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March 26, 2010 / Jenny Ann Fraser

Living With Disappointment

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens: but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller

I’ve always been a big believer in setting goals. It seems pretty obvious that without setting goals it would be hard to accomplish much, but I think about goals differently now than I did in the past.

When I was in my early 20’s, my goals were a bit lofty. I was young, enthusiastic, thought I knew almost everything and what I didn’t know, I could figure out.  I really believed that if I just thought things through hard enough, read enough books, and worked hard enough, I would figure out some sort of magic formula that will allow me to live life perfectly and achieve anything that I want.

A successful career, a fabulous husband and a few great kids were all I needed to achieve perfect bliss…or so I thought.

Now, I suppose it’s possible that these things would have brought me to a state of bliss.  I really can’t say for sure since to date I have not accomplished any of these goals, but knowing what I know now, I truly doubt it.

I found work that I loved.  Unfortunately, it was seasonal, and barely paid me enough to live, but I was able to succeed at it in ways I had never been able to before.  All I needed to make it work was a husband to split the rent with.

I did eventually find a man who I moved in with, but it was the wrong man for the wrong reasons who would have ruined my life if I stayed.  When I left I took my clothes my cat and my guitar and set out to start all over again at a poverty level income.

There was a night in January of 2009 that I found myself curled up in a fetal position on my yoga mat in my meditation room sobbing uncontrollably. I was desperate to figure out what is so wrong with me that I can’t even accomplish what simply seems to “happen” for most people.

When I turned 40 this past September, I had to finally accept the reality that I will never give birth and hold my own baby in my arms.

Technically, 40 is certainly a bit too early to give up on children entirely, except that I have extra-mobile joints and Fibromyalgia and I’m just too damn tired to believe that I could even want to find the energy to work as hard as I do and run around after a toddler. I didn’t want to have children so that they could make me happy.  I wanted children because I knew that I could be a fantastic Mum.  Those days are over.

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life curled up on my yoga mat sobbing over what I haven’t had.

I have come to believe that everything happens for a reason, so I assume that this means that I was destined for something else… and it wasn’t poverty, loneliness and endless pain. I thought that I was here to give to a husband and children, but clearly I was here to give something else.   Asking the question “What?” brought me to where I am now and the faith that I am finally on the right path.

The next step was to grieve and move on.

There is no quick fix.  Grief is a process that takes as long as it takes, but here is what I did.

I had come to understand that what we think, and how we think determines what we feel.  If I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in agony due to the great big hole in my heart where my family was supposed to be, I have to change how I think about it.

It took a while after my realization to decide to let go, but when I was ready I stopped telling myself the story. I don’t need to tell myself the story of how badly I wanted a family of my own or how unfair it was that I got debilitating anxiety, and depression instead. I don’t need to tell myself  that having not only survived, but overcoming all of that made me entitled to the simple things that I wanted, or how no one understands, or how much it hurts or…

Instead, I just stop those thoughts the minute I recognize I’m having them.  This was hard at first. I’ve hard-wired my brain to think this way for many years and it takes effort and a lot of desire to discipline myself to stop and not indulge in those thoughts no matter how entitled I might feel I am. If I want to be happy I simply have to give that up.

Instead, I come back to the current moment.  I focus on my breath, feel my body, come back to what I’m doing, and find something that I have in this moment to be grateful for. There is always something.

It works.  That big hole in my heart is healing rapidly and that is a miracle.  If you told me when I was 30 that I’d be where I am today, I have no doubt I would have killed myself… but now, I am finally beginning to love life for the first time ever.  Goals are no longer a means to an end.  They are the path to learning. Some of them aren’t meant to be achieved, but they still serve their purpose.

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8 Comments

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  1. Suzanne / Mar 26 2010 3:31 pm

    I had the same thoughts re: children, tried for a while, but like you said it just wasn’t meant to be.

    It’s better being an auntie anyways – I have four nieces and a nephew whom I adore and since I don’t live nearby I get my kid fix in concentrated spurts. I enjoy every second of it but then I really appreciate the quiet afterward :-).

    I admire your honesty and your ability to work through some rough stuff.

    • jennyannfraser / Mar 26 2010 8:08 pm

      Thanks for sharing Suzanne. There is a gift in not having children also, but I think the real gift is to understand that.

  2. BK / Mar 26 2010 8:44 pm

    I agree with you that everything happened for a reason and a lot of times we may not even know the reason for what happened; it could come many years later or it could come in the most unexpected moment. What I have learnt is not to seek for the reason, but to have the faith and to believe strongly that there is always an opportunity for us to grow from what happened. An opportunity for us to move beyond ourselves.

    This is not always easy and may be very challenging at times. I like the way how you break your negative thoughts by bringing yourself to the moment and focusing on gratitude. Gratitude is something very powerful in putting us into the right perspective.

  3. Fjola Sprague-Cole / Mar 28 2010 7:50 pm

    Jenny, you are such a brave soul and I am honored to be able to know you. I love your honesty and your insight…I love what you say about goals at the end, it’s so true. Peace and prosperity to you! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  4. greg oakes / Apr 7 2010 1:23 am

    thought for a moment that i was reading something i wrote; we are kindred spirits! that was raw, so painfully honest,… beautiful stuff!! it is what it is; all is well jenny. peace,… ~go

    • jennyannfraser / Apr 7 2010 10:43 am

      Thank you Greg! It’s nice to hear from you.
      Namaste

  5. DM / Aug 9 2010 5:07 pm

    hummm, you’ve given me some things to chew on. I still have that hole in my heart you’re talking about…and I’ve been married to my soulmate for over 30 years. I have a job I love- it’s a perfect fit for my personality. I could go on down the list of things most of us chase thinking if I only had _______then I’d be happy. And I’ve also been aware for years that what we think about does affect our emotions, so I do work @ what I think about, rather than just let my mind free float. That’s why this song by U2 speaks to my heart:

    • jennyannfraser / Aug 9 2010 7:20 pm

      I had to smile when I saw that… It’s on my ipod, always.
      I’m actually planning to learn to sing it. I’ve been planning to learn it for a while now. I might get to it one day.
      I’m beginning to suspect that what fills the hole is found inside, which is usually the last place we look.

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