I wasn’t feeling – I was doing.
- A huge part of Life Coaching is taking action. In my struggle with infertility, I was living for 1 purpose and 1 purpose only – motherhood. Yes. I was taking action to get pregnant, but I wasn’t taking action to care for myself. As a result, I stopped believing I deserved to be happy, as such being a victim was a role I took on pretty heavily. Some might say that with such a traumatic experience, it is unavoidable to feel slighted by something that means so much to you and I would agree. However, there is a difference between feeling sad and reacting to your struggle and becoming your struggle so it is all you think and feel about. I don’t know when it happened and how, but at some point in my struggle with infertility I went from being someone who struggles with infertility to be my struggle. I understood that my Endometriosis and PCOS not only provide me with mind-numbing cramps but also serve as a reason for why my body struggles to get pregnant. I owned this as a flaw. A genetic and personal flaw that makes me defective, broken, and weak, and somewhere along the way my whole being became about those things.
- I went from being someone who was excited about life, so much so that she wanted to create it. To someone whose whole life became about numbing herself to feel. From the minute we were diagnosed with symptoms relating to infertility I shut down. I was so shaken by the amount of feeling that came with the diagnosis – the fear, hurt, shame, guilt, embarrassment, anger, and grief – that I was overwhelmed. Now I didn’t shut down completely. I was still trying to troubleshoot the diagnosis with surgery, doctor’s visits, and medicine, but I wasn’t allowing myself to engage emotionally. I went from “normal girl” trying to get pregnant, to woman in pursuit of a goal, and every month I failed to reach it, I turned-off so I wouldn’t tear myself apart.
- Everything about our struggle to get pregnant involved some sort of negative judgment from me. Everything that I felt or would feel went from a woman excited to create life, and morphed into a broken woman who has no value to provide or receive in this life. I was a victim to the experience and so I victimized my thoughts. If I couldn’t have a baby I was worthless. If I couldn’t have a baby I was ruining my life, and my husband’s life, and robbing my parents of the opportunity to be grandparents, and the same for my brothers and sisters to be Aunt’s and Uncles. Not only was I ruining my life, but also I was ruining the lives of everyone around me. I felt like I wore the scarlet letter of shame for baron woman and I started to hate myself. I began to believe that if I hated me then to everyone else I was also worthless and unlovable. Obviously, these interpretations of how I saw myself were not fact. They were interpretations, but I held so much disgust for myself that I absorbed blame for everything associated with infertility from my struggle with the disease, to my husband’s misfortune in marrying me, to our parents and siblings shame in having a sister/sister in law who could not get pregnant, to the abuse I infringed upon my body with surgery, steroids, and fertility drugs, and to the grief I felt for the hole all of it created in my heart.
- Having a Life Coach allowed me to see what elements of my struggle I was telling myself were fact vs interpretation and gave me the tools I needed to see that taking action to get pregnant was valuable and strong, but I needed to take some of the love and strength behind the effort I was putting into having a baby and use it to also love on myself.
The Blame Game.
- Another important part of Life Coaching is to identify who you are being and how it is relative to the place you are at in your life. Being a victim does not help anyone, namely you, and that is exactly what I was doing. The dialogue I repeated while struggling with infertility was constantly negative. Even if I had a moment of contentment where I was OK for a bit, it was immediately penetrated by negativity, self-deprecation, silent depression and shame.
- Blaming myself day-in and day-out – judging myself, my body, my femininity, and sometimes even considering that I had done something horrible in a past life that had followed me decades later to harass and bury me in infertility agony – were just a few ways I engaged blame and victimized myself. I was stuck in a vicious, aggressive and repetitive cycle not helped by the fact that I wasn’t speaking to anyone. Not that speaking to anyone would have changed my situation, decreased the doctor’s visits, minimized the spending, or prevented me from having surgery, but it would have helped to mix-up the damaging conversation on repeat inside my head. Life Coaching is just that, a conversation.
- After 3.5-years of struggling to conceive, I had settled into an infertility depression. No one could reach me – not my husband, not my Momma, and not even Me. I didn’t know how to get myself to feel anything other than pain, anger, & self-loathing. It was such a constant emotion for a long time, that it had become my normal. While I was in a place of severe negativity, I wasn’t looking for someone to change how I felt. I was angry and I was slighted, and no amount of personal development or self-help jargon was going to change that. I was and AM NEVER going to be that girl who looks back on infertility and thinks, “Oh gee. I sure am glad that happened to me.” Nope. Never. I wasn’t looking for anyone to change my mind towards infertility. I wasn’t looking for emotional healing or relief from psychological pain. I was looking for a way to reconnect to myself, to forgive myself, and to understand that I WAS NOT INFERTILITY. I knew I struggled with symptoms related to this disease, but I needed help to stop diminishing my value as being no greater than infertility.
