So we have this little FIF 2011 going on, but a few of you (no, many of you) may be thinking, "ummm, yeah. I'm not going to show up alone to a group of random women in a city/state far from home!" to which I would have to say, I don't blame you. We are an unknown quantity and to throw yourself into such unknowns is a risk not for the faint of heart.
But trust me, we know each other better than you would think.
And trust me further when I say, this is a risk worth taking.
Yet even if you choose not to go or simply cannot join us in Vegas, I am hoping that you will take the leap and find others like us out there because in doing so it has quite simply saved my life.
Dramatic, yes. True, very.
I remember showing up to my first Open Path (an offshoot of RESOLVE) meeting over 2 1/2 years ago. Given my almost religiously zealous practice of punctuality, I was naturally the first one to arrive, and I sat in a tiny office in downtown San Francisco with my eyes glued to the adoption and RE brochures along the wall, feeling broken, even ashamed, and wondering which of these routes would eventually lead me to what I sought. I had been TTC for over four years and in that time, I had uttered only a few syllables to my husband of the devastating vice grip infertility had on my heart, otherwise no one knew. Four years of silence feeling locked in a fertile world, hiding my dirty secret, so you can imagine that sitting in that office I was a bottle stuffed to the core. To add to that, I had just experienced a miscarriage two weeks before, my first real chance at Motherhood given and taken away. Sitting there I had no idea how raw I was or how truly desperate I was to find others like me, but I knew I was drawn to this group and that somehow, I needed them if I wanted to keep my sanity intact.
Only three of us showed. That's not to say that there are only three infertiles in the San Francisco Bay Area, but at that time, there were only three women who could gather the courage and the need to find each other. And find each other we did. What happened in that group was magical. The first five minutes were spent sobbing. I mean, open the flood gates, 'where the hell did this come from?', 'oh my God I'm not alone' sobbing. And then the stories. And none of it was awkward. We fit. And when it was done, I hoped that the other two ladies would find their way back as I knew I would because we had a connection, perhaps even beyond infertility.
Throughout the months ahead, we did find our way back. And then there were others who found us as well. And we came together outside of the groups and formed a sisterhood I've written about previously. I can assure you that that sisterhood is not only still going strong, but still growing, including other women with the same need of camaraderie. While not all meetings were quite as powerful, they were always valuable.
That's really the short version of the story, but the point is, it all happened because I trekked myself to a place of unknowns. While not quite shy, it still takes me awhile to gather enough courage to throw myself into groups of strangers, especially when the reason for meeting is not as lighthearted as merely seeking friendship. But what made it easier is that I needed to find someone who understood. I just simply could not carry on in isolation any longer while shouldering infertility. Something so immense cannot be dealt with alone.
So, if you have considered FIF 2011, know that you will be met with open arms, but if you're not quite ready for that, try the place of unknowns just once. You might walk out with something much more than you had ever anticipated.