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Toxic Positivity Is Not What’s Happening Right Now

Inspired by a post berating those that are choosing to see positive options for getting through this tough time, I’m coming at you about why blocking positivity right now is a big mistake.

When you don’t want to hear something positive, it’s time to turn inward and ask yourself why.

Why are you not willing to see that as a gift of love to those who want to take it?

Why are you feeling that because you’re not choosing it, that it’s not right for someone else who may be seeing it?

Often we block these kinds of things because we feel that it discounts our pain. It feels like invalidation of your own pain, because you don’t believe it is a solution for you.

But that’s just the thing.

If it’s not for you (oh, and how will you know if you won’t even try it?), you can move past it and turn to what does work for you. And if you aren’t trying anything, rather you’re just allowing the situation to eat you up with no attempt at blocking it, take a moment to learn why.

Give yourself the chance to take responsibility for what you can control in the situation. Outside forces do not have to be your only emotion driving force.

All it takes is one look into history and you’ll find plenty of evidence of people who were in worse situations and rose above them to greatness. They did that with the knowledge that they can accept what is happening, but do not succumb to it and allow it to dictate the future as well.

If they can rise, so can we.

And if we choose to block it and sit in our validated pain, that’s a choice as well.

I hope your choice today will be to see the positivity as love being spread.

Sending you all love, healing, light, and support as we all navigate this difficult time.

Quick Test – Are You Committed to A Growth Mindset or Blocking It?

We’ve become obsessive about growth mindset, haven’t we? For good reason. Those with a strong growth mindset are the ones that achieve their goals the most. They’ve likely gone through the process you’re about to read, and have broken their commitment to pain and excuses.

Making excuses is easy. And boy do we love not having to be responsible for uncomfortable things in life. It’s SO much better if we can blame someone or something else for why we are miserable.

It’s like a fabulous game that you’ve won. You can totally break free from the situation, knowing that it’s not your fault. I am the winner of the blame game!!

Oh, wait. That’s not true? Are you sure?

I’m obviously messing with you because I KNOW it isn’t true. The crazy thing about assigning blame and carrying excuses is that it often does the exact opposite of what we have designed it to do.

Instead of talking about why it happened (because we know why. It was so-and-so or some other external source), we tend to stay stuck in the “why”. We aren’t satisfied with an explanation. We want a meaning attached to it.

This is what I call being committed to your trauma, bs, pain, excuses…etc. It’s not forward thinking and it’s certainly not problem solving. You aren’t going to heal or move into peace if your focus is on the negative people, places, or things that you perceive as the factors that caused your pain.

So how can you test yourself to see if you are committed to growth or blocking it?

So simple. You pay attention to your thoughts and words, and what they are aimed at. Are you thinking about what sucks? Are you talking about what sucks? Does your language indicate helplessness or a lack of power over your own feelings? If so, you’re not committed to your growth.

It’s not to say that you don’t want it. It just means you aren’t there yet. You’re not making the mental shift that is necessary to grow and heal. You may think that is contingent on someone apologizing or otherwise making up for it.

But guess what….that’s still not being committed to YOUR growth. That’s actually a commitment to someone else’s growth and a way of perpetuating your victimized state of feeling. If you can’t understand that your state of being can be controlled by yourself, you haven’t made the commitment yet.

How can you make that shift, you may ask? I hope you’re asking. I hope that this has you feeling like tossing your trauma, pain, and excuses out the window in favor of building a foundation for yourself that is unshakable.

The quickest way to shift is awareness and honesty. Make some kind of note every time during the day that you’ve spoken negatively. It can be just a chicken scratch on a paper like counting pennies. It can be more involved, where you write down the exact words, thoughts, or feelings. But either way, you’re training yourself to be aware.

With that practice comes a sense of responsibility, or it should, for your contribution to the muddy puddle we wade in. If you catch yourself saying “it’s not my fault. I shouldn’t have to shut up about it and let _______ get away with doing/saying/being that way.” Back up there, Messiah. That’s not your job, outing the wrong and putting them up on trial. Your job is to live your day in the best way possible.

