Wednesday, April 17, 2013

You are not a mind reader

So stop acting like one!

This is a daily struggle I have begun to battle. I have found myself constantly telling myself what others are thinking of me. The thoughts aren't nice. Not only that - they are bullshit!

I have no idea what anyone thinks of me unless they tell me. I don't know if they even care that my belly hangs over the top of my jeans when I sit down. I don't know if they think that I dress childish. I don't know if they think that my "trying to be ombre but not quite nailing it" hairdo looks like shit - but I have told myself they do.

Why? I really have no idea, but I am determined to try to stop it - I want to feel beautiful. I want to be comfortable in my skin, my not so stellar hairdo, my favorite cardigan with a hole in it that I love so much I just can't get rid of, my stretch marks, my flabby areas - all of it - I want to love it all.

I have wasted so much time investing my thoughts in what other people think of me that somewhere along the line - all of the negative things I had created in my mind took over how I thought of myself. I have been so unfair not only to myself, but to everyone around me. If I continue to think that my friends are thinking awful thoughts about me - am I really going to be able to open up and fully engage in their friendship and companionship? Um...NO!

This video literally brought me to tears. I could identify with so much of this tainted self view. I want you to watch this video and think how you would describe yourself.

Apparently there is research out there stating that only 4% of women WORLDWIDE believe they are beautiful. 4%!!!!!! Does that number enrage you? It should! I may not have children of my own, but I have some amazing young women and girls in my life and if I could contribute to their life in any fashion - it would be teaching them to love themselves, and to believe in their own unique beauty.

I hope that each of you reading this feel the same because it DOES start with us - girls aren't born hating their bodies - they are taught to hate their bodies - I think it is time for a change in the lesson plans!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Changing My World

I have hated myself for many years, and for many reasons. None of them founded, none of them true, but I have been a semi-professional self hater nonetheless.

I can't remember how far back the self hate started, but I believe it was around the time I was 7 or 8. Just typing that age on my screen makes my stomach curdle. I look at how sweet and innocent 7 and 8 year old children are and I can't imagine them carrying that kind of hate in their hearts. It is so unfair.

I believe it began as a direct result of the sexual abuse I suffered as a young girl. I was abused by a very close family member and I am still trying to free myself from the guilt and shame that engulfed me after that. I began hating my body, I had trouble trusting people, and I was terrified as I watched my family crumble under the stress of me reporting the abuse.

Then came a 6 year court battle while I was going through High School and College that ended in my abuser getting probation.

I hated myself for putting my family through that for what seemed like nothing. I felt damaged. I hated my body. I lost not only more trust in people, but lost all faith in the court system.

Then I met my now husband and he made me feel amazing. I felt loved, beautiful, worthy and every other gushy lovey dovey feeling there is. We got married after dating for a few years and started to try to have a family.

I failed.

Bam and I have now been married 8 years and have no living children. We conceived 4 times with my body killing off our children each time for some unknown reason. I hated my body. I felt like a failure as a wife. I felt like a failure as a woman. I felt like I had disappointed my family, Bam's family, my friends (even my infertile ones). I gained a bunch of weight thanks to my PCOS, self loathing and fertility medications. I hated my body.

I have stretch marks with no children to blame them on. Like the majority of women with insulin resistance I carry most of my weight in my stomach and have excess facial hair that I relentlessly try to remove. I hated my excess facial hair. I hated my belly fat. I hated my dimply thighs.

I will no longer be entertaining that four letter word. There are many other four letter words that I LOVE...but hate is out of my vocabulary. At least when it applies to myself - I will always hate peas and that won't change (sorry mom!)

I am a fucking strong woman who has endured more pain, disappointment, heartache and loss than many 31 year old women I know. It took a lot of strength and endurance to expose my abuser in 6th grade. It took even more guts to make the decision to go to the police and then even more balls to endure a 6 year long legal battle.

