“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.