This past weekend I went to visit two of my friends. Both have been in my life for a number of years, both have been with me through my tough times and both have been unaware of the full extent of my childless journey.
Since being on this road I have felt like I have been slowly losing my friends for the simply reason that they have children and I have felt like I do not belong in their lives anymore. I have noticed that we don’t talk like we used to, we don’t call each other as much these days and we certainly haven’t spent quality time together since I don’t know when. Our relationship was changing and I didn’t know how to fix it, all I knew was that since starting my journey of grief my world changed – I boarded this train and they didn’t have a ticket to ride. As sad as I was to realise that I wouldn’t be a mum I was even sadder to know that I was losing my friends.
“I want to give you the longest… tightest hug ever (((hugs))) I admire you for being brave and courageous. Please don’t feel you had to tell me anything when you weren’t ready to. I Love you… and in my own little way share in the pain of your loss. I’m glad for the journey you are on and I know your story will help many other women and glad it’s bringing healing your way”
“I couldn’t be more proud of you! You are a brave, intelligent, inspirational person. And I feel so blessed to call you my friend. I pray that my girls grow up to be just like you”
Well as you can imagine these replies brought tears to my eyes. I suddenly realised that although my world is changing I am not alone and I have not been forgotten. I have found some great friends and support through Gateway Women, women who completely understand what I am going through but I also have friends who have their arms around me too. There may be times when it feels like they are so far away or that they have moved on without me but if I didn’t take the plunge and reach out to them I would not have realised that they are still here and that I have a special place in their hearts. I am finding my voice and am breaking the silence of my grief.
6am Saturday morning and I was wide-awake. The day had finally arrived, my anxiety about how I would be received just hit me and I became restless trying to push my emotions aside but I knew that I needed to honour these feelings so that I could manage them during the day. Once I entered the venue I just wanted to cry. Everything I had been doing, all my preparations led up to this day and it was finally here. Photographing the day was a blessing because it kept me distracted and meant that my anxieties did not get the best of me. But as the day went on and people that I knew who had come to support me started to appear I began to think about my talk and became very conscious of my emotions.
In preparation for my talk I went shopping for a new outfit and shoes, I had planned what jewellery I wanted to wear and spent a day having my hair done as well as some well deserved grooming but as I took myself off to get ready I was again overcome with the emotions that I was trying hard to suppress. So once dressed I did my ‘Wonder Women’ pose (which was difficult as I just wanted to run) after which my husband took me aside and gave me a massive hug. I relaxed in his arms and cried (but not to much as I didn’t want to ruin my make-up).
The moments before I was introduced felt like a lifetime during which I tried so hard to breath and keep my composure (yes my head screamed RUN as I was fighting back the tears). I think I was more worried that I wouldn’t be able to stop crying if I started but once I stepped onto the stage I managed to calm myself down and start what I had set out to do, to tell my story and I am now glad that I was brave enough to do just that. I received a wonderful response that I will always treasure. So for those of who couldn’t make it here it is…. My talk (click on the My talk link).
At the start of my journey on the plan B mentorship program I remember sharing the fact that I felt like I wasn’t heard. I was tired of living in the shame of my past and found it difficult to truly grieve for the loss of my unborn children because I felt that I didn’t deserve to grieve and I didn’t know how to express this feeling.
In her book ‘Living the Life Unexpected’Jody Day wrote…
Although one in three women in the UK and USA has had a termination by the age of forty-five, it’s still a huge taboo to be open about this. For those of us (myself included) who have gone on to remain childless after having had an abortion, there can be a dark shadow that hangs over us which says that somehow we’re ‘not allowed’ to grieve our childlessness because we had an opportunity to be a mother and we didn’t go through with it. It’s another way of adding to the experience of disenfranchised grief, and a secret that even childless women rarely share with each other….
This sums up how I have felt around my terminations and my ability to grieve because of them. Since working through this ‘shame’ I have come to understand, with compassion, why I made my choices and have since learnt to forgive myself for them. This forgiveness has also enabled me to be more honest and to fully share my story with others which is giving others permission to be more open about their past too. It is not easy saying that I have had two terminations but I feel less alone when I am met with “I’ve had one too” which, in turn, strengthens and encourages me on my journey.
As I am preparing for my talk at International Women’s Day (IWD) tomorrow I feel a calming sense of peace. I feel a strength that I didn’t have before I joined Gateway Women and I finally feel like I belong and that I am ok. I can finally accept the women in the mirror.
Honesty and forgiveness are gifts, gifts that I have given to myself which has allowed me to be here (on this path) today. Without it I would not have had the courage to be writing my book and I certainty would not have had the courage to accept the invitation to talk at IWD, an opportunity that I am truly grateful for. Because of the love and support I have found along the way I now feel like I have found my voice!!!