Where was I?

We were talking about something before I went off into a colossal sulk and had to be rescued from it by the Power of the Meme. Counselling. That’s what it was. And I did get some awesome comments of advanced awesomeness. So I shall address points raised, in an attempt to knock the volcanic ash out of my synapses.

Item – A couple of people pointed out that I should perhaps see a counsellor that ‘does’ infertility and loss, what with infertility and loss being such a total mind-fuck of immense fiddliness. My ex-counsellor is a specialist in infertility and loss. That was why we went to her in the first place. The latest counselling FAIL has thrown me for a complete loop for that very reason. She should get this! Why doesn’t she get this?

Item – As to H and my communication issues, I’ve had to apologise to him several times this week, for leaping forth on minimum provocation with a cry of ‘have at you, scurvy knave!’ and briskly slapping him about the beard with a handy Glove of Ridiculously Short Fuse. H is adopting a good-naturedly saintly attitude about it all, but has signally failed to offer to rub my feet.

Item – Eh, well, it’s not really a communication issue, is it? It’s a ‘May is being a spectacular harpy’ issue.

Item – HFF’s comment (my God! The love!) on the issue was Very Wise (she is very wise. Also, very funny and very kind. Also also, very good at cake). Did we set goals with Counsellor? Did I let go and weep hysterically in her office while shouting (incoherently, snottily, hiccoughily) about just how Not OK I was? No, and no. We set goals during the first set of sessions, and they were goals about communication, getting May to depretzel long enough to ask for help and support, and getting H to loosen the hell up and admit to his damn feelings once in a while. (It worked rather well. H was talking about his feelings only last night. It was very moving and sweet). On the second go-around, I think we talked some vague piffle about not really feeling OK what with the 2009 Mucho Shit Avalanche With Added New Year Arse-Gravy, 2010 edition, and then proceeded to demonstrate a beautifully interlocking and mutually-supportive communication out-break the like of which normally only happens in the ‘after’ case-studies in psychology text-books. Benevolent and baffled, Counsellor sent us away to get on with the communication lark we were clearly so bloody marvellous at.

Item – On the other hand, given that we are communicating as smoothly as the Dancing Cars in the Italian Job, and given that since she last saw us we’ve piled on a few more miscarriages and a diagnosis of ‘your uterus, it borked’, I do wonder what the buggery hell she thought we were there for. People don’t cheerfully chuck away £65 an hour for the ‘meh, bored now’ of it all. There’s a cinema just down the road if things have got a bit like that.

Item – I think I expected her to notice, or realise, there was more to it than that, and maybe pry a bit. l wanted her to pry a bit. I feel a right feckin’ eejit just marching into a room and saying ‘hello, I’m all unhappy and shit, let me tell you why. Even when I’ve paid for the damn room exactly so I could march into it and say exactly that. This is making me sound deranged, isn’t it? See? I need counselling.

Item – HFF is right, and H’s presence is very inhibitory. Not because I want to tell a therapist all about my plans to steal H’s credit-card and run away with a Bolivian Hell’s Angel called Marion. Not because I want to tell a therapist about all the ways in which H is Doing Me Wrong, starting with his habit of leaving the lid off the shower-gel and working my way up through ‘getting all defensive and refusing to listen when I go off on one about the shower gel’ to finish in style with something deeply unkind about the (rare! I hasten to note, rare!) occasions our sex life jumps the rails and topples over what with the stress and ‘do it NOW DAMN IT’ thing not being a turn-on after all. No. I can’t talk with H in the room because I feel deeply uncomfortable about letting H know just how miserable and frustrated I truly am with the way my life has turned out.

Item – I find myself just pointing at it all, at it all, and shouting ‘NOT! WANT!’. I fucked up a lot of things, my PhD (enough! We do not speak of that!), my health, my career. I gave up on ambitions because I just didn’t feel I could keep asking other people to help and support me while I worked for them. I felt ashamed for being so financially dependent. So I followed the path of ‘sensible’ and the path of ‘what other people think is right’ and the path of ‘fiscal responsibility, also, not being a leach on your spouse’. And then, H wanted to wait until we were solvent and adult and married before chucking out the contraceptives, and I went along with that too. I agreed to it. It was sensible.

