Words Hurt!

a little blurry because I was in a hurry

Standing in line at the grocery store, I glanced over at the latest tabloid newspapers.  As usual, they were spreading gossip about celebrities and others.  I try not to put much effort into noticing these magazines.  I see them not benefiting our society at all.

This time however, my eye caught one the latest headlines and I was somewhat stunned by what it said.  A celebrity couple was splattered all over the covers with statements about how they are heading for a multi-million dollar divorce.  According to the reports, the couple is divorcing because he “snapped” and stated “You can’t give me kids!”

When I read this, I thought “Oh no…no…no…no…they just didn’t go there!”  Sure these magazines and tabloid papers stoop to pretty low levels and truly do not care whose lives they ruin by their false statements, invasion of privacy, and exaggerated facts, but this one really got to me.  How disgustingly low of them to print something like this.  Here are a few reasons I find this to be just simply awful:

  1. If the couple is truly in the midst of fertility struggles, then they may be dealing with the emotional hardships of it.  This type of pain is only something that people who are infertile or otherwise struggling to become parents can understand.  It is a pain that fluctuates with great highs and deep lows.  It is a pain that leaves no mercy and that lingers.
  2. The assumption that their marriage is on the rocks because of infertility is a little insulting.  I know plenty of people with biological children whose marriages have fallen apart.  With that being said though, I suspect that marriages can be challenged by the stress of infertility.  The wife may not understand the husband’s thinking or he may not know how to comfort her.  One spouse may want to explore different options than the other.  Both may be grieving at the same time.  And, let’s face it, grief is a universal response to loss, but how one grieves is unique to that person.
  3. It always seems to be assumed that it is the woman who is the cause of infertility.  Men can be infertile too.  I know plenty of couples where the men have been diagnosed with infertility due to medical problems, etc.
  4. The statement “You can’t give me kids” is offensive.  Marriage is not JUST about having kids.  Plenty of people get married and choose to not have children.  My husband knew going into our marriage that we would never have biological children.  We started off on this adventure of marriage together knowing full well that our pursuit for children may not have been successful.  Marriage is about love and commitment.

I know that the entire article may be false and completely without merit.  Their marriage may be fine and infertility may not even be an issue.  I really do not keep up with celebrity news as it is, but I could not help but feel bad for the wife.  The insensitivity of it really bothered me.  What if they are struggling with infertility?  What if she is insecure right now about their marriage?  It would be extremely painful to see one’s hardship splattered all over the papers for the rest of us to read about.

To be honest, I really thought long and hard about writing this post.  A part of me feels like I too am benefiting from what was said as it gave me a topic to write about.  However, the words I read on the front cover of the tabloid that day stayed with me for several days later.  I actually went back to the store and snapped off a quick picture with my phone as I knew there might end up being a post about it brewing inside my thoughts.

Maybe that part of me that still lingers back in the days of growing up infertile feels the need to speak out and be a voice for others.  I don’t know…I really never found my own voice about being barren throughout my adolescence and young adulthood, so now, it feels good to find my voice and to use it — sort of like a protective instinct over the matters of all things infertile.

The saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” is just wishful thinking (in my opinion).  Words hurt.  Words can be used as instruments of healing or instruments of hate.  Words can be magical and speak vibrancy into so many things, but words can also drain the color.  Words – whether true or not – can cut right into the heart of the pain someone is going through.  It saddens me when the pain of others is turned into profit.

What is your opinion about this? Did you see the headline?  I’m curious!!

your words, His action

Have you ever been in a situation that you thought was somewhat insignificant, but ended up finding out that it was quite significant to someone else?  I have, and I would like to share it with you.

At the age of twenty, the doctor discovered a Dermoid cyst on my left ovary.  My left ovary had barely escaped the bacterial invasion that caused my hysterectomy at age eleven.  It was somewhat risky to leave the ovary in my body because of the rapid pace the bacterial infection was spreading, but the doctors decided it was worth the risk.

This ovary became the one thing in my mind that “kept” me female.  I know that is quite ridiculous now to say that, but I was so young when all of this nonsense happened.  Even at the age of twenty, I struggled with making sense of my “female-hood”.  By the time the cyst was found, it was too late.  My survivor ovary could not survive any longer.  The decision was made to remove it.

