Mary’s Story – The Pain of Childlessness

Desires of a Barren Woman By Emily Hurd

Mary’s Story – The Pain of ChildlessnessA lifetime longing for life in one’s belly
is not a joyful life.
The most wonderful love can’t fill this void
no matter how hard he may try.
For what sin am I punished,
That I may never enjoy,
clinging to my breast, a blonde haired baby boy?
To know the love of a sweet child,
and the feeling of being whole-
These are the things I’ve always wanted to know.

Mary sat at her dressing table and brushed her hair carefully as she had most nights of her 57 years. She smiled as she looked in the mirror; and, she liked what she saw. She was wearing the nightgown that Joe had given her on their 2nd honeymoon five years ago.

Joe was out walking Gilbert and Sullivan, their adopted mutts. He didn’t know it yet, but when he got home, he was going to get “lucky.”

As she brushed, the mirror carried her back over the years as it often did. But the memories weren’t painful anymore. They were just the building blocks that made her life so special now.

She and Joe had grown up in devoutly Catholic homes just a few blocks apart. They had both gone to the same parochial school; then she had gone to the girl’s high school and Joe had gone to the boy’s high school. They were dear friends all through high school. Their lives were good in those days.

During college, they had dated more seriously and began to plan a future together. They were both going to work for two or three years to build up their nest egg and then start their family. Both wanted lots of kids because that was how they had grown up – big families, with lots of friends around all the time.

Theirs was the first wedding among their college circles; and there were lots more over the next few years. Weddings were always fun and offered such hope for the future for all of them.

Mary kept working after they started trying to have a baby in earnest.

Before long their married friends were expecting their first children. Mary and Joe were excited for them.

Then some of those couples started having their second child. Mary was still excited but a little anxiety started to creep in.

Family dinners were beginning to have the stigma of Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe. She truly loved and enjoyed their nieces and nephews but loving them didn’t fill the growing dread of her being unable to have her own child.

After a few more years, Mary convinced Joe that they should at least get a medical evaluation to see if there was a reason they could not conceive. They did several times; and the results were always the same: no apparent medical or physical reason on the part of the male or female that would prohibit or inhibit conception.

The root of bitterness

Mary found it easier to send regrets to invitations from other couples than it was to feel the pain in her heart as she sat and listened to them chatter on about their children. Oh, they tried to be kind, but it was natural for them to talk about what meant most to them: their children.

Mary and Joe were both advancing with their jobs. Joe was in sales with a well-established regional company and Mary was in human resources with an national company. Money wasn’t an issue but Mary read somewhere that stress could be an issue in conception. She was able to get a 12-month leave of absence to try to relieve the work-related stress.

Unfortunately, she was reminded every time they tried that she had to get pregnant in 12 months; then 11 months; and so on; or she would have to return to work without any a baby to come home to.

It hurt a lot when she was reminded each month that she was not yet pregnant. She took to her bed with a bigger burden of pain than her regular monthly discomfort.

They tried all the infertility treatments that church doctrine allowed with no success. There was a lot of embarrassment and a lot of dignity and money spent in these attempts.

Joe traveled a lot in his job and Mary began to look forward to the nights he would be away. She could be free to cry or scream or curse at all the unfairness they were suffering.

It was getting to the point that seeing a pregnant woman or a woman with her children in the mall would cause her to clinch her jaw and taste the bile rising in her throat.

Drinking and drugs were so repulsive to her that she wasn’t tempted to use them to mask her pain.

Instead, she would take to her bed, curl into a fetal position, and clutch the pain within her as if her womb was aching for the baby it would never carry.

She could get through the weekdays because work was a sufficient distraction. Nights and weekends were awful.

Mary didn’t know who to blame.

Some nights she blamed herself; other nights she blamed Joe. The most painful nights were the ones when she blamed God; her guilt was overwhelming.

Confession didn’t help. The priest would tell her to remain true to God and do the appropriate penance but nothing would ever really take the pain away.