Item – I am really too old and too intelligent to sit about blaming my parents/teachers/doctors/husband for my own spinelessness or lack of nous. The mess of Things I Fucked Up Single-Handed and Things I Let Other People Fuck Up For Me is impossible to unpick now.

Item – I am not the person I meant to be, and I still have to get up every morning and be this other, lesser, human being and pretend I like it. For H’s sake. I have to believe I did the right thing in giving up on being an academic, and that I did the right thing in getting a full-time job in the one career-path I hadn’t completely unfitted myself for. I have to believe that waiting until I was 30 before trying to get pregnant wasn’t the most appallingly stupid thing I’ve ever done. I have to believe that the life I have now is enough for me, and I don’t need or want more. Alas, I am an atheist, and belief is, among all things I suck at, the thing I suck at most.

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18 responses to “Where was I?

  • Heather

    Sensible to whom? To what others will think of us? Not sensible for following our dreams…sigh. I’m there with you on this one.

    NOT WANT!

  • MFA Mama

    I’m with you on the “atheist here, believing, me, not so much and also see this right here? NOT! WANT!” For different reasons that amount to the same thing: second-guessing things that can’t be undone, and not seeing how to go forward given what’s already happened. Sucks, dunnit? I’m so sorry.

  • Ben Warsop

    Blimey there’s a lot here. I want to think about it more. But I do have two thoughts to throw in to the mix.

    One is an NLP adage, but useful for all that: all behaviour, no matter how destructive, has at its core a positive intention. Yes, OH-K-A-A-A-Y, what you’ve got there is an inventory of the flagstones you’ve laid on the path to the hell that neither of us believe in. But the point is that there was no malice towards yourself or anyone else in the acts. They were mistakes and we all make mistakes; it proves we’re human. Even you, darling May.

    The other is that each of your decisions were the right thing to do given the situation you were in at the time. If hope is a bitch, then hindsight is her vindictive little sister. Yes, it proved to be a mistake to wait until you were 30 to throw away the pills but it was the right decision at the time. As were the others. Regret the outcomes, but don’t beat yourself up for the decisions themselves.

    Oo looked at in one way you look like a self-saboteur, betraying your own hopes and plans. But for fexxake, May, life’s difficult and complicated and full of traps for the unwary and luck really DOES come in to it: specifically genetic, cultural and social luck. In other words, you have been negotiating a path through the minefield laid out for you by your body and the assumptions and norms of your family and the world you inhabit.

    Your sentence “I am not the person I meant to be, and I still have to get up every morning and be this other, lesser, human being and pretend I like it” is shockingly moving. However, you are not morally less. Neitzche was a twat: that which does not kill you can leave you whimpering and limping for life. But the best you can do is the best you can do, and you are one of those woman whose self-standards are intimidatingly high. Yes you may not be the person that your 16 year-old self assumed you would become, but I suspect that perfect academic who combined tenure with an improbably high income AND a brood of little clever-cloggs would have been less nuanced, less sympathique, and a fek of a lot smugger than you are. In other words, less grown-up. Easy lives are, I suspect, rather dull. Pleasant, but – by definition – unchallenging.

    Our challenge is always to cut our coats according to our cloth, and as I’ve said, the size, shape, colour and quality of the fent is down to sheer bloody luck. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but pigs do in fact have very lovely ears. I’m not entirely sure where to take this metaphor next, so I’ll pat it on the shoulder and let it go.

    You are right to grieve the shiny future you’d planned for; you know about grief curves and the whole denial-anger-bargaining-depression-acceptance thing. You have so MUCH to grieve for that you are being shunted around like a pin-ball ricocheting off acceptance of your academic outcome to anger at your miscarriages to bargaining for your health and so on.

