Divorce, Infertility and Wounds

I mentioned a few posts ago that our priest gave a beautiful homily during the Easter Vigil and that I wanted to reflect upon it here. I was getting frustrated that I hadn't done so yet, but then I went to a conference on divorce ministry last week and realized I needed to reflect some more before writing it all out.

Our Priest is a Passionist Priest and frequently calls us to the foot of the cross; reminding us that this is where we encounter the forgiveness of Jesus and the sacrifice made to forgive our sins. But during the vigil mass he reminded us that we cannot spend our entire lives at the foot of the cross, that we must move forward and find our joy in the resurrection. I admit at this point, I was still working on recovering from the misery I was feeling at the constant repetition of the word "fertile" in the first reading - which was read by my mom, so that only made it worse - and trying to stay focused because I knew it was almost time for the children in my RCIA class to be baptized and confirmed. And then, Father started talking about the resurrection - and Thomas.

Now, he wasn't focused on the usual story of Thomas and his doubting and how we have to have faith without seeing. No, this time he wasn't focusing on Thomas, he was focusing on Jesus. And he held out his hands for a moment before he spoke, and when he spoke it took everything in me to hold the tears back because his words were what so often is echoed throughout this blogosphere when an IFer crosses over. He said that though Jesus was resurrected, he still carried the wounds of his crucifixion; of his pain; of his passion. And the only way that Thomas could believe that He was the same Jesus was to see the wounds.

So, when one of our sisters is resurrected from the cross of IF, she still carries the wounds. And, sometimes we need to be reminded of her wounds to believe that she is still the same person. And for me, it is a reminder that if this cross is lifted from me in this life I will continue to carry the wounds, but I will still be the same person. It wasn't the wounds that defined the resurrected Jesus, but it was the wounds that helped Thomas to remain close to him and to then preach the gospel. It is our common cross that brought us together and no matter where our paths take us, it will be what always ties us - even when our lives begin to look very different.

This also ties in so much to my experience as a child of divorce. It is the wounds that I carry that remind me of how and why I want my marriage to be different. Yes, sometimes these wounds get ripped back open like the other night when The Man asked a seemingly innocent question that led to 2 hours of tears and discussion, but ultimately it is the wounds that remind me why I stick through those conversations and immediately reflect upon my reactions when they are unnecessarily extreme. For so often, I tried to deny I had these wounds, I tried to believe all of the adults in my life who told me I was better off - heck, I even have jokes about my parents divorce that I tell. But I've realized that while in many ways the weight of my parents' divorce is lifted, the wounds will always be with me.

Acknowledging the similarity of my experiences with divorce and infertility has been creeping in more and more recently. Mostly as I've feared some of my reactions to the infertility - specifically an overwhelming sense of apathy. Sometimes, I feel so "whatever" - much like I do most of the time when thinking about my parents' divorce. And that worries me because I know that my responses to my parents' divorce were not the healthiest - I buried a lot and put on a strong, happy face for many many years. In some ways I still do (again, the jokes). I've been worried that this is what I'm doing with infertility, burying how I really feel, cracking jokes, and talking about it with others like it's no big deal.

I've been working to find this fine line and stay on the correct side of it - to acknowledge my pain and allow myself to feel the feelings I feel without putting myself in situations in which I know I will be uncomfortable and regret later. I've realized my need to just not talk about it most of the time when around other people, but I need to find a way to let it out when I'm alone or with those I trust in a more authentic way than speaking as if it's no big deal or worse trying to laugh about it. Laughter is my cover, and I acknowledge that it can be a good thing. But, I feel myself trying to bury my wounds; trying to hide in a comfortable apathy; trying to just "move on"; trying to pretend like seeing babies and pregnant women (that are every.where) don't hurt. I've tried hiding wounds before and I know that it hid the "real" me and that even The Man has commented how he just had no idea how badly divorce hurts children - and lasts -until the past few years. I need to be more careful as I travel this road of infertility - to be more aware of my feelings and to allow myself to truly feel them and handle them authentically rather than bury them.

I need to emulate Jesus and stretch out my hands and see the wounds that are forming or I fear I will become like Thomas and doubt. My doubt will take the form of bitterness and regret. I am not a bitter person, I like my glass half full and I need to find a way to keep it that way.


  1. This is a beautiful reflection, thank you for sharing so openly. *hugs* Praying for you right now.

  2. So true on both issues. Those experiences change who you are and how you see the world, and they hurt and the hurt doesn't just disappear.

  3. Wow! You are so right. The wounds remain no matter what we do.
    I put on a strong face in front of others but the tears never stop when I am alone. And I feel much better after releasing my emotions.
    I am still working on one aspect though - the fear of being emotional when DH is around because it somehow makes me feel selfish. I often allow myself to be immersed in grief and forget how God has blessed me with a loving husband. Each time I wallow in grief, I know it isn't doing any good on my DH. And I know it wouldn't be good to bury my feelings in front of DH. So, I need to find a middle path of what to bury and what to express!

    1. I struggle with the same things related to emotions and The Man. He used to get every blog post emailed to him, and one evening I just felt like it was unfair for him to get an email notification on his phone while hanging out with friends only to read a post in which I was barely hanging on - so I changed that setting. I don't know if he still reads here or not...and that is actually OK with me. It's so hard to find the middle path, I think because I also know that he is hurting as well and while he'd be there 100%, I don't like just dumping all of my issues on him. Just one more reason why I love this blogging community...I can let it out here, ugly emotions and all and then later tell him, I was really struggling with x, y, or z. It's probably not the perfect solution, but it's working for us.

    2. I agree that the relationships with our husbands can be so hard sometimes. My husband always wants to know when I am upset but I often end up feeling guilty about being so emotional. Since we are focusing our energies more on adoption lately I have found that it is a little easier but the disappointments still arise (like this morning after my not so good ultrasound). We all have our crosses to bear but IF can be so darn painful!

  4. I loved this beautiful reflection. Even when the cross is lifted, we still carry the scars with us, and how do we find someone safe to be vulnerable and open with through our pain. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Wow, thank you for sharing this. I am so sorry you've had to go through so much with your parents divorce. I like when you said that our crosses do not define us, but they have brought us together. It is our crosses that connect us to each other and to Christ!
    I too struggle with how to handle the emotions...whether to tell others the open truth or keep them inside without going crazy! So grateful for this little blogging world!

  6. As sucky as IF is, I'm glad it connected me to you! I can relate in so many ways, especially about the complexities of divorce.

    I have the opposite problem...I think I'm too vocal about IF sometimes and have to remind myself that it doesn't define me.

    You're right, the wounds will always be there, physically from surgeries and emotionally from all the pain. Thanks for reminding me not to dwell there, but not to cover it up either. You are so wise.

  7. I share the wounds as a child from divorce and it is true they help root us and remind us. Someone told me once that a divorce is never final until the children have passed on. Of course, it is hoped they have broken the cycle. I have never carried the cross of IF, but I pray for you and many others. This is a beautiful reflection and I believe I heard a similar talk onCatholic radio about our wounds and such. Continue to meet Jesus at the foot of the Cross, Rebecca. He will help you carry on. Much love and prayers, dear friend.

  8. This is such a great post Rebecca! I wish I could be more open about my cross, but I am such a prideful woman (and a great actress!).

    Continued prayers!

  9. Thank you, SO MUCH, for sharing the story of the priest at your church and his story about wounds.
    I remember my wounds ... still so fresh and raw ... and I hate that others feel the same way. Its not a feeling you want shared.
    I think its sweet that your hubby reads your blog ... mine does too ... and the "occasional" read, sometimes after emotions have passed, worked well for us too.