Lesson from Infertility: What’s Helped Me Cope with Disappointment
“When you find no solution to a problem, it’s probably not a problem to be solved, but a truth to be accepted.” ~Unknown
For the longest time, I swore I’d never get married or have kids.
Growing up with an alcoholic father, in a domestic violence situation, shattered my young spirit and left me putting the pieces back together for years.
Since I didn’t see healthy coping skills growing up, it’s no wonder I grappled with my own addictive behaviors. I struggled with self-worth, focusing solely on accomplishments to fill a void inside of myself.
Externally, people saw a well-adjusted, smart girl who excelled at sports and was a natural leader, with plenty of friends.
All seemed well.
Internally, I was dying, and I’d take anything I could get my hands on to escape my reality. I used work, relationships, and substances to make myself feel better for a short while.
However, self-loathing runs deep and it eventually won the day.
I wasn’t enough, and there wasn’t anything sustainable that would make me feel okay about myself for any length of time. I didn’t realize it then, but what I really wanted wasn’t to merely the fill the void; I was longing for a connection to my authentic self. But I couldn’t figure out how to create it.
My emotional suffering was crippling.
While other people were getting married and having babies, I was surviving the day between emotional highs and lows and barely holding on to any form of functioning.
Though I had vowed never to get married or have kids, I secretly longed for it. I’d disavowed it only because it didn’t seem possible for me.
Plus, how would I ever bring a child into this mess of a life?
When my self-destruction hit a crossroads of kill myself or live, I chose to heal and get better so that I could be a healthy person for myself right then and perhaps for a partner and child in the future.
I wanted to be the healthiest version of myself, and thinking about what might be helped me get present to what needed to be healed.
Part of the journey back to my true self was about learning unconditional self-love. Hearing the paradigm that I’m a spiritual being having a human experience opened up an avenue of self-loving within me that I had never experienced before.
I focused diligently on having a healthy relationship with myself by engaging a daily self-care practice that included positive affirmations, physical exercise, self-forgiveness, and connecting to something greater than myself.
By learning to relate to myself in a more positive way, I started to have better relationships with others. And one particular relationship came in that reflected back to me my deep self-love and spiritual growth. This relationship would turn into a life partnership and eventually a marriage.
Though I never thought I would get married, I did the inner work to transform myself into the partner that I wanted to have in this lifetime.
My spiritually connected and loving relationship with Richard opened me up to the possibility of having children.
This was a huge shift from my days as a child and young adult where I vowed never to have significant relationships with anyone.
But then something I never expected happened. We never got pregnant.
We tried for many years and mutually decided that if we couldn’t naturally have a child, we wouldn’t have one at all.
There was tremendous disappointment, anger, and sadness. When something isn’t a possibility for you, it can make you want it more.
I went from obsessed to defeated.
Richard and I finally landed on and allowed our grieving.
It was a process. It still is.
What’s super special about this journey is that I was able to pull from my recovery toolbox to support myself through this experience.
I focused on these three powerful steps.
1. Look for the learning.
Getting my mind right has been the biggest growth opportunity in my healing process. Before learning about my infertility, I’d studied spiritual psychology at The University of Santa Monica, where I learned the twenty-two principles of spiritual psychology. One of those principles, “life is for learning,” has empowered me to look for my spiritual curriculum instead of staying in victimhood.
Staying empowered versus going into disempowerment has kept me learning from my life experiences, and helped me avoid growing bitter. Through my infertility, I learned to let go of control. I learned true surrender to the unknown. And I learned to trust something greater than my humanness. I’ve experienced so much grief, resilience, and acceptance. Embracing it all has enriched my life instead of making this a solely painful experience.
2. Accept what is.
I found acceptance of what is. I’m not fighting reality, saying it should be different. I don’t know what it should look like, and I accept that this is my spiritual curriculum.
Ego thinks it knows what the human experience should look like. My spirit knows that this is the experience I’m meant to have. Or at least that’s what I believe—that I was meant to grow through this and love myself no matter what. And I’m doing that!
I’ve also come to realize that even when life doesn’t turn out how we think it should, it can still be enjoyable if we’re willing to shift our focus and do the best we can with the hand we were dealt. For me, that’s meant committing to being the healthiest human I can be, living a purpose-driven life, and helping other people self-actualize.
Even if you don’t believe you receive a “spiritual curriculum” for life, or are “meant to have” certain experiences for your growth, it feels incredibly liberating to accept what is and choose to make the best of it. This is how I’ve been able to keep my peace instead of giving it away.
3. Choose peace.
I choose peace. It’s an affirmation that has served me well for many years through different life challenges. I can choose to be in resistance and suffer, or I can choose to be in acceptance and have my peace. I choose peace. It doesn’t mean I don’t experience some sadness from time to time, but those moments are few and far between because it’s more valuable to me to accept and have peace than it is to hold onto grievances.
Life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. I put expectations on life, and life had its own plans.
My duty is to be with what is and love myself through it.
Accepting what is has been one of the most freeing experiences of my lifetime because it’s opened me up to new possibilities I wouldn’t have been able to see had I stayed stuck in resistance. Furthermore, I’ve been able to experience motherhood through mothering myself, our four wonderful dogs (Peanut, Ziggy, Tucson, and Bootie), and those I come into contact through my life’s work.
I can still be a mother—to myself and others. I get to define what that looks like for me.
When life seems difficult or unfair, focus on the lessons so you can empower yourself instead of victimizing yourself, accept what is, and remind yourself that this is what it means to choose peace. These strategies have offered me continued spiritual growth, supported me in strengthening my relationship with my husband, and empowered me to carry on with co-creating an enjoyable life.
And if you’re experiencing infertility, like me, know that it doesn’t have to be something that sidelines you. It can not only be a source of tremendous spiritual growth, it can also be the gateway to a different path that could be equally as fulfilling.
About Berverly Sartain
Beverly Sartain is a certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Recovery Life Coach, specializing in Spiritual Psychology. Beverly coaches men and women on turning their life’s challenge into their life’s work so they can make a meaningful contribution in this world while while continuing to heal. Beverly loves connecting so feel free to connect with her at recoverylifemanagement.com.