She finally decided that she was never going to bear a child; but that didn’t ease the pain of the loss she felt continuously.

Joe suggested adoption but she had no desire whatsoever to adopt. She wanted a baby to form in her own body, to birth it, and then watch it grow up; something like all their brothers and sisters were enjoying.

They started another round of weddings with nieces and nephews; and another round of pain at the prospects of the newlyweds against the impossibilities in her own life.

Over time, she had lost all desire for Joe and he had reluctantly moved to the bedroom down the hall. She obeyed the church edict in her spousal duties; but the church couldn’t make her enjoy it.

The day came when she told Joe that she had taken a promotion with her company that would require her to move to the home office in the mid-west. She didn’t want Joe to move with her.

Joe was dismayed and explained that he understood her lack of desire for him but he didn’t understand why she wanted a separation. He committed his love to her and reminded her that he had promised twenty years before to stand by her “for better and for worse.”

If she needed to move, he wouldn’t stand in her way, but as far as he was concerned, they were still married.

His commitment to her actually made her feel more guilty, but she didn’t let on. They’d both done a lot of acting over the years, especially Mary.

They explained the separation on her job and the demands of his career; and family and friends accepted it with appropriate sympathy for both Mary and Joe.

Making Changes

Mary got settled in her new apartment and plunged into her new job. She felt a little more peace due to the excitement of making a change. Days were busy but the nights were still filled with more of the same pain and longing.

She still felt the same despair when she saw women with their children. There was a park across from her apartment and most evenings she cried as she sat on her balcony listening to the children laughing and playing in the park; knowing that she would never hear the laughter of her own child.

Professionals had told her years before that she needed medication for her anxiety but she had always refused. She didn’t like having to take pills just to live her life.

There was a church a few blocks from her apartment and she decided to go to Mass one Saturday after she had been there a few months.

She looked forward to the mass and she went early so she could have confession and take the sacraments. The priest listened as she described her anger and pain. Then he said something very strange.

He absolved her and told her that an appropriate penance would be for her to look into Hannah’s Sisters. She could find a brochure in a rack in the narthex.

Mary learned that Hannah’s Sisters was a group for women who were living through emotional pain regardless of the source of the pain.

The original group was for barren women and was named for Hannah, the barren woman who made a vow to give her child to God if he would give her a son. God honored her request and her son, Samuel, lived to become a great prophet and high priest for Israel. You can read Hannah’s story here.

The brochure had contact information. When Mary awoke the next morning after another night of tossing and turning, she decided to call the woman.

She called that evening and they made an appointment to meet for coffee the next day.

Margaret, the Hannah’s Sisters leader, was waiting for Mary. They got their coffee and found a place where they could talk undisturbed.

After exchanging pleasantries, Mary asked her about the group.

Margaret explained that there were only three members at the present time.

Mary asked, “Why are there so few members? Surely there are more women hurting around here than that.”

”Of course, there are,” Margaret replied, “but we don’t keep them around for long.”

“What do you mean!”

“Mary, we’re not a social club. Women don’t use us to provide an on-going social function like so many self-help groups. We want to help women overcome their pain, and when they do that, they can make the appropriate decisions to be reconciled with their families and friends.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” Mary said doubtfully.

“Mary, if there were a way that you could be free of your emotional pain in just a few weeks, would you be interested in knowing more about that?”

“Of course,” Mary answered, “but I doubt that’s possible after what I’ve gone through.”

“Mary, we care a whole lot more about where you want to go than about where you’ve been. In fact, we will never ask you about the source of your pain. If you want to learn about a simple and effective way to be free from your pain, whatever is causing it, come by the parish hall tomorrow night at seven o’clock and we’ll explain everything to you.”

The next evening, Mary joined Margaret and three other women on couches in a small room off the parish hall.

After introductions, Margaret explained that every week they review the three Life Principles and share their progress. She explained that they never talk about their problems because dwelling on past hurts always makes the hurt worse.

