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It’s Not About the Running

April 29, 2010

Thank you to everyone who cheered me on for my running achievements! I do feel a sense of accomplishment, but an experience this weekend reminded me that it’s not about the running. Magic asked if he could come with me on my weekend run. He’s been trying to get more aerobic exercise since he seems to have pre-hypertension. He’s not supposed to run, since he is missing a big chunk of a disk between two of his lumbar vertebrae. He told me that he would walk fast.

So what does he do as soon as I start my jog? He tries to walk fast enough to keep up with me. I got really pissed off. I felt like he was trying to compete with me. I felt like a loser when he could walk as fast as I could jog. My rhythm was totally thrown off. I told him I didn’t want him to keep up with me. Magic let me ditch him, so I happily went off on my run. I caught him half way back and passed him after he turned around.  I looked back to see where he was, and the turkey was jogging! I yelled at him to stop jogging. I didn’t want to worry about him hurting himself. I have asked him for months to get his MRI reviewed by a specialist and get cleared for jogging before he starts doing it again. He hasn’t had anyone look at his back in the 5 years since his surgery, though he regularly sees his pain doctor for medication.

Afterward, I wondered why I got so angry at Magic. As I thought about it, it felt like he was making a mockery of all the grief I had poured into my jogging. All the anger and despair I had been working out of my body since December for four long, tortuous months. Magic didn’t grieve like I did when our IVF failed. I was alone in my grieving. It reminded me of how everytime we go for a transfer, he gets all freaked out about me getting pregnant, and can’t be there for me. I remember how stressed he was at our last transfer, and how awful I felt, knowing it was going to fail. How lonely I felt. Only someone who has been through that feeling of impending doom at a transfer can understand. I had gotten possessive about my running, and I didn’t want to share it with him. Running was my escape and my accomplishment. And even though my running pace is a fast walk for some, I didn’t want Magic to overshadow my accomplishments. He easily out climbs me, can create music without practicing, and he could run circles around me without breaking a sweat if he put his mind to it. He also had two children, something I wasn’t able to do. I wanted to at least have my one accomplishment without him showing me up – showing me what a loser I am.

When I went on a mission to lose weight after our last IVF failed, it was a way to distract myself from my grief. It was a way to punish myself for being a failure by denying myself food. It was a way to have control. If I couldn’t control what happened during an IVF cycle, I could control my body. When I got to my target weight, I wasn’t happy. I was just kinda felt like, “so what”. It wasn’t about the weight.

When I first ran a 5k, I was really happy, for about 10 seconds. Then I thought, “I’m only half way there”. My glass was half empty.

This post could have been titled, “It’s not about the (fill in the blank)”.

It also could have been titled, “It’s not about the baby.” This is a huge, huge topic, that will probably be digested in several posts. Suffice it to say that I am not living in the present. I am not enjoying my life. I keep telling myself, “I’ll be happy when I have a baby,” but that illusion is wrapped up in all kinds of fantasies from my deficient past. While I’m lamenting my loss, I’m missing all this life in between. My self-esteem and happiness is wrapped up in my ability to have a child and be a mother.

I recently called Em, my acupuncturist, who I haven’t seen since my transfer. I had talked with her a few times post BFN. She told me she would be here for me, but I never really knew what that meant or how that would look, since she isn’t a therapist and not really someone I socialize with. In a moment of feeling lost about my future, I called her. Being the empathic person that she is, she seemed to know exactly where I was and what I needed to hear. She told that me that children do not make us happy. It is not their job to do so. I have always felt this way. I felt that my mother sacrificed her happiness for having six children. She wanted a career at some point, but finally gave up. I watched my sisters in their rush to get married and start their families. I watched my siblings create their own families to make up for the dysfunctional one we had growing up. I never wanted to have children to fill me up. My oldest brother once asked me when I was going to have children, so I could be happy. Stunned at his admonishment,  I replied to him, I have to get married first. I wanted to marry for love, not for a sperm bank. I wanted to feel like my life was fulfilled, and then have children. In a way, I did this. I had success in my career first. I got married late, not because I planned it that way, but because I had to work through a lot of issues from my childhood first. But here I was the newlywed at almost 39 and rushing to have children because I had this idea that children would make me happy. Em told me that I deserve to be happy. She reminded me that while my failed pregnancy was tragic, it was not my fault. She was with me through all of it and was probably the singular most compassionate person, besides Magic, through my ordeal.

I’m not against having children. Of course, a part of me still wants my own children, but I feel like I have had the crap beat out of me with the fertility treatments, and I’m not ready to go back for more punishment. My problem is that I don’t know if I am having children to make me happy? I don’t want to put that kind of responsibility on a child. Em told me that having children is about them and their karma. I don’t think it’s so much about me and fulfilling my life, though raising and loving children can be very satisfying. I don’t feel right about having children to prove that I’m not a failure or a loser; to prove that I am not broken. Somewhere along the way of getting immersed in fertility treatments (and I don’t think there is any other way to do that), I lost myself.  I need to find myself again. I need to find the part of me that is happy for me just breathing and being alive on this planet. I’m sure that giving birth and loving a baby is an incredible experience. But I have seen many parents of older children still trying to find themselves. At some point, when the novelty of the miracle of birth wears off, there is still the emptiness in the heart and the searching of the soul. Right now, the hole in my heart feels so big, it could swallow me up. I need to let it swallow me and see where it takes me. If only I could let go of the edge of the abyss I am so desperately clinging to.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2010 5:55 am

    I can completely understand your feelings of not wanting to share your running time. It’s been your place to think and grieve; it’s hard to let someone else into that space.

