This post inspired by the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Object. Look around your writing space. Pick object(s) you see (or hear or smell or feel) and reveal them to your reader. How do they represent you? How do they tell your story? Writing has changed me on a cellular level. Writing has been a miraculous piece of my recovery. Writing is the purpose I’ve found impossible to live without. And, the magic I can’t seem to stop from finding it’s way into the world.
And I’ve never considered myself a writer.
Every minute I spend sitting in my writing chair in my writing room with my writing candle lit I feel a universe of emotion.
Awe in the magic and ideas that are surging out of me.
Frustration of judgment in the middle when I allow self-doubt to invade the process.
Wholeness when I see ordinary words weave together into the powerful story of myself.
And occasionally my eyes will settle upon the vintage secretary desk in the corner that holds vintage books. The desk and the books were left in the home we purchased that was formerly owned by a hoarder. We kept the desk because it is a beautiful piece. We kept the books because they were an intriguing collection of small books of poetry and literature and mysteriously charming.
And then there was this book, mismatched and not quite fitting into the collection. Personal Analysis and Development Volume II Physical Fitness published in 1928 by the Personal Analysis Bureau. Simply the main title alone was too fitting for this mental health therapist in the midst of her own recovery (and arguably the “are you crazy?” status of our decision to purchase and remodel a hoarder’s home).
I kept the book then because somewhere deep inside I knew I could not let it go. Then, though, it was simply an old, smelly but intriguing book. For, the spark of my own book had only just begun inside of me. I had submitted my first round of query letters for Ever Upward that spring on what would have been my first Mother’s Day. But the blog, Ever Upward, was not even the slightest flicker in my being.
And here I am, about 9 months later, irony not lost, feeling the lightness of the small book in my hands. Running my fingers over the series title; feeling the words that, in reality, have embodied every second of my recovery. Smelling the old as I flip through the yellowed pages. And, feeling a sense of completed wonder as I notice, maybe for the first time, the titles of the volumes of the entire collection inside the book.
The parallels they run with the chapters of Ever Upward, the book, feels eerily perfect. The parallels they contain with my life in recovery fills me with a sense of wholehearted honor and dignity.
Noticing this book again and truly seeing the objects around me enabled me to literally feel the physicality of ever upward in my hands.
The awe inspiring and spirit completing reminder that there are no mistakes and everything is exactly as it is supposed to be.
As, this is not only my story, my spirit and light, but also every single page of the book of me. And only one of the many volumes.
That, and the spiritual grasp that I am a writer.
For this is a book, for me, soulfully filled,somehow, with my history, presence and the hope of my ever upward.
Being a mental health therapist means I have the personality, training and education for empathy. I live every minute of my life, personally and professionally, having almost too much empathy a lot of the time. The older I get the more I wish I had been warned of this hazard of my field in graduate school. Being wired this way (and also trained and educated) I never get to just be pissed at someone or hurt. I can always see all sides of everything…all of the time! I, almost always, can get you. I get it. For the most part, my job, my being, my soul all see you, know you, love you and understand you. In other words, I felt a dramatic pull to this week’s writing challenge! This post is inspired by the Wordpress Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave Your Shoes at the Door: "This week, we’re asking you to consider things from a different point of view — to walk a mile in someone’s shoes. Leave your moccasins and bunny slippers at the door, and tell us a tale from a fully-immersed perspective that is not your own. Show us your truth’s journey. We want to walk this mile with you."
I have been bravely honest about my failed journey in In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and my struggle in learning how to accept a childfree life throughout my entire Ever Upward. Coming out to publicly state that I have said enough is enough to infertility treatments before they achieved me the intended result of a child. Publicly stating that adoption isn’t for my husband and me. Publicly, stating that we are working the Frankenstein walk of accepting a childfree life.
Living all of these truths, out loud, while also openly showing how much I love children, how badly I wanted them and how much I still love to have them in my life. Educating on all of these truths, because it is time we finally talk about them in order to shine light on the shame of infertility. Owning all of my truths, because I hope to help myself in my own continued healing, to inspire others and to help in some understanding of what my story, and millions of other women’s stories, that are infertility.
I’ve Stopped ~ My Story (Short Version – Complete story in the forthcoming book Ever Upward)
Due to medical reasons, it has never been recommended that I carry a pregnancy. And frankly, it simply isn’t a risk I have been willing to take after two back surgeries and spending a year of my life in a body cast. We tried two rounds of IVF with a gestational surrogate, transferring a total of three embryos. A pregnancy was never achieved (as my letters from the IVF clinic always apologized for). We had only planned, emotionally and financially, to try it once. But after losing our first two embryos (our first two babies), the loss crushed us enough to try one more time. We had always known adoption was not something that we felt was a good fit for us, which is a difficult truth to own. And after two years of IVF treatments, tens of thousands of dollars spent, three lost babies and more heartache than one should ever have to bear we made the impossible decision of ending IVF, owning that adoption isn’t for us and beginning the real work.
