Saturday, February 13, 2010

small victories (medium?) et cetera

This morning I got to have coffee with some fabulous infertiles. (Really, who else is that much fun?) Then I got to have a chat with a friend from that group whom I've not seen in a few weeks. Then, being uncharacteristically good, I drove straight to the store. FIRST I stopped by two shops to check out the end-of-season boot clearance. Marshall's actually had a good selection, but unfortunately only about two pairs in my size, and not what I was looking for.* THEN I did my grocery shopping - I even remembered to pick up a half gallon of white vinegar to remediate my mildew problem. (I've already ordered a dehumidifier from am.azon. My dh had better be impressed with my initiative when he gets back!)

Then, in an even greater show of good behavior, I drove straight to confession, before it ended! I didn't stay for vigil Mass, because I had already determined that what I really needed to do was run before the daylight was gone. (I may go to two Masses tomorrow - I find I feel better if I go in the morning, and delightful people are gathering for dinner for my birthday after the evening Mass, so I may go to that, too.)

So then I got home, and bought a pair of boots online. They were $60 (although the shipping was free). I've never paid that much for shoes ever...I know I'm ridiculously frugal (OK, cheap) with these things, but that's a lot of money, right? Well, I guess I think nothing of it in some contexts. Anyway, they're super-cute, right??? And I only have brown ones now...should I cancel the order??? Take a look:

I can't believe I have to wait for them to ship. (And what if they're the wrong size? The customer comments said they ran small, so I ordered a half size up, but that could be wrong!)

Now, one of my goals for 2010 (I forget whether I stated it expressly in my New Year's post) was to run five miles, straight, without needing to walk, by my birthday. I'll be 28 Monday. This evening I ran over five miles straight! I had to walk five or ten steps at times to avoid killing myself on the ice, or to let cars pass me in the narrow plowed lanes, but not because I was tired. And at one point, after about two miles, I realized that though my knees were sore (wore the wrong sneakers)...I felt like I could run forever! FIVE MILES! Now I'm going to start shaving my mile time - we'll start with eleven-minute miles on the treadmill, and work from there. I can't believe I did it!

My father called as I was getting home to wish me a happy birthday. He was off by two days, but it was sweet of him! Then I got to talk to my 7yo sister. She told me all about school, and swimming, and their hamsters, and her projects. She also told me that they were getting a new house. She was referring to the house my stepmother will be renting. She sounded so matter-of-fact. I was half a year younger than she (but half a grade further in school, so, I suppose, about the same) when my father left. I remember, vaguely in parts, the disorientation. Many things, even about trauma, children do take matter-of-factly. I could very much have used someone to reach me. But I have no idea how to reach her. She doesn't even know me very well.

Oh, and my darling husband sent the most BEAUTIFUL bouquet of pastel roses. They're so pretty.

So, and more mixed victories. I did a lot of thinking on the (slow) drive back from the infertile coffee. (Poor coffee.) For years I would not offer up the suffering of infertility, because I was convinced that God, like His nemesis in The Devil and Daniel Webster, would draw up the clause as proof that I had agreed to any duration of infertility - see, a good Christian use for my barrenness! He's take that and run with it, and give me an extra decade to contend with. So occasionally I'd make an extremely limited, expressly bounded offering-up of suffering; I've done so on my blog, I believe. Today I realized, with unalloyed clarity, that what I am offering up is however many more years it will make me unhappy. Not how many more years I'll be childless - because that's all of them. And I'm not holding anything back there any more, emotionally. I'm not happy and I'm not at peace, but I am no longer worried that God will make me childless for longer; I am already certain He has made me childless forever, and I'm not afraid any more.

For some reason, offering up the rest of the suffering (even if that means God might withhold peace longer) doesn't engender the terror that it did when I believed He would withhold children longer. Perhaps that's because I believe that God actually wants us all to have peace (clearly, He does not will everybody to have children. You have some disputes with this point, you email me. I'll set you straight). Perhaps that's because sadness doesn't frighten me - I'm certainly familiar with it. And perhaps it's because I realize that the sadness is significantly my fault, as the infertility was not, and I'm not really resistant to bearing the consequences of my actions. One of the lighter sides of a legalistic temperament.

Now, I'm just waiting for freedom. I'm waiting for peace. I know I have more mourning to do, that I don't know how to do. I'm supposed to go on retreat in March (I really need to sign up for that). I'm STILL playing phone tag with Fr. Paul over a spiritual director. So it came to me on my drive: I would be brave, and just out and ask the priest in confession where I could find out about spiritual direction. I'd have him cornered!

And he said - so helpful - I should just pick a priest I wanted for a director and call him. Well, I've done that in the past, but I don't know any of the priests in this diocese. The ones I know better are clearly not going to deal well with an infertile women. It's a big diocese - I was sort of hoping they'd have a program. I was brave, and it didn't help. Back to the drawing board.

