Self-Worth Comes from You, Infertility Does Not
Today is day 12 of my cycle. Almost ovulation time so we need to have sex tonight for sure. Have I been too stressed this month? Will I ovulate late? I went into a hot tub. I need to remember to Google that later. Maybe I ate too much junk food this month and my hormones aren’t functioning right.
Infertility can do quite a number on your self-worth. You soon start to analyze every area of your life looking for the faults that are adding up to you not being able to conceive. Infertility shakes your whole world. This life-changing experience makes it easy to change the way you see yourself as well as your relationship. Many lose what they love about themselves during this storm.
We are going to look at some of the challenges that come with infertility and their effect on self-worth. Then we will focus on ways to get through this without losing the best parts of yourself. Hopefully, you feel like you can walk this difficult path without completely losing yourself in it.
How Fertility Impacts Your Self Worth
The frustration of infertility leads to heartbreak. You feel like you have to let go of dreams but at the same time you can’t give up. You are not sure how to navigate the flood of emotions that seem to take over your life.
My Body is Not Enough
You may feel like your body has failed you and that it is not doing what it was designed to do. This feeling of failure can create anxiety and a sense of self-blame. You may carry regrets about not seeking treatment or answers. You may also have regrets about not trying sooner.
This is where you need to show compassion to yourself. You can acknowledge the feelings of self-blame, and rewrite them. You are actually someone who is experiencing fear and disappointment. Take care of yourself the way you would take care of somebody else going through the same thing. With compassion.
When you are living with this sense of shame you may end up pushing people away and isolating yourself. Sometimes the damage to self-worth is not just from infertility itself, but how those challenges have affected your relationships.
Opening up to Others
We all know that talking to people about our problems does not always go well. With infertility, there is so much sensitivity involved that a lot of conversations don’t go well. You want to just avoid the topic altogether. Then again you might just start avoiding people altogether.
Sharing with others often brings unsolicited advice, personal questions, and stories about other people and their infertility journey. Sometimes the stories help you feel connected and understood, but other times they really aren’t. Sometimes these become situations you want to run from with the hope to protect yourself. That desire to protect yourself is what keeps you from sharing.
Some people keep their struggle to themselves. Their family and friends are left believing that they don’t want any kids. Carrying such a painful secret can be another pull on your self-esteem.
You may also find yourself wrapped in feelings of jealousy. You may have bitter feelings towards friends and family who are getting pregnant and having children. These feelings can put space between you and those you love. Creating more self-loathing and isolation. You may not even want to be around happy people!
There are support groups for people experiencing infertility. In-person or online. It may be easier to talk to people there because they are more familiar with the experience. They are usually lending strength rather than unhelpful advice or judgments.
The Strain on Your Marriage
Any kind of stress will increase existing problems in a relationship. Communication issues become worse. Financial issues become even harder to navigate. You also have the challenge of being on the same page with your partner on how far you’re willing to go to conceive. If you don’t agree, then that will put a very big space between you and your partner and possibly create some long-term resentment. That divide makes navigating such a difficult time together even more challenging.
Infertility can change your sex life dramatically. Having sex becomes clinical. You have a schedule and you know exactly when you need to have sex. It becomes less about the emotional connection and passion. When you lose that part of your marriage other things fall out of place much easier.
Men have similar experiences as women do. Men are equally as likely to contribute to a couple’s infertility problem. Masculinity in different cultures is often defined by their ability to conceive children. Men may also worry about their ability to continue their family’s genetic line. All of these things impact self-worth and that shows up very strong in a relationship.
It is important to walk this road together. Nobody understands the journey better than the one other person who is experiencing it all with you, at the exact same time. Be an advocate for each other. Take care of each other’s needs.
A strong relationship will do so much for your self-worth and will make this difficult time almost bearable. Couples who go through these struggles either let it pull them close, or put a wedge between them. Make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your relationship a priority.
After you experience all these challenges it is very hard to not become angry at yourself for letting infertility take control of your mood and life. This makes self-worth even more complicated. It’s not all about infertility itself but also the way you responded to it and the way your life changed. Some people feel like it completely changed their personality. That so much of themselves got devoured by infertility that they forgot what they loved about themselves.
Find Your Self-Compassion
Infertility is not your most defining feature. Do not let infertility take more away from you than it already has. You are not in a battle against yourself. Infertility is bad. It is not fair. You are good though. Once you stop faulting yourself or seeing the battle as something going on inside of you, you are able to give yourself the self-compassion that you need when going through such a challenging time.
When you think about infertility, try not to think about what it has taken from you. Think about what you have accomplished despite the struggle. Think about your strength. This challenge has shown you just how strong you are. Think about bravery. You never signed up for this but you are bravely walking the road anyway.
Shifting away from self-judgment allows you to rework negative self-talk. Notice limiting thoughts and replace them with positive and empowering ones. Take pride in your positive steps towards building up your self-esteem. Meditation can help you remain focused on positive self-talk. Give yourself the time to take care of yourself.
Commit to healthy lifestyle habits. Good nutrition, exercise, and sleep habits will set you up for days of self-love. Trusting yourself to take care of yourself is one of the best ways to build up your self-esteem.
Build Yourself Up
Now let’s gather all of the things that you love about yourself. Some people call this a feel-good file. Think about accomplishments and your favorite experiences. Write about the people who you have made a positive impact on.
If you have a file on your computer or a journal with all of these things, you will have somewhere to go when feelings of worthlessness creep in. This file can be a reminder of the commitment you have made to yourself to build yourself up. Many things in life will try to tear you down. Don’t tear yourself down. Do something to make sure you don’t stop building yourself up.
Focus on Other Goals
When the storm gets tough, you will be tempted to fall into survival mode. The cycle of fear, disappointment, grief, anger, and resentment takes such a toll on your well-being.
This is why having other goals to focus on is so important. You need to see progress in other areas of your life and have something to work on that you are passionate about. Create space for yourself and the things that light you up.
Having other goals helps keep your perspective balanced. There are a lot of things you want to be and do in your life.
Infertility is something that you do not have control of. You can keep yourself informed on the choices you have for treatment, and options for having children. However, it is not an area of your life where you can directly control the outcome.
Self-worth, on the other hand, you do have control over. You’re in charge of your self-worth. Do not hand your self-worth over to infertility. You have so much to give the world outside of infertility. You are worth all the time and love.