Hello, everyone! Civilla Morgan here! Welcome back to Childless not by Choice, where my mission is to recognize and speak to the broken hearts of childless not by choice women, and men, around the world. I am spreading the great news that we can live a joyful, relevant, and fulfilled life, although we could not, did not, have the children we so wanted.
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Well, today I am going to discuss a subject of which I knew nothing, but for which I use regularly as my platform’s byline. It’s a funny thing about not knowing what we don’t know, isn’t it?
All through the platform, in all my intros, I say that ‘you can live a joyful, relevant, and fulfilled life.’ Never realizing that thought process could possibly have its roots in a sociological or psychological process for coping.
As many of you know, I wanted children more than anything on this planet. I managed pain and embarrassment for a decade attempting to buy time to possibly have a child. Ultimately, it did not happen. I wanted to have a child or children with someone who would help me raise them. I really could not imagine raising a child by myself, although at one point in my 10-year journey I did consider IVF as I started to run out of time, and after two failed attempts at adoption.
I finally scheduled the surgery that would end my physical pain, embarrassing monthly accidents, and any hope I had left, of ever having a child.
I fought and struggled my way through sadness, bitterness, shame, fear, feeling like a second-class citizen, battling all the negative thoughts that tried to take up residence in my mind.
I made the decision, the choice; to journey to a place of acceptance and realization that I would not have the children and the lifestyle I had expected. I had to decide: what kind of life would I have? Would I allow myself to live as a self-imposed second-class, shamed, and embarrassed about my situation citizen? Or would I make the decision to speak out about my situation knowing there were millions of women experiencing a similar journey? Women who were and are hiding in plain sight?
Would I be willing to face down the critics who asked why I could not just get over it, or my favorite…’why don’t you just adopt?’ Those of us in the childless not by choice community love that question. I think that’s our favorite question.
Could I really convince women around the world, and men, that they really could live joyful and relevant lives? Would they believe me? Do I believe me?
Some days I believe it, some days I ask myself who am I kidding? I have my moments, especially around Mother’s Day, where I feel like I am fooling myself. It is around that time that I feel like a fraud.
But the alternative was scary. Depression, sadness, fear, bitterness, envy…I could not and cannot imagine living the rest of my life with those feelings as my narrative. There had to be an alternative.
There will be moments of sadness weaved into the tapestry of our journey, but deep down, even during those moments when I feel like a fraud when I don’t believe me; I know I made the right choice. The choice to be relevant and joyful. The choice to help others. I decided that the negative alternatives were just not an option.
And remember, choice does not just happen. It is a process. There will be good days and there will be bad days. But underlying the ups and downs is the choice, the decision.
So here is my point: It turns out that my byline of living a joyful and relevant life is much the same as Caplan’s Theory of Crises. What is Caplan’s Theory of Crises? I’m glad you asked:
‘Caplan (1964) initially defined a crisis as occurring when individuals are confronted with problems that cannot be solved. These irresolvable issues result in an increase in tension, signs of anxiety, a subsequent state of emotional unrest, and an inability to function for extended periods. James and Gilliland (2005) define crises as events or situations perceived as intolerably difficult that exceed an individual’s available resources and coping mechanisms. Similarly, Roberts (2000) defines a crisis as “a period of psychological disequilibrium, experienced as a result of a hazardous event or situation that constitutes a significant problem that cannot be remedied by using familiar coping strategies” (p. 7). The Chinese translation of the word “crisis” consists of two separate characters, which paradoxically mean danger and opportunity (Greene, Lee, Trask, & Rheinscheld, 2000). Crisis intervention thus provides opportunities for clients to learn new coping skills while identifying, mobilizing, and enhancing those they already possess. The following are characteristics of crisis events:
- The event precipitating the crisis is perceived as threatening.
- There is an apparent inability to modify or reduce the impact of stressful events.
- There is increased fear, tension, and/or confusion.
- There is a high level of subjective discomfort.
- A state of disequilibrium is followed by rapid transition to an active state of crisis.
Crisis Intervention is an immediate and short-term psychological care aimed at assisting individuals in a crisis situation to restore equilibrium to their biopsychosocial functioning and to minimize the potential for long-term psychological trauma.
The two things I really liked about the above information: are the last sentence, and how the Chinese created two paradoxical characters to equate to crisis.
*** It is so important to quickly work on minimizing the potential for long-term psychological trauma. Many people are afraid to go see a psychologist or psychiatrist, but it is important to see one immediately after a traumatic experience or crisis.
In life, there will be trauma. There will be crisis. But there is also hope. Which leads to the other thing I liked: the meaning of the Chinese two-character definition of crisis: danger and opportunity. Those two words: danger and opportunity, are not typically used in the same sentence. But isn’t it wonderful that the Chinese thought of the possibility of hope even during trauma, during crisis? Even in crisis, there is hope.
Hope is what I hung onto for ten years, until my final surgery. I could have lost all hope after that surgery, but I decided to create a new hope. It didn’t happen overnight. Sometimes choice is a process.
You may have had to take a left turn. Maybe that IVF treatment failed yet again, and you cannot afford any more treatments. Maybe you had to finally have a hysterectomy. Totally not what you had planned. And while trying the treatments, or trying to hang onto that uterus, you had hope. But now that those hopes have been taken away, you must manifest a new set of hopes.
Life is a journey. You know that as well as I do. There will be ups and downs, back tracks, winding roads, fear, sadness, happiness, guilt, strengthening events, clueless people making clueless comments, and seemingly mentally weakening events. But throughout the entire journey, we must hang onto hope.
I’ve put the Kaplan’s Theory of Crisis graph in the show notes. It is a pictorial graph of the progression of how we deal with crisis: before, during, and after.
If you look at the graph, you will see how many of us are going along, managing life, pre-crisis. But during the crisis which I call the ‘glass half full or half empty’ visual, the affected person’s coping mechanism drops precipitously, but then there are three levels of recovery.
In the green level, you can see that the person recovered to higher than where they were before the crisis. Another person recovered to just about where they were or just a little lower.
But a third person’s coping capacity was seriously diminished. They did not recover per se, they either just checked out of life, or it would not take much to send them over the edge. Their mental, emotional, may be even physical state, is fragile.
I believe the hope that you may have held onto at the outset of the crisis, or a new-found hope post crisis, is what helps a person to recover above and beyond that seriously diminished capacity to cope.
This is how important hope is. So, I am asking you to hang onto hope or find a new hope if life did not turn out the way you expected. If you do not have that baby you hoped for. If you never have that baby. If you must watch women around you have child after child after child. Knowing some of them consider their children mistakes. Watching some of them give up their little girls out of tradition. Exchanging their children for that next drug induced hit. Even killing their children.
I know I have asked you to do this in previous episodes, but I am going to ask you again: whenever you hear about or see these heartbreaking stories, pray for the child. Help where you can, and find new hope. Recover to higher than where you were pre-crisis. Do not allow this crisis to take you to a place of hopelessness and diminished capacity to cope. Have hope!
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Suicide, childlessness, loss, barrenness, PCOS, miscarriage, infertility, fibroids,
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