Thursday, 4 September 2014

Gifts of Infertility Series - #8 - Self-Confidence

I hesitated to add self-confidence to my list, as one of the first impacts of my losses and infertility was a severe lack of confidence. It didn't help that I’d changed careers at the time, and I no longer had the daily reminders that I was an intelligent and capable person, or the reinforcement of colleagues and clients when I did a good job. This lack of confidence was surprising to me. If you’d asked me, I would have said I had never tied my self-worth or my identity as a woman to being able to have children. But when I couldn't have children, when I was shut out of the mothers’ club, I felt the onslaught of society telling me that I was “less.” And my confidence plummeted.

So it may seem strange that I list confidence as one of the gifts of infertility. I have the benefit of being a decade on from the first shock of loss, and if I look back, I see a real growth in self-confidence too. Yes, this may be a result of the wisdom of a few more years. But it is also the result of new experiences, of being thrust into a situation I didn't choose, and of being forced to work through this to find a place of peace.

But as I dealt with my losses and infertility, as I found new talents, as I realised I was learning to deal with life and whatever it throws at you, my confidence was restored. Strictly speaking, it was never restored, because it when it returned, it was in a very different guise, with quite a different view of life. 

I developed a much clearer idea of who I am.  I know what I think – and perhaps for the first time in my adult life, what I think about me is more important than what others think.  Oh, I'm a work in progress. But I am so much better than I was. Confidence doesn't mean that I never worry, that I don’t feel fear, that I don’t second-guess myself sometimes. But it does mean that, deep within, I don’t have those insidious insecurities about who I am, or what I am trying to prove. This gives me a real freedom to think and act and simply be. I like that.

I have been broken down, and rebuilt piece by piece. And that rebuild is solid.

6 comments:

  1. Once again your post has spoken directly to me. It's really reassuring to know that it does get better. I mean, logically, I know that it will get better, but in my heart it feels like it's going to hurt forever. Thank you!

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  2. Grey once told me that scar tissue, though not necessarily pretty, is amazingly tough stuff. I like to believe that my new found self-confidence is built from scar tissue. Meaning it takes a lot to rock me now (still rockable, though). In a strange way, I have infertility and loss to thank for that, just like you.

    Thank you for this series, Mali. It's given me a lot to think about.

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    1. I like Grey's comment about scar tissue. And I think you're right that our confidence is built on that.

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  3. "This lack of confidence was surprising to me. If you’d asked me, I would have said I had never tied my self-worth or my identity as a woman to being able to have children. "
    Thank you for putting this into words! I've always wondered about this, especially with intelligent and eloquent women. But I guess the instinct not to become a social outcast is a strong survival mechanism, if unconscious.
    I might have told you about the reactions of some male colleagues when I told about my fertility problems: more than one (married) man offered to "help"!
    That left little room to doubt my desirability or femininity. And hey, gave me a good laugh, still does. (and sadly confirms that some men don't always use their brain to think)

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  4. "But it is also the result of new experiences, of being thrust into a situation I didn't choose, and of being forced to work through this to find a place of peace." - that hits the nail on the head for me. So beautiful described. i have often thought about my increase in self confidence, but it's hard to describe how or why. But you did so perfectly (p.s. i know i'm commenting on these all out of order, but i just keep all new blog posts that i need to read open in my browser and slowly work through them :)

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  5. Oh, Mali, you have such a way with words. I felt so empowered reading this post. :-)

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