No fruit in my womb

If I had an opportunity to speak to myself ten years ago, I think the past version of myself would be flabbergasted at who I am in the present time. I think being so open and honest about my political standpoints, my sexuality, my mental health, and my spirituality would be enough to drop past Brookana’s jaw, but the biggest shocker is my standpoint on parenthood. 

I never dreamed of a career. I never cared about working and proving myself through my education and job. I never really cared about making a lot of money and having the best of everything. Those things never mattered to me. Ever since I was young I dreamt of being a mother. I wanted to help mold my children into the people that they wanted to become. I wanted to show them that there is so much more to this lifetime than what we can possibly fathom. I wanted to show them the beauty that surrounds us, and guide them through those lessons that can feel like torture just to prove that it’s not for nothing. I wanted to aid them in evolving as spiritual beings, and I wanted to applaud them every step of the way. 

I have thought and wondered for ages who these people were going to be and what kind of life we were going to have together. I never planned for perfection. I planned for stability, for moments of joy, for lessons. I thought about family dinners and making sure that my kids would feel safe to talk to me about anything. Having an open line of communication and being their safety person always meant the most to me. 

The point is, my heart’s desire was always to have children, biological or not. 

Back in the early years of high school, my hair started to fall out in clumps. My periods became extremely irregular, and when they did come, they were awful. My endocrinologist actually suggested the idea of me getting tested for PCOS, and it wasn’t long afterward that I received my official diagnosis. I didn’t care about anything that the gynecologist had to say. I stopped listening after I heard her say that when the time comes I might face difficulty achieving a pregnancy. 

For many years that broke me. It became an obsessive thought that would keep me awake at night. I don’t think I was mature enough to realize that motherhood isn’t blood. I couldn’t grasp the idea of adoption or fostering. I thought that my dream was crushed, and if I couldn’t have biological children, I couldn’t be a mom. 

I started dating my husband a week before my sixteenth birthday, and when things started getting serious, I started to think of the future. I thought about what our home would be like, what our day-to-day was going to look like, and who are children were going to be. Thinking about our future and being excited over it made things so much worse when I would remember that there was a chance that I couldn’t get pregnant.

For many, many years my husband and I would discuss what our life was going to look like, and children was always the main goal. 

Then, a couple of years ago, I started to transition into the person who is sitting here right now. I started doing more things for myself and really dove deep into self-exploration. For the first time in twenty-six years, I finally saw myself as important, and I gifted myself the right to be selfish. 

These past few years have been incredible. I don’t do things because I think that I have to, I do what I do for me. I have never felt more secure and proud, and this shift has really helped me be the person that I always knew that I was, but was afraid to show. 

About a year and a half ago, I went to the gynecologist because my husband and I had been trying to have kids, and it just wasn’t happening. To make a long story short, it would be incredibly hard to conceive, and if I were able to get pregnant, it would be incredibly dangerous for me and the baby. So, biological children was just something that was for sure out of the question. 

I made my peace with that long ago, but it did take my husband a little bit more time to understand that I couldn’t carry children. To be honest, finally hearing that pregnancy wasn’t in the cards for me made me feel somewhat at peace. For over a decade, not knowing if I could have children or not loomed over me, and knowing a definite answer gave me much-needed closure. 

We started the process of fostering with the intention of foster to adopt, but when we were towards the finish line, we decided to pause. 

My husband and I are young. I am twenty-eight, and he is twenty-nine. We have dreams of moving to the northeast and having a farm. We want to travel the world and see and learn as much as possible. We want to make the most out of this lifetime, and having kids at this moment in time would take all of that away. We want to be living our life together for us, and not for kids. 

So the person who always wanted nothing more than to be a mom became unsure, and if you were to ask me right now if I saw kids in my future my answer would be no. 

I just got to this place of independence, and I don’t know if I want to give that up. As much as I love my husband, I even have moments where marriage seems too much for me to handle. 

