Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pain Triggers #2

The previous post about pain triggers reminded me of a conversation I once had with my ex-Junior High School classmate. We got to know each other better over time and then one day, long after we first met she confided to me that she used to be envious of the fact that I had my own bedroom. Mind you, I used to sleep in a bunk bed with my brother for years until I finally moved to a makeshift room at the other side of the house. Mom just put on a rail of curtains to separate it with the rest of the room. After my grandma died, I moved to her bedroom and that was when I got my own room that had an actual door (it was when I was in High School). 

Anyway, back to the story...I was totally surprised when I heard her say that. I mean, I never boasted about the fact that I got my own bedroom, but for her at that time it must've been something pretty important and something she could only daydream about (FYI she had to share a room with a cousin for years). After all, it IS nice to be able to have your own space and be able to have your own privacy. And her words reminded me to be thankful about having my own bedroom and not to take it for granted.

So, even though sometimes we don't say anything that may spark someone else's pain trigger, somebody else may feel the pain just because it's something out of reach that they've daydreamed about. Sometimes when other people state their thankfulness over something, it may also spark our pain triggers when the thing that they're thankful for is something that we don't have (either yet or can't have). 

I think it's just normal to feel that way, but when I try to think of this in a HUGE scale for every human being I meet online or offline, it feels like I start seeing landmines everywhere. There's NO WAY you'll be able to escape from inadvertently stepping on those landmines in your daily life, especially nowadays when it's easier to communicate with one another through the internet (read: share photos etc.) and there's no way you can avoid having your landmines stepped on, either. The only thing I want to do is recognize that place of pain and then embrace it, soothe it, love it, hug it until I feel better.

I realize that I also find those triggers in unexpected, random places. For example I was browsing through a friend's old album and then I saw a pic where she was holding her baby nephew. Below the pic, another friend commented, "Mother-to-be." Mind you, she wasn't preggy at that time nor was she actually TTC yet, but when I reread that comment today, I felt a little thump on my heart. The thump that whispered, "Ah, nobody'll ever say that to me." It wasn't that painful, but it was clear enough that it was one a small pain trigger 'coz it is connected to my broken dream.

To be honest, the first time we realized we were IFers, I think I must've thought IF was a kind of insolent uninvited stranger barging into our life. After a while, I started to think of it as my enemy. An enemy who tried to ransack my relationships with other people as well as hubby and then mockingly laughed at our wrecked state. I battled it with all my might, trying my best not to lose (my sanity, control over my emotions, etc.). But alas, it was WAY too strong for me. I wept buckets, bled inside, and cursed it, but after a while I surrendered and that was when I started healing. And I think after I started recognizing it as a kind of guru instead of an enemy, I've been walking further along this path of healing even more as time goes by (it's like I'm experiencing a different shift in this path of healing).

Anyway, let me end this post with some more quotes.

Lord, help us to accept the pains and conflicts that come to us each day as opportunities to grow as people and become more like you.
- Mother Teresa, A Gift for God
Adversity introduces one to oneself. 
- Unknown 

"I walked a mile with Pleasure
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne'er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me."

- Robert Browning Hamilton

Quotes taken from here and here

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pain Triggers

Was talking to a wise friend about our IF journeys and she told me this: "Just remember, everybody has pain triggers."

That's very true, isn't it? Her words remind me to keep things in perspective and that no matter how hard we try not to hurt others, there's bound to be something we say/post that triggers the pain in someone else's heart because we don't know the pain triggers in their lives. 

I think this is made even more acute with sites like FB where people get to share many things with whomever they choose. For example: a travel extensive friend has posted lots and lots of travel photo albums, to which a mother of two young children commented, "Owwwww...I can probably only start doing that at the earliest 5 years from now."

A father with a young child replied to the comment, "Yeah, the same goes for me, too!" 

And of course as IFers, we've had our own shares of pain triggers from sites like FB. Let me end this post with some quotes instead...

“It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
- James Baldwin
“Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim--letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.”
- C. R. Strahan
Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it's a big part, and sometimes it isn't, but either way, it's a part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you're alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Sometimes it leaves you stronger. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.”
- Jim Butcher
Quote sources: here and here

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weird Nightmares

PMS mode is gone! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYY!!! I'm pleased to feel "normal" again. :-D Can even proceed on talking about pregnancy, morning sickness, and baby dream without feeling like I have to "protect my wounds from getting bumped". However, I need to record some nightmares I had during the PMS period. 