You’ll start to see patterns. Maybe times of day when you are more irritable or certain feelings that get you going (feeling mocked, misunderstood, belittled), sometimes the pattern is related to a trait about yourself that you don’t like.

Either way….that awareness is where the power is. It’s where the healing begins and how the past patterns can be demolished.

After awareness, you’ll use tools that bring you toward your goals instead of being committed to your goal blockers. With my clients, I like to use opposite thinking, regrouping, grounding, and positive self talk, among other tools. Each client is unique in what works at this point but getting here is definitely more than half the battle.

So what do you think? Are you committed to your growth mindset or are you being a growth blocker by allowing your power to lie outside of you?

Drop me a line if you need help figuring it out!

How One Miscarriage Changed Everything

Gavin DeGraw is my favorite musical artist. I see him in concert any chance I get. When I moved to Florida, it took 3 years for him to come around. So when I heard about it, I begged by boyfriend to “let” me buy tickets for myself and my soon-to-be 2 year old. (She loves Gavin too).

My day began with the normal excitement on Gavin Day. His shows are often so intimate and sharing that experience with my daughter was making my heart glow. In my Facebook memories, a post comes up from November 4, 2017 at 9:07am, with crazy excitement about taking my baby to her first Gavin concert.

I was 6 weeks pregnant.

Not many people had been told yet. I knew it was going to be my last baby, and maybe that added to my glow. I also felt intense gratitude that I was again being blessed with pregnancy, when for so many years I battled infertility.

Was the timing great? Probably not.

Was my home life great? Eh.

But I was 39 and time was ticking. I was not going to let anything detract from the joy of becoming a mother to another miracle. I was a strong woman and would figure out whatever I had to in order to have this baby.

I was in the master bathroom getting ready with my little girl, blasting Gavin in prep for what I knew was going to be an amazing night.

That’s when the cramping started.

Soon after came the bleeding. I sobbed uncontrollably. I knew what was happening. I contemplated what to do. I was home alone with my daughter and my boyfriend’s daughter would need to be picked up from school at the end of the day. Should I go to the ER or just accept that I was losing the baby and go on with my day? (Yeah, this is how crazy I get sometimes)

I messaged my boyfriend to tell him I was going to the hospital to get checked out. I had flashbacks of going to the ER three years earlier, with his daughter in tow, where I learned about my ectopic pregnancy. I was anxiety ridden as I recalled that experience in which I lost one of my fallopian tubes.

What if this one was also ectopic?

What if I lose the other tube?

I’d definitely never have another baby. The flow of tears wouldn’t stop.

I sat there numbly as the nurse performed the ultrasound. Nothing but a cyst on one of my ovaries. Empty uterus. Beta numbers were extremely low. This was never a viable pregnancy.

One of my boyfriend’s friends came to sit with me and help with my daughter. I tried to hide my pain from everyone. I tried to play it off and act like it was no big deal.

Hey, I already got to have a perfect kid, right?

Hours and hours passed. I asked to leave. What the hell was the point of sitting there once they told me that I was miscarrying? I might as well salvage what I could of the day and go to the concert. They kept me there waiting, releasing me just about the time that the concert started. It was in Miami, about a 45 minute drive from the hospital I had gone to.

I knew I was going to miss most of it but I felt like I needed the distraction and Gavin’s music soothes my soul. I wanted my daughter to have some fun after sitting in the ER for all that time, being the great kid that she is.

This story is definitely about the pain of this miscarriage and the anniversary of what may end up being my last chance at having another child. Make no mistake that it is a sad day for me every year. I’d still be breastfeeding that precious baby right now if I was able to carry him or her to term. My life would be a lot different than it is today.

But this story is going to take a turn that you’re likely not expecting.

“I guess I won’t be buying you any more concert tickets.”

He said a lot of the standard things you say to someone who has lost a baby, none of which were comforting (think “at least you have Scarlett”), but this is the thing that I will remember forever.

It was horrible. It was cold. It was dismissive of my pain, and a punishment for having a miscarriage – something that was not my fault. He also said some other shitty things like “We really can’t afford another baby, so maybe this is for the best” but nothing hurt as much as that one statement.

I wish I was making this up. It was a conversation that turned my stomach, and my head back on straight.