The surgery was scheduled to happen on my 20th birthday.  Yes,I lost an ovary on my 20th birthday!  Before I go any further though, I should explain that I am not exactly a great candidate for laparoscopic surgery.  Let’s just say that my insides are a little jumbled around and there is a tremendous amount of scar tissue.  All of my major surgeries have been done the “old-fashioned way”; meaning, cutting right down the middle of my abdomen.  This surgery to remove my ovary was not any different, so naturally there was a lot of prep work that had to occur before the surgery.

I was admitted to the hospital in the evening and stayed up most of the night before my surgery talking with my roommate.  She had her gall bladder removed and was in a great deal of pain.  I could not see her as the curtain was pulled the entire time.  We were both on pain medication, but talked about our medical histories and thoughts about life in general.  Of course, my medical history was a little more colorful than hers.  The next morning, she was gone before I got a chance to see her.

About three years later, when walking out of a college class with another student, the topic of my surgery came up.  I do not even know why the surgery came up, except maybe to explain my absence from classes.  Partly through my explanation of what all had happened, she stopped dead in her tracks, turned to face me, grabbed my arms, and said, “Caroline, You are the one.”

She went on to explain that her very good friend had her gall bladder removed and was feeling depressed and sorry for herself.  A young woman was admitted to the bed beside her.  Her friend shared that this young woman had been through so much and was still trying to be positive about health and life.  She never got the chance to see what this person looked like, but strongly felt the young lady was put in her room for a reason, and that reason was to help bring her out of the self-loathing slump she had been in.

That young woman was me.  I do not take credit for any of this.  I really do not even remember my exact words said to her or what all I may have shared.  Instead, I believe that the Lord placed me there at the right time and in the right circumstance to bring comfort to someone else.  The credit belongs to Him.

I decided to share this because of the potential impact all of us can make in the lives of others.  What may seem as insignificant events or simple conversations might just end up being exactly the things that someone needs to hear or witness.  We are all witnesses of a loving Heavenly Father.  He is able to use all of us to share hope, love, and our lives in a way that will glorify Him and help raise up humanity.

So, next time you think that conversation you had with the person standing behind you in the grocery line did not mean anything, think again.  You never know how the Lord will use your words to lay out His action to reach someone else.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

Writing My Story

A few years ago I felt the urge to write.  It seemed as though the Lord was telling me to write my story down; although, I had no clue how to start the process.  The last writing class I took was in 1992 or so when I was in college.  My friend knew my desire, or perhaps the Lord’s calling on my heart, to start writing so she bought me some journals.  I carried them everywhere and would write down different thoughts or words that sparked my memories or pertained to my history.  I even used my iPhone to record thoughts that came to me when writing was not possible.  Gotta love technology!

I had no idea as to where this project was going or if there was really anything important to say.  The fact is that everyone has a story.  All of us have a uniquely designed existence that is of no greater matter or significance than the other.  We are all significant in the eyes of the Lord.  I personally feel that the most inspiring stories are those told from people who come from the most humble situations.

As I started writing, it felt as though my heart and my mind were pricked.  Suddenly, there was this release of all of the captive moments, long forgotten thoughts, and stifled persuasions that I had carried around for nearly my entire life; or at least, my life after age eleven.  Words were pouring out of me that brought me to tears.

Soon, I turned to my computer to start writing.  I craved it.  Early mornings and late evenings were often accompanied by the patter of my fingertips on the keyboard as I delved into my solitary world of infertility.  I had to reach out to others during this time for feedback, their memories of my story, and just plain old support.  However, for the most part, it was me, my computer, my memories, and the Lord’s prodding.

I finished the manuscript within a few months.  Once I started writing, I could not stop until I got it all out.  I grieved for the child I was who became so ill.  I fretted for the teenager who, despite seeming and acting like every other teen girl, held within her dark glimpses of despair.  I felt the anger of a young woman in her twenties who was torn between wondering if her future career would be her “baby” or if she was ever going to have a baby to call her own.  I celebrated the woman who ran to the Lord after years of ignoring Him.  Lastly, I shed tears of joy for the foster-mother whose life was impacted for the better by the humbling refinement that is foster care and adoption.

I still have the manuscript on my computer.  I do not know where it is going or what it is supposed to be.  That is okay though.  There is great cleansing in writing one’s life story even if no one reads it.  Writing my story down has brought about a desire to continue to bring to life the words my heart feels but often my lips cannot form.  Writing my story has also revealed the incredible essence of survival, faith, mercy, grace, and hope.

