Earlier this year I was considering going for counselling after my operation in January. This was due to the surgeon finding endometriosis, which very likely could have contributed to my infertility but was something the IVF clinic we went to never looked into, let alone mentioned. I was feeling very angry and let down and the grief about not having children reared up violently.
I haven’t gone to counselling.
This time I found, after a bit of time, I didn’t feel that I needed it. I found that I have moved through the grief and pain (although it did rise again after my last operation in June) and have come to a point where the anger is not overwhelming and I no longer feel guilty that I let our children down.
It was only since losing Ari that I realised that the need for counselling had gone. This wasn’t because I thought that I needed counselling after losing Ari, but rather that I realised that I know things about myself that I didn’t even know I knew – how’s that for a mouthful!
I used to be a positivity nut – and when things weren’t going my way or I thought they were unfair I would try to control everything to make the situation good again, or I would look for a very good reason as to why things weren’t going my way. I didn’t recognise back then that what I wanted was for things to go my way – I just thought that because I was thinking positively about certain aspects of life that they would happen the way I envisaged.
Even after we couldn’t have children I had this idea of how life was going to be for Kirby and me and that was the way it was going to be. If we couldn’t have children then surely this new vision of life would become a reality? It would be completely unfair if it didn’t!
It didn’t. Well, not completely – things have happened that we hoped for, and things have happened that we wish hadn’t.
My mother-in-law said to me the other day that there is something different about me this year – that I seem more settled in myself. And that is how I feel.
Life has its ups and its downs – I have very little control over it really. I do what I can do and then the rest happens due to events, people – a combination of things really.
I have learnt to accept that – most of the time! The night before Ari died, when he was in the emergency vet overnight and we knew he was very sick, I said to Kirby that it was quite possible that Ari might not come home. Kirby was surprised, I think, as normally I wouldn’t even want to entertain that idea. But, it was a real possibility, even though I hoped that what was wrong with him would be something like a blockage in his digestive system that an operation could fix.
I don’t believe that my “negativity” contributed to the outcome. How could it? Ari already had lung cancer and was going to die. I didn’t create it overnight and change what was wrong with him from something that could have been fixed to cancer. If I had the kind of power to change situations there is so much I would change in the world and I would be a god! And, Ari would still be here because I would definitely have made it so.
So, I’m not sitting here with my thoughts and emotions constantly wondering why it all happened and how unfair it all is and that life is over. Of course, I am grieving – which involves feeling sad, angry, guilty, asking why, etc. but it is a healthy grieving, not an unhealthy grieving. I hope that makes sense.
Stoicism is something I have been reading about lately – once again thanks to Oliver Burkeman! Being stoic – as it is defined today – was not what it originally was. Stoicism is a philosophy and one I am keen to learn more about. One of my favourite quotes from Marcus Aurelius (2nd century AD) is:
“The cucumber is bitter? Put it down. There are brambles in the path? Step to one side. That is enough without also asking: “How did these things come into the world at all?””
I’ve still got a long way to go in understanding Stoicism, but it seems to be a philosophy that quite possibly will appeal to me the more I delve into it. Or maybe it won’t be. I don’t know and that’s quite okay.
So, with the endometriosis and with Ari and with not having children – I can grieve in a healthy way, and wonder why as part of that grieving, but that is it. I don’t have to keep on asking why and constantly dwell on it and be angry all the time.
The interesting thing about Stoicism is that the recognition of a situation doesn’t mean that you don’t do anything about it – if someone is bullying you, you wouldn’t sit there and say “well this is how it is” and leave it at that. You would say “this is how it is – now I recognise this and I will do something about it.” Perhaps it is in that recognition of the situation that the clarity of whether there is anything that needs to be done occurs, and if so, what that might be? What do you think?
Therefore, I will still be writing to the IVF clinic to ask for an explanation about why they didn’t look into endometriosis – because I believe this will be a healthy thing for me to do and may prevent them from failing someone else in the future as they did us. After that, whether I get a satisfactory answer or not is out of my control, and I will leave it be.