- I needed to feel support to take aggressive steps in loving myself again, help to rewire my thoughts and to disassociate from the anger and negativity I had towards the disease. I was hesitant that it was possible because I had spent such a long time thinking this way, but I wasn’t hesitant in knowing that it is what I wanted – release from feeling like I was nothing more than infertility – and what I needed to feel like I could find joy in life again. I needed an impartial, honest, and confidential perspective. Someone who would have no emotional investment in my struggle. Someone who would keep me focused on the end result. Someone who would help me with the hard shit, like seeing that I was more committed to being sad and feeling victimized by what was happening to me than I was living for me. Someone who would help me move forward by coaching me to become aware of my choices and actions.
- Having a Life Coach allowed me to see that while the pain I was experiencing was viable and I needed to make space for it in my life, it did not serve me to make my entire life about my pain. Being a victim kept me in my pain. Taking accountability for the positive intentions I had surrounded myself with in trying to become a mother was a valiant and courageous effort, but beating myself up for the fact that they weren’t working was not going to change anything. The only thing it changed was how I was seeing the potential in my life.
Isolation breeds Isolation.
- “Life Coaching is about maximizing someone’s personal or professional potential, allowing them to see the possibility of living a fulfilled existence, a response to that thought, establishing the foundation for a commitment to self-care, encouraging results and removing any barriers to increase a quality of life.” – Accomplishment Coaching
- I am not a fan of laying my troubles on the doorstep of those I care about, at least that is how talking about our struggle with infertility made me feel. In light of this, I couldn’t talk about my feelings around infertility with my family or friends in fear that my problems would become theirs. I felt hat in sharing how truly pained I was by the entire experience, my honesty would lead to their worry, and quite frankly, I had enough on my plate trying to manage how I was feeling daily that I didn’t have space in my life to worry about them worrying about me. Besides, they have all their own shit going on. The last thing I wanted was to feel like they were carrying around my personal baggage too. So, I started to consider talking to “someone” about how I felt because I began to realize I needed a release. I considered a therapist and a psychologist, but in all honesty, the whole healthcare situation is just too complex sometimes. I needed simple! I didn’t want to go through insurance and worry about all those extra fees and the headaches surrounding the maximum number of visits, what out of pocket expenses would be, and I had also just moved out of state. I had not the slightest idea of where to begin in locating a credible therapist or psychologist in the area, so I started to investigate Life Coaches online. I was able to see who I would speak with, engage in a discovery call to see if we jive, and there was a flat fee for the services I needed. Low and behold, Life Coaching seemed the simple solution I had been looking for and right as I started to hone in my available options, the perfect Life Coach fell right into my lap.
- Having a Life Coach is not free; it is a fee for the service industry and the 1st thing I remembered feeling when I got my 1st Life Coach –besides accountable & proud of myself for taking action to get the help I needed- was free from guilt. I was paying this person a flat amount to take a vested interest in me and help me to obtain the transformation I wanted. As I mentioned, I had done some research on Life Coaching online and when I felt I had found a viable Coaching option, there was an interview process called a discovery call. I engaged in a discovery call with her just as much as she engaged in one with me. This call determined if we were a good fit to establish a Life Coaching conversation.
- Life Coaching checked all the boxes. It was simple. It was personal. It was specific. All the pressure I had felt about laying my problems on those that I love had left because this woman was willing to step up and help me find a way to move on from my issues and start seeing the results I wanted in myself and in my life. It was a way for me to talk about my problems without worrying that the person on the other end was going to feel burdened by them and at any time, she could choose to leave the conversation just as much as I could. Whereas had I been conversing with a friend or a family member, I would have worried that they wouldn’t feel comfortable to speak-up and suggest that we stop talking about my feelings because of guilt. Hiring a Life Coach allowed me to start taking steps to get out of my isolation. It allowed me to truthfully discuss all my pains, problems, fears, & anger with someone who was confidentially and contractually bound to privacy. It allowed me to have the same sense of comfort and trust I would have had in talking with a family member or friend minus the guilt.
- Having a Life Coach gave me the courage to re-establish a vision for my life that did not include beating myself for the things I could never have controlled and taken ownership of all the things I can, do, and did. Engaging with a Life Coach changed my life, my self-esteem, and the possibility I see for a fulfilled future. It did not change the fact that I struggle with symptoms related to infertility, or that I could encounter other life-altering situations in my future, but it did severely alter my interpretation of the disease and my ability to see that I can still live a happy life.
Photo cred: William Avery Photography
Coat/Shirt cred: Cut From Same Cloth
Hat cred: 704shop
To work with Shannon directly, you may contact her here.