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!!!
A friend of mine emailed me this article which I found very insightful so I thought that I’d share it with you all too. I’d love to hear what you think about the article.
Jody Day introduced me to Kirsty Woodard from AWOC (Ageing without Children) where I was invited to photography the AWOC and The Beth Johnson Foundation ‘Our Voices’ talk on the 16th May. There were a number of speakers from different backgrounds (childless and otherwise) who spoke about their concerns and experiences with ageing. The content of the talks included ‘who are the people ageing without children?’, ‘our invisibility’, ‘being judged for not having children’, ‘losing touch with other generations’ and ‘who will tell my story?’. It was a very insightful and thought provoking evening especially when I heard one (childless) women’s story of caring for her elderly mother and her concerns about who would look after her in her old age.
I have to admit that I still feel that, at 45, I have time to think about what will happen in my old age and at the same time (when I am not in denial) I realise that I am of an age that I do need to start thinking about that time in my life when I will need someone to speak up for me, someone who will protect my wishes if I am unable to speak for myself. I guess it’s about protecting my future self which is very daunting.
We discussed Elderhood during Jody’s plan B mentorship program where we looked at our hopes and fears about ageing without children reviewing our beliefs about our lives from now on and what exactly we believe about our own ageing. There were many negative and unhelpful beliefs where it was great to have the opportunity to get mine out of my head so that I could face the fears and work on turing them into positive beliefs. I have promised myself that my future (and marriage) will be more adventurous and am excited about planning new experiences with my husband but I am also conscious of the people in my life and having strong relationships that I can carry with me well into my future. It does feel like I have to work harder to maintain my friendships because I don’t have children, whilst making more of an effort to ‘stay in touch’ with the people around me as well as meeting new people that I may possibly form strong bonds with. I also have to make the effort to renew my will, organise my Lasting Power of Attorney, draft my ‘letter of wishes’ etc … stuff that I have definitely been avoiding…
On a brighter note, for those of you who are at that place where you have been thinking about your future and are concerned about what ageing without children may mean for you the AWOC conference is on 27th June https://awoc.org/conf16/ and it is set to be another great event.
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!!!
So I have received news of another pregnancy. I remember a time when I would have been happy to hear such news but now I just feel numb. Its such a hard reality for me that there are times that I really cannot identify with what I am feeling. So I just cry and today it feels hard not to.
When I think about this recent news I can’t help but ask why could this not have been me? Today for the first time I really wished it was me sharing my joy with my friends, sharing the excitement of what is to come, sharing this special moment with my husband…. and now I am here wondering why could this not have been me?
This weekend, Friday 9th and Saturday 10th October is a very important one in women’s history – the world’s very first conference for childless and childfree women, The NotMom Summit is taking place in Cleveland, USA. Organised by Karen Malone Wright, the Founder of the US-based website for childless and childfree women,TheNotMom.com.