I Am Not Who I Was Before
I am not who I was before.
And I never will be.
I remember a time when my brain wasn’t consumed with the nagging feeling of absence of what is missing in my life. I remember a time when people told me they were pregnant and I was 100% genuinely thrilled for them without feeling any sadness. I remember when I didn’t know much about fertility or what IVF or IUI meant. I remember a time when I was blissfully unaware of my body’s shortcomings.
Pain changes a person and although the cause of the pain is often a terrible tragedy, the change a person experiences is not necessarily a bad thing.
I think back to the person I was before I suffered from infertility and failure after painful failure. As I reflect on the person I was before I had to watch everyone around me get what I wanted while my body continued to fail me over and over again, I realize that I am a better person now because of my struggles.
Before infertility, it never occurred to me that people may be smiling on the outside but dealing with a painful, soul-crushing loss on the inside until I was one of those people. I am now hyper aware of other’s feelings and forgiving of people’s shortcomings because I realize that they may be fighting a silent battle too.
I never thought about how hurtful certain statements could be: this was meant to happen, this was all in God’s plan, it will happen someday, why don’t you just adopt? I think before I speak now. I don’t try to change or justify the pain because this doesn’t help anyone. I listen more because this is what I learned that I needed during many of my hardest days.
In the past, I always wanted to stop and fix pain, rather than hug people and to tell them it was ok that they were hurting. Now, when people experience pain I tell them that that they hurt because what happened mattered. Having experienced pain that seemed so meaningless and feeling “dumb” for being sad for what could have been but never was, I can understand that sometimes pain just needs to sit because it represents what was important to us but is now gone.
During some struggles in my early 20’s I came across a beautiful poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer called The Invitation. This poem has spoken to me during some of the most challenging years of my life and it continues to get me through this challenging phase of starting a family. If you have never read this beautiful poem, I encourage you to read it here on Oriah’s website or here on my blog.
In her poem, Oriah eloquently states:
“I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.”
I didn’t realize that I wasn’t okay with other’s pain. If someone mentioned they were sad or upset I would go through a list of things that could potentially fix the issue. This is not what is needed, however. Through my struggles I’ve learned that you need to experience the pain to heal. People need to express and feel their pain in order to move past it. I can now sit with other’s pain because I’ve learned to accept my own pain.
Pain and suffering are what makes us grow as people. Through pain, we learn to empathize better. Through suffering, we realize that others too might be suffering and we can relate and share about the difficulties of traversing the day with the weight of pain, failure, and loss bearing down on us. The stronger we become, the more we can stand with others in pain, allowing them to suffer but not to suffer alone.
I feel that I have always been a kind person. I have always cared deeply about others and I have never meant to intentionally hurt anyone. The person I’ve become is a deeper, more sensitive version of this person. I’ve maneuvered my own grief, which has opened up my heart to other’s grief. I’m stronger and realize that soul-crushing pain, while it takes my breath away, will not crush me.
Suffering breeds experience and something beautiful can come from the darkest experience.
I’m glad that I’ve opened myself to sorrow and struggled through an experience that unfortunately so many other women have had to experience. I’m not who I was before and I’m glad that I will never be that person again.