friends, infertility

Where Do I Belong?

Infertility brings up many questions, but the one I wasn’t expecting to ask was this: where do I belong? It’s been a struggle to answer this question over the past three years. I’m still not convinced I have the answer, but I’m getting closer.

Friends in different stages of life…

It’s hard to figure out where I belong in our friendship circles. Many of our peers are in the heart of raising children. They have fixed schedules and limited free time. The time they do have available usually fits best with other parents who live on similar schedules. 

We don’t always plan that far ahead. It’ll be Friday afternoon, we’re both done with work and we want to do something. We’ll probably go out to eat, but we’d love to do that with another couple or a group of friends. And then… we get stuck. We just don’t have a lot of friends who are available on a moment’s notice. 

I find that it’s best to plan ahead with friends who have children, but to hold those plans lightly because at the last minute someone might be sick or a meltdown occurs or something that will keep my friend from being able to join me. I completely understand. I don’t hold any anger toward my friend, but it is hard when her life is in such a different place than mine.

We’ve tried developing friendships with people who are a decade or so older… the ones who have kids in high school or college. That has worked for us occasionally, but on top of availability there is also a need for common interests and relatability. Why didn’t anyone tell us that friendship in adulthood would be so hard?! When you throw an alternative life into the mix (i.e. infertility) I’m constantly asking myself, where do I belong?

where do i belong

Church doesn’t seem to fit anymore either…

I really thought a church community would be a good solution to figuring out where I belong. I’ve been attending church since I was an infant. I’m comfortable in church settings, I know what to expect and how to behave. I worked in the church for 14 years — it really is my home. However, when I was diagnosed with infertility that changed — I haven’t felt at home in church since then.

Most churches that I’ve attended have great children and family ministries. They offer opportunities for children to learn and play together. There are programs for families to spend time with one another. There are Sunday school classes for parents of young children. 

There are also great programs for older adults that are close to retirement or already retired. They have daytime Bible studies and learning opportunities around topics that apply to their stage in life.

I have yet to figure out where I fit. There are often young adult offerings but those are usually people in their 20s — people I taught when they were in youth group and younger. I just don’t fit there. I have commonalities with those who have young children, but most often when they are gathered together they talk about their kids. And that is okay. But, that’s not what I want to talk about all the time. And, I’m not retired yet, or even close, so those topics are relevant to me.

I feel frustrated about this. I feel lonely. I feel like a misfit. It would be easy for me to stay in this place of frustration and loneliness, but I’m making some choices to change my situation. I can’t expect others to do this for me. It’s my work to do.

Time to try something different…

First, I’m seeking out other couples our age who don’t have children for whatever reason. There aren’t a ton of these couples in our circles of friends, but there are a few. So, over the next several months I’m going to create opportunities for these couples to gather for game nights, which are perfect in the winter. 

game night
where do i belong

Second, I need to let go of my expectations that there is anyone who can just hang out at the drop of a hat. This isn’t college anymore. Most people have plans. As much as I’d love to have friends who are available at anytime, that just isn’t realistic. Between work, hobbies and sleep (lol), people are busy. So, I’m going to do better at planning ahead. 

Finally, I’m going to start looking for a church again. I’ve been moping about my church issues all fall. I blame it on the fact that no one has really reached out to me, but it’s bigger than that. I just need to start looking for a community that fits my needs, that helps me answer the question, “where do I belong?”

Staying open…

Being childfree on the edge of mid-life is challenging. I have to rethink what friendships look like. I have to pay attention to what communities will welcome me. I need to start branching out a bit. Maybe it’s time to go to the local quilting group. Maybe I need to seek out some new friendships. Next week I’m meeting up with a woman who I connected with on Instagram. The possibilities are endless, but that requires me to be open. I’ve been working on that word all year… here’s another opportunity to practice.

So, where do I belong? I’ll keep you posted!

peace.

where do i belong

2 thoughts on “Where Do I Belong?”

  1. I can relate to this post so, SO very much! You’re not alone, that’s for certain.

    I reflect back on childhood and marvel at how easy it was to make friends, effortless almost. Making friends as adults isn’t easy one bit. And my observation has been that most adults make friendships with people at work or with parents of their children’s friends/children’s activities. Well, my job is just me and my middle-aged boss—so much for co-worker friendships. And not having kids severely limits my meeting people. Like you said though, that basically leaves hanging out with 20-somethings, who can be hard to relate to because our lives are on different trajectories.

    Church is its own beast to navigate during infertility too… maybe even the biggest challenge! We’ve recently been attending a new church that has virtually no small children, and a mixture of ages and life stations and circumstances. No one has yet asked us (in 3 months!) if we have/will have children, which is a refreshing change and kind of a miracle in itself.

    Like you, I’ve thought about taking classes such as crocheting or Zumba etc. to meet people. How else is there to meet people as a late-30s infertile? I’ve met a few women attending a local infertility support group; that’s probably been the biggest way I’ve met people to become friends with. Even that can be finicky though, because if a group member becomes pregnant then she’s kind of ostracized and banished in a sense from the group and friendships.

    If only all the awesome IF women I’ve met online via blogs and Instagram lived nearby—including you!

    1. I agree – I even mentioned on my IG post today that I wish all my infertility friends lived in the same place. What fun we would have together! 🙂 I’m sure life is challenging in all stages and circumstances, but this one feels particularly hard because it’s not part of the typical life cycle as prescribed by society. But, the more we talk about it openly, the more we can change the narrative. Thanks for reading and engaging with my posts. It means a lot!

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