All the feelings

My ex-husband gets re-married next week.

A few people have asked how this makes me feel and the honest truth is that it makes me feel pret-ty shit.

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I hardly remember what his touch felt like, yet there is not a day that goes by where my fingers don’t subconsciously search for the wedding ring that was bound to them. Likewise, he and his family still feature in some of my dreams as though my old life carries on unaltered in some subliminal place.

My heart still aches for all the things I lost – including him. However the person he is today bears no resemblance to that man I once knew and loved deeply, and for that reason I feel no longing when I think of him now.

But, unfortunately his impending marriage has shone a harsh and humiliating light on my own life. While I know it’s not helpful to think like this, I have found it impossible not to compare myself.

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If I’m completely honest most days I feel like an almighty failure. I feel as though every.single.thing I have put all of my effort into has failed. The old “make it happen” or “never give up” or “if you can dream it you can do it” adages ring like hurtful reminders that I mustn’t have tried hard enough. I mustn’t be enough.

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I feel ripped off that I spent the decade of my twenties fighting for the things I knew I wanted in my life: my marriage, a child, my career, my house – only to lose them all. And sure, these weren’t my decisions so they may not technically be my “failings” but I still feel relegated to living a life I did not build.

What deepens this pain is the rising knowledge that all those dreams may now be lost forever. That I’ve run out of time.

People tend to scoff at me when I say this, given I am only in my early thirties. But I have been hearing the words “Oh but you are so young – you have plenty of time!” for so long now that I wonder if I am the only one who knows how time works.

In regards to the baby situation certain health issues mean this is looking less and less likely. Owning a house again is ridiculously unattainable. The career thing is too painful to discuss right now and will need it’s own separate blog post. And marriage… Well we all know how well that panned out.

I’m not saying it’s all bad news – I know so much more about myself now, I’m so much stronger than I ever knew. I have somehow survived years of infertility, infidelity, divorce, multiple blood clots, and much more. I have friendships deeper than I knew was even possible.

I stand up for myself now. I am not afraid of using my own voice. And, as long as people don’t mind listening, I think I will keep on sharing what’s on my heart.

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I have no idea what the future holds, I certainly never imagined that “cynical over-sharing cat lady feminazi” would be my life, but here we are. I might not be having a European destination wedding any time soon but I am continuing to push forward, treasuring all the many wonderful, beautiful things that have found their way into this new, unexpected life.

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Thanks again for sharing this bizarre journey with me.

x

Breathe in Now

So it’s been over a month since I last posted. Part of that was wanting to wait until I had something half thought-out to say, and part of that was wanting to keep all the things I’m learning stored away like precious treasure. And part of it is that I’ve been busy breathing and learning and living.

I really don’t know what in my life will resonate with people now, but I know that I friggen love life more than ever. When everything was so shit over the past year I used to have a mantra that I would repeat in my head just to calm down and be able to take another step through hell.

It was simply: “The sun, the breeze, the sky, the trees.”

Just saying that to myself, took the focus away from me and my private hell, and onto the magnificence all around me. No matter how effed up life becomes, these things remain, and they remain beautiful and pure and good and constant (well, at least until the sun explodes and obliterates us all).

Ok, so not technically the sun exploding but still an amazing movie (if you're into metaphors and all that)

Ok, so not technically the sun exploding but still an amazing movie (if you’re into metaphors and all that)

I lost basically everything – all of a sudden I had no husband, no job, no income, poor health, and (very soon) no house. I was suddenly untethered from everything that was stable and true to me. I was floating in loss and despair. But yet, those wonderful things – the sun, the breeze, the sky, the trees – remained. And what’s more, I actually started to notice them.

I have no idea what my future holds now, and for the first time in my life I’m okay with that. Losing everything can be somewhat liberating. It means that there is a new and unimaginable future ahead. It’s excitingly scary.

Yes, Life, I'm talking to you.

Yes, Life, I’m talking to you.

In my darkest moments last year I planned to take my own life, and I got terrifyingly close. Knowing this scares me like nothing else in this world.

It petrifies me that I had no idea of the beauty and peace and joy that was just around the corner for me. It is daunting to think I almost allowed my life to be reduced to someone else’s actions upon it. And it cuts me to the core that there are people out there who never get to realise that they are worth more than their circumstances.

I’m not sharing this for pity or concern, I’m sharing this to remain true to the essence of Lady Breaks. It’s about vulnerability and pain, but also about the strength and beauty that is garnered and discovered when everything is stripped and everything aches.

As far as I can see right now, life is impossibly painful and impossibly beautiful. And it’s worth it.

PS. The heading is indeed a reference to Katie Noonan’s (george) glorious, healing song, Breathe in Now. So powerful.

Lady Love

Yes, I know it’s been a really long time since my last blog post. To be honest, I’ve really wanted to write but I also wanted to wait until a time where words like slut, whore, home-wrecker, harlot, and strumpet didn’t fill up the page… Actually, who am I kidding? I couldn’t wait to use a word like “strumpet”!