Most emotional pain is caused by rumination. In many cases, the original cause of the pain occurred far in the past. And if the pain is ongoing and there is no solution to the problem, then ruminating on it can cause more anxiety with inevitably leads to stress, depression and even physical pain.

She explained that the life principles they teach offer an easy way, that anyone can use, to deal with the negative thoughts that cause so much emotional pain.

“You asked yesterday, ‘why so few members?’”, Mary reminded her. “We’ve had over two hundred members over the years; but as they become successful in applying these principles in their lives, they don’t need us any more. So currently, we only have three members; four, if you want to join us.”

Mary nodded and Margaret went on to explain the three principles.

Three Life Principles

Life Principle 1 – Whenever a thought enters your mind that makes you angry, sad, or bitter, you simply say to yourself out loud, “I will not think about that.” When the thought comes back, and it will, you say it again, “I will not think about that.”

“If you prefer, which I do, you can say “I take this thought captive,” because that phrase comes right out of the Bible.

Each time we dismiss a thought, the thought is compelled to go away because that’s the way we are made. We own our thoughts and we do not have to think about anything that hurts us.

Margaret explained that this idea had been around for thousands of years. “We simply do not have to let negative thoughts control our lives,” she said.

She explained that each time we “take a painful thought captive,” we create a little bit of peaceful space in our emotions. As you take more negative thoughts captive, you create more peaceful space.

“The reason this works so well is Life Principle 2.”

Life Principle 2 – When you consistently practice the first principle, negative thoughts will pop up less and less often until you really don’t think about them at all.

She explained that we all have a part of our mind, called the subconscious, which has the role of helping us be happy and content. If our subconscious thinks that we are happy thinking about negative things and getting all worked up all the time, it will keep feeding us those negative thoughts so we can be happy.

But if our subconscious hears us saying “I take this thought captive” consistently, it concludes over time that we don’t really want to think about those things and it will stop sending those negative thoughts to us. It’s like our subconscious blocks those negative thoughts automatically.

Doing this consistently replaces your habits of anger, sadness, or bitterness with a new habit of peace.

Life Principle 3 – Use your habit of peace to make the best decisions for you and your future. She explained that this is true freedom: the freedom to do what we need to do when we need to do it to become the best that we can be.

When we’re not spending all our time thinking about painful things, we have peace. We can use this peaceful time to think about ways to get along better with others, to do the right things, and to reconcile with our loved ones.

Margaret said that she’s sure these principles work because she has shared them with women for over 20 years. She said they all have learned to break their habits of anger, bitterness, victimhood, or whatever and create new habits of peace.

Margaret handed Mary a card. The card had the Three Life Principles on one side and blocks for each day of the week on the back. She explained, “Every time a negative thought pops into your mind, I want you to say out loud to yourself, ‘I will not think about that’ or ‘I take this thought captive.’” If you’re someplace where it would be weird speaking out loud, put your hand over your mouth like you’re covering a cough and say softly, ‘I take this thought captive.’

“Then put a check card in the block every time you dismiss one of your negative thoughts. Each week when we meet, we review how each of you is doing. I predict by the end of four or five weeks, you will be making very few check marks on the card because the Life Principle 2 will be taking effect in your life. The question now is, ‘Will you do this?’”

Mary must have looked a little skeptical because Margaret suggested,”Mary, I suspect that you have a negative thought right now telling you that this stupid idea will never work for you. This is a good place to start taking it captive.”

Each of the women shared her results of taking their thoughts captive for the previous week. Each had fewer negative thoughts that the week before. One girl, who was in her seventh week said this was her second week with no negative thoughts at all.

Still skeptical, Mary said to herself several times driving home and that evening, “I take this thought captive.” Each time, the thought went away briefly.

When the painful thoughts of childlessness barged in like they did every night, Mary took them captive out loud. She was amazed when each thought went away. They came back, like Margaret said they would and she took them captive again. After doing this several more times over the next half hour, Mary dropped off to sleep; the first time in years she had done so without crying.

