My second round of fertility treatment failed. It failed, and I was not fine. Rage, anger, jealousy, heavy regret, hopelessness, sadness, darkness, an overwhelming sense that no matter how much I gave, this lifelong dream would never come true.

I am an expert in healing. My feelings were familiar yet valid.

I knew what to do.

There was a process. Rest, duvets, sleep, hot water bottles, hot baths, windy mountain tops, chocolate, log fires and walking in the heavy rain with no coat. I needed to allow myself to feel this stuff, scream and shout and cry. Sometimes feeling the stuff was too much and I needed a break, boxsets, audiobooks and horses helped. Mainly though, feeling the stuff, helped me to heal the stuff!

I have sisters. None of them biological, but they are women who know pain and care. They may or may not have battled with fertility but have certainly fought their own wars. They have been beaten up by life, weighed down by crap and cut in two with pain, so even if they didn’t get it, they got it!

Some of these sisters knew what to say and some did not. Some sent cards or gifts, some sent messages or voice notes, some turned up at my door just to hold me tight. They showed up in my life like scaffolding, like a human scaffolding of women, stepping away from their own battles to hold me and show me that I’m not alone and that my life was not going to end there.

Throughout this time, I was asked ‘how I am’ many, many times. Valid words, yet difficult to answer. I didn’t want to project my pain onto them, but I refused to lie.  The common answer that rolls off our resilient tongues is “I’m fine”. We’ve all done it and done it with the best intentions. Sometimes we don’t want to go into details, there’s no time, they’re not the right person, we don’t want to be a ‘downer’ or we think hiding our feelings is the strong thing to do.

When I was asked how I was, I made a decision to be honest, although I didn’t always have the vocabulary. Sometimes I was feeling so many things and they were changing so quickly that my only answer could be to tell them that I didn’t have the words. I still refused to say “I’m fine”.

This was a pivotal moment in my life where I recognised how much was hidden behind the words ‘I’m fine” when I spoke them to another woman. I am lying; I’m telling her that I don’t trust her, and I’m telling her that when she is not ok, she needs to hide it from me too. I am telling her that we must continue the farce!

I am going to extend my vocabulary. When I am not ok, I am going to be honest. When I can’t find the words, I’ll say “I don’t have the words”, but I will not say “I’m fine” when I am not fine. The children I influence will learn that it’s ok to feel and describe any feelings and they will learn all of the non-clichéd responses available to them when someone is honest with them. My peers will learn that I can be an excellent coach, an inspiring tutor or an exceptional manager even during moments when life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. They will also be reminded that this is true of them too. My sisters will learn that I trust them and I want their honest, raw, beautiful selves and I will learn that I am absolutely enough, just as I am.


Cover image courtesy of Alexander Aguero