Tuesday, May 31, 2016

It's difficult to determine what will break me


Last night, I was minding my own business, doing some work on my computer with the tv on a random channel. I was probably watching an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or something on the ID channel. Typically I keep the tv on for the background noise. While I don't pay careful attention to what's going on, I am vaguely aware of the noise in the background. Every so often, something happens or is said on screen that captures my attention and I look up from what I'm doing.

A commercial was playing for the "morning after" pill (see the link at the top). They didn't call it that in the commercial; they call it "Plan B," just in case.

Folks, for those of us who have suffered child loss and/or are dealing with infertility, this commercial just tears open an already unhealed and bleeding wound. I'm not talking about right or wrong, morality or immorality as I share my heart tonight. I'm talking about the desperation we feel in our inability to have the baby (babies) we so desperately want while there are women in the world who are doing everything in their power to keep from having one.

I am not trying to judge. It is difficult with such a sensitive subject not to come across as judging, but please, hear my heart.

I get that some women do not have a desire to have children. I don't think women should be having babies just because it's expected of them. I know a number of women (couples) who have made a very conscious decision NOT to have any children and they are doing everything possible to prevent that from happening. That is a choice that they have every right to make.

It is just as frustrating watching some women have one baby after another while saying how much she hates kids--other kids, but not her own.

Every time I see a woman who is pregnant or read a pregnancy announcement online, my heart falls down into my toes and I feel the depression descend as a comfortable, yet unwanted, blanket. I rejoice in the joy of others--of course I do, but the fact, the simple truth is that I want one, too. Yes, I have my son. He is truly the sunshine of my life.

But I want his 3 siblings, too.

We make a big deal out of women who don't want kids.

We make a big deal when a woman doesn't have any kids.

Almost as soon as a couple gets together, they hear, "So when are you two going to have a baby?"

Women who struggle with infertility have to hear this question--and it breaks their hearts, each and every time.

Women who have made a conscious choice not to have any children have to hear this question--and it breaks their hearts, each and every time.

Why is whether or not a woman has a baby anyone's business but that of the couple deciding to have a baby, or not?

Why is the general public so incredibly insensitive regarding the feelings of women?

I have been pregnant a total of 4 times but have only one living child. My body still has times when it reacts as if a pregnancy is imminent, in spite of the fact that pregnancy is an impossibility for me now. Like a phantom limb, sometimes I feel movement in my belly--as if a baby is growing there.

Many of us who have dealt with (are dealing with) child loss or infertility also struggle with depression, anxiety, and/or other emotional, physical, mental, and even spiritual issues. What seems insignificant to others or no big deal has HUGE significance for us and is a VERY big deal.

What you feel is harmless teasing actually sends many of us to our beds, curled up in our blankets, hiding from the world, unable to eat, bathe, or function in normal society. Your words or such commercials, I am sure, are NOT intended to hurt, but the honest-to-goodness truth is that WORDS (and such commercials) HURT--a lot--deep into our very souls.

We know, with our heads, that such words are not meant to hurt, but, like M'Lynn in Steel Magnolias, we wish someone would explain it to our hearts. We desperately attempt to cling to sanity, but we honestly never know what is going to rip open our wound or what is going to just give it a little tug. If we could control that, we
so would.

I say all this simply to say this: we never know what someone is going through, so be nice to each other. This isn't just a saying or a cliche; it's truth. 

What is it that kills your soul....?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Both Joy-Full and Sad

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.”   ― Stephen ChboskyThe Perks of Being a Wallflower

Those who know me at all, know that one my recent favorite books is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I fell in love with this book while on a school trip a few years ago as my students had the movie version playing on the bus. I tried to avoid watching it since I hadn't read the book yet, but that proved impossible. The story sucked me in and I was reading the book on my Nook by the time the movie ended and I finished reading the book in about two days.

The above quote comes very early in the book and it is one of the themes of the book that stands out the most to me because I feel exactly that way. In recent years, I have been both Joy-full and sad. Yes, at the same time. I find myself laughing from deep within my soul while sobbing my heart out. Or vice versa. 

It has been a very confusing and difficult time.

No matter how hard I try, no matter how many passages I read in the Bible (including the Psalms), no matter how much I worship, no matter how soul-deep my laughter, no matter how big my smile, I am still sad. Sadness has become an ever-present companion. 

But even in my sadness, I find myself enjoying reading my Bible, I love worshipping my Lord and Savior, I laugh from the very depths of my being, and I smile with every part of my being. Being Joy-full has become second nature for me. I believe that God has anointed me with His oil of Joy more than He has anyone else (Psalm 45:7 & Hebrews 1:9, NLT).

When I first saw the movie Inside Out, I wept with Joy because it seems to reveal that what I feel is completely normal. In order to know True Joy, we must also know True Sadness. One cannot BE without the other. It is in our deepest sadness that we are able to experience true, uninhibited Joy. Those who have experienced the deepest of sorrows KNOW what True Sadness is, so when we are able to find and experience True Joy in life, we KNOW what that means.

I am not doing a very good job of explaining what I am trying to say, I know. Let me try saying this another way.

The past few weeks have been filled with an incredible amount of Great Joy. I had a positive employee evaluation. Seven beloved ladies and I went to the Women of Joy Conference in Pigeon Forge, TN. Not only did the eight of us have a wonderful time together, but we had a wonderful time at each of the sessions. And best of all, I got to meet Chonda Pierce AND Margaret Feinberg!!! And have my picture taken with BOTH!!! And each autographed her book for me!!!! Talk about the HEIGHT OF JOY!!!!!

Then the weekend after that, my uncle got married, we had a family reunion (maternal), and my son turned 15! We have a WONDERFUL time. We laughed! We talked, shouted, really. (We're a loud group, it's true.) We sang. We ate. And we laughed a whole lot more. My husband and son even seemed to enjoy themselves--as much as is possible with a whole bunch of people they'd never even met, that is! It was truly a weekend full of Joy-full family time.

Then it was the end of the semester and graduation, which was a lot of fun--even though I wasn't allowed to woo-hoo. I did hug as many students as I was able as they finished getting their pictures taken! And I finished my grades and other paperwork on time!!

And Mother's Day was so sweet. My boys bought me a wonderful gift--exactly what I wanted, needed, and asked for.

But then, the other day, as I was sitting at my desk working on nothing in particular, but yet something important, I felt this wave of sadness descend on me. Imagine an ocean descending from above, slowly, and engulfing you completely. You can breathe, but at the same time, you're struggling for air. There is no up. There is no down. There is only the sadness completely surrounding you, washing over you and keeping you under water.

And no matter how much you laugh, no matter how much you smile, no matter how much you read your Bible or worship, you remain in the depths of this ocean of sadness, unable to find, let alone break, the surface.

But my God is a big God. He is bigger than this sadness that has engulfed me. I will NOT let it keep me down. I will continue to read my Bible. I will continue to worship and praise my Lord. I will keep laughing. I will keep smiling. I will keep loving.

I will allow the Lord to anoint me with His oil of Joy.....I will NOT be defeated by the Sadness.

Works Cited

Shen, Jean. "Series 1: Healing of Wounds of the Bride and Growing Intimacy with the Lord." Invitation to His Garden. Prophetic Art. Web. 6 Sept. 2014. <http://www.jbrushwork.com/html/paintings.html>.