For me, writing has always been a refuge, a way and place to seek solace, a way to seek and understand myself, and a way to pray. Looking back at my writing habits now, I see that it is no coincidence that my words have dried up over these past 5 -1/2 years.
I want to write from a place of hopefulness, but writing demands honesty. I can’t write what I don’t feel. For so much of my life, I had felt great hope: cheerfulness, optimism in the face of adversity, a sense that even though the moment I was in was hard, it was only a blip on the joyful path home.
These past few years have changed me. I got married 5-1/2 years ago, on a wonderful fall day, to the man I Iove. I approached marriage with a sense of awe and wonder; I could only imagine the joy of living with someone who understood me, who loved me and who I got to love, for the rest of our lives. Two becoming one – I would never be alone. We would create a family together, and we would raise children – both biological and adopted – to know and love the Lord. We would, God willing, raise children to help heal the church; perhaps one of our children would be called to the priesthood or religious life. I was ready to be that kind of vessel. I was super excited.
I just knew we would be blessed. We had, after all, done all the right things: maintained chastity before marriage, kept the law in our hearts. We were each other’s first love. Surely (there was no doubt in my mind) God would bless us, for we had been faithful to Him.
My husband and I have no children. We are in a situation, for a variety of reasons, where adoption is not possible – it may be in the future, but not now. We do not know if we will ever have children, and I am approaching the end of my fertility window. These are the facts; they feel like heavy weights, dragging me down. Oh, I have fought against this reality for years – we got testing, treatments that doctors promised would work and yet did not, second and third opinions, surgery, then revisional surgery, followed by more reassurances that this time, it should work. Yet here we are – seemingly barren.
This experience has been a wonderful (I hesitate to use the word, but it is true) opportunity for self-reflection. I look back at my optimism from five years ago, and I look at what my husband and I have been through, searching for the hand of God in it all, seeking to understand His will. One of the most important lessons I am learning is about giving up control: I don’t, as it turns out, know where our path ends. We may end up having and adopting children; we may not. There is absolutely no way to know right now.
I am also learning that my husband and I process these events differently. For so much of our marriage, I thought I was suffering alone; it didn’t seem to bother him at all. My grief was multi-dimensional; I was angry at him for not caring, and a selfish part of me was angry at him for having these infertility issues in the first place – after all, I didn’t have any fertility issues (that I knew of), and yet I was suffering while he seemed to be doing just fine. I felt despair, resentment, even rage sometimes – all bottled up and leaking out. I learned that while some people are prone to violence and destruction because of negative emotions, others repress them and harm themselves. I found myself leaning in the latter direction – I became very depressed, and even (dare I say it) contemplated suicide. If God wasn’t going to be with me, if He was going to bring me to this horrible place with no relief in sight, well then – I was going to take myself away from Him. I was going to end it all.
I cannot tell you what saved me, other than God; somehow, inexplicably, He did what He does. He saved me. Well, He’s saving me still – I am very much a work in progress.
The amazing thing, through it all, is this: God is still good. I am also learning, more and more, just how good He is to me, how much He loves me, and how much He desires to teach me good things. He is unfailingly patient with my resentment, my bitterness, my jealousy, and my giving in to negative impulses. I am learning, too, that God does not like to see me suffer. God does not wish me to hate myself; He loves me. Can I not, then, love myself? (Let me mention, I struggle with this still.)
It is not easy, walking this road – sometimes I feel like I am being dragged down it. – I cannot, even now, say that I am 100% better, that the dark times have gone, but I can see, in a way, His hand in this. God is, I think, tearing down my misconceptions about myself, and growing me the way He wants me to be. He is inspiring in me a deep love for my husband, and opening my eyes to the reality of his pain. I am now learning, all these years in, that my husband and I are one in this suffering. Our emotions tend to ride up and down together, as we endure this emotional roller- coaster.
This suffering is not just a blip in the road. What we are going through is important; it matters. Even if, tomorrow, God miraculously granted all our desires, we would still be affected by this season. There is an intentionality here. I cannot say that I understand it; I can’t say that I uniformly see His will – sometimes I feel like I can’t see or say anything at all – I just endure. However, I need to continue to learn that I am not alone in this; as we sit and wait for the storms to pass (whatever the end result), I hope that we will continue to grow closer to God, and to each other.
If you are struggling as my husband and I are, please know – without a doubt – that you are not alone. Somewhere on the other end of your screen is a fellow sojourner. I ask that you pray for me and mine, and I assure you of my prayers for you and yours. Over and above all, I pray that God continue to be with us, and grant us the patience to endure. I ask for forgiveness from God for all the times I doubted His presence, and I ask for His mercy – I’m sure I’ll doubt it in the future, too. I pray for God’s love to shine in your life, for His graces to enrich you, and for the wisdom to eventually see His hand in this mighty work. May we rejoice, someday soon, in heaven, when all this is past us!
Teresa and her husband live in “suburban DC” aka Maryland. She enjoys bossing him around and he tolerates this with good grace. In their spare time, they enjoy reading, ziplining, and having random adventures by getting lost.