The Inspirational Story I have the pleasure in sharing with you today is a really beautiful, heart-breaking & uplifting piece of writing & it’s also the first time Cecilie has shared her story publicly.
Many phrases will hit you right at the core of your being as they put into words what you absolutely know to be true but haven’t previously seen in words.
There are many, many words of wisdom in Cecile’s story & maybe these words from an email exchange we had were the key in her moving forward.
‘One of my key discoveries is that things aren’t always black and white, there is not always ‘in” grief and ‘out’ of grief, there is no weak or strong – it’s a balance of all these things at the same time, accepting that our grief becomes a part of us. Accepting this, for me, has brought me incredible healing. Allowing myself to re-grief when I’m triggered, knowing that this is not a failure or brings me back to ground zero – but allows me to continue to move forward, be strong and help me to grow. Knowing that I’m on a continuous journey and that things never work in a straight line.’
Amen to that.
As I said it’s the first time Cecilie has shared her Inspirational Story, so it would be fabulous if you could support her by leaving a comment. Thank you.
Now over to Cecilie.
Some realisations you can only make when walking along water, listening to the sound of its movement. One realisation came quite early in my life: I wanted to become a mother. A mother as great as I had been lucky enough to have before she was ripped away from me in my early twenties. In her motherhood, she was glorious, and I knew, inspired by her kindness and wisdom, I would make a damn good one.
As a teenage girl, there were three things I took for granted: that one day I would become a great mother, that I would live happily ever after with a beautiful husband in a house by the sea in Norway and to share all these moments with my mother who I was incredibly close to. I built my whole value system on these assumptions, and it was at the core of every decision I made. So what do you do when none of your expectations come true?
By the time I reached my forties, I had none of the above. My mother died when I was 23. I had two miscarriages – one in my late twenties and another in my early thirties. I was told that I could never have children, and my husband left me after I couldn’t give birth to the child we had wanted. To top it off I also lost my job. I was left with nothing. Absolutely nothing. Or at least nothing I could remember even vaguely mattered to me anymore. There were too many losses to be able to deal with at once.
Wrapped in darkness
I fell into great darkness. Darkness so consuming that I couldn’t find my way out. For years, I lived right in the middle of this darkness, wrapped in multiple layers of grief. I couldn’t understand why and acceptance seemed impossible, like something unreachable. I was grieving what I could never have and what I could never be. This type of pain, when you’re in the middle of it, feels impossible to describe to anyone who hasn’t sat right in the middle of deep grief. It’s all-consuming.
When I got the message that I would never be able to have my own children and realised that I would never be able to become the mother I had so strongly wanted to be – a total carpet of black swept over me that it was hard to breathe in. I was paralysed. Every movement and action became a fight I had to overcome. Simple things became battles I had to conquer every day: getting out of bed, leaving the house, sending an email, raising my arm to drink my cup of tea, making tea or calling a friend.
It took me a very long time to be able to say out loud that I couldn’t have children. Sometimes it feels like saying things out loud, somehow makes them more true than you want them to be. Or the hurt becomes louder. I still to this day can’t say it out loud without tears filling my eyes. It took me even more years to start filling the big black void that had been left by my losses and the future I knew I could never live. It has taken me twelve years to start to put these words down on paper. So many years to make sense of it all. So many buckets full of tears. Thirty years of a narrative you dreamed of takes a while to reframe. And that’s exactly what I had to do. To re-write the narrative of my own story, so I could find a path to go down that would bring me joy again.
Suffering is necessary until it’s no longer necessary
There is a quote by Eckhart Tolle that has particularly stuck with me: “Suffering is necessary until it’s no longer necessary”. I really do connect with this.
One day, you’re just ready to start to let go. Bit by bit. It becomes a choice only you can make and only you know when you’re ready for. To heal, we must walk through our storms, allow ourselves to sit in them for a while and feel the wind and accept what happened to us.
The last ten years have been a very long meditation over purpose. Where would I find it again if it wasn’t in the children I never got to bring to the world? There is a deafening silence, almost too loud to digest, around women who are childless not by choice. It’s not a topic that has a home in regular conversations and people shy away from talking about it. To be a woman, part of this community you never wanted to be part of, is a tricky thing. There is a silence that surrounds it all that is hard to bear. A silence I carry and am unable to express without risking falling into a thousand different pieces, coupled with a fear that it would take too long to piece back together again. I share this to bring comfort to other women who are part of this community, to let you know that I too know your pain. You are not alone.
At this point, I wear loneliness like a knitted jumper. One that you feel comforted by some seasons yet feels too tight for other seasons. Some may think this sounds like a sad story. Stop telling it, please. But women like me have stayed silent for so long. For there is an invisible group of women who will see some of their own experiences in it and nod with a secret smile whilst they feel less alone for a moment. So this story is for those women. For you deserve stories too. You deserve to feel less alone. A little glimmer in a realisation I recently made, that darkness is only a different shade of light.
