Infertility Defining Your Identity? Don’t Let It- 3 Ways to Move Forward
All our lives we work towards growing into our own and developing an identity. And as we age we begin to develop interests, skills, passions and relationships- the very things that define who we are. But else does identity mean?
Identity is more than just a name, a place to live or what you look like. Identity represents you as a whole, your entire being. It reflects the unique ways you define yourself. Perhaps it’s as an athlete, a musician, nature lover or even a partner. Having an identity gives you a purpose, and a sense of belonging all of which contribute to your confidence and total well being.
But what happens when you’re finally comfortable in your own skin, and decide that yes, you want to be a parent but it doesn’t come easily. If infertility stands in your way you may begin to question your identity.
How can I move forward if I want to be a parent and can’t?
Those are questions and challenges that arise along with feelings of doubt about yourself, your identity and your purpose. But, you don’t have to let it. You’re more than just a vision or idea of a parent especially if you’re struggling to reach this goal. You’re beautiful, strong and capable. Infertility should never define who you are. It is a challenge, a stumbling block even but it is not who you are. Let’s see how you can reclaim your identity, redefine your purpose and move forward on this journey of life.
Acceptance to Move Forward
Ok, so what if you’ve been told that getting pregnant may be a challenge or even impossible. Is that a reason to give up on yourself? To feel as if you’ve failed your identity? No. The answer is no. You may be at a point where you have to reevaluate your life, your path and your identity. The first step in doing that is through acceptance. Infertility is not your identity and it never will be. You are a person with hobbies, skills, family, friends and a career.
It’s important to know that yes, a family is an amazing path to take but it’s just that. It’s a pathway and sometimes we have to navigate our journey in a different way. There are many successful, happy and passionate people in the world who are childfree. True that may be by choice but for others, they’ve come to accept that perhaps a family is not in the cards and they focus on other aspects of life. Life is so multifaceted, with so many adventures, choices and opportunities. All you have to do is look in the mirror and believe there’s more out there for you.
Acceptance is the first step in moving forward. Once you’re able to freely accept whether or not you can have children, your journey will look a little brighter, wider and more promising. Yes it will take time. You’ll have to learn tools to navigate your journey in a different way and even shift your mindset to a different place. But it’s possible to move on from the idea that all you are or wanted to be is a parent. Think of all the amazing things you’ve done in your life so far. You’ve developed skills, made friends, created a home and developed a lifestyle. Those are the greatest gifts you could have! Infertility doesn’t have anything to do with who you are, what you’ll accomplish or what you aspire to be. It’s what you create for yourself along the way that defines you as a person.
Identify with Your Feelings- Not Just Your Infertility
Take a moment to think about how you’re feeling. Are you sad, defeated or lost? Those are all valid feelings especially when dealing with infertility. But you should never feel guilty. Instead of carrying guilt with you, acknowledge and know that yes you’re allowed to feel sad but sadness is different than guilt. Guilt is what you feel when you do something wrong. You’ve done nothing wrong when it comes to infertility. Doctors, nurses, friends, family and therapists will all tell you that very thing- you should never carry guilt. Opening up and acknowledging your feelings is a step in the right direction. It’s a way to heal and move forward. Support groups, confiding in your partner, family and friends (if you’re comfortable) is also another way to begin understanding the importance of your self-worth and it doesn’t include infertility.
As you continue to move on and start to reevaluate yourself, think of what makes you whole. Is it your partner? Your family, your career? Think about what makes you feel loved. Is it holding your partner close, feeling wanted, cared for and appreciated? You journey through life with ups and downs regardless if there’s a connection to infertility and chances are you’re not doing that alone. Believe in the power of love and how much it can lift you up and carry you through the good times and the bad. Those are feelings to identify with and those are the feelings that contribute to your worth and identity. Not infertility. You’re so much more.
You’re not any less a woman, a daughter or a partner because you haven’t had a child. Remember that and repeat it over and over.
Focus on Self-Care
Self-care consists of five key elements that help develop a healthy relationship and connection between your mind and body. Those elements include-
Physical self care
How you address all of these is a personal choice but essential in developing your unique identity. Once again it’s not infertility, it’s all aspects of life that define who you are. Let’s take physical self care to start. Take time for yourself by getting outside, finding a passion for yoga, exercising daily or simply just moving your body. All these put together contribute to who you are and what you get out of this beautiful world. The intellectual aspect of self care means that you’re always learning. Pick up a book, do a crossword puzzle, learn a new language- it’s the continuous search for learning that drives your well-being and sense of balance.
Other aspects of self care that contribute to your identity are social, spiritual and emotional. Socially, surrounding yourself with loved ones, friends and colleagues not only reinforces how much you’re loved but also gives you a support system. Having a strong support system gives you the opportunity to develop stronger coping skills, reduce anxiety, feel a sense of belonging and decrease depression making you feel whole again.
Spiritual self care is one very unique to who you are. It can be as simple as meditation or as complex as religion. Regardless it’s an important part of taking care of you and defining who you are with your values and beliefs- that’s identity. It’s something you can turn to and lean on for strength, comfort and balance.
How do you balance emotions when practicing self care? Well, it involves awareness. Awareness of your thoughts, feelings and the tools you use to cope with certain situations. You never have to feel alone and that’s a powerful thing. You can turn to your support system or even a therapist to guide you through your emotions and truly define your best self.
As you move on in your journey just remember all these parts are put in motion by you. You were brought into this world with love, and joy and that’s exactly how you should live it. Never deny yourself of your emotions, but never think you are less of a person because your journey has taken a different route. Believe in yourself, your love and your self-worth- infertility aside you are amazing and have the opportunity to create a life without limits.