I supported Cathy Vivian who ran her first reignite weekend in Lutterworth on the weekend. The workshop was held in an renovated school house originally built in the late 18th Century at Cotesbach Educational Trust, Leicestershire, where the sun energised us as we spent 2 days working through the grief that childlessness has brought into our lives.
I was surprised at how certain issues still affect me much in the same way they did when I attended my first workshop in London back in December 2014. We started with writing words (and/ or phrases), on post-it notes, that are used to describe childless women – words such as ‘old hag’, ‘crazy cat lady’, ‘spinster’ – you get my drift. It was hard to look at all the various words that were then displayed on a window, reading them felt like a kick in the gut. This feeling was not as intense as it was the first time that I had participated in this exercise but it was painful all the same. Discussing the light and dark aspects of these archetypes really helped us to reflect on what these words meant to us as childless women and to also understand why society likes to shame us for the circumstance that we have no control over. It is not uncommon for women living without children to feel like they do not have a place in society especially amongst our family and friends, let alone how we feel in the work place, so having this space to be open and honest about our experiences and to work through our feelings is such an empowering experience.
Although some aspects of the workshop was hard for me as I have done a lot grief work on Jody’s Plan B mentorship programme, it was a great, humbling, privilege to assist with helping the women on the reignite workshop not only to feel comfortable about being there but to also work through the grief of their own stories, stories that now form part of my journey. Watching these women engage (a couple admitted to nearly dropping out) in the workshop, watching them bravely open up and share their thoughts and feelings, watching them slowly start to embrace the pain that their childlessness has left them with was such a gift for me because I got to be a part of this important start to their healing and I get to be a part of their journeys of finding who they are (and in some respects who they want to be) as childless women. What an honour, one that I could not have shared if I did embrace my own grief that started in October 2014. Not having children is truly the beginning!!!