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6- The World Still Turns...

Christmas is upon us once again, it always manages to creep up on me every year and take me by surprise. As time goes by this process seems to become accelerated, the older I get, the faster the months speed by. For me it has always been a time of nostalgia, of reflection and even in the happiest of surroundings I'll have a moment or two where I feel melancholy. This isn't a recent development, I don't even consider it a negative, it always passes and is balanced by the joy and love I feel amongst family. However, since my diagnosis of P.O.F I'm ashamed to admit I have struggled somewhat at this festive time. It's as if my senses have become heightened, I'm achingly aware of families with children who seem to multiply en masse the same way couples do on Valentines Day. The first two Christmases were the hardest and I felt incredibly guilty for feeling so sad when I knew that I had, and still have so much to be thankful for. I can only describe this as a kind of tug-of-war that my conscience is participating in, striving to let go and just own how I feel without judging myself.

I have a tendency to internalise pain/sorrow/angst, not to blow my own trumpet but I'm really rather good at it. However, I take no pride in this, it's kind of like the emotional equivalent of trapped wind and there's a very good reason for the saying 'Better out than in!'. When faced with a situation that requires me to express myself and speak what are for me hard truths, well, I'd rather head in the opposite direction! I can only assume this is to avoid making the potential recipient feel uncomfortable and if I'm honest, myself in the process. Plus there is always the chance that I'll be 'seen' differently, at least that's how it feels whether it's rational or not! The problem with this is it means I'm the one who continues to carry around my unspoken feelings, wearing them like layers of clothing and sooner or later they begin to weigh me down. Although this can apply to a variety of subjects or issues, in this blog I'm speaking specifically about how I cope when faced with any number of challenging moments that remind me of my diagnosis. For example, hearing that another friend is pregnant (always bitter sweet as I'd never wish infertility on anyone else and yet it makes me feel both happy and sad in equal measure), invitations to baby showers or children's parties (I touched on this briefly in my 2nd blog 'Fast Forward') or even just your regular social gathering...scenarios that happen time and time again as is expected. At times it's simply a case of wanting to say "I'm struggling today so excuse me if I seem distant". It's a dilemma, on the one hand I don't want to go around baring my soul or giving away too much detail and yet, there is part of me that is desperate to just be honest. The thought of not wearing a brave face 24/7, of having the guts to decline an invitation because it's just too much to face....well, that would be a relief.

I have nothing but love and respect for my parents, they did, and continue to do an incredible job in guiding and nurturing me although the dynamic has changed as we have all aged and evolved as individuals. When you're a child it's easy to forget that your parents were ever young themselves, we only know them as 'mum' and 'dad' but they weren't born in to those roles. They've had to learn and adapt, following their gut instinct as they raise a family, praying that the choices they make are the 'right' ones. I have two older brothers and growing up we would have what were called 'Family Meetings', a time set aside to discuss any problems or issues in a calm and collected manner. Everyone had their say and everyone was heard. You would wait for these gatherings rather than have spontaneous outbursts of shouting or storming off and stamping up the stairs to your room. Under no circumstances were we ever allowed to slam the doors!!! I reflect on these times with great admiration for my parents, they enabled their children to have a voice whilst managing to keep control of what could've been a household/boiling pot of hormonal angst. I have no doubt that my upbringing helped me to develop as someone who was able to articulate myself, but as an adult, I don't live in a controlled environment outside of my home and it is the spontaneity of expression I struggle with at times. I do feel that I've made progress with this over the past few years, realising that it doesn't do the other person any favours if I skirt around the issue or make excuses for my declining an invitation or for keeping my distance. The biggest hurdle has been deciding when or if I should say anything (a friend of a friend of a friend probably doesn't need to know about my personal trials) and then finding a way to be honest without being blunt or insensitive, after all, it's no-one else's fault that I can't conceive! We choose our battles so to speak but I think it's especially important to try to be open with those closest to us.

My best friend made an interesting observation a few months back, noticing that on more than one occasion at parties or gatherings I would gravitate towards the children as opposed to sitting and conversing with the adults. When she asked me about why I thought I did this I knew the answer immediately. Little people don't concern themselves with whether or not I am single or if I have children of my own. Without consciously making the decision to gravitate towards them, I must've thought it was safer as I wouldn't be asked any personal questions, the odds of which are higher when amongst what inevitably ends up being a group of couples and the occasional single parent with their families in tow. I do realise how ridiculous this all sounds, chances are people have far better things to talk about but it is my own insecurity doing the thinking here! I feel like I have a neon sign in the middle of my forehead saying '40, SINGLE, INFERTILE'. On one occasion when I had assumed the position of bouncy castle monitor at a birthday party (in my defence, there were some gorgeous children present so it was hardly a chore), one of the fathers approached me and asked why anyone would choose to watch children who didn't belong to them? I wanted to shout back "Because not everyone can have children and this is the closest I can get right now!", of course I didn't but simply replied that I enjoyed it, which wasn't a lie. A brief encounter like this can completely throw me and leave me unsettled for the rest of the day. It's at times like this I long for a wing man, a Maverick to my Goose (a little 'Top Gun' reference for anybody else who loves the movie). For anyone reading this who is a single parent, whether or not by choice, or for those who find themselves in unhappy relationships I acknowledge the fact that my projection of being part of a couple may seem idealistic. Although it feels like it at times, I haven't always been single and I know that it isn't happily ever after for everyone! I understand that it's possible to feel even more alone in the wrong relationship than when you're on your own. However, I have also seen with my own eyes the joy and security that comes from two people playing for the same team, singing from the same hymn sheet. Someone who has your back, who can catch your eye across the room and let you know they are there for you. I am part of a wonderful family, small and solid, and am blessed with beautiful friends but they don't bring the same kind of love or comfort as that someone you choose to spend the last waking moment of each day with. It's a different kind of love, a different kind of embrace and this journey I have found myself on since my diagnosis in 2010 has felt all the more challenging without a man in my life to share my thoughts and fears with.

I have been wondering how best to summarise and this is what came to me.......Say what you feel, say it with kindness and give it wings so it can fly. Chances are it'll come back to you like a homing pigeon more than once but keep trying every time you feel your truth bubbling beneath the surface. Keep releasing those emotions instead of wearing them and hopefully one day, as you surrender the words, they'll take flight and emigrate to a far off land never to be felt again, at least not as often. At the end of the day, friends get pregnant, babies are born, people die, Christmases come and go and all the while, the world still turns...

Peace, love and light to you.....x

NB: 1st January.....a couple of weeks later!

Here we are, a new year, a fresh chapter, ours to write and create as we wish. I failed miserably at Christmas with everything I wrote so earnestly about in this blog. My truth was indeed bubbling beneath the surface but I wasn't open with those closest to me and I didn't say anything! I only had one day away from work to celebrate, family had travelled far to share the day with me and although I knew that just half an hour away on my own would've settled me, I couldn't bring myself to express this (I am used to my own company and know that solitude works well when I need to find peace or gather myself). I just didn't want to draw attention to myself in that way or have to explain why I needed some space. It would be wrong to attribute my mood solely to my diagnosis but as I explained earlier, I do struggle at this time of year. So, although I wore my emotions on Christmas day, I am still honouring the deal I've made with myself and will continue to try and release them. It isn't easy, that's what I wanted to add to this blog, if you are struggling then I get it, I understand. We can but try and every time we feel we may have failed, well, I guess it is only another opportunity to know ourselves better. Amidst the pressure I put on myself and the guilt that follows, I must remember to embrace the fact that I am present and aware of my internal battle. For me it's about keeping the faith, safe in the knowledge that I am growing.....

Happy New Year!

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