I love podcasts.
So did Shawn. We used to put them on in the morning to get caught up with the day’s news and we used to listen to really engaging ones in the evening together. One time when he was going through this big health kick, he made me listen to a multi-hour podcast on the dangers of sugar by a martial-arts expert. I rolled my eyes a lot at that one, but we ended up talking about it for days afterwards.
For a while after Shawn died, I couldn’t listen to any of our old podcasts. I still liked listening to other people talk, but I switched to a lot of podcasts that he never would have listened to. One of those that I switched to was “Forever 35” which is a podcast run by these two women, Kate and Doree, and is about “masks, serums, exercise, nutrition, meditation, anxiety and stress, Kate’s favorite drugstore mascara, Doree’s addiction to restorative yoga, and much more.” Not exactly high-brow stuff, but I love it.
Anyway, I was listening to an episode the other day entitled “How To Feel Okay When Life Is Not.” The title stuck out to me and I started listening to listener calls and emails that had gone from asking about face masks and pilates to much more serious issues. One woman had written in asking for advice about how best to celebrate her 40th birthday when she was terribly sad about her many failed attempts to get pregnant. She wanted to know how she could figure out how to get herself to a happy place for the big day.
The host Doree had great advice. She too had been through infertility and could empathize. But what struck me was what she said to the listener about the future and the possibility of getting pregnant one day. “You may need to say to yourself, this might not happen for me,” Doree said. “Everyone is always telling you to stay positive. But maybe there’s not anything for you to stay positive about.”
Doree went on to tell the listener that it was important to think about what the future might look like if she was never able to get pregnant. “You need a plan,” she said. I’m paraphrasing here, but she went on to say something like, “You might need to figure out how to live a happy life without kids, or you might plan on adopting kids, or you might think about getting a surrogate. But you need to at least accept the possibility that your future might be different than you imagined.”
Here’s what I loved so much about that podcast. Doree didn’t try and say everything would be okay. She didn’t give false promises about what might happen someday. She didn’t predict some perfect rosy future.
She said it might not happen.
You are not supposed to say this. I’ve never gone through infertility, but I’m pretty damn sure if I had, people would not have said to me, “maybe this won’t happen for you.”
I know this because when I talk about my future with men, no one says to me, “maybe this won’t happen for you.”
I’m not sure I really want anyone to say something like that to me. But I’ve started to think about my future a lot lately, especially the part about someday meeting a man who might want to be with me for the long-term. For the past year it was impossible to think about ever meeting anyone that I could love like I loved Shawn.
But then I had a short few weeks when I thought that having love again might be possible. I toyed with the idea. I let myself think about the possibility that even if I wasn’t sure how it would happen, I might fall in love again.
Someone might look at me again like Shawn did. Someone could adore me.
Those thoughts didn’t last long. I can still intellectually believe that I might find love sometime in the next 40 years. But emotionally, it’s much harder to believe.
So when I heard this podcast, I started to think about the possibility that love might not happen again for me.
Of course, when I voiced this to my friends, they all protested. “You’ll meet someone, I know it,” one friend said. I looked in her eyes and could tell that she believed what she was saying.
But I’m not so sure. And maybe – maybe – it’s time for me to think about what my future might be like if it never happens for me.
Maybe the listener of Doree’s podcast will get pregnant. Or maybe she won’t. Likewise, maybe I will fall in love again. Or maybe I won’t.
And maybe it’s time to have a plan.
I told my dad about all of this. “Well, you live in DC,” he said, “and it’s a big city, so your chances of meeting someone are pretty good.”
“But it still might not happen,” I said to him.
“You’re right,” he said, “it might not.”
He didn’t say it, but we both knew what else he was thinking. He managed to make a happy life after my mom died without meeting another woman. He never wanted to meet anyone else, but still. He missed her intensely, but he has also lived twenty (mostly) happy years without my mom.
I’d like to meet someone, someday, who I can love again like I once loved Shawn. I’d like to fall head-over-heels in love and feel like it’s 2002 once again. I know wherever he is, Shawn would like that too.
But it might not happen. And in case I end up alone for the rest of my life, I need to make a plan.
To be clear, I’m not sure what that plan is yet. But as of this moment, I have a plan to make a plan.
My future may hold a happy ending. I hope so. That happy ending may be with a new partner or it may not. Accepting that is really, really hard. But it’s probably an essential step in carrying on with my life.
Image Credit: Stefanie Harrington Photography.