I have earned every fucking stretch mark, stray hair and dimple on my thighs after putting my body through years of fertility treatments, stress and miscarriages.

I need to give myself a break and start treating myself as good as I treat my friends - I take that back BETTER than I treat my friends because I haven't always been able to be a good friend because I was too busy hating myself.

I want to be comfortable in my skin, I want to be able to laugh and be silly and not worry what others are thinking of me. I want to be able to dance goofy, live free and be comfortable in the decisions I make. I want to know that the friends I have around me, know the true me and love me for that. I want to look at myself in the mirror and see the strong bitch that I am staring back at me.

No More Self Hate.

I am changing my thoughts and in turn...I am changing my world!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Validation vs. Platitudes Infertility Style

Pamela over at Silent Sorority recently blogged about grief and her post resonated with me so deeply, specifically the use of platitudes when helping someone through the grief process, I wanted to write about it as well. See her post "Grief is a Form of Love"

I REALLY do not like platitudes. As in when I hear one, it makes me want to crawl out of my own skin and I find myself instantly shutting down. It seems to me that many of them are just cop outs or ways to avoid an ACTUAL conversation about life, and grief. One that Pamela had mentioned in her blog post that really gets me going is "God/life/universe doesn't give you more than you can handle." I call bullshit.

Throughout my life I have been challenged way beyond what I would call "handling." Have I survived? Yes, but I hardly consider barely getting by and living in complete survival mode "handling." I have busied myself, numbed myself, eaten my feelings and enlisted numerous other coping "skills" to get through the challenging times, but I can't look back on all of them and honestly say that I "handled" them. I survived them.

I think people use this particular platitude in order to avoid really talking about someone's struggles. I know many do this unintentionally, but it really is just an easy way out of a potentially uncomfortable conversation about grief and how damn unfair life is at times. It is a way of brushing it off, undermining the pain and desperation from the struggling individual. As if saying that the person struggling is in the wrong for feeling hopeless, depressed, and/or anxious because no matter what is thrown at us in life, we will be able to handle it.   If this is true, then I would like someone to explain how our suicide rates across the globe keep increasing at alarming rates.

Throughout my infertility struggle, the platitudes and assvice I received was at times mind boggling. I definitely heard the above referenced platitude more times than I can remember and every time I hear it, I get more and more infuriated. Then there are others like: God's timing is perfect. Ummmm...ok not really sure what this is supposed to mean but when people say it to me, it makes me feel like they are saying "Stop being do damn impatient you ungrateful woman...God will bring you a child in his time, not yours so just sit down, shut up and be patient." What if he doesn't? Oh...right - then the platitude changes to "God has a perfect plan for you."

And the platitudes just keep coming:
Time heals all wounds - really? Cause my pain 8 years in to my family building journey is much more intense than it was at 1, 2, 3 or 4 years.
Everything happens for a reason - Well of course everything happens for a reason, but not all of them are good reasons and if platitudes are meant to make people feel better, then this one fails miserably. I don't see any good reason 4 of my babies had to die, meanwhile women all over the globe are having kids that they don't want, and can't take care of. Care to explain?
There is someone worse off than you - this particular platitude really PISSES me off. How much more demeaning and belittling could a platitude get? By telling anyone this you are LITERALLY saying: You don't deserve to be upset, feel this pain or be sad because other people in the world have it worse than you. What a craptastic thing to say to someone you care about.
It will all be worth it in the end - In the infertility world - this may be true if that "end" results in a child. In fact, usually the people I hear spewing this particular platitude are already on the other side of infertility. They have a child in their arms. What about those that choose to get off the crazy train and instead choose to live child free after infertility? Will all of that pain, heartache, money, emotional trauma, physical abuse and loss be worth it then? If there are any readers reading this that have decided to remain child-free after infertility I would love your feedback on this one.

Let me challenge each of you that when you feel that platitude (let's face it, we all use them at one time or another) squirming up from your gut through your vocal cords - to stop it short there and instead really engage in the conversation and offer some real support. Real, true, unscripted support. Can you imagine how much different our relationships would be if our fears, hurts and insecurities were met with understanding, validation and support?

