“Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” W.B.Yeats
Since writing my first blog post in June, I’ve been overwhelmed by the encouraging and supportive responses I have received. But I feel like a fraud. Many people called me brave. But I don’t feel it.
I’m not brave. I’m frightened. I shared my journey, my grief, to try and overcome my fear. I’m afraid of being left behind. Of being forgotten. Of being on the outside and never quite fitting in. Of being hurt by people who don’t know what lies behind the smiles, the laughter, the apparent bravery.
Childlessness can make you feel inadequate. You can’t do what everyone is doing. You don’t fit in. You don’t belong. But I don’t want to be isolated, I want to be a full and equal participant in life. With or without children.
Jesus said, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10). There is no disclaimer there. It doesn’t mean when I have had a child, or enough money, or can keep my home tidy all the time or host perfect dinner parties without arguing with my husband. It means now. As I am.
So, maybe it was brave to open up about our pain. But, it really felt good. I felt liberated from the weight of pretence. To be able to let people know what is really going on.
And this is where I am not brave. I did it for myself.
I did it because I want to be handled with kindness. My heart is fragile. I want to give people a chance to be sensitive to what life is throwing my way.
I don’t want to be asked when I plan on having children. I don’t want to be told that I can only truly know God’s love once I am a parent. I want to be treated with sensitivity. So, to foster sensitivity, I have to step out of my shell and open up. Be honest. Pour out the hurt and ask people to understand. Understand something which can be really uncomfortable. And sad.
Thankfully, I am lucky to have people in my life who get fragility. They get heartache and know they can’t fix it for me. They know that in our conversations, interactions, times together that they need to tread softly because they tread on my dreams. And they do. They tread with care, and love and nurturing so that I don’t feel isolated.
I hope I can repay them for their kindness. Childlessness must just be one of many, many life experiences that lead to isolation, loneliness, grief and heartbreak. So, I hope that in my fear, stepping into being ‘brave’, I will remember those around me who need me to tread softly because I tread on their dreams.
Sheila, sending lots of love and prayers. I cannot begin to know how you’re feeling but that won’t stop me keeping you both in my prayers. Much love xxx
Thanks so much Jill. Your prayers are always much appreciated xxx
Beautiful thoughts. Keep them flowing Sheila as there is so much strength gained in writing the thoughts of your heart! Love you guys!
Thanks Aunt Norma xxx
Gosh Sheila, another piece of writing to move me to tears. All I can say is that having one motivation or emotion doesn’t negate others that might be also in play. Self-preservation and bravery can go hand in hand, I’ve found. Thank you for sharing. xxx
An, Hookster, you are lovely. Thanks for reading the blog and being a support. Big hugs xxx
Very moving Sheila and yet I read in your blog a lot of hope for your future, I think you and Elis are extremely brave and none of us know what the future holds, I wish you both well.
Thank you Len xxxx
Thank you Sheila. You express how it feels so clearly and openly. I feel less lonely and misunderstood when I read your blog. God bless you.
Thank you so much for your encouragement and inspiration. You are always in my prayers beautiful woman! xxx
Beautifully put Sheila, do keep sharing your thoughts and feelings – for your own sake and for those around you too. From my own hurts and disappointments I want to say that I truly believe God does not do waste, and every experience – no matter how painful – can be taken by him and used for beautiful purposes in ways you don’t expect. Keep clinging to him in the pain, even if only by your fingernails at times, and may he bless you with many who tread softly.
Thanks Jenny. I have found the writing it all down such a cathartic experience. I definitely agree about God not doing waste and about e clinging by the fingernails. Both of these are very true. Really hope you and your brood are all happy and well. xxx
Thank you Sheila. As you say, the experience of realising how easy it is for others to ‘say the wrong thing’ to me has been a rude awakening to how often I must have trodden on others’ dreams because of a lack of sensitivity or assuming I know what they think/feel. I hope I can learn from this! Someone in our situation told me that, as she saw it, her heart had been broken, but because it had, it could get bigger. Liked that. Thanks for your blog.
Hi Wendy, thanks so much for your comment. I like what your friend said and I definitely agree. I think in being broken we learn to be aware of others and their brokenness. If we can hold onto that when we feel ‘whole’ then we will be kinder to others, I reckon. Thanks for reading and encouraging xxx
Thankyou so much for your post. I wrote a long reply to one of the other posts, and posed some questions that I hoped might really help me in my own current (childless) situation, as well as others. It was not published – perhaps the blog is really merely an outlet and not a place for dialogue, and the only responses sought are encouraging and not enquiring ones (absolutely fine if so – I mean no insensitivity in saying that). I’m sorry I didn’t save my other post, as it addressed some of the ‘taboos’ that I thought this sort of blog might like to address, and articulated how *I* feel, even if it didn’t articulate the feelings of everyone.
Nevertheless I really, genuinely, want to work out this question of what the right thing to think and feel is, and how to arrive at that decision – because I don’t believe that what we ‘feel’ is always the right thing. Yes, we need to be honest, but God might be leading us in other directions, opening other doors, and I can’t only mourn.
Thank you so much for getting in touch with us at saltwaterandhoney. I tried to reply to the two e-mail addresses you used but neither worked. So here is my response.
I have just seen your comment on my blogpost and wanted to explain why you haven’t had a response. There are a few of us who started the blog as opposed to one person doing all the admin so sometimes comments get responded to immediately. I only get alerts about the comments on my own blog. We are by no means blogging experts and sincerely apologise for not addressing you sooner.
We planned on putting your comment up once we had a chance to properly reply. We felt that it deserved more than a quick response. You raised a lot of issues that needed thinking about.
It is interesting that you want to know the ‘right’ thing to think and feel. I guess, in my experience over the last few years, I’ve begun to realise that there isn’t a ‘right’ way to deal with your situation (especially since each one is usually very different). My journey has really been one of seeking what God’s will is and asking for His peace in it all.
I agree with you that God might be leading us in other directions. He already has lead me along a path I hadn’t seen for myself. And I certainly don’t believe in only mourning. And the blog is not meant to be a place for merely mourning. We are trying not to hide our grief, avoid it or pretend it isn’t happening. What I know is that it is ok to grieve. My life is more than grief. I have a happy and fulfilling life but I am experiencing grief for something I hoped for since I was young. And unless we allow ourselves to grieve how will we truly move forward?
I would love to know what your situation is and your story. You mentioned Ridley in your previous post so I’m guessing you have some first hand knowledge of life there. Would you be prepared to stop being anonymous?
So, this is just a very little response to start you off. We will put your comments up but want to make personal contact first.
Thank you for getting in touch and I hope we will be able to continue wrestling with childlessness together.
Ps- having had a camera exploring my uterus today, I am sticking to my ‘unromantic’ notions about aided conception. You won’t change my mind on that!
Sheila: I was touched again by your thoughts! You are being very brave by sharing your feelings but by doing this you open the door for God to enter in and give you His grace and strength to face each new day. Only someone in your situation really understands but we can surround you with our love and support knowing you will come throughand live your dream!!
Sheila, what a moving and honest post. You are both in my prayers. Melissa x