"Is the speaking, writing and advocacy just bringing up the grief too much?" I have been asked this by more than one close loved one lately.
All you have to do is follow me on social media and see some of my recent videos to know that I've been on the struggle bus lately.
Ah, the struggle bus. But why?
Never a therapist to turn away from learning and growing in my own insight, I know it is a runaway bus for a few reasons.
We got to spend an amazing and fun weekend with three of our favorite boys while their mom and dad, some of our closest friends, were on a business vacation. It was a weekend of sports, the new Lego movie, a preschool Valentine's Day party (the one and only I will ever attend), sharing the worst part and best parts of our day over dinner together and me yelling the words, "No touching another human being for the next ten minutes!" a thousand times.
For three days Chad and I got to experience the tiniest bit of the anxiety, worry, frustration and exhaustion of parenting three boys.
For three days we got the tiniest glimpse into what life would have been like with our three.
It was incredible, and I am so grateful.
It was also super hard and had the major undercurrent of grief for me.
The weekend after, I spoke at an infertility conference. I spent the day surrounded by men and women still in the journey, my fellow warriors, while I hocked my book and presented with my good friend and fellow warrior Lindsay. Our presentation kicked ass, we got so much positive feedback.
It was amazing, and I knew I did good work that day.
It was also hard and had a major undercurrent of my grief.
So the question posed above by several of my loved ones is not out of the question. I have noticeably been in a season of struggle... again; more tearful, arguing with God, then frustrated with myself and utterly exhausted and overwhelmed.
Fucking struggle bus.
However, I know the answer to their question immediately.
My grief is always there, it will always fucking be here, my children aren't walking this earth with me! My writing, speaking and advocating honor them and help it feel like it was all worth something.
And yet, lately it feels like it is an exhausting, pointless hustle. Like all the work, sacrifice, money and time are never going to pay off. To which Chad then does his job, well I might add, of witnessing my life with his complimentary to me husband duty and asks, "What is your definition of success when it comes to this?"
"I guess I have no idea, which is even more frustrating," is my only reply, which only pisses me off more, brings tears down my cheeks and makes me pick up my wine glass.
It is clear my story will never be the first picked for the magazine or mainstream media outlet. Hell, it is proven that I usually have to literally force my way onto the local stages. The definition of success where this goes viral and my story is able to reach millions feels impossible.
To be honest, it has crossed my mind more than once these last few weeks to quit it all. To stop writing, speaking and advocating.
And then, par the course, God not so gently nudges me with a few Facebook messages and emails:
"I can't get your story out of my head."
"Thank you for being the only one to say that sometimes this doesn't work and that we can still be okay."
"Thank you for telling your story."
"Thank you for all you do for our community."
How come it is so hard for me to count this as success?
Because it is not over 22,000 Facebook likes, a million views and it is for sure not any amount of a paycheck. We live in a world that we are told we don't matter and that we are never enough. You haven't sold enough books, made enough money, gotten enough followers...you aren't pretty enough, rich enough, thin enough, happy enough...
YOU. ARE. NOT. ENOUGH.
We all have this shame and scarcity in our lives, the world we live in alone makes you feel like a prisoner to it. I don't get dibs on it as a small published author painstakingly building her platform with a sad story on a topic no one wants to talk about.
But as my life would have it, this very normal feeling of never enough majorly triggers my grief trauma.
I live in a world full of children. Everything is child-centered and child-obsessed, even the Hallmark holidays I learned this past Valentine's Day when grief reared it's ugly head and bit me in the ass.
Almost everywhere I go, I am the only woman my age without children. I will never fit in. The grief and the shame trauma that lives inside of me turns this into another way for me to tell myself that I am not enough.
This is the story I must bravely work to rewrite every day. This is the story all of us must rewrite.
I rewrite it through practicing self-care, loving hard, mothering everything and everyone that comes into contact with me and through writing and speaking the story the world isn't ready to hear.
I know, I can't quit. This is in my bones and I am not done changing the world yet, especially the infertility and loss community. I do however have to shift my energy before this hustle kills my spirit.
So, I will write when I am moved. I will publish the next two books because, hell, they are already written and they are needed. And, I will let this go, laying it down, let's be honest, laying it back down at His feet where it always belonged anyway. He's got it. My success, my identity, are not in book sales, followers or a paycheck. My identity doesn't even lie in my motherhood.
It is my job to get off the damn struggle bus, even if it is to squeeze into a struggle Fiat for now. So, with the help of my community, a new coach, my self-care and His mercy and grace the struggle is now in a tiny car that will zoom in and out of the traffic of living this wholehearted life with lifelong grief.
And, I will pull over once in a while and remember, I am a daughter of the King. He made me a mother. And, through Him, in Him and because of Him, I am enough.