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Part 3: The In-Between


SUCCESS & SISTERHOOD


Adapted from: Kahua Kollective | Wahine Workshop

New Here? Click HERE to read part one. Click HERE to read part two.


It has been so many years since the first time I found myself in the in-between. The middle space. The waiting. But to be honest it is now the place I find myself more often than not.


Fertility


During those years building our business we also started trying to build a family. When I was in my early 20s, I was diagnosed with severe stage 4 endometriosis. For those of you who don’t know, this is a condition that now affects 1 in 10 women, where endometrial tissue grows in other areas of your body outside of your uterus. It has numerous symptoms and can cause excruciating pain, digestive issues, bladder problems, and in some infertility.


As weird as it sounds, I consider Josh and I lucky that we went into our marriage knowing that this could be a struggle for us. It wouldn’t be able to blindside us and turn our relationship upside-down in the future. Over 6 years ago we started trying for kids of our own…we tried and failed. Tried and failed. Don’t get me wrong… the “trying” is fun! But every month there is a glaring reminder that your body is broken, not able to do what generations of women have done with ease.


For a long time, I refused to share this part of my life with others because just as I believe our relationship status, or our career should not define us… I don’t think our hardships should either. I am not a victim. I didn’t want people to look at me and only see a sad story. Infertility is but a single factor in a season of life that has been so full that sometimes I can’t believe it’s mine.


I slowly realized that opening up about our experience would help break down barriers of shame for others, so that together we could be stronger. When I looked around the only stories that I saw about infertility were the stories of triumph, of the baby that came after the wait. Where were the stories of the middle? The truth is the season of waiting is long, and the outcome is not assured.


So many women are walking through struggles, diagnoses, doctors’ appointments, diet changes, invasive surgeries, gnarly medications, IUIs, IVF, and often tremendous financial burdens… and they are doing all of this alone. Because for some reason we have decided that we cannot share our stories until we have a perfect ending that makes all the striving seem worth it. But we need to break this stigma.


Our stories are no less valuable, no less worthy just because they’re uncomfortable to hear. God is still good when months turn into years, when the test is negative again, when healing never comes. There is power in sharing our stories, no matter how raw they may be.


What is Success?


Throughout these in-between seasons I have come to realize that success is not about a destination. It’s not about financial achievements, career goals, or the perfect husband, 2 children and a dog on your next Christmas card. Success is knowing your values and who you are and fighting for those things DESPITE your circumstances.


I am not saying that you shouldn’t have goals. It is healthy to reach for something beyond your current situation & I will be the first to cheer you on as you pursue healthy relationships, fight for your place in the workforce, have babies, travel the world. But those milestones should not be the foundation of your definition of success.


If success for you is about having a perfect marriage, what will you do when your person fails you (and they will)? If success for you is about reaching a certain level in your career, what will you do when the market crashes and your business is no longer sustainable? If success for you is about building a beautiful family, what will you do when your body fails your over and over again? Your foundation for success cannot be so fickle.


So how do you redefine success for yourself? The best cheat code you have in your pursuit of true success is to surround yourself with women who are not like you. Find the singles, the mothers of 1 or 3 or 5, the childless by choice, the childless and waiting, the aunties, the angsty teens, the queer, the straight, the religious and the rebel. Glean everything you possibly can from them.


Develop compassion & empathy.


Learn to celebrate the many faces of success… You will see her in the friend who daily fights the assault of depression and anxiety, but still gets up to conquer her world. And in the single mom who sacrifices her own desires to meet the never-ending needs of her children with grace. In the entrepreneur who builds something original from the ground up and is not afraid to go back to the drawing board and do it all over again. It is in the Artist who continually puts their heart out on canvas never knowing how the world will receive it.


Success is all around us, in the messy middle ground of life, we just need to shift our focus and celebrate the grit of the women who are carving out their own version of fulfillment.


Middle Seasons


Sometimes we find ourselves in middle seasons. When the love we dream of has yet to appear. When our parent passes far too soon. When after years of interventions and experts the baby still doesn’t show up. When our beloved spouse is taken, and we are forced to reexamine what life looks like. In these seasons, when the world's idea of success is stripped away, and we are only left with ourselves… It is here that we find our true strength, and to me… that is success.



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