It just baffles me how you really do evolve as time goes on. The thought of being infertile haunted me for so long, and now I am beyond grateful for it. If I had kids years ago, it would have been the worst thing I could have done to myself. 

Life never turns out the way you expect it to. In five years’ time, I could be on my farm in the northeast with two kids, you never know. But for now, my time is for me, and I am perfectly happy with that.

The Damage of Insecurities

When I was younger, I never felt like I was enough. I was told that I was too fat, too mentally unstable, too dramatic, not ambitious enough. I was even compared to the neighbors’ children. I knew that I was loved, but I always felt like there was more expected from me, and when I would succeed there was still a higher expectation from me. I think feeling that way for the majority of my childhood has brought on a level of insecurity that I am now attempting to battle as an adult. 

I am not a skinny girl. The only time that I have ever been “skinny” was when I was first diagnosed with type one diabetes, and I remained “thin” for a few years after that. I can acknowledge that I have an unhealthy relationship with food. I use food as an emotional crutch, and I can easily say that I sometimes binge. I had a family member who was hyper-fixated on food, and there were always little comments made about my eating and exercising habits. While one could say that their concern was out of the goodness of their heart, it always felt like they would have rathered me to look like them rather than myself, and that was beyond hurtful and damaging. Sometimes I look at myself and I think that I am disgusting, revolting, hideous, and I just want to hide in my bed and not be seen by anyone. Then I think about how I need to limit my calorie count and exercise for hours every day, and I spend hours researching herbal remedies to help suppress my appetite and detox my body, and then I think “why can’t I just have a healthy relationship with my physical body?” When it comes to my physical being, I am either confident with what I look like or I wish that I could be a completely different person. I know we all experience some sort of body dysmorphia, but I can’t help but wonder what my insecurities and relationship with food would look like if I had a different experience growing up. 

Who I am as a person is someone who I have consistently worked on. There are a few memories that I have from growing up that have stuck with me. I remember one time I was in an argument with a parent while one of my grandparents was over, and that grandparent made some comment to my parent and they replied “I have tried to change her but she is already like her blank*.” The moment that comment left their lips I felt immediately not good enough. The person that my parent compared me to was someone that they despised, someone who they wished was completely different, and it made me doubt myself. They wanted to change me. They voluntarily admitted that they made an active effort to change me, who wouldn’t question who they were as a result? Another time where someone close to me made me doubt myself was when I was told that I would never be a success. I would never graduate from college, and essentially, I was going to be a loser. They were right about one thing, I didn’t graduate from college, but that was a choice that I had made when I discovered that there was more to life than working a 8-5 job. I figured out how to live life differently, and although I have zero regrets, the intent with their comment was made out of hostility. To insinuate that I would never be what society’s definition of success is and that I would never amount to anything caused some damage, and once again, made me question myself and what I am capable of. 

To say that I wasn’t loved by my parents would be disrespectful to them as well as untrue because I know that they have loved me for my entire life. The way that my parents showed their love was through providing, and as much as I appreciate and love them for that, who I have become today is who I chose to be, and not who they raised me to be. It would be fair to say that there has been problematic behaviors from both of my mom and dad, as well as extending family, that has affected me into my adult life. There were two people in my life who always brought me comfort, who always made me see my worth and the value that I bring to this world, and I am forever grateful to those two people. My grandma and my aunt were always the ones that I felt the safest around, and I am forever grateful for them, because otherwise I would have had a very lonely childhood. 

