I have really enjoyed the comments I’m getting about my small Peggy Orenstein rant.  I felt conflicted – on the one hand, Peggy generates reasonably even-handed, wonderfully informative writing on the subject of infertility, and donor egg in particular.  So we’re all glad about that.  But on the other hand, well, y’know.

I made a new category for today’s blog entry – “Recovering.”  Because I am seeing a way to.  I need recovery because it could be all mine, and not tied to babies.  Recovering, for me, addresses the grim knowledge that no amount of babies can erase the hurt I have. If I don’t address that hurt, when the babies do come I’ll just put in a change of address for my hurt and my grudge.  Suddenly I’ll become one of those women who complains about her pregnancy, or about her kids, or about how it was all too little, too late.

Doh!  I have already been that.  I used to be bitter, desperate and fearful about my singleness.  Once my cherished husband came along, I immediately segued to desperation and fear about having a family.  (the bitterness came later).

I don’t want that.  I also know that I need to recover from my infertility losses because there will be other losses.  If I’m still carrying all that hurt and anger, what if something happens to one of the children I am moving heaven and earth to get?

Heaven and earth don’t move at my command, by the way; it’s why this whole deal is so frustrating.

Anyway – that accumulation of loss would finish me.

I keep seeing this image of a cartoon character who swallows a wire coat hanger (doesn’t matter why; cartoons are better than Sartre in that way) and his throat becomes triangular.  For a minute.  And then, with a big cartoony gulp, he swallows the coat hanger and gets back to whatever he was doing.  What I’m noticing is how rubbery that cartoon character is, and I wish I could be that.

Because the loss isn’t going away, and I have to find a way to swallow it, and wrap myself around it and make it a part of me.  I guess that’s acceptance.  All the anger and comparing myself to others has been my way of not accepting.  I can see why I don’t want to accept it.  I don’t want it to be true.  I don’t want to have a throat that is the shape of a coat hanger.  That’s not how I see myself.

But the alternative is bad.  I’ve been living the alternative.  When I was a kid my parents tried to make me eat vegetables.  I sat at the table with a mouthful of chewed zucchini for about two hours.  I didn’t want to give in.  I didn’t want to throw up, which I was sure I would.  I needed to be the boss of my own body.  But having a mouthful of chewed zucchini is really gross for two hours.

There are things we have to just… swallow.  I honor the time I spent refusing, being angry, wriggling desperately like something caught in a trap.  It’s what we do, and I’m not done with All That yet.  But I’m tired of resisting because resisting (eventually) hurts more than whatever I’m trapped by.

I don’t know how to be so rubbery that I can swallow the coat hanger (and the safe, and the grand piano, and the anvil) but at least I see that I have to.  There are two ideas in this pursuit of rubbery that are helping me.

One:  God, or the Universe, or whoever you think might be pulling at least some of the strings, is behind this.  The pregnant people did not decide to get pregnant just to hurt me.  The REs did not conspire to deprive me of a family.  Maybe God caused this.  Maybe He just allows it.  It might be sucky and unfair of Him: but if I have a beef, it’s with Him.  I would like to make peace with everybody else because I’ve been punishing anybody I can over this.  Understandable but no fun.  And unfair.

Two:  When the cartoon guy swallows the Acme safe, it disappears.  Not me.  Everything I have swallowed or been squished by in the cartoon of my life to date has changed me.  I don’t spring back to my original shape.  I have a new shape.  The experience of recovering from sexual abuse has made me a great and compassionate friend, wife and teacher.  The experience of training for a marathon when I was 35 pounds overweight has made me respect persistence over ability.  My first few years in graduate school showed me that my talent was greatly exceeded by my arrogance.  My infertility has taught me to stop giving advice and start listening.

I like my anvils, my safes and my grand pianos.  No, I hate them (I always get those two mixed up).   In the moment they are horrific.  But it ends up that I like what they’ve done to me.  Eventually.  I just made the mistake of thinking I’d had so many that I was done.  I was wrong.

Who knows if I mean all this, if I can really move forward with recovering.  But I want to.

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