“Your Aunt asked if you’re pregnant,” my grandma says, cheerfully.
Now, no woman wants to hear this, even when they are pregnant, let alone when they emphatically are not pregnant. It’s basically a roundabout way of saying she looks heavy.
Furthermore, I am definitely in the latter category. Emphatically so because I am barren. That’s right, 100% infertile. I have no eggs because I don’t even have any ovaries to house them in. No babies in this belly, at all.
“What’d you tell her?” I ask after the initial sting wares a bit.
“Oh, that you’re not, of course.” She says quickly. Still not looking up from the game on her iPad.
“Why would she think that?” I asked, “doesn’t she know I can’t have kids?”
“Yea, she knows… but she’s heard of women before…” My grandma starts.
“Well it’s impossible, it doesn’t matter what she’s heard about other women.” I snap, feeling stung again for completely different reasons now.
It’s hard to have autonomy as a barren woman.
It’s hard to have autonomy as a barren woman. My own mother just weeks ago told me she “refuses to believe” that I can never have my own child. This was not the first time I’ve had to explain my condition to her, and she was there when I was a guinea pig for the Drs as they tried to figure it all out. She just refuses to accept who I am, at least this part.
Now, I don’t think that my mother is malevolent in her hopes of my future motherhood. I don’t even think my busy-body aunt was trying to hurt me with her gossip. I honestly believe these women, my grandmother, and the countless other people who tell me they are “sorry” for me are genuinely trying to wish me well – they just can’t see that they’re wishing me their version of well.
Breaking things Down
Let’s take a look at the expectations my family has in just this area of my life:
- That whether I look a certain way or not implies their right to make comments about my appearance, even if they might be ignorant and hurtful
- That I would desire to be “better,” e.i. get pregnant and have a child
- That I want to live a life similar to the ones they have chosen for themselves
There are also possibilities of alternative goals in my aunt’s case:
- That hurtful comments will cause me to feel as insecure about my body as perhaps she does about hers
- That hurtful comments will radically influence my behavior and I will act more appropriately, e.i. stop seeing my lover
The reality is, in any case, I can’t really know their intentions. However, this does point out that none of the possible motivations are actually my problem. It’s all about their expectations and all completely out of my control.
Certainly, I can make their opinions my problems. I can be dissuaded and manipulated through subtle insecurities and programming – but in reality, I don’t have to believe a thing they say.
It is not my responsibility to make my grandma more comfortable, especially if that means lying about my sexuality. I don’t have to disassociate from my physical truth in order to believe what my mother believes. I won’t change my behavior or wish things were different because of my aunt’s immaturity.
My responsibility is to be authentic, and in this manifestation, that includes being barren.
My responsibility is to be authentic, and in this manifestation, that includes being barren. In fact, it even includes the disproportionate body shape my aunt finds so noteworthy. My condition has caused hormone imbalances from the time my body tried to go into puberty and shifted gear into menopause instead. The first time some nosey person asked if I was pregnant, I was only 13 – I wouldn’t even know the cause of all of my physical abnormalities for 4 more years at that time.
Who knows what that elderly man at church was trying to imply or what his expectations were, but at that time, I didn’t know how to think it through like this. Consequently, his comments became a weapon I used against myself for years.
Shedding the Unnecessary
I am trying and have been trying to improve my physical condition for over a dozen years now. I’ve successfully reversed osteoporosis, built healthy relationships with my body, nutrition and exercise, and am feeling sexier with each passing year as I learn to care for myself more and more. I am not perfect, I’m more than perfect – I am aware of my own self-worth, self-responsibility and my immense personal power.
I am happy to be barren. I harbor no resentments against myself or the infinite for my condition and I have no desire to become “better.”
I am happy to be barren. I harbor no resentments against myself or the infinite for my condition and I have no desire to become “better.” I don’t want children and feel no loss. I channel my creative energy and I have plans for a grand legacy, feeling only expansiveness within my being regardless.
I am confident in my sexual autonomy. I have boundaries for my encounters and practice mutual respect with my lover. I am worthy of pleasure and I feel no shame for being a fully sensual being and expressing myself in those ways.
And so, I let the rest go. What isn’t fuel for my passions or encouraging my development must go. I will not stagnate my progress for the sake of other’s ignorance, regardless of their perhaps well-intended expectations.