On hope (or, rather, on Not-hope)

I just watched a TED Talk by one of my favourite-but-distant bloggers, Glennon.

She talked about how reality is messy and bright and uncontrollable, and when we feel, it can be something that hurts us, so we retreat, put on a cloak (‘anger’, ‘addiction’, ‘pretence’ etc.) and try to operate within that smaller, darker, controlllable world.

I was feeling pretty good listening to her description of how the sun rising up each morning is like an offer of hope – an offer to go and join in with the mess and to use our pain, discomfort, uneasiness to guide us as to how to operate: if we feel lonely – try making friends; if we hurt – use that hurt to help others.

I get it.

Kinda.

Because then, after about 15 minutes, she dropped a doozie.

The thing which made her ready to re-engage in the world, to shrug off her addictions and masks and methods of hiding away, was pregnancy. Hers. Unexpectedly.

She considered that this was a wake-up call.

That in spite of everything, she had been deemed ‘worthy’ of a child, and that made her want to sort herself out.

The rest of the talk was utterly tainted for me, as though someone had poured a black, treacly mixture of bitterness, hurt, jealousy and anger all over that video and I was trying to see through it – to hold onto the point of the talk –Β  that hope shines anew each day and is available to everyone, without prejudice.

Which it may do, but not in the form you expected, which makes it harder to accept.

All I could think of for the remainder of that video was “Who’s she subscribing to that’s deemed her worthy?” and “Am I back to being unworthy?”

And I now understand a little more of my problem.

It pertains to the appropriateness of my hopes, and I think what I am learning is that they need to be far, far smaller and in a very different shape.

I am not unworthy. I am just hoping wrong.

If I spend the rest of my life with half my brain, half my heart, half my spirit and half my energy hoping for a child (well, children really), I will be half a person. I will be half useless, half wasted and half living.

As one half of an infertile couple, this hope is not appropriate. I have been hanging onto that little dove, trying to blind myself to the truth – she is not really my dove. That hope does not, cannot belong to me.

I need to recognise the truth of the situation and like the deer who gets caught up by the lion, like the baby who bites down on sore gums while teeth cut through, like the fish on the line who finally turns his face towards the surface, I need to turn in and face my pain.

Not just face it; embrace it.

I need to realise that those precious hopes and dreams are not for me – they are for other people – the so-called “worthy”.

I need to accept that my path lies in a different direction – one which Husby and I must walk alone, together.

My hopes need to reflect the things which are already happening – that my relationships with Niece and Neff will deepen and grow, that my friends-and-relations will grow ever closer, and the mutually-sustaining bonds we share will strengthen, that Husby’s health will improve and I can support him in sickness and in health as he begins to think about the future and a possible return to the world of work, that our marriage will strengthen and the relationship we already enjoy will reach new heights of loveliness and wonder.

And to do that, I need to open my arms to the pain and brokenness of a life without kids. I need to let it into the recesses of my heart and mind, where those false hopes still cling, and let it cut them out and wash them away. Otherwise I can never heal. Otherwise I can never move on.

If I don’t heal, I will never be able to adopt, because how could I give myself fully to a child and nurture them and make them feel whole and worthy if I am not myself? How could I give them a whole life if I am only allowing myself to live a half-life, steeped in regret and fantasies of ‘what could have been’? I’ve seen parents who resent their own children – how much easier to fall into that place if the child is ‘not your own’. I don’t want to be *that* person.

So in spite of the fact that the medicine *technically* still might give us a chance of a natural conception, that we still have one (seemingly) guaranteed attempt at medically assisted conception and that miracles do sometimes happen, I’m beginning to let go of hope.

I’m finally beginning to understand what I need to do to step off that rug, so it can’t be pulled from under me over and over and over.

I’ve realised that not only do I need to learn to not count my chickens before they’ve hatched – I need to chuck away the basket and refuse to go looking for eggs.

And it hurts, folks.

It hurts SO bad.

The excising has begun and it feels like the new hopes are using rusty hacksaws on the very most tender portions of my heart.

It feels like voluntarily flinging myself into the chasm of ‘Cant Have Kids’ when I’ve been clinging so hard to the teetering, unstable structures which have thus far kept me up in the sunshine.

It feels a little like dying and a lot like I can’t breathe. It feels like the first flows of many, bitterly painful tears.

But it feels a tiny, tiny bit like new hope – that one day, it will hurt less.

Ten Things of Thankful #3

1. I am glad I watched Glennon’s talk. Really.
2. I am glad that I am beginning to understand what I need to do, even if (and I can’t stress this nearly enough) I don’t like it.
3. I’m thankful that Husby and I are still together and I hope that we will remain together until we are old and wrinkled. This is not an inappropriate hope.
4. I am thankful that college was a short deal today and I was able to come home and nap.
5. I am thankful that later, when we go shopping, there is money for food.
6. I am thankful that a good friend is coming to stay this weekend and we’ll have some laughs.
7. I’m thankful I got to sleep well in a warm, soft bed last night
8. I’m VERY thankful for my toilet (this will make sense in light of yesterday’s post)
9. I’m thankful for friends and family to comfort and hold me
10. I’m thankful that I can share my story and that I’ve already heard that the sharing of it has helped people – that makes the sharing, the honesty, the brutifulness of it, worthwhile.

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11 thoughts on “On hope (or, rather, on Not-hope)

  1. Thank you – that helps too! And I at least know HOW to get off the rug now. It's just painful and I'm still not entirely sure I want to (oh the attraction of fantasy and self-delusion) but I must.

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  2. Out of this entire, wonderful post, the line that struck me the most was, “I need to step off the rug.” It's true. So much of life gets missed when we focus a majority of our energy into one dream. Especially when that dream is something we have no control over.
    I know it is painful, but I do believe you are on the right path. I'm praying for you still…

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  3. Thank you – this helps a huge amount.

    My faith has not faltered, but lately has been tinged with bitterness as it has seemed as though God has given with one hand and taken away with the other. I know this is false, yet it has been easier to believe than that this hard, uninviting path is the one which is right for me.

    I am glad that Glennon has helped you so much, and I shall keep listening for her wisdom. For now I shall borrow yours – I can certainly show up and try – that is great advice.

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  4. I had the delightful opportunity to hear Glennon a month back when she visited Indianapolis. In her talk then, she described the sun's warmth as God's love.. always present and always available, no matter what has happened in the past. That has obviously resonated with me. So simple, yet so profound. I was raised a Christian, but have just started taking steps to understand what faith means. Which brings me back to your comments, which seem so very, very wise. Letting go of your expectations and being willing to accept the life that has been created for you (by God, in my view) is extremely brave. Infertility has been part of my journey also. I am certainly not whole. Glennon has helped me to accept that I don't need to be perfect to be a good friend, daughter or mother. I just need to be me and show up and try. I don't know how your story will end, but it seems to me you are moving in the right direction by accepting and enjoying the life you are given. My life certainly hasn't turned out like I would have expected, but it is enough. And I am grateful that God deemed me worthy to live it.

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  5. oh precious girl. the thing to remember is that at that time…pregnancy is the LAST invitation i wanted. sometimes we don't choose our invitations, do we. i love you.
    g
    ps. you are a hell of a writer and a hell of a woman.

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