Childless ‘Not by Choice?’ ~ We Are Worthy!

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Today, I am dedicating my blog to the first ever ‘World Childless Week’ which started on Monday 11th September. Created by Stephanie Phillips, to highlight the experiences of those dealing with Involuntary Childlessness, each day has a theme. Today it is: ‘We Are Worthy’. I share my thoughts, experience and journey on this topic below:

To follow the events of this week or keep up to date with this campaign please follow @ChildlessWeek on Twitter or @WorldChildlessWeek on Facebook. #WeAreWorthy #WorldChildlessWeek

#WeAreWorthy #IAmWorthy”

How does these statements make you feel? What do you think when you read them? Do you believe it? Does it feel uncomfortable? Do you feel any sensations anywhere in your body?

As a childless ‘not by choice’ women, the feeling of ‘worthiness’ or ‘being worthy’ is something that I have had to battle with and work through over the past decade or so. My fertility or rather infertility journey lasted nearly 10 years and included: 2 miscarriages, 6 unsuccessful clomid cycles, 3 IUI and 4 IVF cycles. As the process took its toll, emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually, finally deciding ‘enough was enough’ was heart-wrenching but absolutely necessary. Letting go of my dream of becoming a mum was not an easy decision but the grief, loss and sadness that followed took me on an unexpected journey of self- discovery.

As humans, we all want to connect and belong. One of the most common connections in our society is having children. I am frequently asked, when meeting someone new, “do you have children?” and the response after saying gently “unfortunately not” or “No, I don’t” ranges from a sympathetic ‘pity face’ to really unhelpful comments such as, “well, why don’t you JUST adopt”. These automatic reactions to either feel sorry for someone experiencing involuntary childlessness or rush to find a solution to ‘fix’ the problem is one that we have to deal with on a daily basis. Speaking with those people that I support, both on my online community and in my work, dealing with people’s reactions and often thoughtless comments is one of the greatest challenges facing them. They don’t feel that they belong in society as their friends get married, have children they can often be left feeling stuck and like the world is moving on without them.

At the end of my journey, I felt completely unworthy, a failure, less of a women, not good enough and like I didn’t ‘fit in’ to society’s mould of what I thought it meant to be a women. As I tried to make sense of what I had done to deserve all the pain and suffering I had endured, I realised that the thoughts in my head about what I thought I ‘should be’, were not coming from me at all. These were, in fact, stories that I had collected from being a young girl, from family, school, friends and our society as a whole; about what we ‘should be’ and what it means to be a women. Because I wasn’t a mother, I made that mean that I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t deserve, I was a failure and unworthy. But that isn’t true.

Following a significant amount of self-discovery work it dawned on me that not only was I feeling unworthy but felt incredibly ashamed of my situation. I felt like shame was at the root of all that I was experiencing and it has been affecting every aspect of my life. My loss and grief was invisible to those around me, as I hadn’t lost anything physical. It was difficult to find people that really understood how I was feeling. I felt alone and isolated in a family-orientated world.

But what did I really have to be ashamed of? It wasn’t my fault that my body wasn’t baby-friendly? 

I was worried about what people would think about me. Again, I realised that these thoughts, were just that, ‘thoughts’. I was choosing to focus on what I couldn’t control so instead I started to change the things I said to myself and developed my self-compassion. Building a toolkit of strategies (training in, including Emotional Freedom Technique & Neuro-linguistic Programming) helped me to work through my grief, shame, limiting beliefs and that feeling of not being good enough. I decided that I was no longer going to be ashamed of my situation.

Following on from this work, I set up The Dovecote: Childless Support Organisation. Daring greatly, I launched my organisation and started speaking out about my childlessness. I felt very vulnerable, sharing my personal story and journey with the world but I soon realised it was a great strength. I was overwhelmed by the number of other people in my situation and the response I gained from other people when they realised that they weren’t alone either. The organisation has gone from strength to strength and I now support and work with many childless people all over the world, helping them through their healing journeys and discover their passion and purpose.

Feeling worthy has to start with loving ourselves, loving ‘what is’ and finding acceptance with our circumstance. We deserve to live a life which is happy and fulfilling, that certainly can be achieved, but it takes time. Just because we don’t have children, doesn’t mean we’re not part of society. Finding our passion through our pain, exploring who we are and what we love it a great place to start.

Be vulnerable. Be brave, Be authentic. People will love the real you. You are worthy.

