Moments. Life is made up of millions of moments. From small ones to large ones. Some seem inconsequential. Some are obviously monumental. Then there are those we’d rather forget. But that’s life. A series of moments strung together dictating the memories of our lives. Memories are snapshots of those moments that have the power to define our lives if we let them. Sometimes they are wonderful, sometimes not so wonderful. All in all, they are part of us. Those moments and memories are uniquely ours. I’ll never forget the moment when my life was forever changed. I was eighteen years old and sitting in front of the largest wooden desk I’d even seen. My parents were sitting behind me, my dad to my left and my mother to my right. In front of me a small-statured, older man with white hair. He had a kind voice and reminded me of my grandfather. He wore a white lab coat and a shirt and tie with his slacks. What I didn’t know was that he was going to forever change the course of my life with one very simple sentence.
“You need a hysterectomy.”
My world tilted on its axis. I believe the room even started spinning. I don’t remember much after that. I know that there were tears, many, many tears. I can see his office in my memory as clear as it was yesterday even though it was eighteen years ago now. There was one other thing he said that stood out. He told me that he didn’t want to recommend it, because it was ‘taking away a man’s right to have a child.’ I’m not sure anyone could be prepared for a comment as asinine as this.
I was so angry. I was in high school. I was young and had my whole life ahead of me. My dreams were to have a husband and a family. And he was concerned that I would be taking away a man’s right to have a child. What about my right, my need to have a child? To nurture a human being and love them unconditionally? To know what it’s like to love someone with all that I am and have them love me in return. He never even considered me in his diagnosis and he was my doctor.
So all these years later, I’ve made life decisions based on those words. I put myself through hell, having surgery after surgery to eliminate and eradicate the Endometriosis from my body. I’ve experienced pain like no one should ever have to, including: bloating, swelling, food intolerances, medication reactions and more, all while trying to manage this awful disease. I’ve hurt my body more while praying that medicine will reach new conclusions and somehow, someway I’d be able to have what I’ve always wanted in my dreams. A baby.
I’ve watched so many of my friends get married and have children. I love each and every one of those children and they all hold a very special place in my heart. I may not be a mom, but I’m a Haha, Nanny, Aunt and even a Feather. That is priceless to me. And yet, it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve always wanted a child of my own.
Recently, I had a new hiccup in my health that scared the crap out of me. It was one of those defining moments that reminded me to take better care of my body. So after a second opinion and more tests, I heard those scary words again.
“You need a hysterectomy.”
This time, I’m thirty six. I’ve lived all over the country. I’ve had an amazing career and made friends and visited places that the eighteen year old me of the past, couldn’t even fathom. This time, there isn’t an option. The idea of putting the extra undo stress on my heart and body isn’t worth it. Living a life full of friends and family, adventure, travels and more is what I’d like to do.
In the eighteen years since I first heard those words, I also learned something else. I’ve learned to love my friends and family with all that I have. I’m a giver, and I will give everything I have to help you if I’m capable. But in the process, I forgot to allow myself to be loved in return. When the doctor made his statement to me about a ‘man’s right,’ I broke down. I lost all sense of being able to let someone love me. I only allowed myself to be attached to those men who were unavailable or couldn’t connect with me. We’ve all had events in our lives that we aren’t proud of, not allowing myself love is one of those that I’m placing in my past.
Love is essential to making the world go round. For me learning to allow others to love me has been a huge part of my growth. After hearing those words that essentially broke my spirit at such a young age, I couldn’t imagine how a man could love me if I couldn't give him a child. It was until a few years ago that I realized there are men who are happy without having children or even open to adoption.
This year when I chose the word “LOVE” for my word of the year, I didn’t know how hard I was going to have to work to really remember to love myself. It’s always been a challenge for me, since I see myself as a broken person. So a constant reminder is on my wrist and now more than ever I’m thankful for it. Infinite Love. It makes the difficult moments easier and my wonderful life even better.
If you learn anything from my sharing this very personal blog post, please learn to cherish all the moments in your life. The small ones. The large ones. Even the ones that seem inconsequential. The memories are yours to hold onto. Remember to love yourself and treat your body well. If you don’t, no one else will. Above all, remember to love. Yourself. Your body. Others. You’re going to need that love when the hard times come and there are people who want to love you. You just have to let them!