They turned up the lights after one song.
We usually sing four amazing rock band-like songs, which is one of the many reasons I love our church.
Then, I remembered seeing the reserved seats walking in, "Reserved for families of children dedication."
Sh*t. Oh, sh*t.
Today is the children's dedication at church.
OK, I can do this. I can hold it together.
I can celebrate through my jealousy and focus on the love of these families. I can focus on how adorable these kids are and how much their families love them.
I can do this. I can do this.
Pastor Greg asked all the supporting family to come and join the families getting dedicated up front and we bowed our heads in prayer.
I have no idea what was said, at this point I was trying to focus on keeping my breathing steady in an attempt to not break down in heaving sobs.
Lights dim, the singing surges back up and I sit my a** down to sob.
Grieving and Healing
It's been a while since it has hit me like that; like a two-ton boulder sitting on my chest, like the rug of life being swept out from under me, like a swift and stinging smack across the face.
And like everything else in my life, especially my life as a recovering therapist, it is nothing short of extremely complicated.
Ever Upward launches in just a couple of days. A book that includes to Own a Childfree Life in the subtitle. A book where I write about my struggle through infertility to accept a childfree life and thrive thereafter.
And yet, there I sat sobbing in the dark after the children's dedication at church this morning.
Am I an impostor?
Do I still have a ton of work to do?
Should I be able to handle this better by now?
Should I not be even more saddened as I hear my parents sniffling beside me knowing that I will never be able to give them grandchildren from Chad and I? Or are they sniffling just because they can see how much I am hurting?
Should I not be angry that families like us are not mentioned at all? And, that we aren't even the tiniest glimmers in anyone's heads or hearts?
And yet, can I still be so thankful that many won't even have to think about living life without children or won't ever have to pursue infertility treatments or lose babies?
Should I not be even a tiny bit cynical that infertility has changed how I see the world forever? As I looked at that line of families and asked myself in my head which ones suffered losses before, which ones had to use fertility assistance, which ones are still hurting just like me.
Am I a fraud? Or am I just human?
An always grieving, yet healing, mother with a scarred heart.
A mother with empty arms on this side of eternity.
Can I be sure of my messages and advocacy in Ever Upward, can I own my acceptance of a childfree life, and still be healing and hurting all at once?
The release of this book doesn't mean I have this all figured out, I have never once claimed that. But what I am coming to understand is that it does come with this fear that people will think I am okay, I am healed, that it doesn't hurt anymore.
The lifelong losses
Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility is the first part of Ever Upward's subtitle and those words were chosen for very specific reasons.
This will always be hard. This will never go away. It lasts a lifetime.
There will always be those days that it hits me out of nowhere, like today. There will also always be those days that I know will be hard, like the due dates, every single year. There will always be times of the year that it feels impossible to be a part of social media. There will always be the reminders that I just don't quite fit in.
The struggles and the losses of family planning are never forgotten and I think, maybe never even healed.
But, I must choose to be forever healing.
I also must trust that this isn't for nothing. That I have not suffered these losses for naught.
It is through this work I can make sure that I am healing, that I am recovering, that I am scarred, but never closed.
Ever upward isn't always easy, but it will always be worth it. And this means giving myself permission to sometimes feel the world in my losses but to feel it in my enough.
And, so I choose. I choose to move and to be ever upward.
Ever Upward (the book) available now!