Kelly Da Silva: Founder of The Dovecote.org

For more information about my work…

Facebook page: The Dovecote Facebook Page

FREE Private Facebook Community Page: The Dovecote Community

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Christmas, Childlessness & EFT

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 The Christmas period can be a difficult time for many people. For those dealing with involuntary childlessness, the relentless advertising in shops, online and in the media, can bring up a range of difficult emotions. The sense of loss and grief can be heightened, as it’s this time of year when many people are starting shopping for their children’s gifts and planning magical events. The emotions triggered at this time of year can be especially challenging for those also suffering with S.A.D, low mood and anxiety.

Luckily, the EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) can help deal with and heal issues related to this Christmas period.

So what is EFT?

EFT is a gentle meridian based therapy which, just like acupuncture, works on the meridian energy system in the body. Unlike acupuncture, there are no needles required. EFT therefore works by gently tapping on the various acupuncture points on the face, body and hands whilst focussing on the issue causing the discomfort or negative emotions. Gary Craig, the Founder of EFT states that “the cause of all negative emotion is a disruption in the body’s energy system”. This combination of tapping and saying relevant statements, therefore works to permanently release it from both the body and mind.

The tapping points:

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Getting started:

Before you start, rate the level of discomfort (of your feelings or the issues) out of 0-10. 10 being the highest imaginable and 0 being completely calm and relaxed.

The statements below can be used or amended in any way to suit your own feelings. These have been designed as generic statements so feel free to change any words which don’t relate fully to your situation. Once you start tapping, you may notice other thoughts come up. These can be used to add to your tapping script. The more ‘specific’ you can be about your thoughts and feelings, the better.

Repeating the statements below, use your first two fingers to gently tap each acupressure point between 5 to 7 times.

Tapping Statements:

(*Fill in the gap with statements that resonate with you)

“Even though I feel *_____________________, there is always a possibility of change and I deeply love and accept myself”.

  • I always struggle at this time of year.
  • I dread Christmas every year.
  • Christmas makes me feel sad and reminds me what is missing in my life.
  • Christmas is really stressful for me.
  • Christmas makes me feel sad that I will never have my own children.
  • I wish I didn’t have to engage in the Christmas activities.
  • I feel guilty that I don’t feel excited by Christmas.
  • I just feel like I’m getting through the Christmas period.
  • The worse thing about Christmas is _____________.
  • I don’t have my own family and children.
  • I feel like I am missing out on one of the most wonderful seasons.
  • I feel anxious about having to spend Christmas with my family and their children
  • I feel sad that I don’t get to go and watch my children in a school play.
  • I feel sad that I will never experience the excitement on my children’s faces on Christmas morning.
  • I wish I could feel excited and look forward to Christmas instead of dreading it.
  • I wish I had children of my own to buy for.
  • I used to love Christmas before I found out I couldn’t have children.
  • I feel sad that I lost my baby and I should be buying gifts.
  • I feel like I miss out because I don’t have children of my own.
  • Christmas is a lonely time for me.
  • I feel really lonely at Christmas
  • I wish I could go to sleep and it all be over.
  • I really miss __________.

Once you have competed a few rounds of tapping, rate the level of discomfort again. Repeat the EFT tapping process until you start to feel better and get a low number of 2 or 3.

Would you like more support?

Whilst this script is a great tool, EFT can have fantastic results when working with an EFT practitioner too.

If you would like more specific support in dealing with these feelings or any issues associated with dealing with childlessness, loss, grief, fears, emotional issues or phobias, please contact me for a FREE consultation over the phone or via Skype.

Kelly Da Silva

EFT/NLP Practitioner and Founder of The Dovecote.org

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Facebook page: The Dovecote Facebook Page

Community Page: The Dovecote Community

Dealing With The Question: “Do You Have Children?”

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“Do you have children?” is one of the most painful questions you can ask someone facing involuntary childlessness, yet, I am asked this question by strangers and new people that I meet pretty much on a weekly basis. Whilst I appreciate this question can be an innocent conversation starter, for those dealing with not being able to have children, it can often strike up a range of painful feelings, emotions and is a deeply personal question.

For years, I dreaded these four words and was constantly seeking a perfect response, asking other childless people “how do I respond when people ask me if I have children?”

Over the years, I have come to realise that there is no easy and simple answer. Early on in my fertility journey, I would brush the question aside and say, “no, not yet”, which was accepted by people when we had only been married a couple of years. As the time went on and we started fertility investigations and treatment, the questions started to get more intrusive and people began asking “don’t you want children?” and “why don’t you JUST adopt?” My heart would sink and I’d say, “We have 2 cats” and try to change the subject.

