That’s a clue for my answer to some complex questions that came this weekend from Silent Sorority readers. The ideas and emotions contained in their questions were remarkably familiar — so much so they could have come straight out of my own head a few years ago. I guess, by now, I shouldn’t be startled by the depth of the shared infertility experience. I’m sure they’ll evoke deja vu for you, too. The questions pose the ultimate test for those who don’t succeed with conceiving much desired children or are in the wake of IVF loss — overcoming anger and finding peace.
First came this email:
“I’ve been having a rough go of it lately and have been pretty messed up.It’s kind of the kick off of the fun family/kid centric holiday season and I know it’s always really hard for me. Something you wrote about in your book and talk about at times is an issue that I’m dealing with. How did you move beyond the resentment of people who do have children? I absolutely hate feeling this way. I’m even starting to resent my dr. and therapist, not good. I just see everyone with kids as having something I can’t, won’t. On some level, I understand it is the way it is supposed to be. On the other hand, I just want to isolate myself from all those with kids. So frustrating,and impossible too! Does it just fade away?”
This query was followed soon after by this one:
“I attended my first Resolve support group meeting for life after IVF (childfree) and just finished your book. My hardest struggle has been my Faith. I was raised in the ole time religion (southern baptist environment) then into Pentacostal all before the age 10… but since going through this ordeal, I find myself asking if there really is a God because all the things I was taught, like if you do this, righteous, the Lord will bless you…blah blah blah. If you can speak a little on this I would appreciate it. Am I the only person who is so angry with God, that I lost faith? Have any of the other infertile women ever shared anything similar with you?”
I mulled over how to respond. This wouldn’t be easy, especially since I’m far from an expert on the whole God thing. I could pull out the usual cliches ( cue the “we each have our cross to bear” statement), but these burning questions require more than existential rationalizing, and thinking happy thoughts.
No I needed something more. I searched for a metaphor, another way to make the point that anger and resentment are not simply the domain of infertile women. (We get a bad enough rap as it is — no need to add more fuel to the fire.) What other character could help by association? And that’s when it hit me. Salieri from the movie Amadeus. The movie is loosely based on the lives of the composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri.
I saw the film again not long ago and found Salieri a kindred spirit of sorts. He believes Mozart’s music is divine. He wishes he himself was as fine a composer and musician as Mozart. He can’t understand why God favored Mozart, an ingrate who takes his talent for granted, to be his instrument. As described on a movie website, “Salieri’s envy has made him an enemy of God whose greatness was evident in Mozart.”
Like old Salieri there was a time my heartbreak and anger at God, the universe, the fertile world, was seriously corrosive. It was eating me up inside. After intense amounts of reflection I finally decided that I didn’t want to live my life with such resentment and pain coloring my life. Now what to do about it? It was not the least bit easy mind you, but I took myself out of the equation and studied the situation like a dispassionate observer. I realized that most fertile folk would be aghast to learn how badly they had hurt me with their careless comments and gestures. It allowed me to see their ignorance and insensitivity in a new light. I decided to imagine what it would be like to forgive them.
Much like in the opening scene of Amadeus — fortunately I managed to avoid the mental institution — I got into a new groove generously forgiving all who crossed my path. I was downright benevolent — quietly absolving everyone of their sins and transgressions — sometimes even while it was happening. The thought bubbles over my head bordered on epic, “You know not what you do …”
I’m not saying people don’t continue to test my mettle in a big, big way, but the high of forgiveness became a reward in itself. Do I miss the adrenaline rush that comes with wanting to punch someone’s lights out? Sure. It’s not always easy being the bigger person (well, it is if you’re just a smidge under six feet tall like I am), but when it comes to character, I aspire to be big not small.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found a path to peace in the post-apocalyptic infertile disaster zone. Others care to share?