Saturday, 23 October 2010

The bright side

I don't think I'm a natural optimist - but since the days when I was a moody teenager, I've worked very hard at accentuating the positive. I've been pretty successful, and I still think of my petrol tank as 'only one sixteenth full' rather than 'nearly empty'. Fortunately, that's never actually led me to run out of fuel...

But does accentuating the positive sometimes mean denying the negative altogether, or denying my feelings about it, until it gets too much for me and I explode? Or does the suppression of the negative increase the stress in my life, because I secretly know it's there but am trying to pretend to myself that it's not?

My last two posts have basically been whinges about my DH's behaviour. (Incidentally, I really appreciated all your comments. I actually mentioned to him this morning that the three huge glasses of wine hadn't really sat very well with his assumption of responsibility, and he said, "But she only half-filled the glass each time, so it wasn't really three glasses." I pointed out that the glasses were the size of small buckets, and he seemed genuinely surprised and claimed not to have noticed that they were larger than your average wine glass!)

In my first coaching session, I filled in a thing called the Circle of Life, in which I scored various areas of my life out of 10 according to how they were going at the moment. The scores I gave were almost all between 7 and 9, and I gave my relationship with DH 9/10.

In the second session, the coach asked if I wanted to revisit any of the scores in the light of the week's events, and I didn't really - except that I increased the score for my career, because although it's at a bit of an impasse at the moment, I'm not too unhappy about it.

She suggested that I was kidding myself - basically indicating that my life was pretty close to perfect and especially giving our relationship such a high score when I was clearly very angry at DH at that particular time.

I keep coming back to this thought and wondering if I should be less contented with my life at the moment. I know that over the last few months I've begun to focus more on all the things in my life that I enjoy and that would be more difficult or at least very different if we had children. And that's me - I'd rather look at what I do have than what I don't. And I'd rather feel happy than dwell on the things that make me unhappy.

The trouble is that the things that make me unhappy are still there, lurking beneath the surface. And every so often something happens to make me realise how present they still are, and how much they do still bother me.

I know that in order to get what I really want, I need to examine all those things that I've shoved to the back of my mind and stop pretending to myself that the status quo is absolutely fine. And I know that this is the process I went through with the coach I saw before, who helped me to take the plunge and make some big changes in my life.

The difference is that this time, the end result of all this is not within my power. It's not as simple as "if I don't get that job, another one will come up soon and I just need to tweak my CV a bit and brush up on my interview technique" or "if I look long enough and hard enough, I'll eventually find the perfect house in the right area".

With IF, I can do everything 'right', remind myself exactly how much I want to be a mother, throw a harsh light on all the areas of my life that are not perfect right now, but nothing I can do will guarantee me a baby at the end of it. I might end up stirring up all the areas of discontent, bringing my unhappiness to the fore and then being left with nothing but discontent and unhappiness at the end of it all.

And that's why I'm terrified of admitting, even to myself, that any area of my life is much less than perfect at the moment. But I think it's also something I really need to allow myself to do. (Mind you, I'm still not ready to suggest that my relationship with DH is any less than 90% perfect - it's just that I've been bringing the 10% to the fore recently...)

In retrospect, I wonder if the title of this post should have been 'The dark side'...

5 comments:

  1. I totally get this. I often feel that I am hanging on by such a thin thread that admitting failures anyplace is enough to make it all just fall apart. You are dealing with really hard stuff here. I know for us, my huisband and I are not always on the same page (as you know), but I am not so sure this makes us any different than other couples. However, the stress of IF on a marriage is certainly different and is certainly a trying experience.
    I really hope you and your husband can work this, I know it will make your realtionship stronger in the end.
    Love to you.

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  2. "Or does the suppression of the negative increase the stress in my life, because I secretly know it's there but am trying to pretend to myself that it's not?

    The difference is that this time, the end result of all this is not within my power. It's not as simple as "if I don't get that job, another one will come up soon and I just need to tweak my CV a bit and brush up on my interview technique" or "if I look long enough and hard enough, I'll eventually find the perfect house in the right area".

    With IF, I can do everything 'right', remind myself exactly how much I want to be a mother, throw a harsh light on all the areas of my life that are not perfect right now, but nothing I can do will guarantee me a baby at the end of it."

    First of all, let me just say thank you to egghunt and also ooer, now I'm scared in case this comment turns out to be a really duff one!!

