I have to admit to having been nervous about going to Fertility Fest. Not only was I supposed to be meeting people I ‘knew’ (only on an online basis), but I’ve not experienced being in a room of people that ‘get’ this at the same time. I had a horrible feeling I was going to have to face one of my biggest fears – crying in front of people. Eugh!
But underlying those nerves was the feeling that I’m not good enough to be there or to be doing this stuff. I mean who do I think I am? So, it’s not often I thank Tfl for engineering works, but this weekend I thanked them from the bottom of my heart. If I hadn’t had a 30 minute walk to get to the venue, I might have found my feet taking me back to the trains, rather than to the venue. So, it gave me time to pull my courage and strength together.
I’m so thankful that I did. I laughed, cried, lived it and I loved it! It wasn’t just that the people I met, without exception were all incredibly supportive, but it was the love in the room. And I don’t just mean that we were all hugging each other. What I mean is there was a collective empathy that the whole room engaged in. No matter what was being discussed we all ‘got’ it. We all experienced it – we laughed, we cried together and that can’t be replicated in any other environment for this community.
I quietly cried through laughter and sadness during an extract from ‘How to be Amazingly Happy’ by Victoria Firth. I unashamedly sobbed with the whole audience as Chiara Berardelli performed songs from ‘Seamonster’ about the loss of her dream of being a mum. I laughed and cried with Rod Silvers, as he gave his very personal account of how his life changed after finding he wouldn’t be a dad.
And the legend that’s Benjamin Zephaniah – we laughed and we empathised with him. The biggest shock being he’s 61! What the…? Does the man bathe in gallons of Oil of Olay every day or have a picture in a frame somewhere that ages while he doesn’t? But, putting that to one side, he talked candidly about being childless and his experiences. Something not many men feel able to do now, but there he was talking openly about it now and previously over 20 years ago! That takes guts.
And talking of guts. Meeting him afterwards was something I would never have done before. I nearly ran away and yes, I blushed furiously all the way through because I’m hopeless when it comes to this sort of shit (you know…meeting legends). But if I learned nothing from this experience, it’s this. You need to grab life, because life is for living not spectating.
I’m not going to wax lyrical about silver linings (and these were discussed in the fight club afterwards – see the link I posted on Sunday), because I’m not in a place where I can start shouting about what a ‘wonderful’ opportunity I have because I can’t have children. Or what a ‘blessing’ it’s been and how I’ve really grown through the adversity…I mean fuck off!
In any case, I very much doubt I’ll ever be in that place and if anyone ever tries to pull that shit on me, they can jog on. So, I’m not going to be a hypocrite here on this one, but for me I guess, it’s about being able to unpick all of this shit and come up with a life that’s good enough. (Finally she gets there, I hear you cry…)
Speaking from my own experiences I’ve had to make sense of it all and I haven’t entirely yet. How was it that my body developed the Endometriosis and Adenomyosis, along with the resulting infertility? What about the decision I made not to have IVF? And the constant question marks I still have over ‘why me?’ and ‘why not them?’ when I see someone’s less than brilliant parenting style. The emotions that still plunge me into feeling less than and not good enough.
I mean to put it bluntly, it’s been a fucking shit storm…all of it. It’s left me irrevocably changed and questioning everything. I never particularly plan anymore because I understand that life can happen and wash everything you thought you had away in one quick swipe of fate, but it hasn’t stopped me taking massive decisions and big risks, despite questioning whether I’m good enough to do it all.
I have to have meaning…and yes, if you’re like me, you’ll want to make sure you can add meaning too. And while I’m not a religious person, my back story seems like such a mean-spirited and spiteful one with a shitty outcome where I can’t be a parent. And I can imagine that you might well feel the same, whether you believe in something bigger than you or not. So, regardless of how you got here, it’s hard not to be fucking furious isn’t it?
But as one person said in the crowd at the closing of the day, you don’t have to dream big and you don’t have to do what I did and make massive, sweeping changes to show yourself you are good enough. It can be as simple as making people smile and knowing that you’ve made a positive difference in someone’s life, just by that small act of being human and showing genuine kindness.
There’s still meaning in what we’re going through and you are still valuable, even if you can’t have the family you dreamed of. Believe me I still have days when the grief engulfs me and I feel worthless, but I can and do pick myself back up and can see that I do add value and I am good enough. But it’s hard to do that when underlying it all you feel less than good enough.
And I learnt something special on Saturday – that room, all full of empathy and love and brave people standing up and speaking their truth, means that there are others out there that understand. They have been through their own battle of not feeling good enough and have come out of the experience in such a way to be able to support others that aren’t as far on their journey as they are.
So, for me good enough means being able to see that despite everything, you are still a unique and valuable person. You are worth something because you never know the impact you might have had one someone’s life, just by that small act of kindness. Just by rocking up and being you, you’re showing you’re good enough.
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