The decision was made. We were to pack up and go travelling around Europe in a camper van, just the two of us and Barney our dog – our best friend and encourager. After being there 17 years I resigned from work and from the moment the letter was written we begin living life again.
After eight years of infertility and a three year journey to fertility using natural and holistic means we couldn’t believe that having our own family had shifted from something we were grieving over to something that could become a reality.
After a year of trying we knew something was wrong, as you know you become fertility experts on this journey. Imagine our shock to find out I was infertile to the extent that the doctor asked me whether I had had chemotherapy or radiography in the past! After a year of trying a number of things with no improvement the grief set in, this time it was deeper and more painful. The false hope had been too much to recover from.
We eventually came to a place where we could begin to see our lives being fulfilled without children. So with the resignation handed in, we had my notice period to put our plans in place. I went on a journey of self discovery, really understanding for the first time may passions and talents, what I wanted to do with my life.
At the time I was not aware of The Work by Byron Katie but I wish I was. I think it would have helped me come to a place of acceptance and enjoying my life as it was instead of putting it on hold subject to children for so long.
The work consists of asking yourself four questions to challenge your thinking. Our thinking creates our experience in life and it is just an illusion. It is not based on facts. Thought is not reality, it creates an illusion of reality.
The four questions are:
- Is it true? Is this thought/belief true? Be still. Wait for the heart’s response.
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true? Ultimately, can you really know it is true?
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? Do you experience anger, stress, frustration? How do you treat others? How do these reactions feel? How do you treat yourself? Does that thought bring stress or peace into your life? Be still as you listen.
- Who would you be without the thought? Close your eyes. Imagine your life without the thought. What do you see? What would your life look like without that thought?
Next, turn your statement around. The turnarounds are an opportunity to experience the opposite of what you believe to be true. You may find several turnarounds. Change the he/she/they to I. Change negatives to positives. For example, “Paul should understand me” turns around to:
- I should understand me.
- I should understand Paul.
- Paul shouldn’t understand me.
Let yourself fully experience the turnarounds. For each one, find at least three genuine, specific examples in your life where the turnaround is true. This is not about blaming yourself or feeling guilty. It’s about discovering alternatives that can bring you peace.
I played with this to see what my answers might have been back then in the midst of our infertility. It might give you an idea of how this can work and I encourage you to try it for your own thinking.
Statement: I won’t be fulfilled without our own children
Is it true? Yes it is
What’s the reality? Although we have children in our lives through youthwork and friend’s children I will not be fulfilled unless I have my own, someone to call me daddy
Can I really know that is true? No. I don’t really know how I am going to feel as a parent and there are plenty of parents who wanted children and are disillusioned and unfulfilled.
How do I react when I believe the thought [I won’t be fulfilled without our own children]? Angry. Cheated in life. Part of me, the parent in me, is being denied . Jealous and resentful of others who have children so easily without thinking.
What does it feel like to believe the thought? I get mad, I feel my breathing quicken, I feel the anger flooding my body.
How do I treat others when I think [I won’t be fulfilled without our own children]? I resent them, even friends. They just don’t understand what it’s like. They get what they want in life so easily and we are denied what we long for. It creates a barrier between us. There are very few friends who truly understand.
How do I treat myself when I think [I won’t be fulfilled without our own children]? I resent myself, my body, my brokenness. I don’t look after myself as I cannot see the point, I cannot see how it is going to help, my body doesn’t work. I am not a whole man.
Can I see a reason to drop the thought [that I won’t be fulfilled unless we have our own children]? Yes, I will start accepting and loving myself more. I can start appreciating what I have more rather than what I don’t have.
Rewritten statement turned around: I will be fulfilled without our own children. I can now believe this as I can see us doing things that we would not otherwise be able to do with children/family. I can see how we can give and receive love to so many children in the world whether through family/friends/youth work/fostering whilst getting the most out of life as a couple.
This is the place we came over time but I belief this process would have saved us a lot of time and heart ache!
We never did get do that trip to Europe, we found our my wife was pregnant before we went*. I truly believe that was due to a shift in my mindset. I had moved from my life being held captive by infertility to being released to live me life again. My mind, and body, were free to be again, to live, to breathe (new) life.
Play with the four questions and be open to shift in your mindset which may allow your body to breathe in life, even with infertility. It is only when you can breathe life in you can create new life. Contact me if you think I can help you with your journey or comment on our Facebook page so you can share your experiences encouraging each other.
* so we did it in America instead a few years later.