I am strong. I am vulnerable.
On the surface, I believe I by many have always be seen as a strong, creative and sometimes even inspiring woman. And I do feel incredibly strong. Most days, now. I am a successful career woman with a great, creative job in the corporate world for an amazing company. I am the Editor-in-Chief of my own independent fashion magazine. I am passionate and have amazing platforms to make an impact, create beautiful things with the help of amazing people I work with and to help drive positive change to causes that I’m passionate about. I am the strong woman who is a good listener and help young creatives believe in themselves and grow.
Other days, I give space to a silent grief that is always carried within. Grief that people assume has gone away. People are more comfortable with you when you say you have healed. When there is a happy ending. But that’s the funny thing with grief, it’s always with you. Some days big, some days small. But it’s always part of you.
For so long, I never felt brave enough, never vulnerable enough, to share my story. It feels good to start writing these words down, as I realise that this is something that is the reason for most things I’ve done the last 12 years. I set up a whole magazine that centred around me being able to work through my own grief of not being able to have children. Of course, this is something I discovered years into the process – but it was one of those revelations that shake your world once it hits you. Getting that clarity opened up a whole new world and started to make things much easier. By now, I have told the stories of hundreds of young men, wrapped in beautiful pictures and empathetic words – but I have never told mine. And this is just a fraction of a much longer story.
I have suffered until I was bored of suffering
I have suffered until I was bored of suffering and come out on the other side. I have found beautiful ways to fill the void made within me. People I have been able to give love to when they needed it, outside of the regular path of society norms. I am grateful for the new reality I built for myself. For all the people I have helped guide and grow, for the people that have needed me and allowed me to love them for a moment. Sometimes you are guided to places and in directions you didn’t know you were supposed to go to. You meet people you never knew would play a part in your revised reality. The universe has its way of handing us the unexpected. Accepting a different path to my journey and seeing that it can be just as fulfilling, was a stunning discovery.
Re-framing my story
I say that I have found ways to heal, but are we ever truly healed from our great losses? We carry them with us always. For me, it has been all about becoming okay to live with it. To accept that my path is different and that I have something else to bring to the world than I expected. I feel both strong and broken at the same time. Now, most days are light and full of an alternative purpose. A purpose that I created for myself. A family I created around me, borrowed for a while – even if just for short moments, some for longer. I’m okay with the occasional dark days, it’s just part of living. Accepting this makes everything feel a lot lighter. I no longer carry my pain like a large cloak that is about to suffocate me. What I do know, is that there is comfort in knowing that stories can be re-written and satisfying endings can be created with a bit of secret finesse.
It has taken me 17 years to get here and I am still on this journey. I have learned that my need for maternal love is much stronger than my need for romantic love. One day I want to write more words about this. Many, many pages. About these amazing people I met along the way that have become part of my extended family, about how painful it is to experience this loss, to help others understand and be more sensitive before they ask: “don’t you want to have children?”. How do you even start answering a question like that when it comes with seven years of trying and 12 years of mourning that you couldn’t?
You will forget and remember
To the women in my tribe who are still wrapped in mourning: you will forget and remember, over and over again, until it is simply a song playing softly in the background. Re-grieving every time something awakes that thing that you feel nothing can fill is a daily fight. A push and pull of holding on and letting go. This is all okay. I have learned to allow this and just let it move. By now, it’s more like a faint echo playing in the background and my revised narrative takes centre stage most days.
I still walk along water whenever I can, trying to make sense of it all – but I’m getting closer. Most days I feel incredibly good. My happiness as fragile as raindrops. I do believe the mind is a powerful thing and ‘choice’ has been a helpful mantra. Every day I choose where I send my mind and what actions I take, and I fill my world with a daily reminder of how I can shift my attention. I try to experience the smallest of things that give me joy like I’m experiencing them for the first time – this can be stunning and profound. The present moment is all we ever have, and as often as I’m able to, I surrender to whatever is. In those moments, everything is good.
We are all figments of the stories we tell ourselves. Narratives can be re-written and purpose can be re-found. I have seen glimpses of a reframed happiness. I’m still writing my story, still searching – but I know I want to make it a good one.
Do you think your story could inspire others?
I started publishing Inspirational Stories so that women who are struggling can be inspired. The purpose is:
- To show that it’s possible to have a positive life,
- To explain what’s positive about being childless and
- To explore what helped healing & how to make it happen.
So if you think your Inspirational story could help other women this is how it works.
I’ll send you a list of questions, and you choose and answer a minimum of 6. I’ll post your story in your real name or any other that you chose to give me. If you have a website or blog I’d be happy to link to it so I’ll need the details and a short bio.
If you think you could inspire others please contact me.
Over to you
Has reading Cecilie’s s story helped you? Please add your comment below.
You can read stories of 19 other women in Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness. Once you purchase it, you can also access interviews and other extras.