Soon after the pregnancy announcement, I had nightmares two nights in a row. I don't remember the details anymore, but the first morning I woke up feeling "abandoned". The only thing I recalled was that my hubby left me in my dreams 'coz I couldn't bear a child for him. I woke up feeling, "WOAAAAHHHH!!! How the heck did I dream about THAT?" The second night there was no link to any children or pregnancy (at least I didn't recall it), but again the same theme happened: he left me in my dream. Woke up feeling relieved and tired at the same time. ---> Note: I'd never had this kind of dream before.

I know it's an absurd kind of dream 'coz there's no way he's gonna leave me because of this. esp. now that we've been embracing life without kids for a few years.

I remember that in the beginning of our living together (I moved to Finland a few months after our wedding 'coz I had to sort out the residence permit from Indo), hubby frequently dreamed that I had left him. There were more than just two occasions when he'd ask me, "Why did you do that to me? Why did you leave me in my dream?"

I replied, "Why would I leave you?"

I think in the beginning he wasn't that sure about our bond or something 'coz I can see his confidence grew leaps and bounds during our marriage. One of the reasons was probably 'coz of our long-distance relationship. I mean, we had only been together for 2 weeks or so in real life when we decided to get married, so when we first started living together it was really something new for us and I remembered being shy to fart in front of each other in the beginning LOL!!! But anyway, now I know how hubby felt when he had those dreams. Definitely not a nice feeling! Doh!

Back to the possible culprit that may have triggered the dream...must admit it was tough to read some of my friend's thoughts on pregnancy. Case in point: she wrote that after her miscarriage her self-defense mechanism kicked in and she and hubby started focusing on the good things that being a childless couple could enjoy, but then she's pregnant again and then she switched gears. Now she starts thinking of the things that childless couples are missing. 

Reading those words during my PMS required a lot of re-steering on my behalf 'coz I know she didn't mean anything bad. She was just trying to adjust the sails of her ship to prepare herself mentally to go on the next destination: parenthood. She wasn't saying those words to attack me. I only felt rather disturbed by the words because it was the thing that I had to give up for and PMS made it even more acute (like an automatic response that made me stare at the hole in my heart). I'm looking back on the moment now (post PMS) and it's not as bad as it was. :-D 

We may not be able to choose what life throws at us, but looking back, there've been plenty of miraculous events that should be celebrated, like the fact that we're still together and that we still enjoy each other's company and the fact that IF didn't break us apart and the fact that these days it's easier to analyze whatever I'm feeling compared to back then while I was still bleeding inside because there's now more distance between me and the centre of my pain. 

And let's not forget one other miraculous aspect of my healing journey: finding my comrade-in-arms in this online world is like finding a piece of heaven on earth. I know that we all didn't prefer meeting this way and walking this path, but I'm truly grateful for your existence anyway...THANK YOU for your wisdom, support, encouragement, inspiration, and for bravely and honestly walking through and dealing with each of your unique journeys and for sharing those journeys...THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Self-Defense Mechanism

I met a friend yesterday and we talked about life issues and health problems in general. She proceeded to tell me that she believed in the power of "visualisation". She didn't really call it like that, but I think it described it well enough. She said she had been wanting something for a while and then she kept on visualising it in her mind and then one day she just happened to find it and she could finally get it.

When she was describing that, I "bristled" inside. It's weird, I know, but it can only mean that there's some healing that needs to be done within myself. After all, this is what defensiveness is:
"Defensiveness, ultimately, is not about protecting ourselves from other people. People get defensive because they don’t want to experience uncomfortable feelings within themselves. Getting defensive will temporarily block the feelings that they don’t want to experience. The prescription for dealing with your own defensiveness is to let yourself experience those feelings, as uncomfortable as they may be."

You see, in the past after we found out we were infertiles, someone sort of insinuated that I should keep on visualising having the baby in my arms or something like that. I knew that person meant well, but now thinking back, I felt "blamed" for that and back then the conversation switched to other topics so I never got the chance to "defend myself". I realize now that I still have to deal with this "excess feelings" that've been haunting me every now and then.

