Childless Not By Choice: Healing and New Beginnings
The opportunity to reflect, reset, rethink, and regroup is one of the greatest benefits to a New Year. Reflect on your accomplishments, what you can’t wait to leave behind or what you’ve learned this past year if we are taking a positive spin on it, and how to step into a new year with renewed optimism and intention. Some things we cannot change. Grief, decisions we already made, other people’s responses to our lives, all of those are outside of our control. However, we can reset or shift our mindset about how we react to the things that bother us/really piss us off. The things that make us feel stressed or even hopeless. It does’t mean we won’t still have some of those feelings, feeling what we feel is healthy. Therapists often say, the only way out is through. The hustle and bustle of work, life, and general stressors, can sometimes overwhelm us to where we feel can feel paralyzed. We can feel stuck in our circumstances. Too tired to take action as it takes everything we have to just manage on the daily. Life CAN BE more than surviving. Life can be meaningful, purposeful, and fun even when what you wanted the most won’t happen. Life can also be unfair, painful, and life can certainly be a jerk at times. Rethinking is not about glossing over the harder parts, ignoring and gaslighting ourselves. No, those feelings come back with a vengeance when we push feelings down and ignore them. The goal is to process those feelings. Acknowledge, validate, and verbalize them. Doing so with a therapist can be helpful, especially, as you start your journey on the unexpected path of childlessness not by choice. There is typically intense grief, anger, worry, fear, and resentment to work through.
A therapist and or coach can then help you identify and take action toward your future goals. (*remember it is appropriate to see a therapist vs coach when managing symptoms of a mental health issue like situational depression) What will your life look like as a non parent? Possibilities really open up when one starts to consider this question. Not being a parent doesn’t mean you don’t have a family. People who are childless still have responsibilities and things to take care of within a family dynamic. It isn’t as if there are no limitations on what you can do, AND, many of us never consider our lives in a positive light without children. Growing up and in early adulthood we assume if we want children it will happen. Considering the alternative isn’t something we envision as a possibility. The people around us encourage us not to consider this possibility when things start to appear children might not happen. “ Don’t give up, “ “It will happen when you least expect it.” These things are said in effort to be supportive, likely, and it reinforces the concept that we are not encouraged to consider a life with no kids. As the reality starts to set in we feel grief and loss about what won’t be. As we approach a new beginning, honor your loss, and consider the possibility of a mental reset.
What will this year bring that allows you to thrive and feel more in control of your life? Get out a notebook, a pen, write the title “New Beginning” at the top of the page and start writing. Don’t think. Just write. When you’re ready reflect on what you wrote and see if you can identify a theme in your writing that you can then take with you into the new year. If you feel ready to start contemplating a new beginning or if you feel stuck in your grief/loss maybe your first step is to reach out to a therapist. Someone to encourage, support, validate, and walk along side you as you build this life. New beginnings have many starts and stops, the path can be winding and sometimes go in circles, but knowing and seeing others on this same path can make it a little less scary, a little more hopeful, and a bit more fun. What is your first step for a new beginning?