It would have been easy for me to say that he “just doesn’t understand” or he is “just being a guy”. In this moment though, I said “he’s being a heartless asshole”. Because that is exactly what he was being.

My eyes became WIDE open, like that moment in The Sixth Sense when you realize what is actually going on with Bruce Willis’ character.

I suddenly saw the controlling, gaslighting, and being used. I honored my gut (who did tell me often that my role in this man’s life was not what I had hoped for), and the reason didn’t matter. You see, for a therapist, it’s difficult to do anything but believe in people’s capacity for change. You don’t give up on your clients, so you don’t give up on others….to a fault.

I made a conscious decision to “fight back” and that’s why I say it was the beginning of the end.

In his eyes, I had changed and become bitchier and impatient. I was being difficult and ungrateful (because I “got” to stay home with my daughter). But in my eyes, I was remembering who I am and what I deserved. I was reminding myself that if I was my own client, I would be working to strengthen this woman from within so she wouldn’t accept emotional or financial abuse.

It took a year for me to leave after this.

But I did, and never looked back.

It was not easy and I am still putting pieces of myself back together and, the worst feeling ever, putting pieces of my child back together.

What’s the point of this post? It’s a two-fer.

A story about how miscarriage grief exists independent of how many children you have. #Important

But also a story of how the worst day of your life can be the start of creating and living your best life. #AlsoImportant

Today is a sad day for me. I cry on and off all day because of the idea that I may never get to have another child. I love being a mom and I crave the feeling of growing another human inside me, this time without all the stress and BS, and bringing that child into this home full of love. Because that is what I have today. A home full of love, acceptance, respect, and sensitivity.

I’d be lying if I said that I have accepted the idea of that being my last pregnancy.

What if it can’t happen? Today I ask myself that because of my pain.

Tomorrow I will be able to say “Oh, but mama….what if it CAN?”

Go forth and make the choice to grow from pain and take care of yourselves.

Why I’ll Keep Telling You The Things You Don’t Want To Hear About TTC

Hey mama-in-waiting, let’s chat.

Maybe today you took a pregnancy test and it was negative. Or your ovulation tests never showed positive this month. Maybe you’re still struggling with your past loss or losses.

You’re feeling shitty. And then it comes…

“If I can get pregnant, so can you!”

“Think positive!”

and the worst one, “I’m pregnant.”

I feel you, I really do. What’s funny about when you actually get to carry a baby to term after infertility is that you don’t ever entirely forget those feelings. But do you know what also happens?

YOU BECOME ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.

I said I’d never do it. I would never say to another person struggling with infertility any of those kinds of things. And yet here I am, doing it and believing that I’m not wrong.

Hang in there with me right now. Don’t let me lose you and be written up as just another hope tossing asshole.

Here’s what I have learned about my new side of the coin.

On the side I am on right now, I am totally understanding of the fact that I was 100% wrong 8 years ago. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I had given up hope and believed that my body was undeniably unable to get pregnant. After all, I had tried fertility treatments and then went on a 6 year no-birth-control-at-all binge –and not even one tiny whisper about pregnancy from this body of mine.

Worse, there was no explanation for my infertility. Everything “looked good” according to my RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist).

So how the hell did I end up an over 35-year-old woman who got pregnant THREE times in the course of 3 years? Only one pregnancy was viable but in case you missed it…8 YEARS of prior unprotected sex with not one late period.

Sparing you all the middle, please do tell me how I am not going to shout from the rooftops to all the other women out there that were just like me? How am I not going to go spread hope to that mid 30’s copy of me, going wild trying to find happiness because her dream of a family has been crushed by infertility?

Yeah, I’m not going to stop anytime soon.

The difference is that I’m going to say more than just “If I could get pregnant, so can you.” I’m going to tell you that I know you don’t believe me. I’m going to remember how much I hated all the positive people, because my pain was so overwhelming that I couldn’t hear anything that didn’t validate my exasperation. I will tell you my story and how I created a body willing to grow the beautiful miracle daughter who changed my life in the most epic way.

