A woman with two devastating losses currently pregnant with a miracle.
A woman in the midst of her very last round of infertility treatments after five losses.
A woman with two losses she has never felt good enough to claim.
A woman told at 16 years old she would never conceive.
Women who are all mothers, not in your traditional sense of the word of 2.5 children in the family picture, but mothers still.
I am one of these mothers; failed infertility treatments, three lost babies and learning to live life parenting from afar. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor who has been certified in the work of Dr. Brené Brown for almost three years now. I have completed The Daring Way™ curriculum with over 50 clients helping them to rise over shame and learn to live and love wholeheartedly.
A couple of weekends ago I led the four above mentioned women through Brené’s new Rising Strong™ curriculum. It was my first infertility and loss intensive, and it was four years in the making.
Four years of healing my own shattered soul after my own journey. Three of those years in advocacy work of writing and speaking the story of how to thrive after life doesn’t turn out how you hoped, dreamed, planned, or maybe even paid for.
I knew bits of these women’s stories when they signed up for my intensive. The scarcity I have learned from society, and the comparison within my own infertility and loss community, made my anxiety amp up a bit.
How would these women, with such different stories along the infertility and loss journey, and in such different places, come together to do this work?
Would I be able to guide them with my own story and Brené’s incredible research to a place of reclaiming their stories to become the author again?
Through tears, laughter and more courage than I think I have ever witnessed I sat in a cozy sun-drenched room while these women realized that despite their very different paths, they all somehow had become stuck at the same place.
A place with some semblance of:
I am not enough.
I am unworthy.
I don’t deserve.
All boiling down to the feeling of, I am not mother enough.
The infertility and loss journey has the potential to utterly destroy everything good about us, even if you get the traditional happy ending. Our silence through the journey and the shame that steals our souls creates a place of feeling completely alone, despite the millions we know who suffer this road (1 in 8 couples will struggle to conceive and of those who do 1 in 4 of those pregnancies will end in a loss).
My work and writing, my call to motherhood after my own failed infertility journey, is to shine my light.
The light of speaking the unspoken.
The light of knowing we cannot survive this alone.
The light of thriving through the darkness.
The Rising Strong™ curriculum and the community that it builds provides a place I once doubted could ever exist for us in the infertility and loss journey.
Oftentimes we are stuck in 140 characters on Twitter or photos on Instagram that are meant to bring us together but seem to so easily pull us apart in comparison, scarcity, competition and judgment. Not much unlike the real world but this one additionally fueled by synthetic hormones, two week waits, financial stress and more invalidation and misunderstanding from the general public than many realize.
My training with Brené and my own work in Ever Upward helps to create the language we all need to reclaim ourselves and rise; infertility and loss or not.
When we understand how shame works in our lives, when we ask ourselves what the story is we are telling ourselves and when we choose to do this hard work of wholeheartedly living and loving, life can awaken in color.
And, we will know that we are enough.
That we are mothers, more than enough mothers.
To read more about Dr. Brené Brown’s work please visit www.thedaringway.com. To read more about doing the work with Justine visit www.daringinstl.com.