The title comes from a cry uttered by my sister. She didn’t mean to be hurtful or self-centered, she was truly at a loss for the situation that I had put her in. She is, unashamedly and quite contrarily to me, a people-pleaser. She has a huge heart and loves to make people happy and what she had seen as my lifestyle choice was baffling to her.
“What am I supposed to tell people?” was her response over a year ago to my commenting in a private moment between us about her beautiful children and her lovely family. Her real question was ‘Why don’t you have kids’ and ‘ How do I fit this image of you into my ‘normal/traditional’ oriented world’?
My response was equally as heartfelt but from a different place altogether. I’m a very private person except with close friends and the “Me” that is seen by most is a mask. I am most certainly NOT a people pleasing person though I do try to ensure satisfaction when it comes to general life. Your opinion of me, however, is not actually important to me and what you think of my life is of no consequence whatsoever. My response to her? “Tell them? Nothing, its none of their damn business why I don’t have children. Tell them that I am a great Auntie and that should be enough”. But I knew that it wasn’t enough. Not for her. Not for me
We haven’t been close sisters. Sure, we were very close growing up but then I went to University and then across the pond and we never regained that relationship because, in part, of our differences in personality. For the last 20 years we have not shared our lives, hopes and dreams or fears and reality. We live in very different worlds with very different lifestyles. On the surface: She was the traditional one. She dated, married the guy she began dating her sophomore year of college, earned her career and had kids, all within the same university town and now lives in a way easily recognised as “normal” across millions of miles of the ‘burbs all across America. Me? I am…different. I dated, kept dating, have had multiple jobs in multiple industries in multiple states. There is very little “traditional” about me. I have teal streaks in my hair, have tattoos, piercings and live unmarried with my substantially older than myself partner (though we won’t mention the actual traditional nature of this, especially around the 1920’s). Very different from each other and both very perfect for ourselves.
Our lives have been so different that when I had my first miscarriage in February 07, about a year after she got married and I got engaged for the second time, I didn’t tell her. Not that I didn’t want to, I just…didn’t. It wasn’t about her, it was about me wanting to be private. In my head, she couldn’t do anything for me from MI when I was in AK and I didn’t really want the attention drawn to my body having a hiccup. I had gotten to 7 weeks and was just getting ready to tell people but my unmarried state helped me keep a lid on my excitement and then the bleeding started. I told my mother that it had happened when she told me of my sister having one of her own a few years later and I sympathized and prayed for her peace but also kept silent. She never told me of hers and I never said anything of it.
Nor did I in late October of 2008. I had thought I might be pregnant before I left one small town for a job in Anchorage. My boyfriend at the time used my leaving as an easy out for him to end our relationship not long after I had left at the beginning of August via phone. I had been ready to tell him that it was certain when he ended things so I felt no need to tell him we were pregnant and it had been such an emotionally and physically difficult time that I was honestly very at peace with losing this baby at 14-ish weeks.
A few weeks before her eldest son was born in June of 2009, I kept silent again, both about the pregnancy and my loss at 10 weeks. I had thought my pregnancy a curse for, frankly, being stupid and it wasn’t really something that I wanted to talk about with my mother. Over time, I did talk with my mother, at great length, about being happy where I was in my life and how honestly happy I was to be single and loving my life and the adventures I was having. How children just didn’t seem to be in the cards for me and, while it really hurt deeply, I was very glad for my status in life and how I would do everything in my power to be the most kick-ass Auntie in the world for that soon-to-enter-the-world child. That I was honestly OK with not being a parent was true.
In October of 2010 I vowed that I wouldn’t do…this…again. I was devastated and just done. My partner and I had stopped using protection and only a few months into not not trying were successful…for all of 8 weeks. I didn’t want to “try something else”, I have never wanted to become what I viewed as a petri dish or science experiment. I could obviously GET pregnant it was the staying that way or keeping it that, literally, escaped me.
So I stopped. I decided that I was done in the way that mothers who have had their last child KNOW that they are done with pregnancy and wee humans. I couldn’t face the hope and crushing failure that was my womb and I just knew that it was OK…that I was OK…with everything. I had a tubal occlusion done in 2013 and cannot now get pregnant without use of first egg harvesting and second a turkey baster and it is a weight off my shoulders. I no longer have to ride the roller coaster of emotions at each cycle, no longer have to hold my breath or weep at the sight of my own blood.
I’ve never talked about those weeks of hope and dread and the following weeks of sadness and resignation openly.
“Tell them? Nothing, its none of their damn business.”
Its still none of their business and I frankly do not care what others think of me for not having children. I don’t owe them my story, my piece of my soul, for their inspection, knowledge or critique. I know that I made the right choice for me, whatever my backstory is. But today I got an email from a friend who really helped with that November of 08 when I was struggling to find something to be Thankful for and she listened as the whole story poured out of me one afternoon over coffee. She reminded me today that we had shared that moment all those years ago and said that she had hoped I had found healing. I thought that I had…but, in thinking about it, I realised that I can not heal completely without telling my story. So I told my sister and with her permission, since she plays a huge role in the telling, I will tell you. For me, I will tell you.