I would like to share an excerpt from it if you don’t mind.  I have already inserted a few lines  from the manuscript from time to time into previous blog posts.  Even though this is just a glimpse, I welcome any comments.  I may share more as I feel the need…

I do not remember much about the week I was in the hospital prior to the doctors discovering what was ravaging my body.  My memories are more like flashing images from a movie.  I do however remember waking up at one point with my dad and a doctor looking over me.  My dad simply and courageously stated “You can always make love, but you will never be able to have children.”  Or, did he say that?  I remember hearing it, but not sure if it was said to me or about me.  Nevertheless, in my hazy mind, I tried to comprehend what he was saying.  Make love?  What does that mean?  I had not even kissed a boy yet.  Have children? It really had not crossed my mind much.  But, I heard him loud and clear.  I knew something big had happened.  This event that occurred forever changed who I was and the path my life would take.  There was not a choice – it was either my life or my organs.  Oh, the agony my parents were feeling.  What irony really…the organs with which life begins had nearly destroyed mine.  I was eleven years old, I had never had a period, and now I was forever infertile.  I had just been thrust in to the world of infertility.  Trapped in a little girl’s body was a pre-menopausal woman.

Words of My Heart

Wow.  I can’t believe that I started this blog one month ago.  I also can’t believe I waited so long to start blogging.  This month has been a phenomenal time of discovery, writing, thinking, writing, praying, writing, connecting, and of course writing.  Throughout this month I have been able to share a bit of my journey here on Earth, as well as, learn about others.  I sort of think of myself now as part of a community of women and families who have been challenged by infertility and/or ones who are in the process of stepping outside of themselves so that they can be families for foster children.

I have found myself wondering if my experience growing up would have been totally different had I been given the opportunity to share my feelings about infertility with others who could relate.  Just knowing that there were others out there experiencing a small portion of what I was dealing with would have made a huge impact in my life.  Of course, I was a young girl so the level of relatability would have been different from adults going through it.  I don’t know for sure if I would have taken the opportunity due to being an adolescent, but still, I really wished there would have been blogs around, or the Internet for that matter.

I kept my “story” inside my heart and mind for the past 29 years since my hysterectomy.  I really did not speak the words of my heart very often.  Sure, I have shared parts with close friends, family, and my husband.  I have even been asked to give my testimony to various groups, but, writing pieces of it out has brought life to my thoughts kept buried for so many years.  It has also given me a sense of gratitude for where I am now.

I read other women’s blogs about their struggles and what they are currently going through with trying to have a family.  They are discovering the road to becoming parents has taken sharp turns or completely come to a dead end.  I hear their pain in their words.  I feel it in my heart.  I wish I could assure them that some aspects of infertility may affect them for the rest of their lives, but it does not make up their whole lives.

I had to learn growing up that there was more to me than not having children, and there was more to being a woman than having children.  My children do not define me.  Pregnancy would not make me anymore female.  This was a battle I struggled with for so long that my heart aches for women going through it.  Infertility, although it has felt like it at times, is not my whole life.

I won’t lie.  I’m so thankful for my pain of barrenness being something in the past.  I’m incredibly blessed to be at this place of peace and contentment.  Yet, I never want to forget the molding, sharpening, and refining that my experience has done for me.  I remember what it was like to walk around wondering if I would ever feel normal.  There were times I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders or that I had to figure out what I was going to do about what happened to me.  I found though that the more I tried to figure it all out, the worse I felt about my circumstance.

I could not control what happened.  I could not even control what was going to happen in the future.  I could choose to grasp onto the hope that something good was bound to come from all of this.  I also began to realize that I needed to rely more on my faith in a loving Heavenly Father than the persuasions and suggestions of the world.  No one could ever really tell me how to manage it even if they tried.  So, I kept it all in.  I spoke very little of it.

Realizing that I am exactly who God created me to be is the most profound feeling of love and contentment.  I think back when I was a young girl who had been dealt a very difficult hand in life, and am amazed now at the sense of purpose I have found in it.  I am not an expert in the entire experience of infertility, but I am an expert in my own.  All of us going through the heartache of trying to have a family to call our own have varying stories of loss, hope, despair, and joy that intertwine through out our walks.  Even though the set of details might differ, the ability to relate and empathize with others has been wonderful and so needed in my life.  Bless you for the encouraging words several of you have said to me, and especially for taking the time to read the words of my heart.