The weeks passed quickly. Mary made good progress and she was excited as the number of negative thoughts diminished daily.

Mary found she had time to think about Joe and about the fact that she would never have children.

She called Joe one week and asked if she could come home that weekend; she had something to tell him. Joe was definitely puzzled; but he readily agreed to pick her up at the airport on Friday.

After freshening up at their house, Joe took her to her favorite restaurant and they enjoyed a very nice meal. Over dessert and coffee, she explained to Joe what she had been doing at Hannah’s Sisters.

She told Joe that she was at peace with the fact that she would never be a mother. And she then asked Joe to forgive her for all the pain she had caused him over the years. With tears in his eyes, Joe forgave her and asked her to come back home to him.

Her heart was full as Joe paid the check and they walked to the car. For the first time in years, she was actually enjoying being with her husband; and her heart was doubly full that God had given her a faithful husband who had continued to love her in spite of the trouble she had given him.

Out of habit, Joe started down the hall to his room until Mary touched his arm and said, “Joe, will you sleep in our room tonight?”

It took a few weeks to ease out of her position at headquarters and for a spot to open back in the office where in their home town; but the company made it happen for her.

She used that time to talk with Margaret about making Hannah’s Sisters a formal, legal organization that could expand into a number of locations where its alumni were living. Almost without exception, the women who had learned to live without pain were eager to share the Three Life Principles with other women.

She heard the front door open and Gilbert and Sullivan scampered across the living room and kitchen to their beds in the mud room. She heard Joe start down the hall. Joe may be lucky tonight, but Mary dimmed the lights thinking about how lucky and truly blessed she was – she was free of pain after hurting for years and she was helping other women find their freedom, too.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and to minimize the effects of emotional or physical pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on emotional pain is, in addition to more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Children as well as adults can easily understand the simple Three Life Principles. The principles work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peacehttp://findingpersonalpeace.com. The course leads you through these life principles and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning the habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace and freedom. You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right. You can start with the course today and begin to find more personal peace in your life immediately.

All the best.

Copyright 2014 findingpersonalpeace.com. Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Question: If you could change something in your life . . .

Poll: If you could change something in your life . . .A friend challenged me recently. His challenge seemed to directly affect what I’m trying to do with this blog; that is, help people find personal peace in the face of often increasing negative issues in their lives.

He challenged me that I could not offer meaningful help to someone unless I first knew what help they wanted. He used an example of his own experience: that of beginning a project that he had fully developed and was ready to launch to discover only lukewarm, yet cordial, support from the people he wanted to help.

It finally occurred that he was living in the glory of his plan rather than the urgency of their needs.

So, thusly challenged, I propose this poll to you. I write a lot about dealing with emotional issues. My writing would be more effective if I were writing about issues that are important to you and other readers.

Please complete this little one-question poll. You’ll be telling me what is important to you. And you get to see how your important issues stack up beside the important issues of others. Please come back later as the responses grow. And feel free to share this poll with others.

All the best,

Poll: If you could change something in your life . . .

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

P.S. We’ve written several short stories with some good life lessons. You can check them out by searching by the category, Short Stories, at the right. My son told me that Ben’s Story gave him something think about in his life. Thanks.

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for January 26, 2014

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for January 26, 2014Welcome to the January 26, 2014 edition of Blog Carnival –  Finding Personal Peace containing 8 interesting articles on a variety of topics related to finding personal peace.

