Last week was an important week for me and my husband. We had worked actively toward this week, fought against setbacks and heartaches, for a year. Truthfully, we’ve worked for it, struggled and fought for it for many many years. Being labeled infertile, one’s life moves at a different pace than others. Whereas most people’s lives unfold and evolve with the normal passage of time, an infertile can remain in the same exact spot for years to come. And while life itself keeps moving forward and changing, trying to move on and get beyond the Land of IF (as in InFertility) can take a very long time—or forever—or happen never. That uncertainty, that infinity and that absolute ambiguity exhaust most people. Hell, it’s exhausting to the infertile who’s stuck in the Land of IF day after day, month after month and year after year. So, it’s quite common to find oneself in this terribly sad neighborhood, feel the need for support and understanding by one’s nearest and dearest, only to see them eventually walk away for good, be it physically or emotionally or both.
Having been a resident of the Land of IF for over half a decade, I’ve witnessed a lot of people backing away, quietly exiting my life or simply moving on without ever looking back. I’ve also seen people struggle to remain in touch, but wanting to avoid the topic and nature of my life and the address where I reside, basically ignoring who I am and what I’m going through. Having been a longtime resident of the Land of IF, I’ve spent years mourning the loss of friends and lamenting the loneliness that is part and parcel of being an infertile. I went through all the stages of grief, not only over infertility itself, but also over losing friendships I thought were life-long. I was mostly angry at the ones who walked away so easily and so swiftly. I couldn’t imagine walking away from someone at the exact moment of her deepest need and grief. What kind of person would do that? What kind of friendships had I cultivated? I wondered and grieved.
I won’t lie. I carry my hurts over those who’ve walked away to this day. I probably will always carry the sadness at some level. But, I’ve now been around long enough to know that every person, every action and every event that come into one’s life, leave a lesson as they diminish and disappear into one’s past. So in the recent years, as I stood in the same exact spot in the Land of IF, I began to shift my focus away from those who weren’t there anymore to the lessons they left behind. The friendships may not have been built to last, but the lessons they left behind are eternal.
I’ve learned that people walk away. No matter how much love and friendship has been shared, people all can and some will walk away. I’ve learned to stop asking why that happens. If a person needs to leave, I say good riddance. I no longer waste my life trying to figure out what I could have done differently to have held on to those who’ve chosen to leave. I’ve learned that the fact that people walk away is not a sign that I am a bad person or that I am undeserving of love, friendship and support. And, most importantly, I’ve learned that I have the power to choose what and whom I focus on: those who stay as oppose to those who leave.
This brings me back to the week that just passed. It was an emotional, eventful and important time—one that could ultimately make it possible for us to leave the Land of IF for good. And while nothing is certain and everything is still unknown, I saw myself surrounded by friends and loved-ones who’ve chosen to stay. They may not have been able to be by my bedside or reach out and hold my hand as we went through the stages and steps of the week, but they were there in every way that mattered.
They were there through wishes, hopes, prayers and benedictions. They were there through calls, texts and emails. And some where there through the little artifacts they’ve given me to show their support: my happy and fun knee-hi gray socks with bright pink and orange hearts, which I wore as I had my procedure; an intricately carved “dreambox”, to hold my fondest dream and greatest desire, which I keep by my bedside and focus on each and every day; a fragrant little French candle with the image of the Eiffel Tower on its side, to remind me of Paris, the city I love the most; lovely Parisian notepaper, which I use to write down the good things that happen each day and stow in my “blessings jar”; and a book filled with wisdom and guidance that has helped me further find my way through the uncertainty of life. There are also the cards I’ve received, which are full of encouragement and hope. And then, there is one of most favorite things of all time—a fistful of heart and star-shaped confetti, which arrived in the mail along with a lovely note from a dear friend just today. I loved my confetti so much that I poured into my “blessings jar” as today’s entry about all the good things that have happened to and for me on this day.
Nothing is certain yet and my life remains stuck in that all too familiar weird time-space continuum reserved solely for those labeled infertile. Only time will tell if last week was finally the week to enable us to move forward and get beyond the Land of IF. But, armed with my fitful of confetti and all the other marvelous talismans presented to me by those who’ve chosen to stay and be here for me, I figure I’m going to be ok.
Dedicated to those who’ve stayed. You have my undying gratitude.