Mixed feelings

I find myself at a loss as for how to continue. It’s been ten years. An entire decade of living somehow parallel to this truth about myself without really engaging it – and now I suddenly want to confront it head on?

How does one do that?

I come from a big and very tight-knit family. I wasn’t just “raised” by my parents. I grew up with all four grandparents and dozens of aunts and uncles and cousins living so close to my home that by the age of eight I could ride my bike to visit them all on my own. And did frequently. Several times a week, usually.

I even remember spending summers with my great grandparents in their garden when the whole family would gather to help them pick cherries and apples and I don’t know how many other things from trees and bushes. They were in their ninties then and still maintained their own home, fed the chickens and kept the garden. Our family cook books are full of recipes on how to make jam, preserves and cakes because of my great grandmother.

Family, and all the traditions that come with it, has always been the core of my life. The cornerstone that everything else rests on. Even to this day my maternal grandmother remains the family matriach – the tie that connects us all, keeps us connected and in touch with the more distant parts of the “clan”.

I feel blessed to have grown up this way. With an entire “village” around me, all ages, all walks of life, to learn from, lean on and interact with.

I don’t feel burdened by the expectation of carrying on the blood line anymore. At least not as much as I used to in the past. It really weighted on me. Especially after the death of my brother five years ago. Now, it is more … a feeling of having something of value to give, and no one to give it to. If one cannot share what one has… some of its meaning and worth diminishes somehow.

It makes me feel somewhat adrift. Without purpose. I know that is a narrowly biased and not entirely healthy way of looking at things but I guess part of the human condition is learning how to alter perception according to circumstances, rather than trying to force life to be what we think it should be.

It’s hard, though. Giving up on dreams and intentions I wasn’t even really sure I had not that long ago. It’s hard to accept the presence of something so irrevocable. And hard to look around when we all gather in the embrace of time and tradition and shared bonds… to feel like the odd one out. The flawed and weak link.

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This entry was originally written in November 2009. For more info, see Not by choice
Mixed feelings

Not by choice

It’s taken me time to get to this place. Years, in fact. But as time passes it has become clear to me that this isn’t going to go away. Thoughts once fleeting and almost curious in nature now linger and take root – hurt, even. They stay with me. And I with them.

Perhaps, I should explain.

I am barren. I was born that way. For convenience, and to avoid more detail than is desirable to divulge, let’s just call it… a chronic problem with the plumbing.

It was not a shock when it was finally diagnosed. I’d known – or suspected – since my early teens. It was one of those “nothing can be done, just how it is” kind of things that one encounters in life and hurl into the “NOT FAIR” category. But actually, in some ways, finding out for certain was a relief for me. At least, I knew. It had a “name”. It wasn’t anyone’s fault.

I was young…. 21 at the time… and couldn’t care less. I’d never really dreamed of having children, so it didn’t seem too much of a loss to me. I understood well enough the implications but having the mind of someone who’d only just begun to explore life and adulthood I couldn’t fully grasp the ramifications of it. There were so many other things so worthwhile in life… why should I becry this one thing?

Inevitably, time and life matured me, altered my perceptions and – whether forced by necessity or invited by opportunity – taught me that life is never as simple as one might think.

That’s what brings me here. The fact that this is something I have to find a way to live with… or perhaps more accurately… something I have to find a way to live without.

Right now, I have no idea how it could ever have seemed easy or convenient to me. It may not be anyone’s fault, but that doesn’t free me from feeling broken in some ways. Less than whole. And I guess, I feel like I need to say something on this. Speak of it. Give it a name. I don’t know… something.

When the topic is mentioned in conversations or the media, it’s always about how to treat it, about deadlines and upholding the rights of those unable to conceive. Nothing is said of those for whom there never was a treatment, nor any hope. Nothing is said of those who don’t fit into a fertility program. Nothing is said of their rights to have families. It’s their problem. Our problem. My problem.

I guess, that makes me feel like talking about it. Even if it is just to myself here. So the next couple of posts will be a few old entries from my private journal. Maybe more will follow in time to come. I have not decided yet. But to anyone who listens however briefly – Thank you.

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“For everything you have missed,
you have gained something else,
and for everything you gain,
you lose something else.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not by choice

Please, don’t stop…

Stories seduce, and I, I fall freely into their embrace. To revel and despair as they bid me, to endure and delight at their mercy. And while they surge on a hidden course too compelling not to explore, there is no obstacle insurmountable. No danger or evil too perilous to face. No broken heart beyond repair. Is it any wonder I go willingly? Or that I tremble as I do?

As lives unfold and faces grow familiar, each dutifully brings voice to all that is good and bad within the world. Mine as well as theirs. Stories told within stories birth the desperate wish for glory and redemption, for restoration to safety and happiness, and I remain their breathless captive. Rage, love and anguish felt on their behalf make me persevere. Page after page, until they are triumphant. Vindication! It was right to believe. Right to hold out hope. With them I am freed. All is right once more, and better than it ever was before. Predictable, and yet… infinitely more complex and surprising than promised at first.

Somehow, mingled with this beautifully sweet exultance, there is a deep resentful sorrow, acrid with the pang of parting. It is, after all, their lives I have lived. Their tears I have shed. Their blood I have spilled, and I do not wish to leave them now that finally they are home. But stories hold no care for what becomes of their audience after the final words are wrought. We do not belong there and are not intended to linger, but rather to move on to the next and be spellbound anew. Such is the nature of stories, and perhaps for most this is enough. More than enough. But for me it is a reluctant extraction back to a reality that seems lackluster in comparison. I do not want other stories. I want more of this one. Please?

Nevertheless, beloved voices must needs eventually fade into an unwritten everafter into which I cannot follow. They remain, together, living perpetually in the grace of their final glory, while I, a mere mortal from a far more ephemeral world, must part. After everything we have been through together, there is no more. And the loss is mine, and mine alone.That is perhaps the hardest part, that sudden sense of loneliness while memories and emotions linger still. Like dying embers of a once life-giving fire, still kindling enough warmth to whispering alluringly to me. That impending void is a chasm of grief that rivals any peril lived with the story itself. Worse, its only ending is Time’s slow numbing of memory and the awkward awareness that it will happen whether I wish it or not.

Still, relentlessly, I covet the seduction nonetheless. There is, I think, a madness, as well as a blessing, shrouded within the gift of imagination. After all, how else can one defend in sound mind the pursuit of an inevitable and heartbreaking end? 

Please, don’t stop…