I am a very thorough person by nature. I am also the type of person who when I commit to something, I don’t stop until I see it to the end–or it sees me to my end. These character traits can, at times, be character flaws.
When I had a year of my life’s work (on my dissertation) thrown out the window in December, I sucked it up. I nearly killed myself, lost my entire holiday, and even found myself frantically researching and writing until 1am on Christmas.
Yet, I did it, because that’s what I always do, I keep going.
And then, when only three months later, the entirety of my Proposal disintegrated before my eyes, literally four or five months away from finishing my dissertation, and my PhD, I was stopped in my tracks. The door was succinctly, and with complete finality, shut in my face.
Enter the voice of my higher self, the voice of life’s longing to unfold as it is meant to: “Hello, Shannon, anyone in there? I tried to get your attention in December, but you refused to listen. Do you hear me now? You need to stop. It is not the time. Let go, I will catch you, and she/he is waiting for you. You need to stop.”
On the road to motherhood we have all been there. We have all been face down in the puddle of our own tears. We have all had a door closed, as we stood their helplessly, right in our innocent, naive faces. And we were stunned, shocked, dumbfounded, and perhaps a bit lost.
So what now?
Now I know, from personal experience, nothing is more painful than losing the dream of conceiving our own children. Yet, I also know, from personal experience, that not much is as devastating as watching, two years of my life working on my dissertation, eight years of my life working on my PhD, and many thousands of dollars, end with a non-cerimonial bang.
And my internal mantra was one that could be supplanted over any woman’s infertility mantra when the procedure has failed, the miraculous pregnancy has ended in miscarriage, or the drugs didn’t work.
It went a bit like this:
“How could I possibly let this just go? Shouldn’t I start all over again, right now? Shouldn’t I give every last ounce of what I have, even though I know (in those quiet places we all have, where we all know) that I just don’t have it in me? Even though I know that forcing myself, at this point in time, would be more than my body, my health, my marriage, my life, my sanity, could take. Shouldn’t I force myself to keep going?”
Sometimes however, no matter how many knocks, a closed door is a closed door.
I learned this lesson the very hard way. I learned this lesson with deep loss and deep pain. In my life’s work, and in my body’s internal calling to conceive. It is a hard lesson to learn.
And even still, sometimes I need to check, just to be sure, that the door is really closed.
And so this past weekend, I reached out to a school that, through a series of events, I had been connected to as a possible new research site. Everything in me was telling me “no, Shannon, this is not where you are meant to be going, but go ahead, you need to see for yourself, I know you do, so go ahead.” Their immediate response, a friendly, yet very succinct “thank you for your interest, however we do not allow outside researchers to study our students or alumni.”
You see, I am the annoying solicitor knocking on the door, and my PhD is standing on the inside, shades closed, shushing all of the others inside, keeping the lights off, just waiting for me to walk away. No matter how many knocks, the closed door will remain closed.
And so too, on our journey to motherhood, sometimes we will reach a door that has closed, a door that will not respond to our knocks. And sometimes we will need to keep standing there knocking, to be sure that if we knock, just one more time, it will not swing open to us.
Yet when we stop knocking, and we turn around, we may just find beauty that we never could believe existed. Because what we will find when we let go of our attachment to that ending, is a brand new beginning. And maybe, just maybe, our child.