Friday, January 31, 2014

What IF Has Taught Me: The Thread of Humanity

Note: I'm really struggling in writing this post because it's so hard to translate what I'm trying to write. I feel like I'm stuttering with my words here...oh goes anyway...

Infertility has made me more aware of the thread of humanity linking each one of us. In the beginning of my IF journey, when my wounds were really raw and I was bleeding inside, I felt so many different types of emotions and each time my period started, a new wave of grief washed over me even before I had finished processing the previous one. It was total chaos.

Whenever total chaos reigned, I felt ugly inside and there was a voice within me that made me feel that I didn't deserve to be a mother, but after a while I realized that there was yet another soothing voice whispering. The soothing voice was telling me that all those feelings I called ugly were there to teach me something. The whisper was barely audible in the beginning, but these days I can hear it loud and clear. 

Those feelings I called ugly? Anyone else could have felt them. Why? Because each of us has different pain triggers and buttons to push. After I had felt so many emotional triggers that made me feel like I was the worst version of myself, I became more aware of the thread binding me and others. 

Case in point: when I was drowned in jealousy and anger about my infertility, I flinched inside and got judgmental whenever I heard or saw someone who I felt wasn't "good enough" to be a parent. But that made me think. Am I really better than them?

And that's the whole point. I may be good at some things and bad at other things that other people are good at. What drives me crazy may be different from what drives you crazy. My strengths are different from yours and my weaknesses are different from yours. However, if any one of us is put in a situation where all our weaknesses are forced to come out, where we see so many triggers every single day, where we don't receive any or enough support, I'm not too sure that anyone would be immune to those ugly feelings. 

I've heard of a mother being driven to the edge of sanity because of her child's learning problems, the lack of support, the isolation, and the judgment she gets from other people. And then I started thinking about these things in a wider scope and every time I do this mental exercise, I'm reminded again and again that we're in this together - even though our problems and crosses-to-bear and triggers are different. Not everybody will be driven to the edge of sanity and some people will get more support because of different reasons (one of which is probably because their problems are more widely recognized), but still what I'm trying to say here is that we all have the potentials to be the worst versions of ourselves. 

And for me, this insight has helped me in being kinder to myself and others. Granted, every once in a while I forget about this and my judgmental side takes over because I'm only human, but these days whenever I have some ugly feelings inside me, I'm more reminded of the link between me and you instead. :-)

P.S. I had this funny convo the other day with hubby.

Me: "I want my Mother's Day caaaaaaaake!" (it's a joke between us, a twist of the line used in the 1982 movie Creepshow)
Hubby: "But you're not a mother."

You know what? When I heard those words, I didn't feel any pain AT ALL. In fact, I didn't feel anything. It was just as though he had said to me, "But you're not a tree." WOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! What a great feeling!

But anyway, in order to continue the joke, I replied, "Awww shucks...that hurts!"

And he said, "That means you can have your cake every single day."

I replied, "Ohhhhh that's a BRILLIANT idea!" ---> And that means if he complains that I eat too much cake, I'm gonna hold his words against him HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA...

Friday, January 17, 2014

On Being Inclusive

Is it possible to be inclusive? I've been wondering about this matter for a while now. I think in this fast-paced world, it's easier to feel left out or excluded, especially with online medias where people keep on posting and reposting sentiments such as "You'll never know real/true love until..." or "There's no greater joy than..." or "You'll never be a real woman/man until..." or "I feel so blessed because of..." or "Thank God for..." or "I have the best mother/husband/dad/wife...repost this if you have them, too" or "Breastfeeding is best" and the list goes on. And it becomes worse when the same kind of sentiment keeps on being spread from one person to another in your circle at different times.

It's all good when you're "in the club" when you read all those sentiments, but what if you're not in the club? It gets problematic when you have this invisible grief that people don't acknowledge and on bad days, those exclusive sentiments hit you like the sharpest spearhead thrown right at you from a place where you least expect and it split your heart in two, leaving you reeling in pain and wanting to ask the person who threw the spear at you, "How could you do this to me?!?!?!?!?! Look at what you've done!". 

On the other hand, the person who threw the spear didn't even know that it was a spear. In his/her mind, he/she was throwing you a candy in hope that you'd also agree that the candy was tasty or interesting or inspiring.

In the old days, sentiments like the ones I wrote in the first paragraph didn't really show up right in your face the way they do today. Here's my point:

OK, try to imagine that you have to address a group of people in the streets from different backgrounds, but you have to make sure you take into account every single one of their life stories (even if you don't know them, you just have to use your imagination). The topic can be anything, but try imagining saying things that wouldn't hurt anyone at all to the best of your ability. Try being aware that each time you're thankful for something, that very thing may be hurtful for someone else in the group. 