After many conversations with people,  I now recognise that our response to this question is largely determined by how we’re feeling at that particular moment and may vary depending on who is asking and the circumstances we are in.

So how can we deal with and prepare for the question?

  • Remember, you don’t have to justify yourself. For years, I felt the need to explain our situation to people, who in most cases, I didn’t even know. This is a deeply personal issue which you shouldn’t be forced to talk about. Changing the subject or deflecting the question back on the person can help ease the awkward feelings.
  • Consider setting boundaries about what you feel comfortable discussing. Depending where you are in your journey, you may decide to be open about your situation. Just remember that this is your story and to only talk about it if you want to. It’s amazing how many people are in the same situation and can relate, but be prepared as people like to tell us about miracle stories and about people that they know who got pregnant when they stopped trying.
  • Don’t worry about appearing rude or direct. For years, I felt the need to protect people from feeling awkward or bad when I said we couldn’t have children. Now that I am further along in the journey, I say “unfortunately not” or “no, we can’t have them”. Our tone of voice plays an important part in how we communicate so it’s worth practicing our responses.
  • Give yourself space. If you’re feeling particularly anxious about attending an event or meeting new people for the first time, give yourself permission to find a quiet space and take a few deep breaths and re-engage when you feel ready.

Finally, as much as we can try to prepare ourselves for the “Do you have children?” question, it will still often prompt uncomfortable feelings. Remember to be kind yourself and say what feels right for you at that particular moment in time… there is no textbook answer.

Kelly Da Silva

EFT/NLP Practitioner and Founder of The Dovecote.org

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Facebook page: The Dovecote Facebook Page

FREE Private Facebook Community Page: The Dovecote Community

Dealing with Involuntary Childlessness Blog

Published: Dealing With the Question: “Do You Have Children?” http://huff.to/1IPDXDp via @HuffPoLifestyle

The ‘Invisible Loss’ of Involuntary Childlessness

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Whilst we don’t appear to have lost anything in a physical sense, many people facing involuntary childlessness suffer a deep sense of ‘loss and grief’ that is invisible to most people around us. Realising that you are not going to have the family you’ve always hoped and dreamed of can feel very isolating. For me, in particular, the grief was overwhelming and intense.

Facing the reality of not being able to have children is heart-breaking, whether trying to conceive a child naturally, using methods of assisted conception (IVF) or arriving at childlessness by another means.

What people don’t see – Invisible losses

The loss associated with involuntary childlessness sits more deeply than simply not being a Mother or Father, since we also lose the:

  • chance and hope of ever having our own biological family
  • celebrations of key milestones with our babies; the first day of school, passing their driving test or getting married
  • chance to see our children play alongside our nieces and nephews
  • experience of sharing holidays & our knowledge
  • opportunity to experience being grandparents (although I appreciate this is not a given)

When does grief strike?

For me, realising that I wasn’t going to be a Mother didn’t just hit me one day. Due to the nature of my fertility investigations and treatment, the reality of our situation was more of a ‘gradual process’. With each failed cycle and loss, I began to recognise that our chances of becoming parents were fading in front of our eyes. With our last IVF cycle treatment failing, all hope was lost. Deciding to stop treatment after 8 years of trying for a baby was extremely difficult and very painful. It is hard to put into words the emotional and physical torment your body, mind and spirit goes through with each failed IVF cycle, allowing yourself the permission to grieve ‘your way’ is essential.

It took time and plenty of ‘grief-work’ for the cloud to lift, but steadily, I began to feel that I could experience joy, hope and happiness again.

Dealing with the grief

  1. Recognising and owning our feelings of hopelessness, anger, disbelief, and bitterness is essential in the first stage of the grieving process. Know that it is ‘OK’ to have a bad day, week, month …! Once we are able to do this, it is the beginning of the healing process.
  2.  Realising that grief is good and tears are a sign that healing is taking place. Communicate with people you trust, a counsellor or on online community support groups – with people who understand what you’re going through.
  3. Give yourself time to do what you need to do. Whether that is taking time out to be in nature, staying in bed or continuing to go to work if it offers you a distraction.
  4. Be kind to yourself: If you’ve had fertility treatment, your body will need time to recover. It’s easy to feel negative towards our bodies for somehow failing us, but nurturing ourselves and our inner child is important.
  5. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) helped deal with the all-consuming sadness I felt. By releasing any energy blockages associated with the treatment, infertility and loss I began to feel more accepting of the situation.

