The other day, when I was putting together my beautiful (and incredibly time-consuming) Reader's Notebooks for this school year, I decided to watch a movie.
The movie was Room. Yeah, I know, given the week I had last week, it seems like a bit of a downer...but I sort of felt it was like Cormac McCarthy's The Road. You can see it as horribly depressing, or you can see it as having an ultimate message of hope and resilience.
There's a scene in Room (not a spoiler, don't worry) where the main character, Joy, who has been locked up in a sexual predator's back garden shed for seven years, is explaining the real story of how she got there, not the fairy tale version that she's previously told her son who's now five. She explains that he was too little to understand before, but now he can get it, and she needs him to understand so that they have hope for escape.
In the middle of the story, as she's explaining how she was tricked, he gets very upset at having his carefully constructed world turned upside down, and he screams, "I WANT A DIFFERENT STORY!"
And then she yells right back,
"There isn't a different story. THIS IS THE STORY YOU GET!"
And that right there is how I feel about my story, about my seven years of trying to get to parenthood and all the twists and turns and inexplicable tragedies small and large and the huge pit of loss that lurks beneath the surface for me, always, and taints the way I view life. This is how I feel when hearing about my reality, shared as bluntly and as casually as someone might tell a birth story or share a creepy 3-D ultrasound, makes people "uncomfortable."
This is the story I got. And so, this is the story you get, because it's the one I have to tell -- the beautiful parts like my marriage and all the other parts of my life with Bryce and school, but the really, really sad parts that I never imagined, too. Sometimes I own it like the mom in Room, and sometimes I want to put my head in the sand and and insist on a different story like the little boy. I had a fairy tale in my mind of how life was supposed to be, and some parts of my life exceeded expectations: a caring, supportive, loving husband; delicious dinners we cook together; long chatty hikes; a beautiful home; a fulfilling career... and other parts make up a story I never thought would be mine but intractably is: years of injections and surgeries and cycles of hope and despair; losses and periods of feeling utterly broken; a long, exhausting adoption process; letting go of the only things we've been "parents" to in sending our embryos off to a clinic in Texas, embryos we couldn't transfer ourselves; seven years of trying to be parents and failing miserably (so far). It's not a story I imagined possible when we said our vows seven years ago this October, all aglow with evening light and the hope for a beautiful future and a family we'd have to work a bit for, but that would come because it had to, that's the standard narrative.
But this is the real story. And I'm going to tell it, even if it makes people uncomfortable, even if it doesn't support the myth that hard work and belief can gain you ANYTHING YOU WANT. Maybe in telling this story, the fairy-tale-shattering story, it will help in accepting the hard truth that what you want and what you get are two different things, and that you can make the most of it but it's okay to be upset and bewildered by the story you got, and share that so that you can find other people who understand what it's like to live in that particular reality.
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