    I've taken out the above paragraphs honey, because they refer to something we spoke about when you were here. I fully realise that I'm saying this as someone who has children, and therefore there is every chance that I just don't get it, and I ask people to bear with me if that is so... But here it is. You are, to all intents and purposes, in the very prime of your life. Whether or not this IVF is successful, whether or not any further ART is successful, whether you adopt, or foster... you are going to have, in all likelihood, another 40 to 50 years of life ahead of you. FORTY TO FIFTY.

    And, as I said to you face to face, you are much much too valuable a person, too empathic, too wonderful, too loved and loving, for you to shrivel up and die inside, and lose your life and your zest for living now, in the middle of your lifespan. That would be an unbelievable tragedy, and I RAIL against the thought of it happening!!!! Do you hear me??? NO NO NO!!!

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  3. And therefore, it is not just about ONE outcome, which you can either make happen or not. It is not just about whether you hold a child of your own at the end of the next cycle and 9 months hence, although that is the obvious issue at hand. It is about you, and the life that you have now and will still have regardless of what the outcome of the IVF is. I'm not saying yes, dig into the negative, and destroy any equilibrium you may have achieved. That may be beyond the remit of the coach, actually, if she is just focusing on fertility issues. All, I think, I'm trying to say is, if you can help it, don't set up your life to be either success or failure based on this (albeit it all consuming and yes, massively important) item. If you decide you are strong enough to dig a little deeper in areas that are less than perfect, do not feel that it is worthless if the IVF does not hold the prayed for result. If you decide to work on your life, *your life*, and the living of it, the relationship with your DH and your ability to get up in the mornings and go to your office in the garden and do the work you love, will be what benefits.

    You have been a pillar of strength for so many people over the years I've known you. For me, for your parents, for your sister and her children, for C in Northern Ireland, for Helen, for DH.... It IS your turn to be a mother. Please God, it is. But it is also your turn to have a life for you. You said over here that if the IVF failed you didn't feel you deserved to have the option to work from home doing something you loved (I hope I'm not breaking too much confidence here!) and I was shocked at that. Not being a mother doesn't make you ANY less deserving of a life and a lifestyle suited to you and designed to bring you fulfillment in as many ways as can be achieved. I think, if anything, that should be what you work on with your coach. Call one-sixteenths a spade, and demand at least 80% from life! You deserve it my dear. In ALL areas of your life, the ones you can influence and the ones you can't.

    PS I went off and did the Circle of Life ( I found it online). My scores ranged from 4 to 7!! I think I'll join a gym and keep working on the other stuff :/

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  4. I found it a bit confronting that your coach wanted you to down grade your relationship score. I guess she could be right but I kind took it in the same way you did (it's just a minor blip, not huge enough to downgrade your relationship rating!!!).

    I think it's all to easy to mistake the stress of infertility with the failing of a relationship. You can have a perfect relationship but IF just puts huge stress on you both for different reasons and it is really the one to blame (not you or your DH). That being said, its not something that can be eliminated easily so you do need to find a workable solution. Makes me quite annoyed on your behalf though because if it weren't for infertility you would probably never have any reason to be annoyed with your DH. Seems like such a waste of time, all this IF angst....especially when we see people all around us who get to skip this part of life and go straight to thier happy ending.

    Wish I had some advice to give but to be honest I think i'm fumbling just as much as you with this one.

    I am thinking of you though and hoping so hard that your turn is next.

    I think i'm going to have to go and google Circle of Life for myself now.

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  5. Thank you for all these comments - it's always so good to know I'm not alone, and you all give me food for thought as well as making me feel supported.

    Egghunt, it wasn't a question of saying my relationship with DH has major problems. The Circle of Life is supposed to be a snapshot of how you feel at one particular moment in time, and she was trying to make me understand that giving, for instance, my relationship with DH a lower score didn't mean I loved him any less or that we didn't generally have a good relationship - just that at this particular point in time there was a problem that needed to be resolved and by giving it 9 out of 10 I wasn't really acknowledging my current feelings.

    And I'm looking at this suppression of my feelings and realising that it's part of a wider malaise, that is making me almost stop acknowledging that I want a baby at all because I'm too afraid to admit how badly I want it. So I kid myself that my life is perfect as it is, when actually my reactions to all sorts of situations (friends' pregnancies, discussion of certain topics, my first coaching session) show that you only have to scratch the surface to see that I don't think it's perfect at all.

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