Allowing myself to fall

Allowing myself to fall

I was recently asked ‘how long does it take to ‘get over’ the grief of being childless?’

And my answer: ‘how long do you want it to be?’

I say this because grief is the emotion we least want to feel so we avoid it at all costs. But what happens then is that it stays with us, popping out to ‘play’ when we least expect it or when we’re triggered for example by a surprise pregnancy announcement.

It’s human nature not to want to fall apart, falling apart has all sorts of negative associations, not least that it’s weak.

falling-apart-1-rBut what if this quote were also true?

What if it is a transformation and an opportunity to ‘fall into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful’?

Having held myself together for so long, I now wholeheartedly believe that grief work can be transformational. Here’s my story.

My story

After finishing our 6th and final round of IVF we were offered no support or help of any kind and felt as if we were the only people in the world who were childless I didn’t know I was grieving, I knew I felt sad, and in the way that I’d learned from my family, I pulled myself together and carried on.

Four years later Mum died and then I knew I was grieving. I cried, I took time off work, but I held back, because that’s what I’d learned. I remember walking down the road starting to feel emotional and putting those emotions into a box, thinking that I’d get them out later when it was more ‘appropriate’.

And there they stayed. Somehow it was never ‘appropriate.’

I leaned NLP which helped massively. Until then I’d hidden my childlessness and the inner work I did took me to a place of acceptance.

I am completely at peace with being childless. We have a great life and I’ve been known to say that ‘being childless has proved to be my biggest gift because without it I wouldn’t be enjoying the wonderful life that I now have.’

But life has a way of throwing you curve balls.

As I write this it is almost two years to the day that Dad died. I’m an only child, and even if it was in my nature to fall apart I couldn’t because there was a lot to be done. so more and more ‘stuff’ went into the box.

And there it stayed.

Avoiding the pain was the only way I knew to deal with it (or to be more accurate not deal with it). I know now that this was the worst thing I could have done.

After a while there was so much in the box that from time to time the lid burst open unexpectedly, surprising both me and those around me.

And still I kept resisting, I kept slamming the lid shut, but it kept popping open. It felt like the game ‘Whack-a-mole” where it just wouldn’t stay closed. It took more time and a lot of encouragement from some very dear friends before I allowed myself to look into the box.

In the last year, I’ve been taking the lid off and healing things slowly and gently, embracing the pain and doing the work to put myself back together.

It is a really interesting process and I love what I’m learning. I have so many more tools and skills and as the quote above says I do feel that I have ‘fallen into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful’

Today I’m calmer, more peaceful, more relaxed and happier than I’ve been for a long time.

How long do YOU want it to be?

So I’ll go back to wherfaling-apart-3e I started and ask you ‘how long do you want it to take to ‘get over’ the grief of being childless?’

It’s your choice.

Please don’t be like me and avoid the pain.

One thing I know is that you have pain and grief ahead of you. Pain is inevitable BUT suffering is not.

None of us can control what happens in life, BUT we absolutely can determine who you are and how you react to what happens.

And finally.

I’ll end by quoting Glennon Doyle Melton from a video called ‘Broken is the Beginning.’ In it she says that we try to protect ourselves by not allowing our hearts to be broken, because we think that a broken heart is the end. But she views grief and pain as beginnings because that’s where all of our transformation happens.

falling-apart-2

‘You have to let everything fall apart before you find out what’s indestructible about you.That’s the beauty of everything falling apart; it’s always a new beginning. Allow yourself to be broken. Look for new beginnings.’

What do you think?

Did this resonate with you? Have you avoided your grief and put it into a box?

Please share your thoughts below to help other women (you don’t have to use your own name).

18 thoughts on “Allowing myself to fall

  1. Once again don’t know how you do it but when I am having a bad day and feel completely alone one of your wonderful honest awesome inspirational e mails appears in my inbox thank you

  2. I am 45 and childless didn’t meet the right person for married and childen. It’s been a long tough journey and its left an ache in my heart. I have triggers like seeing my family with their children and there constant talk about what there children are doing. One day at a time for me and I hope one day the pain will be more bearable and a see a brighter future.

