“I’m busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest!”
Dolly Parton in Straight Talk (1992)
When you’ve managed to stay super busy for some months and people around you need your help, family needs you, you travel, learn a language, plan and dream – it can all be hugely rewarding. Probably almost enough to fill another void.
But I’ve discovered that it’s like forcing a round peg into a square hole. The pole goes in and fits snuggly, but there are gaps.
You can ignore the gaps most of the time, but occasionally they take on a frightful appearance – probably fuelled by hormones and exhaustion. The gaps become wide, impassable chasms … quiet, dark, childless abysses.
Almost 10 months ago my third and final IVF treatment failed. In the same week my father took a turn for the worse and was hospitalised. Hubby had just taken over the family business from his father and I increased my hours at the office. My brother got an interview at a school in Yorkshire and we began the exciting plans to move he and his family to the UK. My freelance writing got more demanding. We traveled. I took on more responsibility at church and became a director in our business …
You do what you have to do. You nyamazela on.
Then a very wise, elderly friend of mine cornered me last night. Old people have no filters, you might say!
“How are you doing about the pregnancy thing?” she asked me.
“I don’t know,” I answered.
“Do you think perhaps you’re both a bit too busy? Do you think you’re trying to replace a baby with work? You know it’s not really the same thing?”
Filter or no filter, I can always rely on this particular friend to ask the difficult questions. I’m not afraid of the questions, but I don’t know the answers. And the questions just lead to more questions and fewer answers.
Still, I love that she asked. This is still very much a taboo topic and people are just scared to go there.
I, myself have been too scared to go there until recently.
It’s easier to talk openly now, because I’ve finally come out of what I can only describe as a huge dark cloud that has cast a shadow on every aspect of my life since. When the cloud lifted and the light began to shine again about 6 weeks ago, only then, when I’d stepped away from the cloud and could look at myself with some perspective, did I realise that I’d been in a state of profound disappointment, almost like mourning, for over a year. There were times I even wondered if I was depressed. I wondered if I should get counselling or see my doctor. I couldn’t even admit this to Hubby until very recently.
Am I busier because I’m compensating for not being a mother and all the responsibilities that come with that? Maybe it’s just a busy season in our lives?
Whatever it is, busyness has helped me.
The thing is that I really did believe I’d been given the promise of a child by God and I don’t doubt God. But what does one do with that kind of disappointment? You cannot just lock it away and hope that it disappears. I think that when you’re able to, you need to look at that lost hope closely, stare it in the face, mourn it, get angry, wrestle with it and then lay it down. I believe it gets easier in time.
I just spent an hour this afternoon in Brixton interviewing the legendary South African singer, songwriter PJ Powers – as one does! She told me a little of her struggle with fame, alcohol, drugs and then feeling depressed and not wanting to go on. But with the help of a letter from Nelson Mandela and the 1995 song ‘World in Union’, she picked herself up again and pushed through. She described herself as having grit and tenacity and learning the power of forgiveness from Mandela. “Everyone has issues,” she said “And if you don’t think you do, you’re even more ‘away with the fairies’ than the person next to you.”
I’m learning that being Nyamazela doesn’t mean that I have to always be tough. I just need to pick myself up and start over again, count my blessings and learn what I can along the way.
Onwards and upwards to my next adventure!
P.s. I was really nervous to interview a big star, but my editor said that PJ Powers is “a truly beautiful human being”, so I relaxed a bit… my editor was right! There were PJ and me, hanging out in Brixton taking selfies – as one does!
P.p.s. Don’t you just love that line, ‘as one does‘!
P.p.p.s. For those of you who have been waiting for news from Hull, my new little baby niece arrived today at the Royal Infirmary at 7:13am … Mummy and baby are already home. I can’t wait to meet her in 9 days time. Super proud aunty here!
P.p.p.p.s. Hubby asked me on the morning before I was to interview PJ Powers if I was nervous to interview “P.G. Tips”… he now claims it was an intentional joke.
P.p.p.p.p.s. P.G Tips is a brand of tea in England. Needless to say, when I told the joke to PJ Powers, she couldn’t see the comedy. Eek! Note to self: culturally-specific jokes don’t work!
P.p.p.p.p.p.s. I broke my rule about only quoting from books I’ve read – the quote above is from the one and only Dolly Parton – I couldn’t help it – it is the only quote that worked for me.