Monday, June 2, 2008

you gotta have faith, faith, faith (ah)?

I spent my childhood as a holidays-only Catholic. Every Christmas Eve my mother’s giant family and I would trudge through the Wisconsin snow to St. Joe’s for midnight mass. If we were lucky the snow would’ve melted by the following Easter when we next returned. Other family members were much more devout - my grandmother doing regular readings, my cousins with their first communions - but after years of Catholic schooling at the hands of bitter nuns my mom’s faith was less sturdy, crumbling. (My dad, on the other hand, is a dedicated Scientologist ::insert Tom Cruise jokes here:: so church with him has never been exactly typical.)

One Easter I escaped mass early with a near fainting spell. It was hot, I was tired and impatient for the Peeps fueled sugar buzz I knew lay ahead, and as we’d arrived late (*always* late) our entire family of 20+ was standing. I had complained in church many times before and was never given more than a stern glance, so to be relieved of my holiday duties that morning felt like a very special treat. My favorite uncle and I went out to “get some air” and played tag on the brown church lawn.

(Regardless of my poor attendance, I’ve always been respectful of church traditions. I have never, to this day, taken communion. At every wedding and holiday I sit in the pew as people excuse themselves around me. I recognize that I haven’t earned that right – the bread and wine would mean nothing more to me than food and drink. (And boy, I can use a drink!) So I sit, quietly and alone, and wait for the devout to return to their seats.)

I have had brief periods in my life where I felt some divine presence, but I’ve never clung to any one church, book, strict set of beliefs. In more recent years my thread-thin connection with “god” has virtually disappeared. I don’t want to imply that our struggles (both infertility and otherwise) have caused me to “lose my faith”. I’m not angry with any deity and I haven’t stopped believing in retribution for the difficulties we’ve had. I guess I just never really believed in the first place and as the calendar turns I have less desire to convince myself to believe.

In some ways I envy the infertiles who rely so heavily on god to support them. I can only imagine the burden of loss and longing is easier to bear when their faith tells them “it’s all in His hands”. It must be a relief to know that “everything happens for a reason”. But I could never give up responsibility for my situation and I don’t think there’s a reason. Great good might come out of great struggle, but that doesn’t mean it was fated to happen that way. Sometimes life sucks because it sucks. Plain and simple.

I know there must be other infertiles out there who don’t Believe, but I so rarely hear about them. Maybe because proclaiming a lack of religion is less common than verbalizing your faith? I do wonder, though, how other “reproductively challenged” women handle their situation without their faith to comfort them…


Mrs.X said...

Ah, a post written just for me!

The hardest time I had with being an atheist was figuring out how to mourn after my first miscarriage. I had no God to wail to, no spiritual being to blame. Who's fault was it? The answer 'no one' did absolutely nothing for me. Eventually I came to accept that it was in fact no one's fault, but the lack of someone to blame (or scapegoat) really caused problems for a while. Because, I had to accept that it just happened, with no other window dressing.

As for dealing with the usual IF stuff, I have found being an atheist is a blessing. No questioning why God is punishing you or what sin you may have committed earlier in life. In that respect, I am at peace.

You are most certainly not the only one, by the way. Most just don't talk about it regularly.

Busted said...

Well, you already know this about me, but just to remind you that you're not alone, I don't have any faith to fall back on. In fact, when I first joined the nest, I felt like an outsider because there was so much talk on the TTTC board about praying for this or that, god blessing them with their pregnancies, et cetera. It made me feel like yet another strike was against me in conceiving.

I would say that because I don't have my faith/god/belief in a higher order to things to lean on in dealing with IF and loss, it has made me more proactive about things - since I don't accept that my fate is determined, I go above and beyond in making things happen. This is why we were already doing IVF after only 9 months off BCP. If I thought god had a plan for us, who knows how long I would have waited for him to reveal it to me.

I also rely on my husband. He is more real to me than religion could ever be, and therefore a greater help to me.

I definitely feel like most don't talk about it. I'm usually embarrassed to mention it on boards, for fear of others thinking that's why I'm infertile, have suffered loss. I know it's silly.

Sorry for the LONG comment. But you're SO not alone. We're out here with you, pissed at the world because we know there isn't a reason we were dealt the cards we were.

Still Standing Strong in A Bloom of Hope. said...

I'm a born Catholic and have been at odds with my religion for the longest time, especially through this journey...very much at odds at it.

But I just want to say that you've written a great post cuz I'm at this stage in my life, where I am reflective of my journey and my faith in it all.

seriously? said...

I'm in your camp. Actually during NCLM the blogs I can't think of anything to say on are typically those people who have such faith in god. I feel out of place and maybe uncomfortable (?) because of my lack of faith.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you here. "It was all part of god's plan" just doesn't cut it for me. I don't buy it, even if I did buy the god thing. I think dealing with adversity without turning to faith (since I lack it) has caused me to become a stronger person because I've always had to look within *myself* to find the strength to get through the day and make it to the next day.

I've come to accept that I don't understand a lot of things about this world and this life, including why bad things happen to good people. Strangely, though, I'm at peace with not knowing *why* bad things happen. The fact of the matter is they DO happen, and it personally does me no good to reflect that "everything happens for a reason." It feels like I'm giving up my sense of responsibility and control for my own life if I go that route. I feel like we have a bigger hand in determining what happens in life than some people believe. I don't think it's pre-determined and that it's part of a bigger plan. Someday I may find I'm wrong about all of this, but until that day comes, I'll continue to go about my life without a devotion to faith. I really don't feel like it's missing in my life.


M said...

I'm one of the ones who posted in that other post (the one who found your blog and has been in your shoes).

In more ways than one. Both my DH and I have gone through spells where we weren't quite sure what we believed in. In fact, my DH is in that place right now, has been for several years. I understand what he is going through because I went through that myself about ten years ago.

And I don't really have an answer for you. I wish I did. At this point my DH would say karma, but I don't think that is 100% true. Bad things do happen to good people sometimes and good things happen to people who don't deserve it. I've seen it happen way to many times.

All I can say is, as the others have said, you are not alone.

Good luck on your journey.

Smiling said...

Another one here..

I don't have a religous tradition or proper 'god' to lean on, however sometimes I feel that when I relax and let things unfold, good things have happened for me.

And a lot of shit ones too.

But at the moment I am focusing on how many recent decisions lead to good things on the IF front:

move overseas --> dr who atually could diagnosis me, blood lab techs who never inflict pain when drawing blod, and the BIG ONE 2 publically funded donor egg cycles

invite over random lady my husband says I will really connect with --> new close friend who has now offered to donate eggs.

call to explain to an overseas friend that I can't attend her wedding because of schduled cycle --> complete understand and a genuine offer to donate if I need it...

But there are times that the relgious elements of other people's posts making me feel a bit separate and different. Like I am battling this under a different flag or something.