Because I want that for you, too. And I’m not helping you if all I do is bitch alongside you all the time. Sometimes, yeah, we’re going to bitch. We’re going to cry. We’re going to sigh when another pregnancy announcement comes around to punch you in the gut.

But we are also going to focus on giving you the very best shot you can possibly have at this. For me, I had to eliminate stressors and change my diet. I had to drop a few pounds, and tip the whisky bottle a lot less. I had to put myself in a mindset that changed the way I viewed family and what it meant for me to have one of my own. It’s surprising how quickly motherhood found me when those things all finally crashed together.

That’s just my story. Yours is individual, but likely not impossible.

Reach out to me and tell me your story so we can get to work on how to add motherhood to it!

What Do Abortion Laws Do To Our Fertility Treatment Options?

This wasn’t what I thought would be my first blog post, but it is what it is!

Unless you live in a cave, you know that women’s reproductive rights are a hot button issue right now. With the passing of “heartbeat” and “personhood” laws in multiple states, the country is becoming divided on abortion. What’s not being talked about is the implications for fertility treatments.

What’s going to happen in terms of allowing fertilization outside of the womb? Those are embryos, too. Embryos that are not used in an IVF treatment are discarded. Some of these bills (not all) are classifying personhood at conception, therefore making that discarding process on par with abortion.

Scary thing for the entire infertility community, to say the least. If discarding the IVF embryos not chosen for implantation becomes illegal…what does that mean? Less chances for the families who want children to be able to have them. And the abortion laws? More women having babies that they don’t want.

“But then there will be more babies to adopt for those that can’t have children”

Have you ever tried adopting? It’s not like walking into Home Depot and buying a shovel.

It takes months and months and it costs a lot of money. And do you know what often happens to infants waiting to be adopted? Broken attachment that FOREVER affects their ability to relate to others on an attached level.

Let me say that again….FOREVER.

An infant’s brain grows rapidly in the early month of life, and continues into toddlerhood. Incomplete attachment strengthens the pathways of fear, neglect, and struggling to feel safe.

That lasts a lifetime because it’s the brain, guys.

This effect is achieved with multiple caregivers in that period of time and neglect (which, to an infant, can be as simple as crying too long without response and not being fed when hungry). This most often happens when adoption doesn’t happen at birth but can happen to any baby, and that’s why research is lacking on this phenomenon. No one is about strapping brain gear on infants to measure how their brain is growing or what parts are atrophying.

Infants who have their needs met feel safe, know that their needs will be always be met and experience trust with their primary caregiver that allows them to form attachments to others later in life. Children with incomplete or broken attachment lack empathy, totally, (because they don’t learn feeling for others through early parental bond) and that is a dangerous thing. All you have to do is a quick Google search on attachment disorders to find out what that can mean.

Trust me on this one, parenting a child with attachment issues is infinitely more difficult than a child you’ve carried, birthed, and raised from day one. I’ve done both and have spent years in support groups with thousands of other women who will tell you the same.

This is not to discourage anyone from adopting or fostering children. For every one child with severe issues, there are many with light or no trauma who can attach, feel empathy for others, and whose issues are more easily treatable. Adoption and fostering are a gift to both the children and parents who want to give good homes to kids who need them.

My point in this is to show the benefits of focusing on fertility rather than abortion, so don’t come at me with your adoption arguments, okay?

Is a woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant going to take care of her health the way that a woman who does want children will? Not as likely as you’d hope. There are so many health factors that can affect the way a fetus grows and unless you’re emotionally invested, chances are health won’t be at the top of the list of lifestyle changes.

A woman who has worked hard to get pregnant is much more likely to pay attention to their health. In fact, we are hypersensitive about it because of our fear of miscarriage throughout the entire pregnancy. You don’t go through the hell of fertility drugs to compromise your pregnancy being lazy about your health.

What can we do to fight these personhood laws that may take away your IVF rights? Get involved on the state level. Look up what your Congressmen and Congresswomen support. If you are working with a fertility center, ask them what they think or if there are any organizations that are rallying for the fertility side of personhood laws.

It’s up to us to fight back, especially if we are heading toward IVF as an option for pregnancy. Let’s get loud, ladies! Fight for our future babies!

Love and Baby Dust,

Vanessa