12. Embracing the Unwanted: Redefining Acceptance in a Childless Life

Jul 2, 2024

Today’s discussion centers on the concept of acceptance for women who are childless not by choice. I share my personal journey of redefining acceptance, explaining that it doesn’t mean giving up, but rather acknowledging your reality with self-compassion and honesty.

Through acceptance, you can discover new meaning and dreams beyond motherhood. This path allows you to find inner peace and a new purpose in life. Although this journey to acceptance is painful and far from easy, it ultimately helps you move forward and heal. Tune in to learn how to shift your focus from what you don’t have to what you do have.

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Embracing the Unwanted: Redefining Acceptance in a Childless Life
Key Episode Takeaways:
  • Part of accepting childlessness means acknowledging your reality with honesty and compassion for yourself.
  • Acceptance empowers you to redirect your focus in life.
  • Our identity is not defined by childlessness.
  • Acceptance is not giving up on your hopes and dreams.
Listen to the Full Episode:
Full Episode Transcript:

Hi, you're listening to Childless and Moving Onward. This is the place where we talk about thriving in life when you're a woman who is childless, not by choice, regardless of the road that brought you to childlessness. Hi, and welcome back to Childless and Moving Onward. I'm Gail Miller, your host, and I'm happy to see you back to talk about today's topic, embracing the unwanted, redefining acceptance in a childless life. So I'm going to explain in a little bit what I mean by redefining it and why do we have to redefine acceptance, and that's because of the bad rap it's gotten when it comes to the topic of being childless, not by choice. So for me, when I, when I thought about acceptance in the past, it seemed like it was impossible. It was not anything I could even begin to fathom. And it, it broke my heart to even consider it. And again, that is because, at the time, I misunderstood what accepting being childless not by choice meant. To me, accepting it meant that I was okay with it, that I wanted to be childless. I felt like I was being disloyal to my dream of motherhood and it also felt like I was betraying the children that I had imagined. Accepting it seemed to belittle the very core of my being, like I was giving up a piece of my soul. And so it was the first hurdle I had to get over to get to a place where I could bring back my sense of self worth, to find the good in my life and feel a sense of purpose. I mean, after all, the messages we get let us know constantly that the most important job in the world is being a mom. So if I can't do the most important job in the world what does that say about me? And it hit me like this, like sudden, full force storm that came on, that I wasn't allowing the acceptance and instead I was focusing only on my loss. And that was because of an email that popped up. It was an email of like your memory for the day, this many years ago, and it was a picture of me, and I didn't recognize myself as a picture of me among many from that same day. Um, and I didn't recognize myself because I looked so happy and at the time that I was seeing this memory, I sure didn't feel happy. Um, and, but then after I like studied this photo, like why, why, how can that be me? Right? It dawned on me, the photo was taken before I realized I was ever going to be a mom. And then it also dawned on me that I had to figure out a way to move from my focus that was only on what I don't have, what I didn't have, still don't have, to what I do have. I actually didn't realize I needed to move into what I do have at the time I just knew then I need to move away from only focusing my life and my thoughts and my feelings and everything only on what I don't have and it was then that I realized I needed to face my reality. So you know, facing that reality started with, like, acknowledging where I was focusing in my life. And it, like, I had to be truly, painfully honest with myself. I was laser focused on my childlessness, on my loss, on the void that I felt in my life. Every thought, whether conscious or not, was about this devastating emptiness that I felt. It was, it was kind of like I built an identity of myself, not just around my childlessness, but around my pain. But then as I let myself consider kind of moving that focus, moving my attention away from the loss, didn't mean I was not honoring it, but I recognized, I was letting myself realize that I could change my focus and I can still move on, again, honoring that pain, that loss. It didn't mean I was no longer sad about not being a mom, and it didn't mean I was betraying either the child or children I had dreamed of or my own desires. That's when I finally understood, when it finally dawned on me what acceptance is. Accepting my childlessness just meant acknowledging this reality, not that I didn't want children, or don't want children, that's not the case, instead acceptance was facing my reality head on, and coming to terms with it, and saying these are my circumstances, this is my situation. The benefit of this is that acceptance empowers you to redirect your focus as it did for me. It let me recognize I needed to find new dreams and pursue them and find