A must read article in the Guardian…
I didn’t get a chance to share this when I went on this walk with some fellow GWs so 1 year one I thought that I’d share this with you now…
Our Journey on Warnscale like the childless journey.
A difficult, stony path full of others taking the space so we have to start backwards, behind others, late, too late, all the spaces are taken, no room for childless women, you’ll have to go elsewhere, get to the back, others come first. Parents and mothers always come first.
You’re on the the difficult path, on the stony path and the wind is so strong it pulls and pushes, I can hardly move, we are fighting just to walk thru the air. I can hardly move forward but I push myself onwards, so hard to hear each other speak, my ears hurt, stumble, trip, slip, we move, like snails so slow, walking into the bloody wind, give us a break wind I want to shout! It’s so hard being childless and you just make the journey harder.
We cross the bridge, it gets steeper, the rocks get bigger, we stumble on over rocks and into wind. I don’t think we can make it further? I don’t think we can make our spot, hit the mark, make the grade. I know this feeling of aiming and failing. I know it. I want to travel further than I can. I am reminded of limitations. I am disappointed and sad. It’s too dangerous to go on. My body too weak. I can’t.
We struggle off the path and collapse under a hawthorn tree. Tree for the heart. Hearts ease. A pause. The view! Wow. Think about glaciers, great blocks of ice. I have never seen a glacier. I would like to see one. To stand on millions on tons of ice, cold and white. We have a rest, take shelter from the wind. Too tired to climb higher. Too dangerous. We decide to stop. To just stop the journey. I know this point, I know it well. The decision, the turning point.
And so we descend. The wind whips us like a punishment, we cling to hats and to each other. How are you? Are you ok? It’s tough going up but it’s also tough coming back. I know this too. It’s so tough to come back from the wilderness of being childless. You can either sit out on the mountain of motherhood and die of exposure or you have to retrace your steps. And that hurts. Our eyes water, our knees buckle, we sigh into the wind.
We cross back over the bridge. We are at the edge of Buttermere and we meander now at the lake edge. Can we find our way back if we just follow this path? We walk on, talking about our Plan Bs. We see amazing trees, rowan berries, chatty people, people in blankets, people joking with us, dogs, couples with cameras. We walk through a tunnel cut in the rock. I love it! Like a spooky adventure, a rebirth from dark rock. I imagine skeletons lurking. I laugh into the darkness. I have my friends with me now.
We finish at a tearoom full of men eating ice cream. We are getting attention I notice. We have journeyed together from women who had no room this morning to women who take our space. Who turn danger and disappointment, sadness and loss into new space. Our space. Our lives. As rich and as beautiful as any other. The tearoom welcomes us. The ice cream eaters smile at us. I smile at us and I’m grateful for my life.
I received a message recently from a close friend who wanted to let me know that his girlfriend is pregnant. Knowing how much the pregnancy means to them I let them know how happy I was to hear their news. As we continued to message each other I was reminded of a conversation that I had with his girlfriend over her fear that she may never become a mother, due to her medical history. As I reminisced (on our past conversation) I was suddenly overwhelmed with thoughts of ‘Why couldn’t this be me???’ as it all felt so unfair.
It took me the best part of a week before I could re-engage with my friend. During this time I reflected on my feelings. Feelings of sadness and the pain I felt when I realised that I would never become a mum. The anger I felt when I heard the news of other women’s pregnancy’s or being around the pregnant princesses who couldn’t possible lift a finger because they were pregnant (yes I felt a lot of anger during this time). The times when I found it difficult to be happy for ‘her’ when all I wanted to do was shut the world away so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain any more. I was happy for my friend’s girlfriend as I knew she would have been excited, hopeful and anxious all in one, but I needed to look after myself. I needed a hug.
After administering some self compassion I sent my friend a text explaining my recent (unexpected) feelings. I told him that I was happy for them both but needed him to know that I may need to distance myself from the situation (for a while) just to look after me. Most of all I hoped that he would understand why I had to do this and he did. He sent a reply that read…
I was so grateful that our honesty could bring us to this place of love and understanding.
These ladies make me so proud to be a part of Gateway Women. We stand with each other through our grief and they stood with me to celebrate my book turning one. I cannot thank them enough!!!