I've been thinking, a lot, about a direction for life, and vocation. I'm always thinking about that, but with greater focus recently. I could write pages on it now, my thoughts are so disorganized; so I'll desist, for now. But I'll make a comment, about the song on Wheelbarrow Rider's blog. I think I've listened to it 50 times in the last three days. I just leave it on repeat while I sit there and I think about it. I like that the singer acknowledges that not all prayers for rescue are answered. They aren't. I stopped asking, because nobody was paying attention. I won't be disappointed by God anew every day. That's not going to help matters.

(And I wonder about her lyric, "I know You hate to see me cry." Are we sure, theologically, that this is true? What about St. Paul's statement that he is making up the suffering of Christ? What about St. Therese - "Even suffering is joy to me now"?)

The singer's conclusion is theologically sound - human life is uncertain and often unpleasant; the heavens are steady as a rock. These things are true. But how does the one relate to the other? How does the unchanging nature of God help me when I feel that my life is shattered? Is the fact that He is steady supposed to be comforting on its own? Is it supposed to be entirely comforting? Why isn't it? Just because I have a bad attitude? I don't know.

But I have to learn something, some time. I have ambitions to live a joyous life - not a smile through tears, but only a smile. I know there are worse things than childlessness. Mother Teresa lived among the diseased and dying with nothing, and she was happy (though I know she was not happy-go-lucky). When other people look at me, I want them to see a joyful life, worthy of emulation, first. Infertility, as a detail, with every other ascriptive characteristic, afterward. But I refuse to lie about how unhappy I am and how much I struggle. Maybe I could "fake it till I make it" - pretend happiness, and the reality will follow? Well, I don't believe that. I'm going to tell the truth. But I wish it were different, and, I pray, someday soon it will be.

*If you want a pair of Lacoste patent leather (yes, real leather) mahogany pebble-grain mid-calf flat boots (with a nice rubbery sole that would grip the ice excellently) for just $30 or $40, in either a 6.5 or a 9, you let me know and I will tell you where to find them.


  1. Happy almost birthday and congratulations on the 5 miles! You go girl!!!!!! Looking forward to your next post about the tan house.

  2. Happy early birthday! I just wanted to say that I LOVE those boots. Don't worry if they are little bit big, just wear bulky socks or get a shoe insert for either the heel or the whole shoe. I also wanted to say that I love your raw honesty in your posts. You have a great way to express your heart.

  3. Love the boots and way to go on the run!! Such a great accomplishment to make your goal!

  4. Hi Misfit, thank you for your post on my blog. It is very nice to meet you. :) I would be happy to send you the password for my protected posts - those are all about IF. You can email me on the sidebar of my blog and I'll send it back to you. I don't want to leave it in comments. Anyway, I am catching up on your story now and will be following. Oh, and happy birthday!

  5. Great job on the 5 miles and happy birthday!

  6. Happy almost bday!!!! I LOVE the boots (and no, $60 is not a lot for boots or footwear of any kind! I would consider that a steal!) and you should definitely keep them. I think that a photo with you modeling them is in order -- when you get them, that is.

  7. I love your posts... They always give me food for thought. Have a blessed birthday!!

  8. I like the boots. They are really nice and I love that they are flat! I am also glad that you have had some successes in the recent days and are having a happy birthday weekend. Fun times!

  9. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Way to go on running five miles - that's awesome! I hope that the boots work well for you.

  10. Five miles?! Whoot! Rock on!

    Forgive me if this is the stooopidest non-Catholics-are-the-only-idiots-who-would-ask-this-question question, but are there religious women you can speak with? Laywomen or nuns or something? Though I'm sure there must be priests who can relate to having to trust God and longing for children/family.

    It's rough, letting go. May that be the present you get to give yourself this birthday. You're still young, and I know you have lots of happiness ahead of you.

  11. Happy Birthday!!!!!! It sounds like you had a great weekend and I hope you have a joyful birthday week as well!

  12. Happy Birthday and congratulations on all the progress you made running. Can you wait to get the brown boots before ordering the black (price, availability)? If so, that's what I'd do.

  13. Congratulations on the run - I sent you an email as we're trying to figure out our travel dates for May and don't want to wind up missing you in Vienna.

  14. Whoa, I'm soooo behind on reading/commenting. Our IF gathering was lovely, as always. I don't know what I would do without the amazing support from everyone.
    Congrats on reaching your running goal!

  15. Congrats on the run! I'm starting this weekend...following this training plan to run a 5K on May 1. I'd love to work up to 5 miles!

    Those boots are fantastic - and such a great price! Definitely keep them!

    I loved reading your thoughts about the fear of childlessness and acceptance. I've felt lately like I'm walking a fine line between acceptance and hope, and I'm not even sure which path I want to take right now. I tend to get caught up in the details, but there are larger questions that I think I'm ignoring. In the end, I think we all just want to be happy...but getting there isn't easy.

    Happy early Birthday!