Next week, September 16-22, is World Childless Week, founded by Stephanie Phillips. She invited writers to send in pieces based on specific themes. I submitted three essays and I believe one was selected, which will be posted on Monday — the theme for that day is Our Stories.
The prompt for Tuesday is Letters from Our Hearts, all about forgiving ourselves. I wrote a letter to myself and thought I’d share it here. Is there a letter you need to write to yourself? If so, I encourage you to take some time to sit down and write it. You don’t need to share it with anyone, unless you want to. I do believe the act of writing is a gift to yourself and leads to deeper healing.
We don’t do “sweetie” or “honey” do we? We like to hear our name spoken aloud and spelled correctly — so Anne it is!
I know it can feel like this is your fault. I know some days you still wonder if it is. I’m here to remind you that it’s not. This never was, nor ever will be, your fault.
It’s not your fault that you had severe cramps each month beginning in seventh grade. You couldn’t prevent the intense pain that led to vomiting. You had nothing to do with the way your body responded to the monthly hormones flowing through your body. You couldn’t control it.
You were so brave, month after month.
You knew how to push through the pain with breathing techniques — something you figured out on your own, no less! You knew when to ask for medicine that would dull the pain a bit. You knew when you needed to stay home and be near the bathroom. You knew what your body needed and you followed through. That required quite a bit of awareness and persistence for a young teenager!
It’s not your fault that cramps got in the way of school work leading you to decide to go on birth control. You were doing the best you knew to do, with guidance from your doctor and mother. You had no idea that going on birth control would be a long-term journey. You were just trying to get to class every day. That’s admirable.
You were so dedicated, year after year.
You figured out health insurance and managed your finances to make it possible to have those pills available for you each and every month. You stayed true to the commitment of taking one little pill every morning. You never missed one because you are good at routines and following directions. Others long for such dedication!
It’s not your fault that you ended up on birth control for close to 18 years. Well, okay, maybe it is a little bit your fault — you didn’t always make the best choices when it came to dating partners that would lead to a marriage. But, you’re aware of that, so let’s not dwell on what can’t be changed! 😉
What I can be sure of is what the fertility doctor told you — being on birth control did not cause your premature ovarian failure. It is not your fault.
It feels that way sometimes, even though she reassured you. I understand. It’s hard when there’s no “reason” for why this happened. I’m here to remind you that there’s nothing you did to cause your ovaries to stop working too soon.
Don’t blame yourself for something you had no control over.
Now, there is something you had control over — medical intervention. Yes, you could have become a mother if you had found an egg donor and all the stars aligned perfectly for the embryo to implant and grow in your uterus. Yes, that was a possibility. It was also possible that it wouldn’t work and you knew yourself well enough to understand what impact that loss would have on your mental health.
Anne, you did a brave thing by saying no. You did a brave thing by taking the path less traveled. You are a strong woman. I want you to remember that.
This is a challenging path you’re on, but you’re strong and capable. You are finding ways to bring new life out of this death. You are inviting others into this conversation and helping them find healing.
You didn’t have a choice on how this story began, but you did have a choice on how it would continue. And it’s only just beginning — keep taking one brave step after another. You’re not walking this path alone.