    • Thanks Nikki,
      I understand, I had triggers for many years especially seeing my parents with young children, knowing that they would never by Grandparents. What helped in part was being honest with them about how I was struggling. They were hurting for me too and didn’t know that what they were doing was hard for me.
      And it will become bearable, especially if you do the work.
      Love to you xx

  3. This is a brilliant post, Lesley, and I so love the final quote from Glennon Doyle Melton.

    We’ve been so conditioned to avoid and suppress negative emotions, particularly grief and anger, that we totally lose out on the gift in them and harm ourselves in the process.

    In my experience it’s not the negative emotions that are harmful, it’s the resistance to allowing ourselves to feel them.

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder.
    Linda Anderson recently posted…The other thing 2 months in bed taught meMy Profile

    • Yes that’s so true Linda,
      I also believe that we’re conditioned to believe that there are no gifts in the dark emotions, and maybe that’s partly why we resist.
      Pain is inevitable BUT suffering isn’t but only if we stop resisting and feel.
      Lesley xx

  4. Hi Lesley, this is Emma from Liverpool. I go to a weekly meditation class and last night’s session was about dealing with painful feelings and the phrase “What we resist, will persist” was used which seems to complement your latest post. Best wishes, Emma

    • Thanks Emma, I completely agree with that sentiment, that was completely my experience & it’s only since I stopped resisting that I’m finding peace.
      Lesley x

  5. Wonderful post Lesley. You’re right – so many of us are taught to shove our feelings away and it becomes like a pressure cooker; we never know when the safety valve is going to be triggered (which leaves us feeling out of control and frightened of our feelings). Much better to face them regularly and work through them (and, in my experience, it’s never as “devastating” as you think it’s going to be). Getting the right help and support from someone you can be totally honest with is vital. Thank you for your honesty and inspiration.
    Caroline x

  6. This post reminds me of something a friend of mine whose husband passed away suddenly when she was 39 years old said:

    “Grief doesn’t break you. It breaks you open.”

    Now if only the process were that simple – but it’s quite harrowing as many of us know. However the only way out is through.

    I’ve taken my grief head on and found it to be transformative, horrible and healthy all at the same time. While staying in my truth has kept me whole and connected to myself, on an outer level it’s isolating. I’ve learned the heard way most people aren’t equipped or willing to be in the presence of blatant honesty and raw emotion. The human culture has got a loooong way to go in this regard.

    Thanks for posting on this important topic.

    • I agree Sarah, grief does break you open, and as you’re experiencing, when you do it is transformative.
      I agree that very few people can sit with someone who is grieving, and maybe if we keep talking about it that will help.
      Thank you.

  7. Thank you Lesley
    I’m only just recognising that my grief relating to childlessness, which I’ve avoided for years, by ” getting on with life”, is the root to my gradual decline. I don’ t ever want to feel as low and empty as this again, so despite not looking forward to the inevitable upset ahead, I am about to deal with the past for a better future.
    Thank you for the reassurance and the confirmation your post has given me, to just face up to what I need to.
    Felicity

    • Thank you Felicity,
      Congratulations for recognising that you’re in the middle of your grief and being prepared to do the work.
      Yes it will be hard, BUT I can assure that it is worth it and you won’t feel like this again.
      Take care of yourself, Lesley x

  8. I recognise this story so well. I have been filling my own box for many, many years since I had my last course of IVF, and it burst open at inappropriate times. Having finally undergone counselling this year, after 7 years of struggling, I can feel a transformation happening which is allowing me to be with that grief, hold it, feel it, and stop hiding from it. It is a scary but necessary challenge, and I feel a little better for being able to face these things finally every day. Thank you for helping me feel my own story and my own grief is valid and not so unusual or extreme after all.

  9. I just read this post and the comments Lesley. Thank you so much for the article (all very true) and thank you to everyone who has commented. Sharing and reading of others experiences really helps the healing.
    Thanks,
    Michelle

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