Written by Denise Wiesner, Guest Blogger
I recently received an email from a 43 year old patient who wrote about her journey in coming to terms with the sexual molestation she experienced at only five years old. Like so many young victims, she was threatened not to speak a word, a threat she took to heart for most of her life. But in this email, she discussed trying to dismantle the belief she had grown up with, “I can’t ask for help or tell anyone my truth.” By writing about what had happened in her childhood, she asked me to witness her story — a story that had affected every relationship in her life until now.
In reading her words, I wondered…
How many of us have beliefs from childhood, and even adulthood, that have affected our capacity for intimacy?
How many of us are too ashamed to tell anyone?
And how do negative beliefs, stress, and trauma affect our ability to become pregnant?
I see situations in my Chinese Medicine practice where women and men carry shame around infertility. One of my patients, lets call her Lisa, was a very successful and beautiful business woman who came to see me after an ectopic pregnancy. At first, the doctors hadn’t found the ectopic, but Lisa felt that something was off. And as it turned out, she was right.
They had to take out her tube because she was at risk of losing it. It was a devastating loss for Lisa, and yet she was determined to get pregnant again. However, she told me that she and her husband had very little time for intimacy, and she described making a baby with her husband as “a ten minute in-and-out experience.” But for me, the more disturbing thing was that she felt she was being punished, as if she couldn’t conceive because she had done something wrong. It felt to her almost as if God didn’t want her to have a child.
I wanted to bear witness to this untruth. I wanted to hold this belief she held strong and question its very existence because it is already hard enough to have fertility challenges let alone believe we are at fault for them.
When it comes to fertility, there are so many blogs, books and advice about what to eat, what supplements to take, and how to become fertile-ready. But what is missing (and equally important to talk about), is what gets in the way of us being our fertile, sexual, and intimate selves. Or in other words, how do we deal with our stress, trauma, and negative beliefs in order to make a baby from a place of love?
I have made it my mission to speak about the things that no one wants to discuss, and listen to the words that men and women are ashamed to say, because I believe that it is an important step toward conceiving. Secret shame must be addressed so that it doesn’t get in the way of our fertility and intimacy with our partners.
In my book, Conceiving With Love, A Whole Body Approach to Creating Intimacy, Reigniting Passion and Increasing Fertility,” I talk about techniques to heal trauma and stress in order to get back to a loving place with ourselves and with our partners. First, we have to be able to be honest with ourselves about our story. I can’t tell you how many people I work with who keep secrets from their partners.
For example, one of my fertility patients was struggling with Bulimia, and her partner didn’t know. While another one of my patients never told her partner about the molestation that took place in her childhood. These women were holding onto shame, and it was getting in the way of intimacy.
In Chinese Medicine, we talk about feeling all emotions, but not becoming fixated on any one of them. It is the ability to feel, let go, feel, and let go again. Fertility struggles are bad enough to experience, but when we disconnect from our partner, we only isolate in the pain.
It is also common to feel as if our bodies are failing us when we cannot conceive. This too is a form of shame. I see many social media posts that say, “I failed,” with the illusion that they are a failure because they didn’t get pregnant.
I am no stranger to any of these feelings and thoughts. You see, I felt the same way when I miscarried, and again when I struggled to conceive my second child. I couldn’t understand what I had done to hold me back from conceiving, and I shouldered the blame on my own. So, I started writing letters to God asking why I wasn’t getting pregnant; and slowly, my sense of self began to erode. I realized I had been trying to affect the outcome I desired, and that simply wasn’t up to me. This was sad, because it questioned the belief I was taught — do good things, and good things will happen. Instead, I adopted the new belief that life doesn’t work on rewards and punishments, and we all have our own struggles to overcome.
It took me years to reframe my thinking; but today I am living with an open heart knowing I can get through whatever life offers me, and each challenge makes me a stronger person. One day at a time.
If you are trying to conceive, and think that shame could be getting in the way, what can you do to reconnect to LOVE?
1. Communicate with your partner – Allow yourself to be vulnerable with your partner – it increases intimacy. Tell your partner about your wants, likes, and desires. How often do my patients feel uncomfortable asking for what they want? I would say, 98% of the time, especially if it is in the sex department. Sometimes people don’t even know what they want. If you can relate with that, there is a section dedicated to foreplay in Conceiving With Love, for more suggestions.
2. Know your story – but don’t let it run your future. Are there any lessons from your past that caused you to establish negative beliefs that you are carrying into the present moment? If so, don’t be shy to ask for help from a friend, healer, and/or therapist.
3. Notice your triggers. Do you react to situations in bigger proportion than necessary? This can happen even when revisiting the doctor’s office where you were last pregnant before a miscarriage. Sometimes acknowledging and understanding your triggers can help you dismantle them.
4. Become aware of the negative beliefs about yourself that you carry into your relationship. For example, “I don’t want my belly touched, it is fat.” After having a negative thought like that, make sure to look in the mirror and see the beautiful body that houses your spirit.
5. Take time away from electronics and be with your partner. Making love with your beloved is sacred, and making time to connect with an open heart can be a game changer when it comes to conception.
My own fertility journey is in the past, and today I am lucky to have two beautiful children. I appreciate them every day because I know how much some women and men struggle to make children. I know most of them didn’t expect this process to be difficult. I also know that there is a lot of suffering that people go through and don’t talk about.
If you are struggling, please find someone to bear witness to your thoughts and feelings. It could be a healer, therapist, best friend, or your partner. Don’t forget to wrap yourself in the healing power of love. As Lao Tzu, the famous Chinese Philosopher said, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”