I used to pride myself on being self sufficient; on being an independent, financially resourceful and capable woman. I didn’t need anyone’s help and I always found the resources I needed within. I was in control of everything, including my emotions. (Spoiler – I was a pro at numbing feelings that scared me or felt too big for me)
Until I wasn’t. Until my life was shaken upside down by fertility struggles.
Almost overnight, I felt less sure of myself. I didn’t have all the answers. I couldn’t tick all the boxes and make things work out the way I wanted them to. I felt isolated and resourceless.
I floundered for a bit. I worked overtime to figure out all the things I could do, to make this work. I tried to force an outcome, in a scenario where force just doesn’t work. It took me a while, but eventually I realised that I needed to do two things. First, I had to trust myself and nourish my innate capacity for creativity. Second, I had to ask for help. I had to say “I’m struggling, would you listen to me for a few minutes while I unpack what’s spinning around in my head?” That’s been one of the toughest parts of this journey for me. Asking for help, admitting I don’t have it together all the time.
I am still an independent, resourceful and occasionally stubborn woman but the journey of fertility treatment has changed me irreversibly. I have learned to ask for help. I have learned that asking does not make me weaker. It certainly makes me feel more vulnerable, often uncomfortable and icky. It also allows me to be more connected, less isolated, more loved, more worthy.
For me, asking for help is calling my sister late at night when I’m worried and spilling my heart out over the phone; ugly crying for half an hour; it’s asking my husband to watch out for me when I get cold – I have a habit of forgetting to wear a hat, or stubbornly refusing to turn on the heating on a cold day; it’s asking for support and encouragement from online communities when I feel overwhelmed and isolated.
This week, the upheaval and fallout from the US Elections has reached all over the globe, even into my office here in Ireland. It’s tempting to listen to the news and feel overwhelmed, fearful and lonely. It might have nothing to do with my fertility journey, or yours, but those feelings of separation and isolation can get into your head and heart. Those feelings can make us feel more anxious, more fearful, less trusting.
I’m inviting you to turn off the radio today and ignore the news. Go for a walk in the winter sunshine (or summer sun if you’re in the southern hemisphere!) and notice what is happening in the natural world. Everything is as it was. All is well. Ask yourself, ‘what do I need, right now? Who can I reach out to?’ Give yourself 2 minutes to watch this video, if you need to be convinced that asking for and offering help is “The Best Part of Life”
Ask for help. Then sit back and see what happens. You might be surprised at how good it feels to receive.
Remember, you are innately creative, in so many ways. Sometimes, finding that creative capacity takes time and help from friends. I would love to hear from you, as you find your way on this journey. Do you resist asking for help? Do you feel you should be perfect? Have you found something that works for you? Share your experiences in the comments below or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.