The Oxford English Dictionary defines Worth as a mass noun that is ‘The level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.’
Many times in my life I have felt less valued or rated because I lacked the experience of being a parent. I am, according to one forum of professionals, unable to appreciate ‘how lucky I am to have the freedom to do what I want’ because I don’t have children.
When my first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage I felt a grief that is impossible to articulate. As subsequent losses occurred (many as I have recurrent miscarriages), the acknowledgement by others outside the community seemed to dial down, as if the regularity of loss was somewhat tedious.
When our six rounds of IVF failed, the increasing devaluation of my worth was accelerated by the increasingly file of notes, the abandoned Pampers baby pack and the epic bank transfers to the clinic as the bills came in. Absurdly having to explain to a stranger in a call centre that we were not money laundering but trying to be parents. I can remember thinking that this embryo was growing before it met me, it’s mother who rejected her child despite three daily injections and five types of pills.
I have met many of you who work for yourselves because being in an office wasn't easy or a life change was required to help make sense of emotions. When you work alone and networking is seen as the way forward, then it can be a problematic manifestation, can't it? In groups, we are ready to move onward if the conversation turns to nappies. Worse the person with the child might get the job because the parents bonded over a shared pain of watching Peppa Pig repeats or the conversation in the online group that's celebrating doing it for children.
Worth impacts on my life still, despite Walk In Our Shoes and having good friends I met often who share similar stories. I am wary of gatherings. Attending them requires a ‘good’ day and yet I can’t rid myself of the fight or flight feeling in my stomach. I wonder if they have forgotten my story if they merrily share stories of parenting. I’m too scared of the answer to ask because this makes me wonder about my worth.
The good thing is that there are ways to overcome this. For me, meditation, friends and allowing myself to be me helps. As much as I dread ageing, with it comes the ability to say 'life is too short' with meaning and to feel liberated at telling people to go away (or other more pointed phrases).
Shared support can be found with blogs, support groups and meeting fellow involuntary childless friends is one way to feel validated. Also don't be afraid to seek professional support through your GP. Meditation, tapping, talking therapies can all help with handling those difficult emotions too.
Do get involved in The CNBC magazine's summit, 'We Are Worthy' too. Nicci and Andrew have arranged lots of speakers to inform and whilst Walk In Our Shoes isn't directly involved, I'm hugely supportive of all efforts to break the boundaries. I hope to see you there.