How appropriate that my last post before starting my blogging sabbatical coincides with a discussion about the book Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything.
I’ve been a regular participant of the Barren Bitches Book Brigade because I like the opportunity to reflect on and share questions and responses with fellow readers online. I tried a real life book club but the conversations always got sidetracked and lacked focus and depth. (You can read other book blog tour member responses by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens.)
Now before I dive into my thoughts about Elizabeth Gilbert’s book I want to explain why I’m taking a sabbatical. Three words: Space. Reflection. Exploration.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that I’ve been working through a fair amount of angst in this little corner of the blogosphere during the past 18 months. A trip through my blog archives and categories will reveal how hard I’ve struggled with the knowledge that I could not, cannot and never will conceive and deliver a child. It’s easy to see how, in the wake of infertility, I lost my way and, worse still, allowed myself to feel “less than” other women — helped along by the baby boomlet taking place and the cult of mommy so pervasive in today’s society.
Much like the author of Eat, Love, Pray I’m not the standard issue woman. The archetypal woman’s life doesn’t apply. What’s a girl to do?
Elizabeth Gilbert set out to find peace and contentment after confronting her truths: She didn’t want to be married anymore. She didn’t want to live in big house. She didn’t want to have a baby.
My truths are these:
- Infertility devastated me and fundamentally altered my life and my identity.
- I can’t relate to those whose identity is predominantly wrapped up in being a mommy (especially those to whom mommyhood came easily).
- I am on a life path that’s not better or worse than most women, it’s just different.
It’s about damn time I owned these truths and set out to find my own peace and contentment.
After much consideration I’ve concluded that for me to find peace I need, among other things, to free myself from reporting regularly online about my state of mind. The constant chorus that’s been driving this Coming2Terms blog: Are we there yet? Have we come to terms? seems to be getting in the way of my actually getting there — and finding my new identity, which will comprise a set of new characteristics including being not just a well-adjusted non–mom but someone who can rise above and thrive after a complex personal setback.
So I encourage readers, especially those just finding this blog, to continue reading through and commenting on the posts here (all 215 of them). Reader thoughts and observations have been immensely helpful not only to me but to others who stumble upon or visit this site from time to time.
And, to those just starting to grapple with infertility know that you’re far from alone in trying to come to terms with how the infertile condition and experiences change and reshape you, your life and your relationships. I’ll be back at some point — hopefully with some useful new insights and observations about how one woman (yours truly) survived infertility and lived to tell about it.
Now on to answering some of my fellow book tour participant questions.
# One of the criticisms frequently leveled at this book is that it is “self-absorbed” and that its author is “selfish.” Interestingly, these same labels have also been applied to infertiles, particularly those of us who blog about our infertility. Do you think this criticism is warranted in either case (i.e., by the book/author and by infertiles/infertility bloggers)? Do you think being an infertile and a blogger influenced your reaction to the book? In what ways?
I’m sure my experience with infertility and my own searching for answers helped me identify strongly with the author and her book. To the critics, I ask is it self-absorbed or selfish to want to understand our place in this world and how we relate to others? I think it shows a fundamental lack of depth to accuse those who want to take stock of their lives and contemplate complex ideas or experiences as “selfish.” I find the most enjoyable people to be around are those who are most comfortable in their own skin because they have taken the time to understand what makes them happy and at peace. The world would be a much less interesting place to live without such individuals.
By sharing their search for answers and revelations they in turn push and prod us to look at life from different perspectives. It’s far easier to live life the predictable way when everything falls neatly into place and it feels right. When it doesn’t feel right or when things don’t fall neatly into place the traditional path can be stifling, awkward or painful. Either way what’s to be lost by giving people room to explore, and respecting those who color outside the lines in their search for answers, fellowship or understanding?
# While I don’t believe infertility can be cured by positive thinking, do you think the impact it has on out life could be minimized if we learned to control our thoughts like she talks about in chapter 58?
I’m all for trying to view the world through the lens of positive thinking but when it comes to infertility it’s not just our own thoughts that can be negative. The negativity associated with infertility comes from many different places. It’s one thing to control our own thoughts, it’s another altogether to be bombarded with negative thoughts from others. (Can the universe please do something about that?) It sure would make thinking and maintaining happy thoughts a heck of a lot easier.
# In chapter 25 Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how “the Augusteum in Rome warns (us) not to get attached to any obsolete ideas of who (we are), what (we) represent, whom (we) belong to or what function (we) may once have intended to serve.” Through our struggles with infertility and/or loss many of us have had to revisit our ideas about what our life would be like and who we thought we were supposed to be. How have your ideas about your identity and purpose in life changed since your began your journey to have a child(ren)? Have you been able to make peace with your new found identity and/or purpose if it doesn’t embody the dream you originally had for yourself at this point in your life as an adult and/or parent?
Great question. (How much time do you have?)
Wise counsel from the Augusteum. Wish I’d heard, understood and internalized it earlier. I’m guilty of having spent way too much time and energy trying to realize an old idea of who I thought I was supposed to be and the life I thought I should be leading.
I see now through my struggles with infertility and loss that I was unable to let go and to see that I was trying to make fit an obsolete idea. Not only was I frustrated by attaching myself to an obsolete idea, I was also holding myself back from adapting and understanding what I was better suited “to represent” and “the function that I was intended to serve.” In setting free those obsolete ideas and mapping out a new life I want to stop revisiting what my life was supposed to be.
Have I been able to make peace with my new found identity and purpose? Well first, I have to try on some new identities and purposes, see which fits best and then I’ll be able to report on how I was able to make peace. Check back and hopefully I’ll have a better answer somewhere down the line.
I hope that, via my sabbatical, I’ll find myself in the foreseeable future like the author who described herself as the “administrator of my own rescue.”