Editor’s Note: In the days following The New York Times profile about my experience “Facing a Life Without Children When it Isn’t by Choice,” I heard from women and men from around the world. Among those who reached out to me was Dr. Wendy Rogers who, it turned out, lived just a few miles away. We arranged to meet for lunch — the first of many. She’s since become a mentor, a big sister who has helped me to understand and appreciate how to turn a struggle into a source of strength. She’s also the author of our latest guest post.
A Fresh Start says so much. It speaks to clean slates and empty pages on which to write. It speaks to blank canvases on which to paint. It speaks of renewal and rebirth.
I’m a woman without children. I wrote my psychology dissertation on “Loss of fertility that occurred during the childbearing years.” I chose this topic because I lost my fertility at 28 years old. Through my research, I had the privilege of sitting with and listening to the stories of 22 women who also had lost their fertility. I learned the power of story from these women.
This is my 58th year and marks 30 years of a childfree life. Honestly, it feels like it happened to someone else. This is the good news! Telling my story through my dissertation freed me to create a “happy ending” of my own design.
A desire to understand and give meaning to my experiences and to reweave my identity led me to become a psychologist. Loss of fertility led me to become a transpersonal psychologist. Transpersonal psychology is all about the alignment of body, mind, and spirit.
Several years of procedures/surgeries leading up to a hysterectomy taught me about the need for alignment of body, mind, and spirit. I felt “mostly dead” after my surgery. Recall the scene in The Princess Bride when Wesley is taken to the healer played by Billy Crystal. His friends deliver him a wheel barrow. The healer says Wesley is “mostly dead” but not totally dead – so there is some hope.
I felt “mostly dead” physically, and was keenly aware that I was depleted emotionally and spiritually. I didn’t know where to find a healer to revive me. And I knew my life wasn’t over yet. I was desperate for a fresh start. I knew I had to give birth to a new self.
How did I do it? I learned the power of story.
I told my story in my dissertation. (Pamela told her story in her Coming2Terms blog and then in her book Silent Sorority and continues to tell it here in this blog — offering a model for how to tell our stories.)
Note to introverts: Don’t panic! Your story doesn’t have to go public in the way Pamela did.
You get to speak your truth in whatever way best suits you. I believe wholeheartedly,however, that it’s important to share the story — your story — in order to complete the process of giving birth to a new self and to claim a new life.
A wise woman once said, “I am the heroine of my own story.”
Pamela has engaged fully in being the heroine of her own story. She lived her story, she wrote her story, and she did some editing and rewrites, literally and figuratively, and put her story in book form and went public with it. She spoke her truth and asked us to listen.
Ready to be the heroine of your story?
Here are some chapter headings to get you started:
- What happened to me?
- What did it mean in the context of relationships, family, community and career?
- Who was I then?
- Who did I become through my process? What did I discover about myself?
- How have my relationships with my body, mind, and heart/emotions been transformed? Share the before and after pictures, so to speak.
- What is missing?
- What more do I want to experience in my life?
- What are my truths? How can I live truthfully? (See Pamela’s post “Getting It Together Old School” and Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Committed, read pages 190+ on childlessness and “parents.”)
- What makes me happy? What will my happy ending look like?
I love the saying “I have to believe it to see it” — it’s a powerful twist on “I have to see it to believe it.” We have to take a leap of faith and believe that we get a happy ending and visualize it in order to create it.
Time to start writing!
Write your name, the title of your story, or “Once upon there was a heroine whose name was…” on that first blank page.
Write from your heart, mind, and soul – craft a fresh start and a happy ending.
Welcome your thoughts, readers, about the ideas in this post. Next week, you’ll hear from another women who is embarking on her own Fresh Start. If you have a guest post (your story to tell, please email me at ptsigdinos (@) yahoo dot com.