A week after National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), when I reared my brave heart and our story ran on CNN, I sat in my own therapist's office with tears running down my face and my voice adamant.
Or at least that is what Shellie, my therapist, reminded that I am.
I have survived my infertility journey and I work every day to thrive thereafter as a forever healing childfull parent.
I advocate every day to break the silence and change the messages as I help others through their journeys both as an author and as a therapist.
In this work, most days, I feel my tribe alongside me, but all too often I feel completely ignored by society and sometimes even by my own community.
I am the woman who some say didn't try enough. The woman who gave up. The woman who isn't choosing adoption. The woman who wanted to be a mother, but can't.
I am the woman who's story makes us sad and uncomfortable, because it does not look like what has been deemed the successful outcome, both by society and even my own infertility community.
I feel invisible.
My surprise during NIAW was how invisible I felt within my own community. I mean I get it, my story is quite literally our worst fears come to reality; the soul-stealing journey of infertility ending without the 'complete family picture'.
However, I also realized (with the help of one of my clients who was also struggling with feeling invisible) that the very things we are asking of our society in regards to infertility, we are not providing to one another.
Are we perpetuating and reinforcing society's ideas around infertility? Are we asking to be visible when at the same time we are invisible to one another?
The infertility journey is all consuming, may very well be the hardest thing you will ever survive and changes us forever. We feel alone, even though we are not. But even for myself, speaking my story, hell shouting at the top of my lungs, I felt utterly alone during NIAW.
If we want society to acknowledge our pain, understand the depths of our journey and have more compassion then we must provide that for one another. We must push ourselves to be more than the quest to become parents, being more than our numbers, how many times or how long we have tried to conceive. We must challenge the unhealthy message of 'never give up' because for many of us actually giving up is the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves. And we must embrace that there are many versions of the happy ending.
In many arenas of my advocacy, I not only feel invisible, but at times flat-out denied and ignored; some have even gone as far as damning me, my message and my work.
But as a therapist, working with people through the infertility journey and as a survivor myself who all too often feels invisible herself, I will not allow your denial of my story to shut me up, make me go away or be invisible in the dark.
I will shout, shine the light and keep fighting because infertility already steals enough from us. I know my story is difficult and I know I am saying things very few actually say out loud, but I also know this is the very reason why I will be eventually be seen; making the painful invisible forever longing the empowered visible ever upward.