Someone asked me recently why infertility is enveloped in secrecy. Why, if 1 in 6 couples experience something, do we experience shame?

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to say. A few weeks later, I came across an article on the Resolve.org (a secular organization for infertility) about the emotional aspects of infertility. What I read had me completely floored.

“Shame is a searing, painful feeling associated with faltering self-esteem, and a sense of inadequacy, defectiveness and helplessness…As [infertility] becomes more and more evident, one’s self-image is assaulted… Anguish, self-doubt, and chronic sadness converge as couples come to think of themselves as failing, not only in realizing their own dream to reproduce and nurture, but failing their spouse, parents, and siblings as well. Because shame embodies the painful sense of self-defect, it is often hidden and disguised, even from oneself. The tragic story of chronic infertility is that, over a period of time, the sense of failure gradually and imperceptibly spreads like a shadow over a person’s experience, while simultaneously the sense of other competencies gradually becomes obscured.”

Wow. The last 10 years of my life have just been explained.

Within a year of learning I have MRKH, I quit music. I stopped singing, I stopped writing music, I stopped playing in the jazz band. In fact- I experienced what I have always called a “burn out” with music. I would get physically angry when I played my saxophone. After a long talk with my band teacher (who tried to convince me to stay), I quit.

What if it wasn’t a burn out? What if I was subconsciously frustrated with my reality, unable to process my new identity?

It makes perfect sense. It makes absolute. perfect. sense.

It explains why I went from an academically confident kid with big dreams and the world at my feet to an unsure, faltering, career-less young woman with no clue which way to go.

I stopped believing in myself.

I was ashamed over something that was out of my control.

I have been living under the shadow.

As one of my friends put it, “Everything you thought was real was now no longer true. Of course you started to question everything else.”

After all these years, I see it. Thanks be to God for revealing this to me.

The article continues:

“Ultimately what heals is the acceptance of the self with all of its weaknesses and failures. The goal, then, is to reach a point where you can accept what you see as failure and no longer have to conceal these feelings of shame. The process of coming to terms with infertility is long and gradual, but it is possible to transform the sense of failure into an empathy with yourself, an affirmation of your strength, an acceptance of your limits, a pride in your endurance, and maybe most of all, an empathy with others who, as partners in the human condition, also face defeats. In time, the shadow cast upon your life can fade and the light can shine through again.”

In the last year, I know that I have begun to heal. I am coming to accept myself. I am learning to accept my limits. I know that no matter how strong I think I should be, some things are just too much.

I also know that I have a new, unique calling. I know that being a 10 year “veteran” of MRKH and infertility, I have a chance to be a voice for the voiceless. I know that I need to share my insights, because they can help others. I know that even though writing about these things can be painful, it has to be done.

So even though I still don’t have a career, I know that I have a mission. Maybe this is only a sub-plot in the novel of my life. But I know that the time has come to step out of the shadow.

“Look to Him, that you might be radiant with joy, and your faces free from all shame.”

-Marty Haugen, “Taste and See”, adapted from Psalm 34.

 

To read the original article that inspired this post, click here.

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12 thoughts on “The Shadow

  1. “…over a period of time, the sense of failure gradually and imperceptibly spreads like a shadow over a person’s experience, while simultaneously the sense of other competencies gradually becomes obscured.”

    Yup. That pretty much sums up two years of my own life. Just me an my personal storm cloud while the sun is shining around us. Well said, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for writing this. I too slowly retreated from everything I once loved while dredging through infertility (and all that comes with it) to the point that I no longer recognized myself. I found myself disoriented in my life. Accepting the new vision of one’s life without pregnancy and/or children is a slow process full of frustrations. Letting go of the feelings of failure, resentment and shame is a good start. I’ve found that using this Cross to strengthen my intimacy with Christ and focussing on my spiritual motherhood helps. Your thoughtful blog helps me in knowing im not alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful reply! I’m so happy you found my post helpful. I agree, it really is a frustrating process, especially because it feels so isolating and lonely. I remember being so frustrated when I first learned about my MRKH that there was no direct information (like a book) from a Catholic source that said, “this is what you’re going to experience, this is what it’s going to feel like, and this is what you need to do.” It’s only in the blogosphere that I have found any semblance of community and saw that I wasn’t alone (and that wasn’t for a number of years). Thank God for the internet!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, and I’m so glad you liked this! I hope that in the future those who go through infertility will receive more understanding and acceptance from others. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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