In terms of wanting to start a family, there’s no announcement commonly made that “we’ve started trying!” Rather, in my case, each following month I expected that I’d be announcing the real news.
When life didn’t unfold per the brochure, any question about whether we were going to have kids knotted my stomach, my heart and my head simultaneously. The question seemed so black and white, were you going to or weren’t you?
Time passed and people who knew about our struggles stopped asking in case they upset me. In the process, I realised that I’d rather be asked and acknowledged, albeit upset, than be left outside to fend off negative emotions on my own. I’ve since made the decision to ask people about their tough experiences, even if it hits a raw nerve. I'd prefer to have them shut down the conversation but sub-consciously acknowledge that I care enough to ask, rather than avoid the topic and pretend they’re not going through something deeply emotional and challenging in their life. I think it's important to acknowledge what each other are going through.
In my case, I created my own isolation around this topic from the beginning, only because I kept expecting a different outcome. As it turned out, I’d created an accidental secret.
It’s isolating feeling broken and just as isolating feeling like you’ve built a big wall around your breakages so nobody else can peer in at them.
I guess what I learned is that these big topics, that start out so benign and innocent, can become, accidentally, big secrets. All it did for me was add to the pressure.
Then I started to journal. I’m not a journal-er, per se, but it’s hard to process feelings at face value. Emotions just are what they are, they don't evolve in themselves. Sadness does not become happiness. Instead, sadness moves out and is replaced by happiness. However, if I could articulate what was behind the emotion and put that feeling into words, then I had something to work with.
I started writing as if I was telling a friend about it. I started from the beginning. I told them about my thoughts and expectations. Told them how, why, when it started and what happened next. I explained how that made me feel and my reaction to it. I literally wrote down all of my thoughts and everything that I could reach inside my head to get it all out into words. I found that once I had words, I could take a step back and observe my thoughts, as if from the friend's point of view. As the observer, I could then, almost unattached, consider alternate perspectives. As I gained different perspectives, I had new thoughts. New thoughts create new emotions and the way I felt changed. Emotions cannot change in themselves, but new thoughts will result in them being superseded.
I learned that by writing down my perspectives around challenges, I was able to process them in a whole new way to appreciate why they were in my life. My understanding shifted from thinking things happened to me, to knowing that things happened for me. This is how writing is so cathartic.
I’ve become a believer in journaling to move through the tangy parts of life. Get it down, get it out and if it feels right, tell someone. Anyone. Tell me. Email your accidental secret and break the cycle of sitting with it on your own. Simply put, people need people. Life’s here to share.
Photography from The Lonely Heart