You know what? Just thinking about every possible scenario gives me a headache. So I think it's pretty much impossible to be inclusive, because it's just impossible to know each person's tender spots. I'm not saying that one should be crass and insensitive, but I think if we expect people (in the social media) to be sensitive, then we're in for a lot of disappointment

I want to stress again that I'm NOT saying that people shouldn't give a damn about what other people feel/think, but each of us has to deal with what we feel and then decide on the best possible ways to manage our feelings and the impact of what other people post/say to our psyche (whether it means hiding some people, staying away from certain online medias, taking a break from certain online medias, etc.)

Anyway, enough talk about heavy stuff. Let me share with you something that I enjoy watching instead: 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Superhero In My Mind

I wrote this the other day in Gateway Woman Google+ community and it's about time I posted it here for my own personal record.

"Last night the pregnant close friend finally disclosed the gender of the baby. It's a girl, she said.

And then the clash between two worlds started again (I could almost see the two worlds coming closer and closer together, threatening to overlap each other). Then I remembered my word of the year: Disentangle.

The thoughts that came to my brain were: "If only...this could've been my experience...if it had happened to me, my MIL would have been ecstatic (she only has 2 grandsons and three sons, no daughters or grand-daughters and when we were trying she jokingly said she was hoping for a grand-daughter)..."

But then I remembered my word of the year and I had this superhero vision in my head. I was standing tall (pun intended 'coz I'm only 145 cm) in between those two worlds: her experience (her feelings, her happiness, her reality) versus my "could-have-been" (my feelings, my grief, my reality) and I imagined a blast of energy coming out of my palms, separating the two worlds.

Funnily enough, it worked. I could respond to her emails normally, without any emotional burdens. I may not be able to be a superhero in real life, but I can have super powers in my own mind LOL!!! 

OK, I must admit it helps that I'm not having my PMS, but just wanna share that the visualisation was so strong that I was amazed at its benefit on my psyche. :-D

P.S. Because blue is my fave colour, naturally I had blue energy shield coming out of my palms LOL!"

I must write down some notes here to make sure nobody misunderstands this post above.

First of all, disentangling doesn't mean that I deny whatever it is I'm feeling. It doesn't mean the refusal to deal with my feelings. On the contrary, it helps me be there for my friend without having my own losses and/or grief dampening the cause of her happiness. After being there for her, I can then deal with my own feelings in my own space of choice: either here in my blog or in GW community, which has been such a beloved community for me.

Secondly, I felt such a HIGH for a few hours after writing that post in the GW community. Seriously, when I went to work after writing that post, I felt like walking in the air. I felt so light and I felt like jumping up and down in joy and I felt a rush of energy in my entire body. :-D So I'm writing this down here because I want to know how useful this technique is for the future. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Love Letter To Myself

*cross-posted with my main blog*

Found this video clip and thought I'd give it a try myself because it moved me so much.

Okay, here we go...deep breath...

Dear Amel,

You've come so far in your 35 years of living. You used to be a very shy and quiet girl with some dark, cynical, and pessimistic thoughts. You dragged around other people's faults like chains on your ankles, but you learnt to let go of them one by one when you realized that they were getting too heavy and they were threatening to drown you. I remember how your self-confidence grew tremendously during your university days and how rebellious you were at that time. You started getting to know yourself better during your university days and you started to learn how to be more positive, but the you at that time had no clue what life had to offer in the future. (chuckle)

Even though you had always dreamed of either traveling abroad or living abroad, you weren't actively searching for a foreign spouse, but you found one anyway. And my goodness, I must say that you have chosen the right person despite the fact that you were only with the guy for two weeks in real life prior to deciding to marry him. I know you were scared stiff on the plane to Finland after getting your residence permit via the Finnish Embassy in Indonesia, but I applaud you because you managed to drown out all those voices and just focus on whatever may come.

For the past (almost) seven years of living in Finland and for the past five years of infertility journey, I've seen how much more you've grown and I just wanna say, "WELL DONE, girl!" I especially take my hat off to you for having learnt how to let go of different things and dreams over and over and over and over again. I also love the fact that you don't stop struggling with God and you were totally honest with Him even though you were so angry at Him at some parts of your infertility journey. I know we couldn't have grown like this without the support of all the thoughtful and positive people around us, so we owe them a lifetime of thanks, but still your attitude counts and I enjoy being with you more and more as time goes by and you know what? I'm looking forward to spending more days with you. *wide grin* I respect you, my friend! Here's to us!

Lots of love and hugs,


P.S. I promise to always try my damnest to be your best cheerleader and BFF. :-D