Thanks for visiting our Blog Carnival, Finding Personal Peace. Please review the subjects below and make note of any that interest you. At the bottom of the page, you will find a link that takes you to more information about each post. If you find a post you like, please make a comment to encourage them or even engage in a discussion with them.

emotional issues

  • Leah G. presents Does Your Rational Mind Block Your Intuition?
  • Angie Bowen presents Everyone In Recovery Has Setbacks

marriage

  • Erik Matlock presents Marriage advice with extra cheese
  • Erik Matlock presents Riding the Pendulum, Finding Your Center

other

  • Luke Jones presents You Are Not Your Past
  • Steven F presents Changing of Seasons and Inspirations for Music

stress

  • Lully presents Stop Worrying – What You Think About is Not Real

To view the articles, Click here or click on Blog Carnival in the tabs at the top. You’ll want to check out these articles and share them in your circle of influence. We’ll be receiving submitted articles and posting them each week. Please share with your friends. Thanks.

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for December 15, 2013

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for December 15, 2013Welcome to the December 15, 2013 edition of Blog Carnival –  Finding Personal Peace containing 10 interesting articles on a variety of topics.

Thanks for visiting our Blog Carnival, Finding Personal Peace. Please review the subjects below and make note of any that interest you. At the bottom of the page, you will find a link that takes you to more information about each post. If you find a post you like, please make a comment to encourage them or even engage in a discussion with them.

anger

  • Lidiya presents A Minimalist Step-by-step Guide to Reacting in Tough Situations

depression

  • Adam Pasztor presents The Miracle Forest: How To Take Control Of Your Life

emotional issues

  • Jana presents The Pitfalls To Participating in A Pity-Party
  • Diane Mottl, MSW presents Be a Flicker of Light During the Holidays (Mental Health) | Being Truly Present
  • Lidiya presents Embrace Insecurity and Live the Life You Deserve
  • Lidiya presents Experience the Thrill of Becoming Emotionally Independent

relationships

  • emilynolin presents The Courage To Piss People Off
  • emilynolin presents The Paradox Of Attraction
  • Socratez presents Socratez Online – Expand Your Mind

social anxiety

To view the articles, Click here or click on Blog Carnival in the tabs at the top. You’ll want to check out these articles and share them in your circle of influence. We’ll be receiving submitted articles and posting them each week. Please share with your friends. Thanks.

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for November 24, 2013

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for November 24, 2013Welcome to the November 24, 2013 edition of Finding Personal Peace containing 6 interesting articles on a variety of topics

Thanks for visiting our Blog Carnival, Finding Personal Peace. Please review the subjects below and make note of any that interest you. At the bottom of the page, you will find a link that takes you to more information about each post. If you find a post you like, please make a comment to encourage them or even engage in a discussion with them.

emotional issues

  • Jana presents 3 Ways People Are Addicted To Drama And How To Stop Attracting It

marriage

  • Erik Matlock presents Living in a Sitcom

relationships

  • Markeyus presents Five steps to a Successful Relationship
  • Raluca presents 10 Mistakes Women Make in Relationships

stress

  • drsaadiakhan presents Finding Personal Peace
  • Megan presents How To Find Comfort In Today

To view the articles, Click here or click on Blog Carnival in the tabs at the top. You’ll want to check out these articles and share them in your circle of influence. We’ll be receiving submitted articles and posting them every Sunday. Please share with your friends. Thanks.

Flying In The Fog

Flying In The FogFor many of us, life is like flying through dark, thick fog. We don’t know what lies ahead and we don’t know which way to turn to find safety.

Today I read a story by a man flying into a small town in Alaska. From where the writer sat in the passenger compartment, he could see exactly what the pilots saw: thick, gray nothingness. There were mountains out there and thousands of square miles where the small town wasn’t. He found it comforting to know that somewhere miles away, a controller was sitting in a warn, dry room in front of well-functioning instruments carefully guiding them to a safe landing.

Living in the Fog

We all know people who seem to live in such a fog; albeit an emotional fog. Their days and nights are so filled with anger, depression, stress, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and despair that there aren’t any reliable beacons or landmarks by which to guide themselves.

They make decisions in the fog often based on emotion rather than reasoning.

They find it hard to begin good relationships because their view of others is often obscured by the emotional fog.