Back then I think I was shocked into silence 'coz the person's belief made me feel like I "couldn't win either way". What slipped through my mind back then was that if I didn't end up with a baby, it was 'coz I hadn't visualised it enough and if I had ended up with a baby, that was 'coz the visualisation worked! Again I'm aware that she didn't mean it that way, but that was what I felt.

And here's what I had wanted to tell that person: "You know, I had already bought some pairs of loose pants in preparation for my bigger belly when I came back to Indo in the middle of those first year of TTC. Heck, I even bought a pair of bigger boots in preparation for that 'coz some people had told me that their shoe size had gone up during pregnancy. I had even bought a pregnancy and a few parenting books and I had even bought some used baby clothes - some of which I gave to my brother 'coz I bought them in a bulk. If you don't call that enough visualisation for the future, what do you call it then?" 

I know it may be silly to write it all down here, but I feel that I want to leave these feelings here in the blogosphere so that I can move on in my healing process. Another blogger friend who's an IFer herself had recently reminded me of the layered healing process of this journey and I should just deal with it one at a time. 

Image taken from here

And yes, as you can probably guess by the tone of this post, I'm still PMSing he he he...Mind you, I do believe in the power of positive thinking and visualisation technique, but I don't believe that "we always get what we want or strive for or visualise". But that's okay, because in turns we get to learn many more things about ourselves and we get to fight our own demons in ways that victories couldn't give us.

After all, if you had asked me when I was young if I thought I'd be living here right now and I'd be doing the kind of job that I've been doing for the past 3 years and that I'd be a Finnish citizen by now and that we'd be mostly OK with living without children, I probably wouldn't know if I should believe it or not. And if you had asked me when I was young that I would work as a book translator, I wouldn't have believed it either 'coz it wasn't the kind of job that I had planned for (my visualisation at that time was working for a garment factory and then being sent abroad as a marketing manager to deal with the clients). The translating job just sort of "clicked into place" and I did enjoy it at that time. 

Sure, there are some other aspects of my life that I had visualised when I was young that have started coming true, but there are many more details and twists and turns aren't the same as what I had "visualised". And the baby dream was one thing that I have crossed out in my dream/visualisation list. The bottom line is I LOVE this life, I'm THANKFUL for this life and I intend to make the best of it. Here's to healing, one layer at a time!!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Giving Away "Those" Books

I forgot to mention here that a few months ago I finally got rid of the English pregnancy and parenting books I bought second-hand from online shops years ago when we first started TTC. I'd started reading one of them during TTC, but the other three were parenting books, so I hadn't really started reading them yet and they'd been gathering dust in my book shelf, so off they went to this "exchange book corner" in our local library. Btw, I felt nothing when I left the books there.

In the past there was no such a thing, but these days they've put this "exchange book corner" in which people can grab any book(s) they want with the hope that they'll trade them with other book(s) that they own. The empty space has been put to good use as I've been piling up new books that I haven't read yet (chuckle). I'm a bad reader. I tend to switch from one book to another and who knows when I'll finish reading them all LOL!!! Some of them are unread, though. I LOVE collecting books even though that means I may not read them yet LOL!!!

I'm still PMSing and still feeling a bit conflicted inside every now and then (esp. when I read news about my friend's morning sickness issues and the other mommy friends got to share their own morning sickness experiences - felt like being left out when a group of friends were playing together). Just now I received an email with the title "27 weeks" and I felt a jolt inside. I thought, "Another pregnant woman?" Turned out that no, it wasn't the case. It was a false alarm. Phew!

Yep. The green eyed-monster of jealousy has arisen, though thankfully it's not blinding me. It's just a tiny little monster, but I know it's out there. One thing I tried to do the other day is to turn each jealous thought into a ball and then I (the superhero in my imagination) got to kick the ball into outer space, where it was swallowed by this giant black hole (I had to do this whenever the ball came out to play). Is this helping? I think so. :-)

Another thing that helped was exercising and doing punching and kicking movements with all my might (release all the negative energy, Amel!!!)...and feeling the lovely endorphins afterwards. :-) And yes, I looked like this fellow below when I was doing the exercise: 

Let's just see how well I fare in this friend's pregnancy journey (and maybe in the future other close friends' pregnancies) where I get to read a lot of details and where I get to see lots of pics. I'll take it one day at a time. May God help me!!!