What are your most hated platitudes? And....go!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Pregnancy announcement enigma

Today there are so many ways of announcing a pregnancy it may actually make your head spin. With social media and the like...the possibilities are near endless. With 1 in 8 people dealing with infertility - it is still a little baffling to me that SO many people are still so clueless in how to tell your infertile friends/family/co-workers etc. about a pregnancy. If you have found my blog because you are looking for advice before you make your announcement - I applaud you and thank you - you have already conquered step 1 and 2.

Over the last 8 years you can imagine I have had to smile through many pregnancy announcements. I couldn't even begin to count how many, but I can tell you that I remember those that were sensitive to my journey, my feelings and my losses -  and handled their announcements well...and those that didn't.

Sure every person is different, every infertile person handles pregnancy announcements differently but I think the following 5 steps pretty much encompass the things that most infertile people want and expect out of our loved ones when announcing a pregnancy.

1. Know Your Audience. I really think this one is a no brainer - but apparently I am wrong because I know MANY people who still don't do this. The first time I was told to "know your audience" was in writing class in High School - Know who you are writing to - know who your listeners are. Shouldn't this be true in all of our conversations? Think before you speak and especially think of how what you are about to say could effect those listening to you. Don't join all of your family together for a big, public "we're pregnant" announcement while your infertile aunt/uncle/sister/brother/friend is in the room. I would feel like quite the asshat if I went on an on about how wonderful eyesight was and what a "blessing" it was that I have 20/20 vision in front of a person that is visually impaired...wouldn't you?

2. Be Sensitive. This kind of ties into number 1, but in addition to that just be sensitive to the fact that your wonderful news may trigger some very raw emotion in someone else. I have been very open about our infertility journey and our miscarriages so literally anyone who has known me for any measurable length of time knows that I am challenged in the reproduction area. I don't tell people about my journey for pity, to seek advice or accolades. I tell them to educate them on how large this issue is and so that they can be sensitive to my situation. If people don't can't expect them to be sensitive. If I don't know you are visually impaired - I may just unknowingly make an asshat of myself gushing over the beauty of eyesight.

3. Say NO to Social Media. Or at least postpone a social media announcement until you have had the opportunity to tell your infertile friends personally whether via a private email, a phone call or in person. Be a good friend and protect them from the shock and pain of seeing an unexpected pregnancy announcement as soon as they log onto their computer in the morning - nothing ruins an infertile person's day quicker than that - other than a negative pregnancy test.

I have more people hidden on my Facebook feed than I care to admit (or count - math is not my strong suit). It isn't because I don't love these people - it is quite the opposite, but I have to protect my heart. I have good days and bad days and on my bad days I have to protect myself from the constant posting of belly pictures, ultrasound photos, baby pictures and the Mom-zillas on my news feed. On the good days I can go to their pages and gush over their cute kids, bellies and the like but at least I get to choose when I see those things. This is so important I am going to reiterate this point: DO NOT ANNOUNCE A PREGNANCY USING SOCIAL MEDIA WITHOUT FIRST WARNING THE INFERTILE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE!

4. Be Understanding. Please understand that your infertile friend or family member really is happy for you. However, your announcement has triggered a lot of negative thoughts about him/herself, her situation, and her losses. In my case this typically results in a half ass smile, a hug, a quick congratulations and even quicker exit so no one sees my tears. I am not heartless, I don't hate pregnant women or fertiles - it just triggers a lot of emotion surrounding my own failure of a body, my losses and the future I thought that I would have with my husband that I now know I won't. I am excited for all of my fertile friends and family members - even for myself sometimes at the thought of a new niece or nephew, but the truth is, it reminds me of my four miscarriages and all the pain that Bam and I have endured over the last 8 years. The one thing you need to know - your infertile loved one's tears HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU PERSONALLY.