1057No, in all seriousness, things are actually really going very well! All things considered I am really loving life and happy to be here – which is something I wouldn’t have been able to say at all for the past year. I’ve had so many beautiful people rally around me and lift me up that I can’t help but be filled with joy and the deepest appreciation.

In fact, my entire perspective on friendships has changed dramatically over this time. When my world imploded, a close and dear friend wrote to me and said that it will be strong women who will heal and buoy me during this season. And, yes, I guess since I write a blog about how strong and resilient women are I should have known this. But the truth is I have always been one of those girls who “finds guys easier to get along with than girls”, so my inner response was kinda more like “Bah, humbug”.

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When I promise cat gifs, I deliver cat gifs.

Over the years, I had let many of my female friendships wither, always choosing to spend time with the husband instead. So I guess I never had the opportunity to experience the true power of lady friends. Until now.

Despite me being a contender for the World’s Slackiest Friend, woman after woman after woman started coming out of the woodwork to heal me. Some cooked, some cleaned, some wrote lovely cards, some took sooky calls at 4am, some weathered my (misdirected) storms, some took me out, some kept me in, but all – I actually mean all – shared their own stories of pain and loss and suffering with me. And it’s been powerful. It’s inspiring to be able to hear and witness story after story of how women have overcome, how women have thrived, and how women have risen up despite.

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So, without minimizing the beautiful and touching efforts of all my lovely guy friends, I want to say thank you to the ladies – you have made my world colourful and abundant once more.

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x

Lady is Broken

There is no easy way to do this; in fact I have been putting it off for weeks. The sad truth is that I, Ms. Lady Breaks, am broken. I don’t mean broken in the sense of cracked or rusty or crinkly or hurt. I mean b r o k e n. Crushed, obliterated, eliminated. Smashed into a zillion unfixable pieces.

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And I’ve spent a long time thinking through the best way to do this. I mean this site is about strong, resilient women and it’s about my journey towards a family. And now, my life is about none of those things. I feel weak and battered and unsure of the future. Every single one of my dreams has been ripped from me, callously and without warning. Everything I spent fourteen years building and loving is gone. The last eight years of a harrowing fertility journey has culminated in an epic naught and nothing.

Mr. Lady Breaks has opted out of our life together.

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Right now I simply can’t make sense of it, and I don’t know the right words to articulate it. I don’t know how not to spew hate across this page at what has been done to me. I don’t know how to describe the hole in my heart that was full of him for more than half my life. I don’t understand why this has happened. And I can’t begin to comprehend the depth of repugnance of character of someone who would come between a husband and a wife.

In all honesty I never would have thought that this would happen to me. I loved being married and I adored my husband and our life together. Fertility issues aside, I thought we had a pretty damn good life. But, I guess life is always ready with another curve ball, I just could never have seen this one coming – especially not when I was already in hospital!

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I thought long and hard about closing Lady Breaks down completely. I feel humiliated and ashamed of my story now, like I finally managed to build up the courage to share everything and now it’s all irrelevant anyway. All those adoption assessments, safety locks, IVF needles, baby clothes, all that pain and anguish, the years of hoping and dreaming, it’s all withered away to a pointless and traumatic end. I was always so sure that Spring would eventually break forth for us.

So yeah, I was very close to just shutting this whole embarrassing blog down, I felt hypocritical, like everything it reflected no longer resonated with my reality. But then I remembered that I am the captain of this ship, and I really friggen love writing it. I remembered that its focus is on strong and resilient women, getting back up despite everything telling them to stay down… and I want to go to there.

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Right now, I do feel broken, but I know I will get up again. I would love you to keep walking with me as I fight my way through this (I promise to reward you with multiple cat gifs). I will still advocate for adoption. I will still promote infertility and pregnancy loss awareness. And I will still have my lovely, inspirational Guest Ladies. I just don’t really know what else I will have, because I really don’t know what my new life will look like yet. So if you don’t mind a blog that is more like an unfinished ‘Choose your Own Adventure’ novel, jump on board.

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As for me, I will get back to listening to Adele and watching animal compilations on Youtube.

x

Note: I don't really want to listen to Taylor Swift.

Note: I don’t really want to listen to Taylor Swift.

For the Ladies

So you know those things you often hear about and ignore? Like mobile phones give you cancer, or tampons give you toxic shock syndrome, or using comic sans means you’re emotionally unstable… or the Pill gives you blood clots? Well, it turns out the Pill does in fact give you blood clots. And by “you”, I mean “me”. And don’t even get me started on Comic Sans.

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I can already hear some people asking why the hell I was on the Pill anyway, perhaps solving our “infertility” mystery. The reason is actually quite boring and maybe a little TMI: After years of failing to conceive, I went on the Pill to manage Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I have only been on it for the past 1 – 2 years.

Anyway, I’m trying to go into a bit of detail so that other ladies can be a little more clued up than I was/ am. Of course I had heard some rumblings about the risk of blood clots and the Pill lately (for example here and here) but I naturally didn’t think it would happen to me, and I wasn’t even on Diane or Yasmin (I was taking Estelle <– such a strange sentence to write). But as far as I can tell – and I’m certainly no expert – your risk of blood clots is three times higher on any oral-contraceptive Pill.