    I have no doubt that you’ll emerge from the other end of this as a wiser, richer, deeper, more multi-dimensional woman. And yes of COURSE you’d rather be Dr McSmug with her tenure and fancy income and perfect twins. But she strikes me as shallow and rather brittle myself.

    Ok, more than two thoughts. Heaven help us all if you catch me when I don’t want to prefix a comment with “Briefly…”

    xxx

    Ben

  • valeryvalentina

    ooooooooooo yes.
    Hardly dare to say something after Ben (wow!, so true).
    I guess when we’re sixteen we dream of a future. I just forgot that growing up doesn’t give me all the answers-just more questions. One life does not seem enough to get it right (for me at least)

  • manapan

    I wish I could say something to try to make you feel better, but I feel too similar right now to come up with anything positive. So (((hugs))) it will have to be.

  • a

    Sigh…there’s the trouble with having ambition – if you decide to leave it for other foci, you have regrets. Happily, I have lacked ambition most of my life, and thus, am able to be content. 🙂

    Why is this person you are now a lesser person? Why can’t she just be a different person? What’s wrong with being sensible?

    Also, no one can read your mind, so if you want to talk to your counsellor about your issues, you might have to actually bring them up. However, I agree that she should have done a bit of prying.

    (And, if it distracts you from your misery/despair cycle, why not pursue the career you really want? Are you single-minded? I don’t think so. Can you only handle one challenge at a time? I doubt it. Will it strain you? Probably. Will it change your reproductive issues? No. Would it add a ray of light to your tunnel of woe? Most likely. Would you then have time to go into a rage about the state of the shower gel? Definitely not. Just a thought…)

  • Hannah

    May, you touched on so much here, and your honesty is deeply moving. Nate and I periodically see a counselor for 2 hours at a shot. He gets 40 minutes by himself, I get 40 minutes by myself, then we come together for the last 40 minutes to share whatever we’re comfortable sharing and coming up with ways to honestly express what we need and how we can support each other. The combination of individual time and “together” time seems to work well for us.

    Like you, I need to be “prodded” in to digging in to the issues. When I first started going, I made myself promise to really try to be open to whatever issues may come up or questions I might be asked, but I need to be asked. Because, really, how to you just jump into this s*@t on your own?? I can’t help feeling like when I open up and jump, it’s a really freakin’ long way down, and who knows how I’ll ever get out?? But the truth is that jumping into it is the only way THROUGH it.

    Also, I had a cat, who when he was really upset, (like when going to the vet, or when we were re-arranging furniture)he would curl up in his favorite hiding spot and howl as loud as he could, letting the world know he was Terribly Distressed. His way of saying NOT WANT!! The funny thing was, at times, I have envied him that ability. I wished I could simply drop everything and curl up under the couch and howl and wail my heartache, fear, distress and pain. Because those howls seem to express those deepest emotions I just couldn’t articulate with words. And, of course, it brought others running to soothe him and bring his favorite treats:)

  • Allison

    The only person I know who turned into who he “meant to be” is my husband. And it turned out that person was kind of a dick. (Lest I disparage fully, he eventually realized it and has adjusted into a fantastically non-dicky-state.) My point is: even the clearest picture of Who I Meant to Be doesn’t mean diddly because of, well, Life and all its nonsense. It does not make Current May a lesser version of Supposed May.

    And if you really want to be something different among those things which are in your control, I suspect (from what I’ve read thus far), you have the balls to do it.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    Oh, May.
    You sound so very unhappy.
    *sits in silence for a while and pats hand*
    *sits a little longer, because she’s not quite sure what to say*

    (I feel the same way, as it happens, about my whole qualification-career thing. Things were undoubtedly fucked-up for me by third parties to some degree, but I was also a spectacularly and monumentally immature pratt with no self-esteem and an over-developed sense of responsibility. The reason I don’t feel such intense self-dissatisfaction about my life-failings (there are woefully many) is that I don’t let myself think about it for too long, in case I actually start to FEEL it.

    Yeah, that’s juuust about long enough. Moving on now.)

