celebrate them and have my feelings about it. It doesn’t hold me back from taking maternity photos, going to baby showers, photographing births, etc. It’s hard for me to do these things, but I do them anyway. I know how excited they feel to celebrate this time in their life and it’s my honor to participate in all these wonderful events. I can still be happy for them even though I feel sadness in me.
Last year, I was babysitting my young niece. I so enjoy spending time with her – her laugh makes me smile; her smile makes me laugh. She’s the cutest. As I was watching her, I just found myself starting to cry. I wish I had my own precious babe to hold, to laugh with, to cry with, to love and cherish. I love my nieces and nephews like they are my own, but I wanted that motherly love I’d been so longing for. I’m sure if my niece could talk, she’d thought I was crazy for sobbing like a child in front of her while she’s having fun on her play mat looking into the mirror. I just longed for this feeling, and I kept think to myself (as much as I don’t want to admit this), “when is it my turn?”
When do I get this experience, why can’t I have a baby, why does it seem like it’s everyone else but me, what’s so wrong with me that I can’t be a mom?
Also, who’s going to take care of me when I’m older (half joking here…I always have to infuse my humor into deep moments).
And, all of those questions are not asked with anger. They are said with an honest questioning of when is it my time, is this going to happen for me. I don’t look at friends of mine with disgust because they have what I don’t, I look at them with love, kindness and a desire to help them celebrate themselves. I’ve had people with this same struggle say negative things when they see friends announce their pregnancy – that’s not me. In the midst of my pain, I can still be happy for others. The sadness I feel doesn’t prevent me from still being happy for them. Because, truthfully, I am glad that they aren’t struggling the way I am – that’s something I want to celebrate. They’ve received what I long for, they begin a new journey, and I’m excited to watch that family grow.
The feelings still linger inside my head…daily. I can’t shut it off. It’s an innate desire within me, because I feel like I have love to give as a mother. When you feel so strongly about something, it’s not a quick fix to turn it off. It’s a daily struggle to deal with what you’re feeling so that you don’t have to continue to swallow everything when it surfaces. Those feelings though…..they are hard to deal with.
Deep and utter sadness that I feel almost daily. I know that I’m blessed with the life I have (a loving husband, a thriving business, a supportive family, a cute kitty, etc) but something is missing. Something so big that you can’t ignore it. Every time I think about the missing piece, deep sadness sets it. I fight that sadness daily. I am still a happy and loving person, and I smile most of the day because my life is filled with passion (that’s my marker of success) – I’m genuinely happy and positive. The sadness is deep down and it doesn’t usually come out, it’s there tugging at me and I want to shut it off.
Resentment … at who? God, my husband…ME! I resent that I didn’t make this a priority early on in life. I was focused on building my corporate career, which I successfully did. Then, I was focused on building my own business. I resent myself for not doing something I knew to be important to me. I pushed it aside because I thought that I should be working a career.
Disappointment & Hurt
The disappointment I feel has me questioning a lot of choices I’ve made. I’m disappointed mostly in myself. That I couldn’t make this happen. People will tell me that there are multiple ways to have a child. But, FOR ME, that connection has to be made with me and my husband.
“Why don’t you have children?” That question brings about immediate shame. Like, something is wrong with me because I don’t have kids. I know it’s an innocent question, and I don’t mind answering it truthfully, but I feel shame that I am not having a baby. I don’t think people who ask this question realize the struggle that happens behind doors because it’s something we don’t talk about openly. I think that needs to change. It’s a secret stigma that we can’t seem to break free from. Yes, I want children. No, I’m not having them. No, I’m not attempting in vitro. No, I don’t want to adopt. Yes, I feel sad and disappointed. Before you ask someone questions around children, please remember that they are fighting an internal battle you know nothing about.
My heart is broken because of the loss of what I thought I’d have. How do you heal from this pain? How do you come to terms with something so big? How do you cope with a life you lost?
I continue to ask God to help me be at peace for not having a child. That I find other avenues to give my love. And, well, I guess I have. My clients mean the world to me and I give them every ounce of love and energy I have within me. I hope to continue to channel that love I so desperately want to give to a child to another worthy individual in my life. While the pain doesn’t go away, I can continue to love others with all the energy I can muster, because trading one love for another is all I can do.
Photos by Amanda Brisco Photography