From the Tight Rope to the Balance Beam

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One way for me to characterize my state of mind is to use word pictures. For years I walked a tight rope around the holidays. The concentration required to get through them was intense.  This time of year was, in a word, exhausting. I wanted to find joy but the weight of my sadness and anger — compliments of infertility — was hard to balance. I was simply surviving. My coping strategies? One of two choices. I would either go numb (aided by a nice red wine or Irish whiskey), or assume the persona of the superficially happy. I can be a good actress when necessary.

sbTightRope

In the last year, though, as I’ve slowly let go of huge amounts of pent up anger and made peace with my sadness (it’s become something of an old friend), I’m finding that the tight rope has expanded to something of a balance beam. I have more room to navigate and I’m relying on my arms to steady me rather than a cumbersome pole.

balancebeam_cartoon

I’m feeling more graceful and less likely to topple. Thanksgiving Day was a good indication of progress.  Mr. PJ and I spent a lovely day with my brother, SIL, and my adorable niece and nephew. Rounding out the table were my SIL’s parent’s and her college age cousin (was I ever 19 and that poised?).  The afternoon was relaxed and laughter came easily. I learned from a board game that I’m smarter than a fifth grader (phew). I had great fun with my gregarious nephew as the game’s “host” and later seeing my smart and sweet niece perform her latest dance routine.

I even managed to sneak a peak at the photo of their four-year-old cousin on the refrigerator and not fall into darkness. You see she was conceived in the wake of losing our little embryos.  That has been something of a new challenge for me to master — being in the presence of children who would have been my children’s contemporaries. There were quite a few children conceived by friends and family during our IVF years. They are tangible reminders of what might have been. I’ll know I’ve really arrived at peace when I’m tumbling around with them on the ground rather than up on the balance beam.

14 comments

  • What an apt analogy.

    I’m glad you were able to tumble on the ground, and not off the ledge.

  • I am glad you had a nice Thanksgiving. My husband almost bought that game for our BIL for Christmas, but I convinced him not to, because I am quite certain he is NOT smarter than a 5th grader. Wouldn’t that be bad for morale?

  • Glad you made it through OK. I understand your feelings about the little cousin. Our next door neighbours have a little girl who was born in April 1999 — our daughter was stillborn in August 1998, due in November, so they would have been six months apart & likely would have been friends & playmates. She was the first baby I held after losing my daughter, & watching her grow up has been a sometimes painful thing. Two of dh’s cousins have boys, one born in April 1998 and one in April 1999, so our Katie would have been right in between them. Being boys, however, the comparison is not quite so painful as if they’d been girls. Hang in there!

  • chicklet

    It’s good to see someone can navigate through this eventually, that’s something I need to hear sometimes when it’s all really sucking. When you’re wondering if it’ll ever be better. It’s good to know it does get better, slowly, or at least if it doesn’t, it’s more manageable.

  • Bea

    I love this analogy – tightrope vs balance beam. The holidays certainly can be hard work.

    Bea

  • ..and I’m pleased to hear it friend.

  • Yodasmistress

    You have my admiration.

  • This is a wonderful post. I still waver between the tightrope and the balance beam and still fall off of both regularly.

    Reading your blog inspires me to notice that even when I’m feeling off kilter, I am also making headway with the healing as well.

    I’m glad you were able to enjoy this holiday from the beam.

  • From your description of your Thanksgiving holiday, I think you’re headed for the ground.

  • What cute pictures to convey such a difficult and painful process. I am glad you feel you have found more balance in your life. The fact that you are able to roll around with nieces and nephews attests to your amazing spirit, I admire that so much.

  • Glad you had a good Thanksgiving.

  • I slipped and thundered off the balance beam on the last day with the family. It’s going to come back and haunt me someday soon. As if the fight wasn’t bad enough, I’m feeling so guilty about what I said in the heat of the moment. Your post is consoling in the sense of knowing that it will get better – you are managing, very well I might add! I can do it too!

  • Alex Leibowitz

    Thanks for sharing this. That thought especially, that certain children would have been your children’s contemporaries, is striking and poignant.