P.S. I know I'll feel better when my PMS is over. :-) In the meantime, though, I'll continue the imaginary battle and exercise regime.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mellow Mood

PMS mode here. Just read a post about a blogger friend's friend's demise and she wrote such a beautiful post on her that just made me ache inside. Life isn't as simple as ABC. There are so many people facing their own challenges or "crosses to bear" all around me and those challenges are made even more vivid whenever I get to hear some more details about them. 

Lately I've been having lots of conversations related to children or actually pregnancies and babies with some friends.* One is pregnant and another one has started feeling the longing for motherhood. I was really happy when I heard about the pregnancy, but about half an hour afterwards the storm started within. I suddenly felt mellow and sad. I was uneasy 'coz I didn't know why I felt so sad (a different kind of sadness than what I experienced in the past). It wasn't that I started longing to have children again, mind you. Not that. 

I actually just realized (while writing this post) that the news and the talk about pregnancy and the other friend's future TTC plan transported me face-to-face with my "dead/buried dreams". As if I were suddenly standing right in front of those rows and rows of buried dreams and I couldn't help shedding a few tears (literally just a few tears, not sobbing like crazy). I was again reminded of how many dead dreams that I had to let go of and I suppose the sight of it all kinda overwhelmed me: seeing not just the buried dream of achieving pregnancy, but also the opportunity to feel the morning sickness, to feel the baby kicking inside of me, to talk about hubby about the details of the baby room, to share the news with my friends and family, to hear their shrieks of delight upon hearing the news, to share preggy photos and USG photos, to give birth, to share baby photos, etc. etc. etc. And the list kept going on. 

* Note: This is the kind of talk I want to be involved in 'coz I do care about them with all my heart. And I know they care about me with all that they've got as well. 

Photo taken from here

And on another level, again I couldn't help but think how "easy" it seemed for some people to get preggy. The latest pregnancy news reminded me of my SIL's pregnancy. When I first found out about her second pregnancy, she told me that it was a surprise 'coz she said that "they weren't even so diligent in TTC" though they were trying to have one. Words like these came back to the surface every now and then. The more often I hear words like these, the closer I got to feeling that my body wasn't working the way it should have been (in the past I had not felt this at all, I think - at least I didn't really think that way). 

Thankfully, though, the storm lasted only for about 6 hours (yeah, I'm slightly crazy about details LOL!). In the middle of it, I was screaming to God, "Help me, help me, help me focus on others' happiness instead of focusing on myself, pleaasssseeeeee." I also kept on remembering this verse: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (1 Corinthians 12:9)

That helped, as well as saying this mantra over and over again, "It's NOT about me, NOT about me, NOT about me, NOT about me". I went to bed pretty easily that night, though I must admit that it's bloody hard to try to focus on their happiness without looking back on my own history. And I couldn't help feeling "left out" - because I DO want to share the happiness by sharing my own story, but I have no story to tell except my Mom's stories about her being pregnant with us and my own childhood stories. 

But I think I've done a pretty decent job in trying to focus on them and their plans for the future instead of focusing on me (I may have slipped a few times but not too many times). Actually, writing all of this has made me feel SO much lighter. :-D

Monday, July 1, 2013

No Regrets

When we're in the the middle of a storm, it's hard to think straight 'coz everything around you is chaos. All the noise, the whirling wind, the battered and bruised self, the soaked drenched body, the fear that grips you, the inability to see ahead of you, and the list goes on.

So here I am, looking back on our IF journey, able to see things more clearly because there's a great distance between us and our TTC journey already. Despite the fact that we never tried to find out what was "wrong" with us (if such a thing could be found) and we never tried anything else other than regular TTC and some months of Chinese herbs and vitamins, I have no regrets. I feel that we've done everything we could that we were both willing to do in order to achieve pregnancy and I feel that we've drawn the right line for us. 

However, what I find most endearing about this "looking backward process" this time is that both hubby and I were on the same page every step of the way. When we wanted to start trying, we wanted to do it together and when we decided to stop, the both of us felt that it was time to stop. Back then I knew already how nice it felt to be "walking side-by-side/hand-in-hand" like that, but now I cherish it even more with fresh eyes. I'm truly grateful for being able to be "on the same page" with hubby, especially during this rocky TTC-turned-IF journey.