My lens, coat, crutch & shield
I am unsure of where to begin today, so I will just start with where I am now. So much of my inspiration these days is coming from what I can see. My eyes are on overload as I take life in. Things that were once quite dull are exceptionally vibrant and saturated with color. For this, I am grateful.
As I have written in previous posts, Joe and I have struggled with the gift of infertility. Is it really a gift? It has caused more pain than I’d like to admit, emotionally and physically. There were moments when my heart and soul hurt so deeply that my entire body writhed in pain. But in the midst of my heartbreak I found the gift: my tribe. You see, it was in these moments of deep pain that my tribe so graciously gave me the space I needed to grieve in the way I needed. Though grieving is necessary and healthy, there comes a point when you have to choose whether grief and suffering and pain will or will not be the lens you see through, the coat you wear, the crutch you lean on, or the shield you hide behind. Believe me, I am talking to myself on this one, because my sorrow became all those things. I still fall prey to it’s grip but never for long.
I would like to invite you into the fragile part of my world. I ask that before you enter, you would remove your shoes, put down your stones, and open your heart to embrace my truth. To those of you who already have done this and continue to do it faithfully and beautifully each week: THANK YOU!
My Lens - The challenge of infertility was no challenge at all in the beginning. I was full of faith and hope; I was invincible. For more on that click here. Over time my invincibility began to weaken. Months, then years went by quickly and the loss made it easy to fade away. Faith was frail and hope was disappointing. The beautiful rose colored glasses that I had once looked through that allowed me to see the world full of life and hope had been destroyed. My lenses were broken, my worldview was shattered.
My Coat - There I was, frustrated and covering up my life with anything that would allow me to and, believe me, there are many things that will gladly be a coat: work, ministry, business, television, hobbies, you name it! The sorrow was still ever present, though it was buried deeper than I knew there was space for. I was so delicate; sure that one misplaced word, thought, or emotion would be sure to make me crumble. So I spent time covering me. As vulnerable and honest as I was, there was still so much of me buried, hiding from myself.
Even though the pain is still very real today, it's not like it was. And the only thing that has changed is me. The infertility is still there, everything around me still there but the change was in me. Over time I allowed myself to heal. I took a hard look at myself, my fragility and brokenness instead of covering it up with my big protective coat. And the tribe was with me every step of the way.
My Crutch - When I shared our story several years ago, it was like I gave myself permission to lean on infertility as a companion. When people would ask us when were having children the answer went from “eventually” with a smile to “oh we can’t” still with a smile. People would obviously feel bad and did their best to console but it rarely helped and the conversation quickly became transactional. I was then labeled in the kindest way possible and walked with a limp because the broken part of me had been exposed. Hard as it is for me to admit, I think I enjoyed people’s compassion for me, especially since I have a sister who is quite fertile.
Just as the innate desire to be a mom has been placed inside of me, my heart has always throbbed for justice and rightness and fairness. So it’s no surprise that adoption has been a huge consideration for us. But something has been stopping me for a while. I have started the process 5 times and have never gotten very far or have gotten just far enough to get rejected. And with both letters of rejection it got harder to start again. Over time fear began to develop in my already fragile heart.
There I was, looking at myself through the lens of pain, covered with a coat of distraction, leaning on my crutch of infertility, saying, “Carrie, WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?”
Do I feel unworthy of experiencing that depth of love..?
As noble as adoption is, do I care what people will think..? Honestly, I don’t want a child that looks like us. I want people to see our family and have to ask questions… I think…
Maybe my fear is people knowing I’m broken in that way. Am I frightened by others knowing I am unable to produce?
These fears flooded my heart and mind then and they still pop up from time to time now. But when I write these fears, I remember the resounding song of my heart for our children: “We chose you! Not as a 2nd option but as the 1st and only option. You are not a backup plan.” The more I replay those words, the more life gets breathed into my soul.
My Shield - This was my easiest trap to fall in to. Because of my inabilities and the grief they brought, I limited my choice to celebrate others. Baby showers were out. Truthfully, it sucked to sit in the middle of something that you knew by overwhelming certainty would not be yours in the traditional sense. Mother's Day? No way! I stayed home locked away. It was easy to say ‘no', and I had every right to. But it was in those little decisions, whether okay or not, that I let myself hide. Instead of asking myself 'Carrie, can you do this?', there was just the blanket ‘no!' to all of it. Those events made me stare at me and it sucked and I didn’t want to do it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way trying to be Wonder Woman and be exuberantly happy in pain, but in these moments I had chosen to hide instead of coming out from behind the shield. While this provided me protection, it obstructed my view. So all those events became about me instead of about the ones I loved. On Mother’s Day, for instance, instead of giving the honor due my mom and granny, it was all about me and the grief I felt. And for me that was unfair. I had to decide that I was not and am not willing to make the sacrifice of gratitude for my momentary pain. So I laid down my shield and walked out in surrender, knowing there would be pain but the covering from the tribe is far greater.
I am still very much on this journey. There are days when it’s easy for me to pick up those broken lenses or drag out that dusty old crutch from the closet, but that’s where the tribe comes in. In those moments when I want to stay stuck in the place of pain, I can look around at the EXTRAORDINARY people we’ve been given to do life with and choose hope instead. They are handpicked for us and are here exactly when we're supposed to have them. As Joe and I prepare to walk the next part of our journey, we walk into it unsheilded, without crutches, and unveiled.
See you next Tuesday.