Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Therapy & Courageous Conversations

Today I had my first appointment with a new therapist and have to say that I really, really liked her! She scheduled 1.5 hours with me, but I ended up being there for 2 hours. I had much to talk about with 4+ years of IF, multiple miscarriages, IVF, life-threatening HELLP, Myles's premature birth, Myles's death, surrogacy, and miscarriage with a surrogate. I'm sure it was a lot for her to take in. Towards the end of our discussion she asked me if I've always felt responsibility and guilt for things that happen to me and/or those around me? Apparently this was a reoccurring theme in my story. I thought about it for a moment and realized that I do assume responsibility for many things, including those out of my control, and as a result I drive myself crazy with guilt. I feel responsible for putting J through this nightmare. I feel responsible for Myles's early birth and death. I feel responsible for "wasting" four snowbabies on my uterus because of my selfish desire to carry another baby. I feel responsible for ruining K's formally blissful experience with pregnancy. I feel responsible for putting K and her family through all that they've been through. I feel responsible for asking too much of my friends and family. And I feel guilty and sad for my part in all of these things. My therapist told me that this is something she wants me to work on over the next 2 weeks. She says it's way too much to place all of that on myself. She says that I have to acknowledge that I didn't have control over most of these things and that I need to attempt to let them go. Umm, I can identify and acknowledge, but am not quite sure how I'm supposed to let go of this?

Today I spent the afternoon at a workshop called "Beyond Diversity", which focused on deinstitutionalizing racism and eliminating racial achievement disparities in public eduction. The workshop is based on the book entitled Courageous Conversations and was quite enlightening and has opened my eyes to institutional racism that exists in our schools. The speaker was dynamic and shared several quotes that resonated with me. Although I did think of these quotes in the context of racial disparities and bridging the gap to provide all students an equal opportunity to learn, I couldn't help but think of these quotes in relation to my own personal struggles.

"We will never be able to fix what we can't face." --Author unknown

This quote reminded me of my struggle with guilt and assuming responsibility for all the bad things that have happened. I think that by acknowledging the issue is the first step toward me being able to "fix" this line of thinking (or so I hope).

"We see things not as they are but as we are." --Douglass Fitch

This quote reminded me of the ups and downs of infertility and how that affects my line of thinking in regards to my future. If I am feeling down, then thoughts of my future are centered around hopelessness and despair. I feel certain that another child isn't a part of my future. If I'm feeling "good", then my thoughts of our future are hopeful. I tend to feel strongly that we will have another child. All too often I'm a "feeler" and this overrides or masks the "thinker" in me. J is a thinker and he rarely has this problem, but how I see things is largely affected by how I am feeling emotionally.

"We prepare ourselves to respond, but not to listen." --Franklin Covey

This quote made me think of those people who pretend to listen to what I'm saying, but in reality are actually just waiting for an opportunity to tell me what they think (or more so what I should do). I think we all do this to some extent. When I'm having a heated discussion with J I often miss most of what he's saying because rather than intently listening to what he's saying I'm actually going over in my mind what I'm going to say to him. I think this is a natural tendency, yet I realize that it is incredibly ineffective communication. This is just a reminder to me that I need to focus on being a better listener and hope that others will do the same.


Duck said...

Hey Niki - I too feel guilt for things beyond my control and have always been like this (for example when ever my mother went out to dinner she always orders a meal that she doesn't like and then I can no longer enjoy myself or the food that I have that is great). I blame it on growing up catholic, all that guilt - Mr. Duck feels nothing like that.

It makes surrogacy very hard, but I'm learning to understand that I am not responsible for others happiness, they are.

I too have/had guilt about being the infertile one in the relationship, the reason why there is so much misery in our lives, but, I have been dealing with this over the past year by reminding myself of all the joy I also bring into our lives, yes, I'm the reason why we are infertile but, i am also the reason that we have this lovely home that we love (I found it not the real esate agent) and the dog that we all adore (I found her and had to convince Mr. Duck that we had to have her in our life). I'm the reason that my husband has a great career because without me he would have never taken the risks that he has, so yes, I bring the infertility but, I also bring great stuff too (so that's what helped me).
I'm so glad that you like your therapist - you know where I am if you need me.

Bluebird said...

I'm so glad you like your new therapist! I imagine that makes quite a difference. It sounds like she already has some good insight :)

MyLifeMyWorld-SharingADream said...

I'm so glad you like your new therapist, and I just love the quotes you got from the seminar.

This one:
"We see things not as they are but as we are."

REALLY resonated with me. Each life experience affects us and makes us who we are, and in essence how we see things. I have much work to do with this one as often times the way I see things because of who I am are not really the way things are but rather my interpretation, and often times get me in trouble too.

Thanks for sharing such a great post!

Donna said...

It's wonderful that you found a new therapist that you feel comfortable with.

Anonymous said...

The new therapist sounds great - and so did that seminar. I went through years of therapy in my early 20s for things unrelated to IF or IVF and it has really, really helped me in my relationship with Mr. M and in life. I admire you for going through the process and just my two cents is that you are so giving - you may feel unwarranted guilt - but you continue to give all of yourself and trying to make sure others around you are okay too. Don't forget about you. Sorry for the assvice!

One thing I am having trouble with is keeping it all inside and being "alone". I feel like I live inside myself and there is no one that really knows how I feel - I think I am scared to let people IRL see me - see me how I really am.

Anonymous said...

Hey N - thanks for your post. I am very public about my IVF/IF but I am keeping the fact that we are using donor sperm to ourselves - for many reasons, including that it will affect my (hopefully) future child...much to think about and I want to control how and what is said.

Lost in Space said...

I'm so glad you liked your new therapist. That really had to feel good just spilling it all out.

Guilt is an ugly little thing and I wish I knew how to move past it. My head knows that these are all things out of my control, but my heart likes to mess with me. I think it is just one step at a time. Today acknowledging it is enough.....

Many hugs, Niki.