    This life-achievement-unhappiness of yours, although catalysed and amplified by infertility and miscarriage, is an underlying topic all by itself that deserves urgent attention and thought, as I solemnly assure you that acquiring a child merely takes the edge off the internal fulmination, and, (should my wishes for you be granted. Which they absolutely better bloody had be.) it will pop up again later on.

    Your life has notnotnot ‘turned out’ yet. Not. It is still turning out, and you are not old. You can’t control your body, sweetheart, the bloody things go their own way every time, but you DO have choices about your ambitions, achievements, career, and all the rest of it. They may – doubtless will – be toughie choices, and involve some (pecuniary, probably) sacrifice – but fer the lov’o’the God that you don’t believe in, make decisions to take your life in a direction that your 80-yr-old self can look back on with satisfaction, irrespective of baby outcome. Don’t let it eat away at you like this. If you’re not in your niche yet: keep looking. People have started medical school at our age before now, and done well.

    Yes? Do this? And when you’ve done it, fer Chrissakes COME AND MAKE ME DO IT, TOO!

    I’m not sure what to suggest: going back and having a Good Hard Try at Opening Up, or deciding that your counsellor may not be The One, and seeing another instead. I’m a big believer in having one, you see, and hopefully there are more pluses than minues so far in H’s and your ‘counselling achievements’ ledger. I really cannot speak highly enough of my own, although I do also think that I managed to bagsie a quite exceptional one. (I would suggest that I import you for a couple of days in order to try mine, but she is unfortunately out of action for the next couple of months.)

    The Bolivian Hell’s Angel sounds delightful, btw.

    *re-reads*

    I’ve sounded bossy, haven’t I? I’m sorry, my sweet, I don’t mean it all Hattie-Jacquesy, no matter how uncanny my impression of her is these days.

  • QoB

    I read this last night just before bed, and I thought “I can’t give this the thought it deserves right now” and now that I’ve come back, other people have said it better than I could ever have.

    But I just want to reiterate- your life is more than what your uterus can/can’t/will/won’t do. Your (young!) life is not set in its present shape and direction until its end. What things would you like to do? Where would you like to be? There is always time to dream.

  • twangy

    Blooming heck. I am humbled. My little mind is blown, just reading these comments. Are they not brilliant?

    Holy flying catfish. You should all write a book.

    Out of my little exploded mind, I can only pick one thing – you *do* have time. You *are* still evolving. You are more than this bleak moment. Hang on, May. Times turn around, things shift. Your story is still being written.

    Hugs.

  • Solnushka

    *Waves hand at the above* What they said. It’s incredibly hard to make the right decisions all the time and a matter of luck anyway because you do the best with what you know at the time. Plus, you’ll have made some spectacularly good decisions along the way there too, but you are not focusing on them because you are depressed.

    And you are, aren’t you? So I wonder whether getting that addressed, by for example, a counsellor who specialises in _depression_ might help. Because whilst the depression is caused by the hellish situation you are in regarding miscariages and borked insides, and that is completely understandable, and while I am not dismissing your misery over your career, it seems to me that it might be the depression in and of itself which is stopping you coping and seeing what we all see so clearly, which is that you do have options regarding getting your public life more the way you would want it, whatever happens with the private [Bollox. over long sentence. And on May’s blog too].

    I also worry that it might compromise your ability to make decisions regarding the infertility mess. Although I appreciate the hell of it is that there is very little you can do there.

    Anyway. Love you. Thinking of you.

    *Joins HFF in hand patting*

  • Betty M

    What they all said again. Nothing helpful to add other than additional virtual hand patting and conveying of baked goods to your door.

  • Ben Warsop

    Just nipping back to add something after Sol’s wise comment.

    I’ve been reading my journals of 12 and 10 years ago, when I was in my late thirties and the bottom had dropped out of my world, trailing arse-gravy with it all the way. So much so, that I had to rebuild myself from the ground up. I was writing a journal entry every 3 or 5 days, and in every one for a while I asked myself existential questions like “who am I?” and “why am I here”. I should have been smoking gitanes, drinking algerian wine and wearing a black beret.

