Beyond the Comfort Zone. Refinding yourself after fertility treatment.
My name’s Fi and I don’t have children. Over the years, this statement has produced so many different feelings. There was relief up until my mid 20s when I was in the carefree stage of finding out who I was and deciding what I wanted to do when I grew up. But then, in no particular order, came feelings of impatience, sadness, hope, failure, pain, stuckness, rejection, loneliness, disappointment, fear, being different, being excluded, bitterness, guilt, shame…. too many to name. It’s been quite a rollercoaster chasing my dream of having a baby. There have been lots of appointments and tests, ultrasounds, a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy, a diagnosis of endometriosis and low ovarian reserve, three rounds of IVF, lots of waiting, and 2 miscarriages…..I got close but still not close enough to hold our child in my arms. In 2015, we called it a day. It was by no means an easy decision, probably one of the hardest in my life, and I’ve grappled with my feelings and “what ifs” as I’ve tried to come to terms with the fact that my life will be different to the one I set out to have.
Fast forward to 2018, the year I turned 40, the number I always saw as the final cut off age. I’d always had an image that the younger me had created of life at 40….married, children (probably 2), a dog, a good job (this had often changed….vet, teacher, newsreader, writer), a house with a big garden (in the country), a car (a nice new shiny one)…. basically all of the things that I’d experienced or things that society has painted technicolour images of and told me to expect or aspire to as I’ve been growing up. But, here I am. My life and experiences to get to 40 have been totally different to the image I’d created. I’m divorced but have an amazing other half, there are no children, we have 2 cats, I have a good job (but there have been several changes along the way and it’s not what I would have anticipated my adult self doing), we have a house with a small, “manageable” garden, and I have a reliable, old, car that I haven’t changed for 10 years.
What my younger self hadn’t imagined was the adversity and struggles that life can throw at us. Like many, I’ve encountered and fought health problems, loss, misfortune, heartache….. The hardest fight of all being against my fertility difficulties, a fight that I was simply destined not to win. However, now I can see that it is these experiences that have taught me who I am, tested me to the limits to show me what I’m capable of, and presented me with opportunities that I never would have otherwise had. After all, as Steve Jobs said, “success is a lousy teacher”, something that a perfectionist like me is still trying to make sense of.
It’s said that life begins outside of our comfort zone. Life is also said to begin at 40. So, I’ve decided to have a go at combining the two and do 40 challenges in the year I turn 40. I don’t mean huge, almost impossible feats (I won’t be climbing Everest just yet!), I mean things that will push me out of my comfort zone on a mental and physical level – big and small, one offs, and things I can continue throughout my life, things I can do with others, as well as solo challenges. There are endless possibilities and I will document them as I go.
I’m just over 2 months into 2018 and it’s been one of the busiest but most fulfilling starts I’ve had to a New Year. In no particular order: I’ve created the Beyond the C Zone project and the social media and blogging that goes with it, I’ve had my first ukulele lesson and can play a couple of songs (slowly!), I’ve started Pilates, I’ve booked a trip to New York, I’ve completed 3 Park Runs (mainly in the wind and rain!), I’ve read an eighth of the 40 books on my list, I went to a workshop on Chakras (on my own), I’ve danced on my own ‘with groove’ (it had anything but that!), I’ve started my half marathon training (and currently have a sore knee to prove it!), I made a Birthday cake in the shape of a bird from scratch (I’m usually a pop to the supermarket for cakes kind of person), Lent has been about random acts of kindness and giving rather than giving something up.
There’s a long way to go and it hasn’t always been easy. In the past few months, I’ve experienced some setbacks and, thanks to my pesky inner critic, perfectionism’s BFF, I’ve sometimes felt the fear of failure breathing down my neck. But, these things have been outweighed by the connection I’ve experienced with others, new opportunities, a sense of purpose…..finding Fi again!
So, that’s my story, publicly shared, which definitely takes me beyond my comfort zone (another challenge achieved!). If you want to take up your own challenges and push yourself ‘Beyond the C Zone’, come and join me – you definitely don’t need to be turning 40! Let’s be brave and try something new to see where it takes us. Or, if that’s not your cup of tea, or you’re not ready yet, sit back and watch me take on my challenges…. Give me some ideas, words of encouragement, or have a giggle at any madness I end up getting myself into. I’m on a new path in life and, although it’s very different to the one I imagined, I’m starting to enjoy it. You can get there too. With that in mind, I would like to reintroduce myself before I go:
“My name’s Fi, I’ve created Beyond the C Zone and I feel excited, grateful, hopeful and proud.”