The work of redefining ourselves and our family.
The work of learning to let go.
The work of pushing through fear to own our truth and accept joy.
The work of our Ever Upward.
This work has included finding our spark again through actually dating each other. This work has included some traumatically lost relationships with our loved ones. This work has included major love and support from amazing loved ones. This work has included getting healthier and happier. This work has been nothing short of our own miracle.
They're Still Trying ~ Walking a Mile in Someone's Shoes
I received this amazing, and anonymous, message from my dear friend. The message was referring to my Conceiving Our Chosen Family post.
“Wow didn't know you knew the blog writer personally. Can I tell you how timely your post was? I can only imagine that God himself was involved I am laying in bed today after having my 6th egg retrieval for IVF. I was having a mini pity party when I came across that blog post. For me it was another confirmation that God is good and he forms families in so many different ways. Ways that I cannot even fathom. Your posting was meant for me today, I just know it!”
The other side of this story is the one that isn’t talked about. The women (and men) who continue to live in shamed silence within their infertility battle, and after. The ones who have the means, or figure out where to find the means, to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on treatments. The ones who spend 5, 10, 15 years trying to conceive their dream family. The ones who try 5, 10, 15 rounds of IVF. The ones who move onto adoption when all other treatments fail.
I get these women. We keep trying because you can’t imagine not being a mother. We keep trying because that is what we are supposed to do. We keep trying because it does and can work…30% of the time. We keep trying because we can’t envision life if we were to stop.
But I also hurt for these women. I know the pain that is seared into every cell of our body with every negative pregnancy test or lost soul. I know the emotional and hormonal hell of the treatments and recoveries. I know the blinding agony of knowing that we want to be done but the fear that keeps us going because of the panic of being left with nothing to show for it.
I learn from those still trying, as their strength inspires me to continue my ever upward. And I can only hope my story can provide them with even just a little bit of hope. They may not be able to completely understand how I've stopped trying, as I may not be able to completely understand how they keep trying, but I have no doubt our stories are still much the same.
Our stories, infertility or not, are all different and yet the very same. No matter how long we've tried, no matter when or if we stop, we all share pieces of our stories, for they are our shared stories. We will all suffer loss and we all must learn to redefine. Ever Upward is my story, and yet I am finding it is every woman’s story; mother or not, because behind the wall of silence, shame, the smile, and the ‘I can do everything’ attitude lies millions of women suffering in silence with the pain of infertility. And yet our connection to our stories is the only way back to the truth of who we are, to own ourselves again, to find our ever upward.
EVER UPWARD: Owning My Childfree Life in Our Child Obsessed World
by Justine Brooks Froelker, LPC
“Why don’t you just adopt?”
The ever present, innocent, and well meaning question everyone asks when they learn of my motherhood status and how I got here. Yet, to those of us 1 in 8 couples who undergo infertility treatments, this question does not feel at all innocent or well meaning. It not only feels invalidating to the battle we’ve just been through, but it minimizes the difficulty and pain involved in the adoption process.
Ever Upward is a surprising story of triumph over terrible luck. As a professional therapist and survivor, really thriver, of the infertility journey, this is the story of how I have redefined my childless life into a full and happy childfree life. Ever Upward fills the current gap on the infertility bookshelf. It is also the voice for those who have been silenced by the battle of infertility. Ever Upward is my story. The story of how I learned to be okay, whole and happy, even when life just didn’t turn out how I had hoped. Ever Upward is also a story that resonates with that of many; a story of pain, triumph and acceptance. Finally, Ever Upward opens the conversation to the other side of infertility, the side asking for understanding and acceptance of the path that sadly doesn’t include children.
Ever Upward is Justine’s story, and yet it is every woman’s story; mother or not, because behind the wall of silence, shame, the smile, and the ‘I can do everything’ attitude lies millions of women suffering in silence with the pain of infertility. And yet our connection to our stories is the only way back to the truth of who we are, to own ourselves again.
Today's post is inspired by the Wordpress Daily Prompt: Write the blurb for the book jacket of the book you’d write, if only you had the time and inclination.
* Ever Upward: Owning My Childfree Life in Our Child Obsessed World will be published with Morgan James Publishing in the Fall of 2014.*