After all these decades of living, I look back on my life with gratitude that somehow I had the perspective, beliefs and support that I had. I realize that I lucked out! I know now, after all the work I have done with myself, and in working with others as a teacher and coach, that in addition to whatever innate personality we are born with, we also are unconsciously imprinted and molded by the environment in which we spent our early years to hold beliefs that determine how we view life. Those unconscious and conscious beliefs are powerful factors in how we approach challenges. In my early childhood experiences, through very little doing of my own, I acquired and was taught an approach to life issues that supported me through the difficult times.
While in my younger years I had always held the vision that I would have a family, I have no children and no grandchildren. I have only one niece and no nephews. I’ve never been to a PTA meeting or had a parent-teacher meeting or helped with homework or school projects or cheered for my child at a soccer game. I rarely even knew when school was in session or on vacation. I missed all that and lots more. I never knew what it was to love my own children, and nurture them, and watch my children grow and evolve as they became their own people. I would have enjoyed that. But now I can’t imagine it ever being a part of my life. My life took another path.
Despite the extended, dark, depressive, suicidal time in my twenties, after being told that I could never have my own children and other ways of becoming a parent were off the table in my marriage, I’ve generally considered myself an optimist. By that I mean I look for the best options that seem possible in any situation.
I never felt jealous of women with children like some infertile women do. I think it’s because the pain of my loss had been so dire, and my resulting choice so absolute and lifesaving. I always felt happy they had created the family they wanted and that I had found a way to escape my loss and go on to create an interesting and satisfying life.
Starting with that declaration of infertility, there have been various occurrences in my life that I didn’t like at all. They left me traumatized. I certainly suffered. At times, I was at a loss for what to do and I stumbled around a lot. I could have held on to the belief that life wasn’t fair or that I was a victim, but somehow I realized that it wouldn’t help me survive the trauma and live a fulfilling life.
Perceiving that there was an array of possibilities available to me was frequently challenging. I made conscious, and unknowingly unconscious, choices that other women may not have found inviting or even acceptable. Many years later, after experiencing and coming to understand more about the long-term impacts of a choice I made––and if time travel were possible––I might have acted differently.
But I didn’t have that luxury. I did, however, have time to explore the options available then, and to consider them as best I could before deciding. Now, there are no choices that I regret. There are situations where I wished the available and/or perceived options were different, but I am satisfied that I made the best choice I could in each of those challenging situations. I am grateful that I took action, that I made clear choices, that I did not linger too long in doubt, that I stepped forward into possibility and took the risks.
Despite the varying challenges, I was able to move through the maze of what were, at times, conflicting and confusing options to create a life of adventure, creativity, satisfaction and passion. It just wasn’t at all the life I imagined it would be. I missed out on experiences I had thought were essential, especially creating my own family, raising my children and enjoying the delights of being a grandmother.
But now, late in life, I realize that I have never met anyone who has lived the life they expected they would. In my case, there always seemed to be twists and turns, upsets and victories that, when faced head-on, didn’t allow me to be bored. Rather, they often opened opportunities that previously were invisible, unavailable––maybe even undesirable––but, when I stepped into them, provided surprising growth, pleasure and connection.
My life has not turned out at all how I thought it would when I was a child or young adult, but looking back over all that I have done and experienced, I do feel content. I was able to deal with the difficult challenges that life presented to me—and that I created for myself—and build a life that encompassed adventures that were unimaginable as a child, fulfillment of childhood dreams that seemed impossible and work that I have pursued with passion. There are experiences that I would have liked that I didn’t have, and maybe still will have.
Surprisingly, remembering that I wanted to die rather than go through life childless, I cannot now regret that I never had a child. At this time in my life, I cannot imagine ever having been a mother. Thankfully, I was able to release that dream, choose to live another way and build the life that I’ve had. Taking all that I’ve had to contend with in my own life, the choices I was able to make, the support I found and the way my life developed, I have the opportunity now to share what I have learned and expand the options for others. Through my work over the last 25 years, I have been honored to begin sharing with and supporting other women who have missed motherhood in healing the pain and creating fulfilling lives. I am very grateful.
Read more of my story, and the stories of 13 other women as well as the steps I used to create a life I love in my latest book, “Honoring Missed Motherhood: Loss, Choice and Creativity. Copyright ©Kani Comstock
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Kani Comstock is the author of two books: Honoring Missed Motherhood, Loss, Choice and Creativity and Journey into Love, Ten Steps to Wholeness. Both of these books describe challenges involved in healing the past, and outline steps to be taken to claim personal authenticity and inner wisdom and find love for self and others. In addition to being Director of Coaching Programs and a Process Teacher for the Hoffman Institute Foundation, Kani speaks and leads workshops to support women, and their partners, in healing the loss and unresolved, often repressed, grief from missed motherhood,which includes infertility, pregnancy loss from miscarriage or abortion, giving a child up for adoption, choosing to be childfree, or never having the right circumstance.