I’m really not trying to scare anyone, but the statistics are pre-tty frightening. I guess I was lucky in that I had recently taken a plane trip to Bali, so Deep Vein Thrombosis did come to my mind after my leg had been cramping for a few days. But it is only a five-hour flight, so I felt kind of ridiculous turning up at Emergency in the middle of the night. Anyway, thank God I did. After blood tests and ultrasounds the clots in my leg were discovered.

After that news sunk in, I remembered how I had felt short of breath and lethargic over the past few weeks, which I had just put down to stress. I requested a lung scan, which, after some persistent pleading, the Doctors finally agreed to do.

My Walter White moment

My Walter White moment

The scan showed that I have clots in both my lungs. After staying hospital for a few days, I am now enjoying house arrest ‘Hospital in the Home’. This means that a nurse visits me twice a day to give me blood tests and injections, and I take a hella lot of Warfarin. Unfortunately I only have one “good-arm-that’s-not-so-good” so I look a lot like a heroin addict these days.

Anyway – if I can just bitch and moan for one second – it’s the timing of this that has really gotten to me. You see, I had this great surprise for everyone: Mr. Lady Breaks and I were asked to be part of a discussion on local adoption on SBS’s Insight program. The filming was today. It’s just so frustrating, but I am glad that the discussion is finally being had in a public forum. Also, while I’m whining, this means I can never take the Pill again… which is fine apart from the fact it will make it rather impossible to do IVF again. So there you go.

Ok, pity party over. I’m not advocating for women to burn their monthly blister packs, but just please make sure you’re informed about the Pill you’re taking, and, if you’re worried, go and get your INR level tested by your Doctor. In the meantime I’ll get back to thinning my blood and watching Girls for ten hours each day.

Stay safe xoxo

Eww, I know, but I couldn't help myself!

Eww, I know, but I couldn’t help myself! (Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/rZ3mpHV9qLaxi)

Electing to Love

I guess in many ways, Mr. Lady Breaks and I were lucky. Long before we found out we were infertile, we discussed our desire to adopt. We always said that we would like to have one or two “of our own” and then we would pursue adoption. Of course at the time we were completely ignorant of how difficult achieving either of those dreams would be for us.

But that just the thing, it was two dreams. Biological was separate and distinct from adopted. Not worse, or better, but not the same.  If we get this, we will do that.

Discovering that we were infertile started to break down this division in our hearts and minds. I remember sobbing one day thinking about the fact I would never see my husband’s eyes in a child, never see his curly mop bouncing away on a toddler. Never feel the gravity of a tiny foot pressing against my stomach, or feel the warm pressure of a newborn held tightly against my chest.

And this knowledge does still overwhelm me sometimes, but gradually I came to understand that experiencing these things does not make a child “your own.” Indeed, there are many biological parents that, for one reason or another, don’t experience some or any of those things (take fathers, for instance).

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No, parenting is about making daily choices to love and nurture. Choosing to envelop someone completely into your care. Biology doesn’t determine whether you do this or not – of course there are plenty of biological parents who have sadly chosen not to. And, obviously, there are plenty of non-biological step/ foster/ adoptive parents who have chosen to do this. So, all in all, I have to conclude that being blood-related really doesn’t determine whether you’re a real family or not.

Just as I chose a non-blood-related husband “of my own” to love, fight, eat and create a family with, I can also choose to love and create a family with a child who needs one.

Last week I met a man who put this concept so beautifully and eloquently to me that I just have to share it. He said: “Adoption is an act of election, an act of belonging. It’s about choosing to love and care for someone, committing to protect and nourish them, just as you would a husband or wife.”

By electing to love, I am choosing to remove the invisible barrier between biological and adopted, just as the sweet poem for adoptees by Fleur Conkling Heylinger shows:

Not flesh of my flesh,

Nor bone of my bone,

But still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute,

You didn’t grow under my heart,

But in it.

x

 

Welcome to Lady Breaks!

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Lady Breaks is something that I have wanted to do for a really long time, and for so many reasons.

While I’ve often been paralysed by the thought of joining the never-ending league of Millennials who have begun narcissistic blogs about their super-interesting or struggle-town lives, I’ve decided that maybe my journey can help someone out there.

Somewhat inspired by Nick Vujicic’s TEDx talk, and the incredible woman behind Pharaoh’s Page, I am deciding that through my struggle and suffering, perhaps I can offer someone else hope.

Over the years I have received a number of private messages from courageous friends in the throes of infertility, loss, IVF, depression and so on. It is my guess that for every brave person who is able to reach out for help, there must be many that can’t. I also guess that there are many people who may have never been personally affected by these topics but would love to know more. I want to bridge that silence.

You may or may not know this but October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and November is Adoption Awareness Month. I wanted the release of Lady Breaks to hinge on these two powerful initiatives aimed at breaking down the barriers and stigma surrounding baby loss and adoption.

Finally, Lady Breaks does confront some hard and deeply personal struggles, but it is not about creating a sad-and-sorry-sob-fest. It’s about realistically sharing what it means to crawl through the darkest valleys, and if it’s possible to find hope and meaning there.