    I also can related to losing oneself to the ideal of having a baby. Putting life on hold until it finally happens. I have tried to stop myself and to engage with my friends and live for the moment. But, it is difficult. Maybe you don’t have to jump into the abyss, maybe just stick a toe in to see how it feels. Hugs.

  2. April 30, 2010 7:13 am

    Something I’ve only realized in the past 6 months is that I resent my mother because she had me to make her happy (and has told me on numerous ocassions that she wanted to kill herself before I was born). This was a huge burden and pressure for me to bear and all my life I’ve felt responsible for her happiness. It’s a horible awful feeling to have such a burden levied on someone else.
    Our happiness, everyone’s can only come from ourselves, as hard as that was for me to accept.
    (way to go one the running, running for me is something I always fall back on when I want to gain control over my life).
    So, I guess I’m saying your post resonates with me, as per usual.

  3. April 30, 2010 2:26 pm

    You most definitely do deserve to be happy. To be happy beyond your wildest imagination. You are a kind and loving and generous soul. I just wish I had any words of comfort.

    Sending you hugs and wishing you peace.

  4. May 1, 2010 10:20 pm

    You totally deserve to be happy! I hope you can find yourself, soon. It’s really hard to let go, but when I did it, the fall wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I have faith in you and I know you can do it!

    I’m glad you had someone there for you. There is nothing more precious than the gift of love from a friend who truly gets you.

  5. May 2, 2010 8:28 pm

    I love this post! I think it is so right on. So many many people have children and try to resolve their past traumas and losses and emptiness through becoming a parent, and, of course, this never works and only adds to the trauma and losses bcs now there’s a new little being who’s soaking up all that pain that they’re supposed to “fix”. I love you for seeing so clearly, for seeking clarity. I feel like you’re really moving into something good and beautiful here. May you continue to heal and find peace. You are courageous and good. And you deserve to be happy, with or without a child. May you find the now and rest for awhile!

  6. May 2, 2010 10:21 pm

    Minus all the healthy (running/weight loss) stuff in your post, it is like you were in my head about 6 months ago. It was so easy to put all the focus into having a baby and somewhere along the way it became the ticket to happiness. I know happiness comes from within and that no child should ever come with a job, but it’s hard to find that happiness when something you so desperately want is missing.

    I have yet to figure out the balance of feeling truly happy without a child when a child is something I have always wanted in my life. It’s a delicate confusing balance.

    Does Magic know how you feel about how him going with you affected you? Your jogging is your release, your way to grieve. I hope it is still a helpful tool for you…and that he gets why it affected you the way it did.

    Always here and ready to listen.

  7. geeksinrome permalink
    May 3, 2010 1:44 pm

    ohh, NO one should move in on your running moment! Running alone is such a powerful time. I always found enormous healing, insights, inspiration and plain awesome venting with solitary runs in the woods. Give him a kiss and make him stay home next time!!

    As everyone said here, a child will never make you happy because there is nothing that can make you happy except yourself. Things can bring or trigger happiness only if the mind is already open to that. It’s such the cliche to see the woman who has everything: awesome husband, kids, job, house, friends, status, but is intensely miserable. Then the person who has nothing, who is dying of an incurable disease, who has lost so much and yet, saint-like they are at peace even joyous that fate has chosen them to discover the truth about and meaning of life.

    I believe happiness is a mystic experience that can come from a life of exploration and courage. But I also believe we as women have an irrepresible innate urge to procreate and have a baby. I know I felt it intensely and it was very hard to distiguish that animal urge from a sense that I needed a baby to be happy. Desiring a partner and comfortable shelter… all of these things are innate urges nature needs to convince us to seek and what a better way than “trick” us into thinking it will bring us happiness so we will do it and continue the species.

    We find happiness in things when we are whole and can give, be open and lose and sacrifice ourself. Things/people will never fill our holes. In fact, raising a baby and surviving it necessitates having really solid grounding and a shitload of stamina and power to give, to literally be consumed. The task is easier when you are chock full of tools, knowledge, and love and an unwavering sense of truth about what’s right. These are qualities that are essential to every part of our life, not just raising a baby. You can fill those holes, Phoebe, you are on the right path!

  8. May 6, 2010 8:49 pm

    Sounds like you’re doing a very good job of figuring out your needs and working to fulfill them.

    I just found a comment on my blog from you from July where you asked me a question. I’m so sorry. I don’t know how I missed it. I’m going to catch up on your blog. I haven’t stopped by in a while.

    I couldn’t figure out how to email you.

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