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The below excerpt is from You Are the Blue Sky: understanding who you are beyond your thinking, by Sarah Kostin, a personal journey of awakening and learning how to set the agitated mind at ease so we can reconnect with our true self. Available for purchase here.
Sometimes we avoid actions or people or situations because we are trying to avoid a feeling.
We don’t want to feel embarrassed or intrusive, so we don’t put ourselves out there.
We don’t want to feel the sting of failure or the pressure of success, so we don’t try.
We steer clear of a certain person to avoid the irritation or frustration that tends to arise when they are around.
We don’t want to shine too brightly, afraid of the feeling of being judged.
We don’t have to be afraid of our feelings.
We have the capacity, the bandwidth to be with any feeling.
A feeling cannot kill you.
A feeling is energy.
We feel it and it eventually passes and eases, just like a cloudy sky gives way to a blue one.
We can ride out the storm of any feeling.
I am hurting now. I just found out that my eggs are not viable enough to ever get pregnant.
I got the call at 4:45 p.m. on a Friday from my gynecologist’s office. The woman on the other end of the line was very kind and polite. She was not my doctor. She delivered the results of my blood test like the waitress relates the soup of the day at the local diner.
“Your Day Three bloodwork came back. It looks like your ovarian cycle is very low.”
Me: “Okay, what does that mean exactly?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Okay, what are my next steps?”
“Normally, you would get an HSG test and your husband would get his sperm tested.”
“Ok, so let’s do that.”
“Can you hold please?”
I stacked and unstacked the dishwasher. My cat meowed for more wet food.
“Yes, hello, Sarah? The doctor said that you don’t have any viable eggs to become pregnant. Your only other choice would be to do invitro with a donor egg.”
We get news, we get a phone call, we get an email that changes things. It’s such a simple occurrence, a benign bump under the skin. We can feel it. The more we focus on it, the more it can grow and swell until it feels like there is no room for anything else.
But we have the capacity to hold the sad feeling while not taking on its heft and weight.
There is a strange duality that takes place. I am okay. And, I feel disappointed, sad, and broken. I know that I will still live a meaningful life as a woman who loves children, but does not bear any of her own. And I can grieve the loss of not having a baby with my own DNA. I am full of love and joy and tenderness. And, I feel the hurt, the sadness, the disappointment of not getting what I wanted.
I have not told anyone about this yet except for my husband. I am not ashamed or embarrassed in any way. What I fear is that when I say, “I can’t have children,” someone will respond with saying something like this:
“Sure you can. You know there’s invitro.”
“Have you thought about adoption?”
“What about fostering?”
“Hey, you never know!”
Then, I may have to consider punching them in the face, smiling beatifically and deftly changing the subject.
We do that, don’t we? We glaze over the hurt or sadness of someone else and we “silver-lining” it. Subtly, unconsciously saying, let’s not focus on the feeling. Let’s not let that one in.
I haven’t told anyone because I just want to be sad. I want to hold the sadness in my arms like I would a newborn. I want to sing it soft lullabies and be stone-drunk tired at 3 a.m. whispering to my sadness a fairytale of a girl trapped in a tower with nothing but her long hair to save her.
We avoid doing a thing to avoid a feeling.
Here I sit crying as I type, writing these words that I will most likely never share with anyone. Though I know they might help someone else.
I’ve learned that leaning into my own experience and sharing vulnerably cuts through isolation and the illusion of separateness. I know that I am not alone in my experience. For that I am grateful.
I also see my resilience underneath my grief. I am not broken, not even close. I am a whole, complete human who happens to be experiencing the texture of disappointment, the scratchy fabric of lost hope.
It is not who I am. It is just a feeling that is currently present. A feeling, like all feelings, that I can sit with without succumbing to it.
That is another thing I fear about sharing this experience with people. That I will become this sad story, as I shuffle down the sidewalks in worn-out slippers. “There goes Sarah,” they will whisper to each other in hushed tones. “She quit her job as a children’s librarian because she can’t have kids. Such a shame—the kids all loved her so much.”
I can see how easy it is to slip into a feeling of bitterness and resentment against the world when it seems to have disappointed you. It feels like the bitterness protects us against the heartbreak that comes from outside of us.
But that only works when the world operates outside-in. If I believed that not having a baby is guaranteed to make me an embittered old woman then I would cut myself off from ever feeling the love and connection that is possible with any human. Not being a mother does not mean I cannot love. It does not mean I cannot nurture and hold space for others’ growth.
Sometimes, I stare at small children walking hand in hand with their moms, or riding on the shoulders of their dads. Just today there was a brown-eyed girl with long, brown hair wearing a tiger-striped mask. Her sneakers were adorned with glittering unicorns. She stared up at me with wide eyes that crinkled on the sides, a hidden smile beneath the mask. In that moment, the whole world shrank down into this small human being and my heart filled with love. I thought, I hope I don’t look like a stalker. I grinned and said hello. She stared right into my eyes, kind of excited that this strange woman said hello. She saw me, she seemed to exclaim as she skipped up the trail to catch up with her family.
Before I understood that my experience is coming from my thinking about a situation, I used to become so jealous of the beautiful pregnant women that would waddle into the library with their families. I tried hard not to stare. I cloaked myself in the comfort of tortured thoughts that really only dragged me down into a lonely abyss of victimhood. I shut myself off from the truth.
Now I see that pregnant women, with their ballooned bellies and stretched skin, show a remarkable capacity for what can fit inside. We have a capacity to hold it all—the sadness, the hope, the fear, the worry, the grief, the love, and the compassion—all at the same time. We don’t have to discard one to have the other. All of the feels can swell and blossom and be together, because our energetic capacity to hold them is as infinite as our consciousness.