My struggle with infertility was the greatest battle I’ve had in my life so far. It was greater than overcoming the learning disabilities I struggled with as a young child, it was greater than releasing myself from an abusive and toxic (first) marriage. It often felt like it was a fight for life or death. That if I didn’t overcome it, I simply couldn’t live. It was a fight to the death, one which either my circumstance would win, or I would win. I may be a lot of things and I may lack in a lot of area’s but there are two things I learned about myself through my fight with infertility:
- I am tenacious!
- I am brave!
It was 7 years of trauma after trauma after trauma. It was 7 years of grief on top of grief on top of grief. It was 7 years that nearly destroyed me. And naively, I thought that when I reached that elusive place of motherhood, the grief and the trauma and the struggle would end, would simply vanish into thin air as if it had all been a figment of my imagination, some horrible horrible nightmare that had never really happened.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
7 years of trauma and grief left me battle weary, scarred and YES defined by that experience. 7 years left me broken. 7 years left my life in tatters. My self esteem was all but destroyed, my marriage was on the rocks and there were talks of separation, a number of friendships were destroyed. I was battle weary, bloody and bruised but determined that now that I was a mother, everything would simply vanish as if it never were.
About a year after Ava’s birth, I was diagnosed with PADS (post adoption depression syndrome) and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). I was a mess. Completely cut off and disconnected from everything, including my own life. My body function but my mind was gone. This was at the same time as my marriage was literally falling apart in front of my own eyes. I started taking Anti Depressants, which gave me back me, they brought me out of the catatonic state I felt I’d been trapped in, with a couple of weeks of starting and we started attending couples therapy. It was tough. But my bravery and tenacity stood me in good steed and mine and Walter’s commitment to each other got us through, with lots of hard work, blood, sweat and tears.
But I still wasn’t healed. I still had many unresolved issues and many deep regrets which have played over and over in my mind like a CD on repeat for the past few years. It’s only the last few months that I have started to feel the chains of my past releasing me. It’s only the the last few months that I have felt myself truly start to heal. To finally feel the chains releasing me, to finally accept what has been and to let go of the trauma and the grief and to start some form of forward momentum.
It’s been like a rebirth. There is no other way to describe it, like looking at the world through the eyes of a child and finally seeing what is around me, seeing the world through new eyes, a world that is full of possibility, a world that includes a life richer than I ever imagined possible for me.
Then this morning, while at the hairdresser, I finally came full circle. There was a friendship that was very seriously damaged during the time of my battle with PADS and PTSD. There was a world of hurt on both our parts and the only exchanges we’ve had with each other over the course of the past 4 years has been to exchange barbs and subtweets and once that phase past, to simply pretend the other didn’t exist. All of this born out of a deep and cutting hurt. For a long time, I carried a tremendous amount of anger towards this friend, which in hindsight I see wasn’t really anger but a form of self preservation from the deep seated hurt, but just like with PTSD, the demise of this friendship has played over and over and over again in my head for the past 4 years. Then a couple of months ago, I realized that my feelings of anger and dislike had dissipated and that’s when I knew that I was letting go of the hurt. This morning, we had our first civil conversation with each other in four years and it was liberating, it was healing and it was freeing and I finally feel that I have come full circle, that I am ready to let go and move on from all the trauma, grief, anger, self loathing and hurt of the past decade. I am ready to move on with my life, I am ready to find me again. It’s taken 4 years to find healing from my greatest battle, but I feel I finally have and this morning’s events were the final piece of the puzzle I needed to be set free.
I am ready, which brings me on to my next point, my word(s) for 2014: I Am…
For the longest time I’ve had a very negative and destructive internal dialogue with myself, just like the events of my PTSD, my mantra has run on repeat in my head for years, for the better part of a decade:
I am nothing, I am worth nothing, I deserve nothing!
Talk about self destructive!
Then I saw this on FB this morning:
For too long I’ve let my own mantra destroy me. For too long I’ve taken to heart what others have said about me, I’ve heard the labels leveled at me and I’ve accepted them as my truth and worn them like an ugly, suffocating shroud. But no more!
My word(s) for 2014 are I AM!
I am a loving wife!
I am a good friend!
I am worthy of respect!
I am an adult!
I am fun!
I am smart!
I am tenacious!
I am brave!
I am a fighter!
I am beautiful!
I am funny!
I am loved!
Get the picture????
There is only one area of my life I have not managed to reclaim post infertility and that is my health. For too long I have let smoking, wine and food be crutches to help me cope. This year I plan to reclaim my health too. I have set up something AWESOME to help me a long the way, I’ll share the details with you later in the week but there’s R10 000 up for grabs and I plan to win it!
What is your word for 2014? What are you committing to improving about yourself this year?