Going back to basics to find the new you - being your best mate part four.

Last week we talked about those of you that perhaps are at the start of your childless-not-by-choice journey, or for those of you that are like me a little further on, you can still sometimes feel yourself being sucked back into the black hole. It can be hard to try and drag yourself out, but I said that being your best mate and treating yourself kindly is a start.

So, what happens when you start to come out of the black hole and you’re peering at the yawning chasm that is now your life without children? What the hell do you fill it with? That was the tough question I found myself contemplating when I started to feel myself pulling out of the black hole on all of the occasions I’ve been there. It can feel pretty bloody intimidating, when you look at the choices set before you – disappearing back into the hole, or finding something else to try and fill your life up with, so that you can stay out of it.

I’m going to be honest here – the first time I started to pull myself out of the black pit, I found that I had no goals, no dreams and life had become a treadmill. I surveyed what my life had been reduced to and it was just a pretty relentless routine. Absolute tedium with nothing that I felt I was particularly passionate about except running.

It was at this point, I found myself saying ‘yes’ in a sort of desperate attempt to fill it up. There was all sorts of guff that I tried and failed to take up because I just wasn’t able to invest in it at the time…

  • Going out drinking a lot. It became a way for me to fill time up, numb the pain, because there was still plenty of that and burn through a stack of cash. It was self-destructive, because I became a bit of a lunatic on the alcohol, which gave me a level of foolhardiness that I never really felt was me. It was an imposter’s suit of chaos…and then I’d have the day after with which to reflect on my behaviour and feel like shit. Luckily for me I had some very understanding friends.
  • Buying a load of craft stuff – I burned through cash by buying a heap of craft kits. To this day they still sit in my wardrobe waiting to be done. I will get around to completing them, because I’m now in a place where I can, but I know there is a part of me that remembers the thought process behind buying them and feels that familiar pang of pain…
  • Starting courses and never finishing them – there was the nutrition course where I loved the biology but hated being told what to think about food (there goes the rebel again). Then there was the herbology course, with the excitement of buying all the books that have never been opened. They were all second hand and I know at some point I will read them, but even so…Then there was the passing interest in Reiki, Reflexology and numerous other alternative health courses. All trying to work out why I couldn’t have children, why I felt so shit in my own body (various Endometriosis symptoms as it turns out…) and then trying to find a purpose. 

There is more I could add to this list (yeah I know…), but the underlying theme here is not only the amount of money that I had to throw away (I no longer have it to do that now that I’m self-employed), it’s the increasing desperation that shines through in me trying to find some sense of purpose or fun, when underneath it all, I felt I had neither. Looking back, I can see that it’s very reflective of the effort, time and money that went into my quest to have a family and it makes me feel incredibly sad for the person that I was. It really does show the levels of emptiness I felt and perhaps you out there feel after you discovered there won’t be any children.  

And so here are some tips that I have learnt in terms of trying to find a sense of purpose when that has been kiboshed by childlessness. Hopefully, not only will they help you to explore your own sense of finding meaning or at least some direction, they’ll also save you a ton of cash and time…

  • I talked about this on Monday, but what did you enjoy doing when you were younger? It could be anything from making mud pies and grubbing about in the earth. It could be building a fort, being brave and exploring new places or it could even be just sitting down with a good book. What was it that put you in that zen place that meant you could lose hours when you were younger?
  • Now think about how that can be applied to the now. If you liked grubbing around in the soil, what about gardening? If you enjoyed exploring, what about travelling somewhere, or simply donning your boots and exploring somewhere locally (I’ve recently discovered Geocaching – have a quick Google)? If you loved to read (ditto!), how about rediscovering some old books you used to love, or going to a second-hand bookstore to find some new pre-loved gems?
  • Make a promise to yourself that whatever you choose, you’ll set aside a slice of your time each week for some non-negotiable me time. It might well sounds a bit selfish to some of you, and that’s certainly how I initially felt when I started doing this, but now it’s a must. It means I can take some time out, fill up my reserves of energy and just get off the relentless treadmill when I need to. Honestly, you can have that too!

And remember to journal about the good stuff – when you’ve felt that small spark of joy, hope or just calm, notice it. Because, speaking from experience, once you start to notice it and feel it, you’ll want more. You’ll focus on those things that cause that little spark within you and you’ll go searching for more of it, because it’s addictive and before you know it, you’ll find yourself feeling a little lighter at times or even just being able to recognise that life doesn’t have to be relentlessly shit.

But it all starts with going back to basics and remembering what you used to do when you were younger and then building yourself and your life back up from there. Trust me it works and it’s how I found my passion for people and counselling. Because at the end of the day I have and will always be curious about people and how they view the world…some would say nosey, but I prefer curious.

Being your own best mate means being able to find the things you like doing, even if that's on your own

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