I was walking with a new friend at a retreat center. I was there researching my new book on Re Charging your life. When the conversation turned to what I did – and what she did. No – she never did have children. And she had made peace with that. Until now it hadn’t bothered her. She had gotten past the baby carriages of her youth and the children growing up around her didn’t bother her as much as she thought it might. Not having children had been a gift too. She had created so much in her life that she might not have created if she was busy with children. There are so many ways to give birth after all.
But now – somewhere between her late fifties and the vast landscape of middle age – the babies were appearing again in the form of grandchildren. Once again, she is confronted by what might have been – and the continued losses that infertility and not having children has brought into her life.
This is not a feel good blog. It is a “what is” blog. Infertility or being child-less not by choice because of what life brings - you can sucker punch you in ways that are hard to expect. My friend got through the child bearing years only to have her mid-life bring back to her old struggles.
She is not unusual. Many of my clients come to me in their very late forties – or fifties after leaving infertility treatment behind. Somehow there is this shadow place of unfinished business that is still very alive for them. This place is full of tough work. Do you go back into the infertility trenches and try some more in a different way? Do you adopt? Or do you go deeper into who you are as a person – and really nurture all of the other things that bring your life great meaning right now?
My favorite writer Anais Nin says, “The secret of joy is the mastery of pain.” We all have pain and regret. Infertility or involuntary childlessness for some of us is a life long legacy that can feel healed until it bites us on the ass again.
Be tender with yourself. Know that you are not alone.