Overall, for me, the psychological loss of ‘a life I thought I was going to have’ was the most significant ‘invisible loss’ associated with involuntary childlessness. There are no rules where grief is concerned, your journey is unique. Grief never goes away completely, but as time goes on, the pain lessens and you’re able to live with your situation.

Kelly Da Silva

EFT/NLP Practitioner and Founder of The Dovecote.org

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Facebook page: The Dovecote Facebook Page

FREE Private Facebook Community Page: The Dovecote Community

Dealing with Involuntary Childlessness Blog

Published: The ‘Invisible Loss’ of Involuntary Childlessness http://huff.to/1LKkLpN via @HuffPoLifestyle

“Dealing With Involuntary Childlessness”

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Being able to live a happy, fulfilling and purposeful life, when experiencing infertility can seem like an impossible task.

Whatever stage you are at in the fertility journey, becoming a mother or father becomes the centre of your world. Every waking moment you become aware of where you are in your cycle and those on the ‘IVF train’ have the long and often anxious 6 weeks journey of hope, excitement, joy and often disappointment. Unless you’ve been through it….you can’t understand just how difficult the IVF process is, physically, emotionally and the strain created on your close relationships.

We live in a world where society gives us a script of the way we’re ‘supposed’ to live our lives. For many, the ‘Fairy Tale’ is that we get married, have a baby and have another one…this is what is ‘expected’. I’ve been there myself, imagining my ‘perfect life’, my children all sat around the farmhouse kitchen table…living the dream! So when and for whatever reason, our perfect picture or dream is compromised it can set off a whole range of emotions that are very difficult to deal with. Depression and anxiety are often the things that are triggered inside us that we need to deal with.

Dealing with involuntary childlessness is ‘LOSS’ and you need time to ‘grieve’? It’s losing a “life you believed you were going to have”, a life that as little girls we are brought up to think that is what would happen for us. It wasn’t until I realised this that I understood the feelings that were being stirred up and began to realise that it was ‘perfectly normal’ to be feeling sad and vulnerable.

People arrive at ‘involuntary childlessness’ for a variety of reasons. Infertility, marrying a partner who doesn’t want children or leaving it too late, are only a few ways in which it manifests itself. For me, the 8 years struggle trying to conceive was a rollercoaster and there were many dark times.

Dealing with involuntary childlessness can be tough to begin with, but using a variety of tools and techniques it is more than possible to begin to feel joy and happiness again:

Here’s a few tips that helped me get though it:

1. SELF CARE 

Self-care is one of the most important things you can do to help ‘nurture and love your body’. Especially after IVF, reviewing your diet and exercise can be a great way to take back control and give your body what it needs. From taking a long hot bath, treating yourself to lovely food, taking a little walk or time to just be!

2. TIME 

It is a cliché that ‘time heals’, at the time it wasn’t what I wanted to hear but ‘taking one day at a time’ felt much more manageable. I felt that if I could initially just survive each day (whether at home or at work)….that was ENOUGH! Take each day as it comes and try not to beat yourself up.

3. EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE (EFT) 

Having EFT was the most significant thing I ever did with regards dealing with involuntary childlessness. By releasing the blockages within the body, it eliminated the source of the emotional intensity and discomfort. Being able to free the negative emotions, limiting beliefs and feelings of being a failure enabled me to be kinder to myself and release the blame.

4. LOOKING AT ALL AREAS OF YOUR LIFE 

Having a look at all the areas of your life and ‘identifying things that are not serving you’ is an extremely powerful tool. It is very easy to lose sight of your different roles so setting some time aside to review the level of satisfaction of your job, for example, will again enable you to create a new vision of how your life could be.

5. COMMUNICATION

‘Communication is the key’ to most issues in life. It is very easy to not want to talk about what we’ve been through and feel ashamed but I’ve found it really powerful to connect with people going through the same experience. Having someone who listens to our story, without judgement or giving advice is a priceless gift. We all need to have a ‘space held’ for us where we can express our deepest fears, feelings and anxieties.

Involuntary childlessness is a largely taboo subject but IT IS possible to live a happy, fulfilling and purposeful and AMAZING life without children.

Kelly Da Silva

EFT/NLP Practitioner and Founder of The Dovecote.org

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Facebook page: The Dovecote Facebook Page

Facebook Community Page: The Dovecote Community

Published: “Dealing With Involuntary Childlessness” http://huff.to/1LkLyst via @HuffPoLifestyle