They find it hard to sustain good, healthy relationships because their reactions to others are often influenced by fog-shrouded perceptions.

They feel all alone in the fog bank believing that nobody else could possibly be experiencing the same feelings of being lost without anyone to help them.

Overwhelmed by the Fog

Just as weather-related fog can shut us up in a world measured by feet or yards, emotional fog can completely separate us from all the things that are or should be important to us.

Emotional fog often blows in on a single thought, often a thought of something painful. We grow the fog by dwelling or ruminating on the thought. It’s almost like living the painful event over and over again.

The pain isn’t actually happening again; we’re just recreating it by replaying it in our minds.

We build up anger, resentment, stress, bitterness, fear and more by playing these internal recordings again and again.

Like fog, all these emotions wrap us up in a gray, dark, ugly world without any visible way to escape.

We long for something bright and beautiful in our world and from time to time, we can glimpse hope. But inevitably, the fog shifts and closes in on us again.

Carried by thoughts

A bright, sunny day can change quickly as a cold front of negativity sweeps in. Actually, instead of a cold front, the negativity is often just a single thought. We dwell on it. We ruminate. The thought churns and builds until we are overwhelmed by the recollection of something that happened yesterday; or last week; or last year; or farther back in our life.

The sadness is compounded in that we see it coming every time. We know that when that thought pops up, we’re going to lose our peace. It’s like something outside of us is causing us to suffer through this painful experience again and again.

But that’s not true. It’s just a thought, a reminder, a recollection that springs up and we let it grow thicker and uglier by chewing on it. And once again, we’re lost in a foggy world with nothing rational to guide us to safety.

It doesn’t have to be this way

We’re all made with a capacity to manage those negative, unwelcome worrisome thoughts before they can overwhelm us once again. I struck my first choice because I’m not so sure that negative thoughts are unwelcome for some of us. For some of us, life may have reached that point that we measure ourselves by our struggles instead of our victories. After all, since we can’t see an answer, so we must be exactly where we are meant to be.

Think about this. If each negative emotion is brought in on a single thought, then don’t think that thought.

If you know a thought is going to overwhelm you, don’t dwell on that thought.

Thoughts in themselves are not a problem. They can become a problem when we dwell on them and build an emotional response to the thought.

The simple solution is that you get to choose how you react to your negative thoughts. You were made to be able to do that. We can show you how to start doing that today.

When you don’t give the thought any traction, it doesn’t get the chance to “fog you in.”

Someone said, “That’s too simple. That won’t work for me.”

That may be the next negative thought that you need to deal with.

Resources you can use

Learn how to simply and effectively deal with negative thoughts at http://findingpersonalpeace.com.

Use the free eBook you’ll find there to learn about dealing with your negative thoughts starting today. Then use the eCourse to learn how you can apply the idea to virtually any emotional issue in your life.

Here’s hoping you learn how to avoid the fog in your life.

Flying In The Fog

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for October 13, 2013

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for October 13, 2013Welcome to the October 13, 2013 edition of Finding Personal Peace containing 6 articles on a range of interesting topics. Thanks for visiting our Blog Carnival, Finding Personal Peace. Please review the subjects below and make note of any that interest you. At the bottom of the page, you will find a link that takes you to more information about each post. If you find a post you like, please make a comment to encourage them or even engage in a discussion with them.

children

  • Steven Chang presents What my kids taught me about winning

other

  • Jana presents Two Words That Stop Our Results From Manifesting
  • Chaki Kobayashi presents Lotus Flower

social anxiety

  • Tony Regan presents So Much To Say……But Anxiety Says No » Tony’s Reviews
  • Jon Rhodes presents Can I Be Hypnotised?
  • Tipsy presents 8 Ways To Take Control Of Your Day

To view the articles, Click here or click on Blog Carnival in the tabs at the top. You’ll want to check out these articles and share them in your circle of influence. We’ll be receiving submitted articles and posting them every Sunday. Please share with your friends. Thanks.