The ONE thing most women who connect with me find really hard (or even impossible) is to be open about why they don’t have children.
- Some say that keeping it to themselves feels like they’re dragging round a really heavy weight,
- Others say that they want to speak out but the fear of shame and judgment stops them,
- or some just want to tell it all and to hell with the consequences.
Do any of these sound familiar?
I used to feel like that too.
When I was in my last job everyone knew I didn’t have children but not why and eventually the pain and stress of keeping it secret was so bad that I resigned.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, there is good news.
Firstly, feeling this way is absolutely normal and secondly, you CAN start to tell it in a way that’s authentic and real for you. So read on to learn three ways to release the burden of keeping your story secret.
It’s your choice
What would happen if you lived your life never really being you?
How would it feel for your friends never to know who you are and what you’ve been through?
What if everyone at work continued to make assumptions about you because they don’t know this major thing about you?
Project yourself a few years into the future and life is the same, how much would you regret keeping it secret all these years?
Yes of course it’s possible, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Think about this.
How much better would your life be if you were open and authentic and able to tell your story?
Here are my top tips for how, who and when to start.
1. Let’s start with HOW.
When someone asks ‘do you have children?’ you have a choice about HOW you answer. Assuming you start with ‘NO’ you could then;
1. explain in great detail what things you tried, and that none of it worked,
2. say that you’re struggling to come to terms/ you’re very sad /depressed about it,
3. state in a positive tone that you have great hobbies / holidays / love your job (or whatever brings you joy),
4. Or say that you tried, but it wasn’t to be and you’re okay with that, you know who you are and you have a great life.
Can you see how each one will illicit different reactions in the listener?
And can you see that either of the first two will mean that the listener will be really sympathetic (‘poor you’ etc.) so you’ll have to be prepared for that.
And even better can you see that three will divert the conversation to your hobby/ holiday/ job etc.?
What are your versions of these sentences? How could you explain in a way that’s authentic and true to you?
2. Now that you’ve thought about HOW, let’s move on to WHO
I’m sure it’s obvious but thinking about who you tell your story to is crucial. And my recommendation is to choose:
1. a really close friend who you know won’t judge you,
2. someone you know who is also childless or
3. a stranger who you’ll never see again.
The reason for choosing the first two is obvious, they’ll give you empathy (not sympathy), the stranger maybe less so.
I’m not suggesting that you suddenly start approaching people in the street, what I mean by strangers is people who are in your life for a few hours or days. For example we’ve been on group holidays and somehow I found it relatively easy to open up to fellow travellers. It was okay if I didn’t quite say what I wanted, or maybe gave away a bit too much detail as I wouldn’t see them again and it was a great way of practicing my HOW.
3. Now you need to think about WHEN
By now you’ll have an idea of who you’ll speak to first and what you might say, next is to consider the sort of environments that would work best for you.
I found that one to one suited me best, maybe somewhere informal and quiet such as a walk or over a coffee. As you’re deciding, be aware how you might react, for example if you might get upset you’ll want somewhere private.
You decide who and when you tell about your life. It’s your story and its precious so think about who will hold it safely and gently.
Opening up might not be comfortable and it’ll probably require some major courage, but just think about how you’ll feel when you’ve done it.
Healing and becoming who you want to be is all about taking small steps and this is a relatively short explanation so if you need more support Small Steps to Healing is a great way to start.
When you tell your story you control it, you own it and there’s magic in that.
You get to say ‘yes this happened to me, it was horrible and painful but I will tell it in my own words and I will decide what happens next and how it will end.’
That’s what I want, don’t you?
Over to you
Have you used any of these techniques to tell your story, and if so how did they help? Sharing your experience below will help other women (and your name doesn’t have to be published).
I’d love to hear from you, especially your story, or if you have questions or topics that you’d like me to write about. So if you have any questions at all, please drop me a line.
I’ve spoken to so many women who, after having a chat with me realised that what they’re going through is absolutely normal. So if you’d like to do that please book a complimentary session via my online diary