I give to you… drum-roll please… Squawk Box! *Tadaa* A marvelous place where you can vent your frustrations and exclaim your joys! Where you can tell us all your story! I have realized how cathartic writing can be during this journey. Blogging for all of you has been incredibly therapeutic and I want to extend that kind of release to each and every one of you!
If you feel moved to give advice or share stories with other people who are walking this lonely journey you can send your submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I would be happy to post them up for everyone to enjoy!
Now, onward to the guest post! This first Squawk Box post was penned by my dear friend, Amy Lopez. I think it is incredibly fitting that she is the first to post here as she was also one of the first people I told about our struggles. Amy and her husband had been down this road a long time when I arrived on the scene and she was a wealth of knowledge and inspiration when I needed it most. Even now that we are farther apart in geographical distance she is still available for a good sob by phone on days when that is needed.
I chose the paper crane for the image today because it represents hope and healing in challenging times. We all need this kind of hope and healing on our journey. Amy has brought that into my life, hopefully she can bring that same sense to you! So enough about me… Here is Amy’s story.
Learning To Let Go
Written by: Amy Lopez
Published with the author’s permission
‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’
‘Everything is possible.’
Aren’t these the catch phrases that so many of us were taught, from early in life, to adopt as our motivational mojo? After all, our culture tells us, repeatedly, that there is nothing that we cannot do! So long as ample effort and good intention is involved. If you don’t attain your goal, that only means you didn’t trying hard enough.
Growing up, there wasn’t a part of me that didn’t embrace this philosophy. Propelled to accomplish anything and everything that I set my mind to, the first 25 years of my life read like a highlight reel of over-achievement: an amazing career, incredible husband, well-traveled passport, and all of the trappings and privileges of the educated upper middle class. Except one thing, the six years of unexplained infertility.
The proverbial fly in the ointment.
A litany of successes, and then, the one life long dream that I could have never anticipated going unfulfilled is left dangling… just beyond my grasp. In the beginning, it didn’t seem like a big deal that it was taking my husband and I longer to get pregnant. After all, conception was a statistical surety and had to happen at some time, right?
One year passed. Then two.
With my typical over-the-top enthusiasm, I tried all of the natural shenanigans first: yoga, meditation, going organic, cutting out carbs, no caffeine. Lots of effort, but without the outcome we were looking for. Clear chakras? Maybe. A positive test on the pee-stick? Not at all.
At the three year mark we finally brought western medicine into the equation and went to see a reproductive specialist. Still, things weren’t adding up. An additional year and a half of aggressive testing and the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with either of us. Low-level reproduction assistance ensued… and then failed.
It was like a nightmare math equation—I was trying to solve for the mysterious “y” but it continually eluded me. I was doing everything I possibly could to conceive. EVERYTHING! So, why couldn’t I make this happen? I was David, and infertility was my Goliath. I would have picked up ten thousand stones to find the one capable of taking down this giant. You could call it a quest. You could also call it hyper-fixation on a situation that was, for us, beyond the boundaries of what we could control. Infertility was teaching me a cold, hard, truth that I had long managed to avoid.
Remember those mantras? Taught as the fail-safe for eventual success? They are noble, but they are only half-truths.
The dreams that we script in our minds don’t always play out in reality (gasp).
There are limits in our lives (insert look of horror).
And, sometimes, despite your every effort, possibilities don’t present themselves for the taking (melodramatic sigh).
Don’t get me wrong. Persistence, determination, right effort… those are all valuable attributes which can help move us from point A to point B. The issue becomes this: suffering ensues when we operate from a life-perspective that is inherently bound to the end result. Not only do we struggle terribly when our desired outcomes are thwarted, we also run the dangerous risk of missing the blessings which are discoverable only when our focus turns away from our destination and towards our journey. To make matters worse, many of us are ill equipped to accept a failed outcome. We view it only as a diminishment: the cutting down of our lives, our joys.
I turned to my faith, my friends, my horoscope…anything to help me make sense of the experience. In a book written to minister to those grieving, Henri Nouwen writes, “Our belief that we should grasp tightly what we need provides one of the great sources of our suffering. But letting go of possessions, and plans, and people allows us to enter, for all its risks, a life of new, unexpected freedom.”
I ruminated on this for some time before making an attempt to adopt a practice that. It felt so contrary to my normal modus operendi. I applied it to work first. Then, a little to my marriage. And finally, to my deep desire to be a mother. Little by little, a freedom did arise. There was less internal pressure, more compassion with myself, and an inner flexibility. I didn’t feel defensive or defeated when I had given my best effort but the outcome wasn’t precisely as planned. Instead, I actually accepted that some outcomes are beyond my control.
I’m not going to tell you that it has been easy, this letting go. It hasn’t. It has been inexplicably hard.
I’m not going to tell you that I always accept this journey with grace. I can be a hot mess.
I’m not going to tell you that if it was up to me, I would chose infertility all over again simply to gain a few key insights. There were, in all likelihood, other times life could have taught me this wisdom.
But I will tell you that, with learning to let go, my angst over our situation has greatly abated. Over time our vision of how our family can expand has become more encompassing and fluid.
Now we are six years down the path and in the process of adopting. Eventually, my phone will ring. It will be “the call” that announces parenthood is at hand. After the dust settles, the sleepless nights subside, and we find our new equilibrium. At this time we will have a chance to reflect on the journey, the winding road that brought us finally to joy. It is possible that we will see that it all transpired with very little of our own doing…and maybe even in spite of it at times!
Therefore, I wish you good luck! It can be difficult, this journey. I hope that through this process you will also find you are changed, grown more than you could have imagined. I hope you learn to ride this process of letting go.