meaning in a way other than motherhood. Acceptance is a way of promoting some healing in the face of adversity. And it was essential to me recognizing that I, my identity isn't defined by being childless. And it's also not defined by the pain of that. So the idea of acceptance, when it comes to being childless, when you don't want to be. It can seem unimaginable, as if you're turning your back on yourself. And that's unacceptable, right? It feels the farthest thing from acceptance. The idea of accepting being childless it's not just painful, but till, till you recognize what it really is, what acceptance really is, it just feels like wrong. And that's because of our misunderstanding what I thought and what others think what acceptance is. So I'm going to start with what acceptance isn't. It's not giving up. It's not saying that you no longer want children. Acceptance is not denying your desires for motherhood. Acceptance is not a rejection of the child or children you had dreamed of. And it's also, acceptance is also not a betrayal of the life you dreamed of. But acceptance of being childless can seem like this impossible hurdle and it feels like it's a hurdle that, it's just wrong to try to cross because often the idea of acceptance feels again like you are betraying yourself, your life, your desires. It's as if by accepting your childlessness, you're denying a fundamental part of yourself. But acceptance isn't about abandoning or giving up your hopes and dreams. It's about acknowledging your reality with honesty and most importantly with compassion for yourself. It's not about anybody else. It's not about anybody else's expectations or anybody else's judgment of you or society's expectations. It's about finding peace within yourself. Developing inner peace lets you, lets you find some contentment in life, even when this is not the life you had planned. It's not the way you wanted it to turn out. But it's possible to find contentment, and it starts with finding inner peace. That same feeling of, of peacefulness, of inner calm improves well being. All of you, physically, emotionally, mentally. Finding that peace within you allows you to recognize your own worth and to be able to celebrate. your unique strengths and that gives you the potential to realize a new purpose in life. And what fulfillment can be for you in this life that is not turning out the way you wanted it to. Acceptance is a process of self compassion and self love and it's necessary. It's a necessary part of that self compassion and self love and self care, because with it, with acceptance, you can let go of the person who planned to have children, wanted to have children. You still want, but you can let go of the person you were who was planning this. And now you can embrace the person you are in the life you have, not the life you wish you had. And you embrace that person in this unplanned life, and you do it without judgment. Okay, so we talked about what acceptance isn't, because that's, finding acceptance, the first hurdle is getting beyond the wrong or, uh, misunderstanding of what it is. So you have to start by, okay, it's, this is not what it is, this is what acceptance isn't. Now, let's talk about what acceptance is. It's facing your reality. Simple. It's not simple to do. I'm not saying that the process of getting to that point of acceptance is easy, is simple. It's not. It's painful. No, no two ways about it. But the simple description is it's facing your reality. It's being honest with yourself. I'm not gonna have kids. I want children, but it's not what life, it's not the cards that I was dealt. Acceptance is also allowing in self compassion. This is what life is and now this is what I'm gonna make with this life that I have. Acceptance is adjusting to the situation when it's a situation that can't be changed. But the mindset of acceptance is a big sticking point for many. It's, it's painful to even think about. And again, that is because of the misunderstanding of what acceptance is. And we think it's I need to give up my dreams. No, you don't. You think it's I am betraying my dreams. No, it's not. So my takeaways for today for you for acceptance. The first is acceptance isn't saying you're okay with being childless and that you don't want children. The second is acceptance isn't a betrayal of the child you dreamed of or a betrayal of yourself or your desires. The third takeaway, acceptance is being honest with yourself and acknowledging your situation. All right, that's it for today. This was about acceptance and really getting a hold of and understanding what that means because that is the basis for moving on and healing. And the next part of this, part of the healing, is recognizing your self worth through self love. And that's what I'm going to talk about in next week's episode. So that's what I have for today. Thank you for joining me and I will see you next week.   Thanks for listening. If you liked this episode and you know someone who could benefit from this podcast, please share it with them and post about it on social media. There are many other women who are looking for this help and would love to know about it. To catch all the latest from me, you can follow me on Instagram at Childless Path Onward or on Facebook and YouTube at Path Onward. Thanks again, and I'll see you next time.