A light-haired man lifting up a blonde curly-haired child with the bluest eyes who cannot stop giggling. The sky is the brightest blue, like the skies I grew up beneath in Wyoming. Both of my dimples are showing as I feel like I have every single thing I could ever want in this life. >> This has been my vision in one of my daily meditations for years. No matter how I try to envision other things in my life, a child always appears who is happier than anyone I have ever witnessed in this life. A child >> that has always been my #1 dream.
A couple of years ago I chose six months of chemo over surgery to save my top priority dream of having children someday. This decision landed me in the hospital more than a dozen times, taking even more weight off of my already slender frame, and zapped any ounce of energy I had left in me. But it was always, always worth it to me if it meant greeting my very own child eventually.
While the meditation I mentioned previously is powerful, it was just too hard to continue during this time of chemo. So, I switched to a full-body meditation that focuses on completely, utterly loving every energy center in your body. Hating my body more than I ever had during that time, proved to be difficult. But I kept doing it every day specifically because of the line the whole meditations starts with, “Love yourself enough to do this.” ‘Love yourself enough”’>> Wow. For whatever reason, I had never heard those words before with the very important ‘enough’ at the end of them. Yes, I loved myself, but did I love myself enough to do things and make decisions that would be self-compassionate? Definitely not. I mean, I was making myself sicker in order to get better…
Yes, having a child is so important to me, but as many of my family and friends have pointed out, it’s impossible if I’m dead. After my last stint in the hospital facing heart issues from the chemo, I realized that I had to face the monster that I had been ignoring for my ten years of endometriosis suffering. I had to admit a type of defeat. I had to realize that not all dreams come true. And shivering on a white sheet bed with the lights dimmed and medication being pumped into my veins, I knew I would never, ever meet my biological child.
We all have a dream in our lives that might, ultimately, be out of our control. I mean, most of life is out of our control at the end of the day. So how do you get through it? How do you go on living and thriving when you realize you will never, ever get the one thing you wanted in this world? The one thing that seems so much easier for all of your friends and family to have?
Love yourself enough.
If I put all of the focus on this phantom child in my heart, I will never have the strength to say goodbye and make new plans with my life. I will slowly melt away into the defeat, pain, and destruction that this decision fills my whole body with. However, if I love myself enough to know that this was the only option for me to survive, then maybe, just maybe, I can embrace alternatives to biological children and even adopt one of my own someday. Maybe I can grow something out of the bullet casing from the bullet that went right through me last week.
Here are some ways I have slowly tried to come to terms with a decision I never, ever thought I would have to make in my life:
I have barely been able to talk about this part of my journey. I felt like talking about it meant that it was real, and I so did not want it to be real. I would rather throw up every day, have heart issues, have trouble breathing, be unable to leave bed…than face not having a child. But when I was finally able to come out of my shell, I could not believe the support I received. So many other women I know also suffer from endometriosis and a few have even also not been able to have children. Discussing my fears and devastating disappointment with friends helped me realize that if they survived it, so can I.
Support isn’t always right there, even when you are transparent. Sometimes you have to actively look for it on Facebook pages, online forums, your doctor’s office. I had a hot flash and got horribly ill from the chemo at a meeting and I just flat out told the woman that I was having a super rough day on my treatment. I got teary-eyed and said all of these side effects probably meant I would have to have a hysterectomy. She told me to do it, without even thinking for two seconds about it. She said it would change my life, and that she wasn’t able to have children due to her husband having cancer at a young age, and they adopted three amazing children. Suddenly, I felt like I had permission to make a decision that made me feel so much shame and guilt.
While your dream exactly how you dreamt it might not be possible, I have rarely seen a situation where they were no alternatives. Look for opportunities to still get what you want, even if it means having it in a different way. For me, it means now being open to adopting, fostering, being a mother to children that are not biologically my own. And after six months of thinking about it, these options are actually feeling quite familiar and comforting to me.
I am a Christian, so prayer plays a pretty powerful role in my life. I pray during meditation, I pray through journaling, I pray when I am in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. I pray and ask God to help me accept his decisions in my life, and help me be open to other opportunities. This alone provides immense strength for me.
Helping others can also help you process tough decisions. I chose to be very open about my chemo journey, and suddenly had people reaching out to me who were thankful that I was writing about such a taboo subject. No one had ever put words to some of the same emotions they were feeling. No one had ever given them permission to feel those feelings. I’ll continue to do that during my upcoming surgeries. When you share your own story, you give people hope, strength, and resilience that is irreplaceable.
Dreams always come true, they might just not come true the way you envisioned them to. When bullets kill everything we thought true within us, maybe we should use the remaining casings to grow something beautiful. Want to grow something beautiful with me?