I've been struggling with this for several days, now. And I'm not sure how final of an answer I've come up with, but I do have many thoughts about it.
(By the way, is anyone else's head humming Les Mis after reading the post title? OK, glad I'm not the only one.)
Who am I? Have I morphed into "TCIE: The Infertile" to the point where one is no longer separable from the other?
What I've concluded is that infertility has become a large part of my life, no doubt about it. But I believe that my cross has helped to shape many other aspects of my life, not take them over. Because of my amazing experiences with the Creighton Model, I decided to become a Practitioner. Because of my efforts to support as many people as possible, I started a blog. And because of my love of NaPro Technology, I went through school to become an RDMS. I have never once heard anyone refer to me as "TCIE... you know, the barren one." (Well, ok, I may have referred to myself that way!) But I have heard myself referred to as TCIE the Sonographer, TCIE the Practitioner, TCIE, Mr. TCIE's wife, etc.
See, in my opinion, it's a question of attitude. If I had settled into my new roles in life out of a perceived necessity (i.e. "Well, I guess I'll have to do this, since I can't have kids"), it would be a different story. I don't think I've done that. I had tried to use this cross to the best of my ability, to help propel me into new and exciting territories. I love my jobs. Absolutely. If I were miserable at work all day long, then I would likely be some kind of masochist, seeing as I very deliberately chose my career. That is not the case.
But. It is also important for me to remember that while attitude is a major part of what defines ME, attitude can and does change. Do I ever resent my cross? Of course!! (Any infertile who says otherwise is either a liar or a Saint.) But how much of my daily attitude towards my cross is full of resentment?
This, I believe, is where I need to be careful. And this is where I am taking JellyBelly's advice to heart.
It is so easy to get engulfed in the feelings of remorse, frustration, resentment, jealousy, bittnerness, and depression. Dare I say, it feels good to feel sorry for myself... sometimes a little too good. I have definitely fallen into that trap more than once.
Of course, many times, as hard as we try, we just cannot lift our heads above that high tide of complete and utter sadness. Infertility has often been compared to a cliff that we climb, stumbling along the way, seemingly never getting any closer to the peak. But more appropriately, I believe that it is like being underwater in the ocean. When you're deep under water, you cannot tell how far the surface is. At times, you may swim ferociously, believing yourself to be only a few feet away from breaking through and breathing in the sweet air of success. But after swimming your heart out for a while, you begin to give up, realizing you have no idea how much further you have to swim. Additionally, there are the tides to contend with, pushing against you, threatening your hope of survival.
It is so easy to give up and just let yourself drown in the waters of infertility.
But what if you could change the attitude you have about that swim? What if you started to appreciate the ocean for everything else it had to offer? If you are so focused on reaching the surface, you may ignore everything else. But opening your eyes to what's around you will allow you to discover all the gorgeous coral, the multitude of colorful fish, the intricacies of the ocean foodchain, and maybe even find other people on their way to the surface. You don't have to stop swimming upwards, but suddenly, it no longer seems like a futile race.
I've done my best to change my attitude towards this ocean. But still, every now and then, I will wallow in it, stop swimming, and begin to sink with my eyes closed. I need to practice treading, and enjoying the environment around me.
Ironically, it was just around this time last year that I wrote this post, which I closed with this paragraph:
Not until this very moment have I fully understood the implication of my own blog name. All of these years, I strove to live up to its title, and BECOME that title. But now I see that I am not defined by This Cross I Embrace. My cross was never meant to define me as a person, but rather to be picked up, carried, and embraced for the person it will help me to become.
I still feel that way. But perhaps I have wallowed a bit too much recently to allow myself to enjoy other aspects of my life. I am infertile. I cannot change that, nor can I fight that. But infertility is not me.