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.
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.
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.