    I was in a long slow period of shock which caused a fugue-state of confusion. I circled round the same problems and conclusions again and again about the arse-gravy and associated shittyness. The fact that there was an imperceptible spiral of progress is only discernible with hind-sight. I’ve recognised that circle of despair in your posts for some time.

    These days, however, I have hugely different ambitions and beliefs about the world and myself and I am in some really significant ways a different person. I’ve moved on from incompetencies and self-sabotage that seemed an indelible part of who and what I was at the time.

    What I am saying here is that life is long. I absolutely know your fertile years are numbered, and you are too intelligent for me to even think for a moment about offering you platitudes. But I’m shocked by the difference even five years has made to my stability, well-being and general happiness, let alone ten. And time passes. No matter what we do, time passes.

    As others here have said, you actually are that amazing person you thought you were when you were so much younger. At some point you’ll realise that again.

    Sometimes all one can do is grit ones teeth and say “everything changes, everything chances, this too will pass”. And it will.

    I hope it happens soon for you.

    Ben

  • thalia

    Well what does one say after that? Except that we love you and everyone else said it better and is cleverer than I.

    Ok, I cannot bring myself to stop there. My tuppence ha’penny:
    – You are very very sad right now. That affects (infects) every part of your life. That makes it very, very hard to see anything else in perspective
    – I agree re the depression. Also makes everything blue and hard to distinguish
    – You absolutely could take on your PhD now, or anything else you wanted to. You would need to find some energy and enthusiasm from somewhere, but it’s in no way too late. I had the career crisis at 30 instead of 35. I thought I’d failed, forever at what I wanted to be (academic). It took me a year of therapy to get over it. I hadn’t failed, it was just wrong for me. I now do something I’m very good at, and which makes me happy. You can change too, if you want to, when it’s right for you. Which may well be not right now.
    – Please find a shrink you like. It will really really be a good investment. Go on your own. It will help.

    We really love you.

    hang in there.

    Us.

  • Korechronicles

    Like QoB, I read this last night and both my heart and brain were too full to allow my fingers to type anything meaningful. And Little Miss Perfectionist, my dear, dear, nemesis, stuck her head out of the cupboard where I last wrestled her sorry butt and let me know in no uncertain terms I just wasn’t up to the job.

    Now both your hands are being patted very competently by HFF, Solnushka and Betty M and I am here hopping from foot to foot and flapping both my arms about because I think hand patting is the very thing to do but four at it at once is clearly overkill.

    But I want you to know that all your commenters are so wise and witty and clever. Life challenges us – from the simple to the complicated and complex. We can develop plans and solutions for those challenges. But when it descends into chaos, and it will, unexpectedly and erratically, then all those plans and solutions are useless and we will thrash around in fear and in pain and wonder where the hell the exit is and could someone please come and get us out of this. NOW.

    And my life experience has shown me that when we do finally return to the rational world we are undoubtedly changed. And those changes can be an enhancement to who we are or an impossible burden we drag behind us. At some point we have to choose which way one we are going to go.

    Getting to where you want to be in life is not a straight-foward, linear journey. Apollo 11 on it’s journey to the moon was off course 93% of the time. What got it there was tiny, constant, incremental changes of course while keeping an eye on the ultimate goal. So with life, especially career. At 34, I had tried and failed to complete a degree on three separate occasions. Fast forward to today and I have four including 2 Masters. And I didn’t do them to get the piece of paper, I did them because there was something I wanted to know and they were a way to find out.

    I remember saying to someone when I was trying to decide to enrol “It’s a waste of time, I’ll be forty when I finish it”. He said “You’ll be forty anyway”. And I was. With a degree.

    Find the help you need. Someone has to be there to hold your hand and help you through the chaos. If the counsellor you have now is not willing to do that then find one that will.

    I’ll shut up now. Is that the sound of multiple sighs of relief all round? At least I didn’t start out with Briefly.

    Patting my own hands now.

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