5. Grow some balls. Sorry this is so blunt but I get so sick of hearing "I didn't know how to tell you, I didn't want to hurt you, I was scared" from people. I have been on this journey for 8 years - I am tough. Do I cry? Yes. Do I get depressed? Yes. Do I get over it? Yes. Do I carry on with my life? Absolutely.

Infertile people have balls. We have to - we have to watch endless amounts of baby commercials, TV shows like 16 and pregnant, 19 kids and counting, and the like. We attend baby showers, we sit through non-stop children banter when there are more than one mother in a room. We endure over sharing conversations about episiotomies, diaper blow outs, sore nipples and stretched out women parts. We do this because we are strong and we love our fertile friends and family members. I am just asking that you do the same. If you really are unsure how to tell me, ask. Ask me what the best way is for me to hear this sort of announcement. Is it scary for you? Yes. Is it uncomfortable? Yes.  Will it help you understand me more? Yes. Will I respect you more in the end? Absolutely.

I was recently made aware that my oldest sister is going to be a Grandmother and found out via my  Instagram feed. My niece made the announcement on Instagram with an ultrasound picture and everything. To say I was shocked doesn't really even come close to the anger and betrayal I felt. My family knows almost everything about our journey including our failed adoption and I am just shocked at the lack of sympathy and understanding I received from them. Looking back - this isn't the first time. One of my sisters couldn't even tell me about her third pregnancy. I found out from my mom when she was already 4.5 months pregnant - talk about a slap in the face.

I am not Humpty Dumpty- Your pregnancy announcement will not cause me to have a great fall never to be put back together again. I will recover, I will move on and I will deal with it. But don't be an asshat about it - treat me like a person that you love, respect and sympathize with.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Anxious love

My heart races, my mind won't stop, my palms sweat and it's hard to catch my breath - here we go again...another visit from my dear friend anxiety.

I am not sure exactly when I started noticing that my anxiety was getting worse, but it seems that the older I get...the more anxiety I have. (Of course I am CERTAIN the 8 years of fertility treatments, miscarriages, failed cycles, failed adoptions and everything else in between have NOTHING to do with my increased anxiety - scoff)

When Bam doesn't call me or come home when he says he is going to, my mind automatically reverts to the worse case scenario. Here are some examples:

He was mugged walking to his vehicle and is laying unconscious in an alley somewhere in downtown Phoenix.

He was involved in a horrific car crash on the way home and his phone was ejected from the vehicle no where to be found which is why the paramedics have not contacted me yet.

He has run away with the new secretary at work, they are on their way to Tahiti never to be heard from again.

My mind is just a bowl full of fun isn't it?

It isn't just with my husband. It is with EVERYTHING. I can be just driving down the freeway minding my own business and catch myself thinking...if I had a blow out right now and part of the tire hit the motorcyclist behind me, it would surely cause him to crash and possibly die. How would I be able to live with myself if that happened? I should pull over and check the condition of my tires at the next off ramp.

Seriously...bowl full of fun.

I can't remember when this started, but it has recently made me think about having children...a lot. I functional of an adult am I going to be with all these crazy anxious thoughts running through my head about my kids?

My mom friends say they worry all the time. They worry about bullies at daycare and school. They worry about them getting hurt on the playground, about them getting their feelings hurt, getting sick,  being left out, being called names and on and on. My fears when thinking about kids of my own fall along the lines of: getting abducted from their bedroom in the middle of the night, suffocated at daycare, jumped into a gang at school, molested at the neighbor's house, and these are just a few of my fears for the first 10 years! (Ok - I know, I really need to stop watching the news)

Maybe this is just another defense mechanism where my brain is trying to talk me out of having kids altogether because I have just been hurt and disappointed so many times, but it is rather legitimate isn't it? I mean with all of the worrying I do already - how can I had one or two defenseless little ones onto my "worry about" roster without becoming certifiably insane and ending up in a white padded room in a medically induced drooling state.