Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The "I'll never"s

Bargaining is something you do a lot of when you're facing trauma. It's part of the grieving process, with our minds trying to find a way out of the situation we are facing and its a normal, healthy survival strategy in order to avoid pain. Like many, I did a lot of bargaining while in the infertility trenches. From modifying my diet and incorporating "healthy" lifestyle changes to promising to reform all aspects of my life, I made a lot of statements and promises about how life would be one day when I was no longer in the trenches.

One of the most profound things I did was make promises about the type of parent I would be. Part of this came from the bargaining, but the other part was also from a deep-seated fear I had about not being worthy due to how I was raised. It's a hard thing to explain to those who have good relationships with their parents, but given the trauma that came from my childhood (and how I behaved as part of it), I also was coming from a place where I didn't want to revisit that trauma on any child. Hence I promised to be a model parent, as if somehow proving my worth to even be given the opportunity.

There's a problem with such bargaining, though. We see these models of how things should be, but fail to grasp or understand that bottling it all up to be picture perfect can actually be just as damaging. For me, this has been particularly difficult both due to me being a people pleaser but also due to me not knowing how to manage angry in a healthy manner.

All of this got tested yesterday. After a emotionally trying morning with She-Beat's assessment (she did awesome; me: not-so-much) followed by a hard drop-off at daycare, the Beats were both wired. The effort to burn off some of this energy quickly went south at the playground and quiet time at home ended even faster when I discovered they both had scaled by dresser, using the air conditioning unit next to the window to aid in this endeavor.

But the straw that broke this camel's back was finding them both in the bathroom later, covered head-to-toe in a Shea Butter ointment I use on dry skin, having emptied the entire container  and clogging the bathroom sink in their exploration and attempt to clean-up.

It is safe to say it's the maddest I've ever been at both of them.

Through deep breathing, I somehow managed to strip them both and got them into the tub to be scrubbed and degreased. But I wasn't the kindest I could have been in that moment and 10 minutes later, Grey would come home to find both Beats in their room with both of them looking pretty upset having been sent to bed without having had dinner and me in the bathroom, swearing under my breath as I declogged the sink.

I didn't sleep well last night after the episode, even though Grey made sure both kids got dinner and were made aware that their misbehavior wasn't okay, but we loved them just the same. A big part of it was the guilt I faced as I could literally see the 2012 Cristy, with all the "I'll never"s that I swore up and down not to do staring me in the face.

Because here's the thing about infertility and the side effect of all the platitudes people feel inclined to give: you start believe there's a reason that you cannot get pregnant or carry a child to term. The "it wasn't meant to be" translates into "because you would be an awful parent." So in an attempt to overcome it, to prove it all wrong, you bargain in a way that those gifted with fertility fail to grasp.

I know what you're going to say. The questions like "why are you beating yourself up?" or statements of "you're being unreasonable." Truly, my logical brain gets it. But that's the thing about "I'll never"s. The aftermath of infertility or any other trauma, with those platitudes always seeping through.


  1. Oh Cristy, the only person who will ever hold you to the bargains you think you made is you. I, of course, completely deny the "it wasn't meant to be" brigade, because those platitudes also logically mean that it WAS meant to be for every person who had a child, and there are so many cruel, neglectful and incompetent parents that just prove my point that this is not true. I've had to confront the untruth of these platitudes directly, for my own sanity and survival. You'll get there too.

    PS Infertility doesn't mean you have to be always grateful and happy. You're a parent, and children will test you. You're allowed to get angry. It's normal!

  2. Yes. Totally 100%. I'm with you, I've been there. My son is very challenging, I have stood outside myself on occasion interacting with him in ways I am embarrassed about. Parenting is so hard.

  3. Another aspect: thinking that a current situation is a consequence (really, I mean punishment) for previous hubris in thinking "I'll never."

    Being human is hard, especially for perfectionists and pleasers. How to love all parts of ourselves? And be less judgmental, more compassionate within?

  4. Oh yes, I have had many occasions with my own twins when I have thought that I should be more patient/engaged/etc., due to my difficulty in having them. Wouldn't I do a superlative job as a parent in recognition of my gratitude at finally getting to that place?

    Turns out, I'm still the same me I was pre-parenthood, with the same foibles and challenges. Go figure. ;-)

  5. Here from Mel's round up. I thought I would have infinite patience as a parent because I had to wait so long and try so hard.

    Turns out I am still an impatient introvert who hates loud noises and can't think with someone talking at her. I try really hard but oh man. I decided that showing my kid I can apologize after losing my cool and teach him how to compromise is probably more useful than never losing my cool. Or at least that's what I tell myself!

  6. Hear hear. I think infertility is one piece, trauma is another huge piece too. I catch myself overreacting at random moments and recollect my bargains as well... but also tearfully admit that my voice sounded too much like that of one of my angry caregivers’ from when I was a child...


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