Helping You By Taking Myself Off Mute

I had never shared my story before.

Written by Gail Miller

Life experiences teach us a lot. Mine taught me to protect myself…for many reasons but especially from others who weaponize vulnerabilities to inflict more pain.

I muted myself.

This was learned from both personal and professional experiences.

I know I’m not alone in having been in personal environments that were breeding grounds for unhealthy connections and patterns.

And then there are professional situations. So much toxicity in too many workplace situations. For women often there’s another layer of challenging stressors from different directions.

In our society women are judged by their fertility status.  For women who don’t have children, for whatever reason, that can be used in painful ways.  For just that reason I stayed silent to avoid people close to me exploiting my pain point of being childless not by choice.  That helped no one. 

BUT I’ve been fortunate.  To learn lessons from people who don’t need to beat others down to feel good about themselves.  I’ve been so fortunate to meet women who lift each other up.  Women who inspire, who help when others are down instead of kicking them.  

I’ve had wonderful teachers and coaches.  I’ve learned so much from them.  It’s brought me to a phenomenal place in life.  

So now I’m speaking out about my story – taking myself off mute…about being childless not by choice.  Speaking out and giving back.  

Not having children comes with assumptions by so many.  The assumption of selfishness.   People assume that this is a choice we’ve made and that anyone who is childfree by choice is selfish.  But, for those who choose not to have children it’s not a selfish decision – it’s a personal choice.  

For those who haven’t chosen this another assumption made about us is that we must not have tried hard enough because there are always options and anyone should be able to get pregnant. No, that isn’t true. There aren’t options for everyone.

The grief that comes with this isn’t something many people understand. It’s not recognized as a real loss. Unwanted personal questions are asked and inappropriate comments are made. Boundaries are crossed. We’re told to “get over it”.

People judge and shame…and yes, use the pain as a weapon to cause more hurt. In fact that’s what happened to me on my 35th birthday – a relative who knew I was hurting used the opportunity to make fun of my not having a child.

We don’t “get over it”. Some feel shame. Some feel less than and unworthy. Some feel like a part of us is missing. At times we might feel all of these things all at once.

But the truth is that we’re not shameful. We’re absolutely not less than or unworthy.

It took work to get to the place where I realized that I am worthy, where I don’t feel shame or allow others to judge me. I know now how to deal with the intrusive questions, the inappropriate comments, the assumptions.

This is me happily taking myself off mute. I’m speaking up and telling you there is no shame in this. I’m here to help you to realize that being childless not by choice doesn’t mean life is over. Life can still be fulfilling. You are worthwhile.

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