I hardly ever talk in great detail about the dark places that infertility took me to. Partly because I don't want to remember those places & partly because going there is so easy. It's easy to be sad when something sad is happening to you. And I know that a lot of my TTC sisters reading my posts are in the trenches right now, so I don't talk about those dark places in detail for them.
But today I want to be a little more open about the dark places to help you understand more about what infertility can do to a person AND I want to tell you about something that truly saved my life and helped me (& still helps me today) climb out of the dark places and find hope, happiness and purpose outside of being a mother.
There are a few individual days in the last few years that I will never forget. But honestly, when I think back to 2017 it feels like being in a movie flashback. You know when the picture is kind of fuzzy, they have that hideous black vignette around the edges of the picture and everything is just a little bit darker than normal? That's what those memories feel like because that's what almost every day felt like.
I felt like I was walking around purposeless. I didn't have a job that felt like it was secure or steady. I wasn't going to school. I still didn't have any friends that lived near me. I was trying (seemingly) unsuccessfully to build a photography business. I hated going to church because it gave me major anxiety. Our infertility treatments weren't successful & we were running out of money to do more. I felt like a complete failure. (Narrator: She cries as she types because holy cow those feelings of failure were so real and going back to them makes them feel fresh.)
I struggled so hard with anxiety and depression. It felt like the more I tried to not be anxious and depressed, the more anxious and depressed I was. I was so unhappy with so many things in my life. I felt so stuck and like such a loser. I had friends having babies number 2 and 3 and I just wanted ONE. I was convinced that having a baby would give me the purpose I needed to be happy again. It would give me the life I wanted and the life I needed.
And in 2017, we didn't have a baby.
We didn't even get pregnant. We just flushed money down the toilet trying to get there.
Okay. Now that you are adequately depressed & all of the TTC sisters are nodding their heads because #infertilelife let's talk about what happened next.
Remember how I said I was trying to build my photography business? At the tailend of 2017, I came up with an idea for my business that would change my life forever. (Narrator: this is a true statement. Not just hyperbole.) Blogger Photography Contracts.
I began working solely with bloggers in January of 2018. I worked with them on a weekly basis. My calendar was suddenly filled with work, I met clients that quickly turned into friends, and I felt fulfilled.
But it wasn't photography or owning my own business that was the game changer. It was the fact that I didn't have time to think about the things that made me sad. I didn't have time or energy to dwell on the fact that we didn't have babies. I was so distracted by actually living life that I didn't dwell on the fantasy life I thought I should have.
And friends, I call this the art of distraction.
Distraction is usually painted in a negative light. But here and now I want to focus on the benefits that being distracted brought me.
I became a WAY better photographer. (Trade photographer for whatever type of hobby you want to develop) I was spending 2-4 hours every single weekday shooting. I was spending 2-4 hours every single weekday editing. That's almost full-time job status (p.s. I was also working full-time for a marketing company too, so I REALLY didn't have time to be sad).
I was forced to keep the commitments I made. My clients were depending on me to show up for them. We had a long-term contract and it was important to them that I be there prepared & ready to help them.
I made friends. I honestly think this was one of the biggest benefits for me. I shot with my bloggers on a weekly basis for an entire year. I saw my bloggers more than I saw my own family. I developed relationships with them & learned so much from them.
There are so many benefits to having a distraction from the sad things in your life. If you're feeling discouraged because photography just isn't your thing, let me tell you about a few other distractions that helped me:
We got a puppy & took him to puppy classes to help train him. (Another commitment where we had to get out of the house, met new friends and learned something new)
I started a new job (remember the marketing company?). I learned SEO and met new friends. And again, this was a commitment that forced me to get out of bed in the morning.
I created Good Grief. (Guys, creation is so good for the soul)
I created a morning routine to give me some stability in my life.
I also created a list of other things you could try to distract yourself from being sad. See below.
My job helped me find the rainbows in life and taught me to seek them. I had to look for reasons to be happy because people were relying on me and I had to stick to my commitments. If you're in a dark place, know that there is hope. Know that there is healing. It will take time to climb out, but you can get there. You have purpose and you have more purpose than to just make babies and be a mom (that is a wonderful purpose, don't get me wrong, but it is not your ONLY purpose). I am praying for you. You are not alone. Keep going. You've got this.
“No rain, no rainbows.”
In church a few weeks ago, we discussed Tad R. Callister's talk, The Atonement of Jesus Christ. As we read through it, the following paragraphs stood out to me and reminded me so much of my own healing process.
"Alma prophesied that Christ 'shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind.' Why? 'That his bowels may be filled with mercy, … that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.'
How does He accomplish this? Sometimes He removes the affliction, sometimes He strengthens us to endure, and sometimes He gives us an eternal perspective to better understand their temporary nature. After Joseph Smith had languished in Liberty Jail for about two months, he finally cried out, 'O God, where art thou?' Instead of providing instant relief, God responded, 'My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.'
Joseph now understood that this bitter experience was but a dot on the eternal spectrum. With this enhanced vision, he wrote the Saints from that same prison cell, 'Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God.' Because of the Savior’s Atonement, we can have an eternal perspective that gives meaning to our trials and hope for our relief."
As we go through our own afflictions or trials, I hope we can remember that there is hope and relief ahead. I don't know what relief looks like for you, but I know that it is available for you. I am so grateful to know that this "small moment" (that may last longer than 5 minutes-- we're going on 3.5 years now) is just that. It is a small moment and that God has a bigger plan for our family.
I have learned so much in the last year. Those dark days were not worthless. They helped me to see that I didn't want to live my entire life in that way. They helped me to realize that there was so much more for me to live for and so much more for me to do.
Please share this post. Infertility is a battle that so many people struggle silently with. Today you can help someone by letting them know that their struggle is on your radar, even if you don't know that they personally are hurting, being aware & educated is so helpful.