Tag: Infertility support

10 of the most powerful minutes of my life

Published / by sandymichelet / 4 Comments on 10 of the most powerful minutes of my life

I have a challenge. Ask a group of women how they feel about themselves. Most of us are pretty hard on ourselves….we don’t work out enough, we don’t spend enough time with <<insert name>>, we don’t spend enough time doing <<insert activity>>, we never feel that we are on top of things, we can’t balance everything, whatevah whatevah whatevah.

Ask a group of childless women how they feel about themselves as childless women?  It almost brought me to my knees. Last weekend I attended a retreat right outside of Los Angeles (the other LA). It was a long flight and I had grandiose plans of catching up on email and reading a new book. Yep. You guessed it. Slept the whole way there.

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“So six childless women walk into a bar”

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The organizer had scheduled a quick get together Friday night for those already of us who were already in town so we could introduce ourselves and get ready for the weekend. A small group of us found each other quickly. We decided to grab dinner at this awesome dumpling joint (that makes it sound cool, huh??).

As we walked from the bar to the restaurant, one of the group yelled “Let’s cross the street…and don’t worry about the crosswalk….no one is going to hit a pack of childless women”… I had never heard that before and we all started to relax a little.  We ordered and started sharing stories so effortlessly. None of us were on edge waiting for the expected conversation that eventually happens when a group of people get together. No one in this group talked about their child or children. But everyone talked about the child we always wanted.

The next morning (and after my first Uber ride) we walked into the retreat center…..an intimate cottage that would be our safe place for the next two days. Do you know that sound when you first walk into church or a funeral home….where everyone before is talking in their normal voice and then as soon as you cross the threshold everyone starts whispering? Yep. That was it.

I have promised anonymity so “Mallory” welcomed us at 9am and gave us the game plan for the weekend.

After a forced 5 minutes of complete stillness and quiet, Mallory explained about our first official exercise. “Write a word or phrase to describe yourself as a childless women”…I couldn’t get my Sharpie out quickly enough. 1, then 2, then 3, then 4, then 5, then 6, then 7….I stopped counting the number of post-its I was using. We all got up quietly and stuck them to the wall.

Worthless | Less than everyone else | Not a real woman | Failure | No legacy | Afraid of dying alone | Pissed | Sad | Disappointed | Scared | Regretful | Shameful | Embarrassed | At fault/Blame | Discounted | Others are more important | Not valued | Alone | No one will remember me | Incomplete | Wounded | Inadequate | Unfair | Regretful | Not whole | Left out | Jealous | Lost | Unworthy | Judged | Misunderstood | Defective

In a previous post I said I wanted to hear my words come out of other people’s mouths…..Well I did. And I didn’t like it. Twelve strangers from around the country. Everyone wrote the same words. I knew what I thought about myself as a childless woman….but seeing other women experience those same thoughts was anguishing. I am not much of a crier. But the lump in my throat was so large I was actually Struggling. To. Breathe. I was ready to sit down. I had had enough. Mallory asked us to get closer to the posts and to “really look at them”. This group of strangers read each other’s words over and over again, silently sobbing, moving closer and closer together, arms linked. It was ten of the most powerful minutes of my life. I was not alone. I had found my people.

After that emotional drain I knew it had to be close to lunch time. I was ready to grab some food and think about something else. Nope. It was 9:20.

I need therapy after group therapy. Or a drink.

Published / by sandymichelet / 4 Comments on I need therapy after group therapy. Or a drink.

There are self help groups for everything so its not a surprise to know there are self help groups for those dealing with infertility. And like other groups, these range from the ridiculous to the downright unhelpful.

It’s hard to put something so basic (like getting pregnant) into words…and it is hard for anyone to give advice if they’ve never walked in someone else’s shoes. I had already talked to people who tried to understand what I was going through.

After googling, talking to therapists, etc I found an infertility support group. I wanted to drink coffee/eat bundt cake while sitting in a circle and hearing about other people’s agony. I wanted to hear the same words come out of other people’s mouths that had been coming out of my mouth for years. I needed that validation that I was not a freak. That I was not losing my mind. And that I. Was. Not. Alone.

The first meeting I attended was at someone’s house…which I kinda appreciated. I didn’t like the idea of being in a clinical setting. (I had been in enough clinical settings….). But I wasn’t sure if I liked the idea of exposing all of my soul to someone on the same couch where they watched Law & Order in pajamas. Not a lot of other options existed, so I headed out my house and drove to someone else’s. Ready to get healed.

When I walked in the door I was most surprised by the large picture of a child in the room. Not really sure what I was expecting…but it actually stopped me in my tracks. I wouldn’t assume if I was going to my first AA meeting that there would be a picture of a bottle of scotch on the registration table. But…I was a group-therapy-virgin. What did I know!? There were a few other people there and we all tried to find a place to sit, while not making eye contact. Before any of us uttered a word we all knew we were in the same boat. We all had high hopes for the group discussion that night….but all had grown accustomed to wanting something and having it ripped from us….so we were all pretty sheepish.

The organizer tried to get us to start talking to each other while we waited for others to arrive. Then I saw the coffee cake. SCORE! So…..Yes! There was coffee! Yes! There was some type of snack. Yes! There was a circle! Well…it was furniture-arranged-in-a-kind-of-a-circle-situation that told me the tears would start a’ flowing soon. Kleenex in hand. Check! Comfy chair. Check! Coffee. Check! Let the healing begin!

The organizer sat down and told us her story. I dug my heels in ready to help her cope. And then it ended like all happy stories end…with a baby. For a minute I was really pissed. I was so happy for this stranger when I found out that her agony was finally over…but good gracious. She was talking to a room full of women who were so wired up on hormones, Clomid and disappointment. We were ready and needed to scream, cry and cuss. And now we were instantly made to feel uncomfortable. How in the WORLD could she try to make me feel better!? I blocked out everything she said after that.

We started going around the circle to tell our stories. I had no idea what to say when it was my turn. The woman to my right was next. She was familiar with the group members so had obviously been there before. Well guess what the heck she said. She came to the group that night for the sole purpose of sharing the news that she had just found out she was pregnant. Am I in the twilight zone? Yay for her. Do NOT come to this meeting to tell us that! We have to pretend we are happy for every other pregnant person in the world….at work….at family events….everywhere….and now…again…at this supposedly safe place when we are overflowing with sadness we now each feel the need to muster a squeaky congratulations.

There are a few rules about being a southern woman. Always send thank you notes. Never host a party without a theme and deviled eggs. And always say please, thank you and congratulations. I did my southern-ly duty. Then picked up my purse and headed to the door. Once inside I tried to choke back the tears while trying to not choke on the 2nd piece of coffee cake. Yes. I had two pieces. At this point I had earned it.