Due to the fact that I never felt like I got the love that I was looking for from my parents growing up, I know I have developed an insecurity with the people who are now in my life as an adult. For example, my best friend. I am constantly worried that I am not being a good enough friend to her, or that I am not doing enough for our friendship. Sometimes I worry that her relationships with other people hold more value to her than her relationship with me, and I worry that one day our friendship will end because of that. I know it stems from fear that I am not good enough, and this insecurity is one that I hate the most. I know that she and I have an incredibly special bond that is really hard to come by. We have been friends for well over a decade at this point, and we are family. But I am scared that one day she won’t be there anymore. I feel like it’s an internal battle. I know that we have a solid friendship. I know that we can have open conversations about literally anything and everything will be okay. I have trust in our friendship, and yet I need validation that everything is okay. I am even that way with my husband. If I feel even a slight shift in his energy I immediately think that I am not good enough for him and he wants to leave. I think that something is wrong and that he is no longer happy. Even after he tells me that everything is okay, I still worry. I honestly think that it stems from my best friend and my husband being the first healthy relationships that I have ever had, other than my grandma and my aunt, and I am terrified of losing that. This is something that I recognize is INCREDIBLY unhealthy, and as much as I hate to admit, on the verge of approaching codependency, and I need to learn that I can’t hold so much doubt and fear within my relationships with people. Although I feel like I am the type of person that may need more validation than the “average” person, it is unfair for me to expect those around me to provide that. 

The person that I am today is someone who I have made an active effort to evolve into. There are things about myself that I need to tweak, but that is why we are here. We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience, and to say that I have learned a lot would be an understatement. Of course all of my shortcomings are not my parents fault. I take a lot of responsibility for my faults and flaws. I sometimes wish that my childhood was different, but there is nothing that I can do about my past other than use it to positively influence my present and future. Insecurities are little demons that we all have to battle, and hopefully one day mine will be a part of my past.

*Omitting name due to privacy.

Feel.

What does it feel like to have a mental illness? 

Every person has a different experience, but here is mine.

Mental illness is a type of monster that wants nothing more than to isolate you, torture you, belittle you, and test you.

Mental illness will make you doubt yourself more than anyone else ever could, causing your own self worth to diminish with every word spoken from your mind. 

Mental illness will keep you up at night. You think about every single thing that has ever happened to you, you think about and play out scenarios that never even happened, and you question every choice that you have ever made.

Mental illness will make you feel like you are in a world of euphoria, where you have never-ending energy and you can take on anything that comes your way. If you wanted to, you could save the world with your love, positivity, and energy. You can spend hours exercising, deep cleaning, calling and texting all of your friends and family, and not feel anything but extraordinary. You could quite literally do anything and everything, and you try to because you feel so good. But then, you crash. You spend eighteen hours in bed sleeping despite your partner trying to wake you up. You ignore phone calls and texts because you don’t have it in you to speak to another soul. When you do wake up, you’re a shell of a human being that just does the bare minimum to keep your body alive because at that moment your spirit is gone. This can last for as little as a day, or even months. You never know. 

Mental illness is either eating too little or too much. 

Mental illness is watching videos at four in the morning on “at home stick and poke tattoos” and considering buying the equipment yourself because you could “easily do that!”

Mental illness is wanting to tell your friends and family that you are sinking into a low but you’re too afraid to tell them because they go through this with you all of the time. Also, they sometimes throw your mental illness in your face when they are displeased with you.

Mental illness is staring at the scars on your body that you gave yourself and hoping with everything that you have that you won’t pick up that blade again.

Mental illness is knowing what is happening to you but not having any control over it.

Mental illness is taking medication and having a therapist because life would be awful without those things. 

Mental illness is relying on animals to bring you a glimmer of happiness and a sense of calm. 

Mental illness is living past memories so vividly that you have to remind yourself that those memories are in the past and you are safe right now.

Mental illness is constantly having to listen to people tell you to “grow up” or “deal with it” or “snap out of it.” 

Mental illness is sobbing in the shower or on the floor of your bedroom because you can’t stop thinking of the worst. 

Mental illness is a curse. It’s a sickness that eats away at you. It is always there, taunting you in the background just so you know that it is still there and can hurt you at any time. 

If you know someone with mental illness, please take it seriously. Ask them what they need. Make them tea, put on their favorite movie, give them their favorite book, make them their favorite food. Do whatever you can to make them feel loved and cared for and valued because when they are in a low they can’t see how incredible they are. The pain is unbearable, and even a tiny bit of effort and love from the people around them could quite literally save their life.