Identity


I've been thinking lately about why living just as Two is so difficult to accept. I think it has something to do with identity. Who am I, who do I want to be and where do I belong. It takes quite a bit of strength and energy to fill the new rooms in my life with color, to find myself anew.

I know that I live a very self-determined life, that I am aware of my values and the principles I follow. I know my strengths and weaknesses. However, an identity also creates a sense of belonging.

In my professional life, I feel very comfortable and have no trouble at all defining myself. This is simply because this part of my life has always been child-free.

In my personal life, it is definitely more difficult. I haven't really found my role and my position yet. In fact, it sometimes feels like I've lost my sense of self and my identity to some extent.

When I'm in an environment where perhaps the children are already out of the house or are at an age where they no longer dominate life, it's less difficult for me to feel like I belong. With friends who are still very child-centered, simply because the children are still small and life is dominated by kindergarten and school, I feel like a foreign body. Then I try to see the advantages and beautiful sides of my life, to remind myself of how wonderful my life actually is. However, I don't think I really identify with being "just" me yet.

In addition, there is no group in my real life like my husband and me. As time goes on, we have many more friends who are also living a life without children and that feels good.

But I still miss to belong to a group. I miss the identity that makes me part of the group. 

That's why, even though I read more than comment, the blogs are so important to me. Here I belong, I am part of a group and it makes me stronger and helps me to fill my new rooms in life. Thank you!

I know new rooms don’t come in a day, it talks time, and even longer than I thought. But every day gets me closer to where and who I want to be. It is a journey and I try to see it as bright as the picture above.

Comments

  1. Dear Lilly,

    What a gorgeous picture! And how lovely to read a new blog post from you <3.

    The question of identity is an important and tough one. For a long while, it was a lot easier for me to say what I am NOT instead of what I am. I very much felt and knew that I was not a mother. And it hurt so much. I completely understand that you feel more at ease at work than in your social/private environment. It was the same for me. I actually considered the social aspect of childlessness to be one of the most difficult. For a long time, I found my "tribe" online, like you. It was important to me. Being understood is key. Belonging is key. We are social beings, after all! Even today, while being childless doesn't hurt as much as it used to, I have precious bonds with and deep trust in the beautiful women I got to know through blogging over the years. After a while, I was lucky insofar as I could connect with two other women in a similar situation "in real life", too. That was incredibly healing for me. I hope you can or will experience the same gift as well.

    It does take time to build new friendships and a new identity. It is hard to be patient. I remember that all too well. But it is possible. One day I realized that my social life didn't lack anything anymore. Now tabout identity... well, that is sometimes still "work in progress" ;-). There are days when I feel more confident and days when I don't.

    I am glad that you are writing, as I have found this to be therapeutical. And I am glad that you experience the sense of belonging through blogging.

    Much love!

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    Replies
    1. Dear Elaine,
      Yes, identity is a tough question in general, no matter if you have children or not. I always thought of it as “work in progress” as you say 😊 It helped me to understand that right now I don’t miss being a mother that much anymore. I miss the feeling of belonging. It does take time and relationships change, different people come into my life and yes, there are others that I connect with who don’t have children by choice or not by choice. My longest and closest friends have children and being with them and their family is sometimes difficult even though I really love being with them and I know I am accepted for who I am and not for the mother or the non-mother I am.
      And I am really, really grateful for the women I met online and also in person who understand. Thank you!!
      Hugs, Lilly

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  2. I can definitely relate to this post!! I would like a group to belong to also. It's why I've been going to monthly quilt group meetings. I know real friendships can take years to develop, so I am planting seeds now. Is there an activity that you enjoy that other people meet about? Games, crafts, sports, volunteering...

    Since I moved far away from my friends and family (although I live in a beautiful spot so I'm pretty sure people will start visiting on vacation over the years, something I am very excited about), I don't know anyone with small children so I'm not in that environment anymore. I don't miss that. It's hard being in a group and feeling left out.

    I would like to meet some people though. I used to hang out with my friends all of the time. I was very social. Infertility, the pandemic, and moving a bunch greatly affected my social life. Now I live like an artist. I have loved ones to text and call, but I spend most of my free time at home working on different quilt projects. I love it, but I wouldn't mind a weekly lunch date with a friend.

    You are so right and you write it so beautifully: it does take A LOT of strength and energy "to fill the new rooms of my life with color." It takes time, even more time than we initially imagine. But as someone who feels like I am finally settling into my new life, it is SO worth it!!

    Take your time... And keep writing! ;)

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    Replies
    1. Dear Phoenix,

      yes, it is true, it takes time and patience. I can imagine that moving to a different place and also trying to build up new friendships can be really challenging especially in “our” situation. I really like your idea of the quilt group, you meet people and you all have something in common, the love for crafts and quilts and yes, I also think it is art. The quilts I saw on your blog were really beautiful! And I am so happy for you that you are settling into your life!
      Lilly

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  3. I am so glad you are writing and are part of our community. It is a group that has helped so many - and continues to help even the old-timers like me (ha ha) who have been around for a long time. We are grateful that there are others who understand. And who write. And who read. It is easy to feel separate from others. But I think we all have something that makes us feel separate, whether or not we are parents. I'm trying to reach out more these days. I did that recently, after some months of being in a funk, and it made me realise I am connected to others, and I am loved.

    I love your photo.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Mali,
      as Elaine pointed out, writing can be therapeutical. I am so grateful for the online community and being connected all around the world is amazing. You are right, we all have something that makes us feel different or separated to others besides being without children. I had that before I developed the wish of having a family and I believe I will always have that in some ways. But more important than being separated we all have something that connects us with others. I also tried to reach out more, I try to be more active with friends, hobbies, new acquaintances because I have the time to do so. I am so happy for your that you feel accepted and loved! And I am happy that even though many wrote about this already, you are still reading and that you are so supportive to so many people! Thank you for that!
      Lilly

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  4. Dear Lilly,
    how lovely to read a new blog post from you <3.
    And I love the comments of Elaine, Mali and Phoenix.

    You and your husband will always belong to our tribe. We are looking forward to meeting you again, hopefully one day.

    much love,

    Klara

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    Replies
    1. Dear Klara,
      Thank you so much!
      I do feel part of the “tribe” and it is a wonderful tribe to belong to! I am already looking forward of meeting in person again and I am sure, it will happen some day! Hugs to you! Lilly

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  5. Dear Lily, thank you for posting this. I have to say for a long time I felt this sense of belonging only online with women like Elaine (elaineok.com) and her followers, with Jody Day and women who commented on her site and then with you and your wonderful blog. And this was (and is) so valuable to me. Actually, it was extremely helpful and changed my perspective. "It happens to a lot of people". That's how I felt. It also felt real since I know these women really exist. And then I met a woman in real life who is involuntarily childless and even has the same diagnosis as I have. In fact our fertility doctor brought us together. We meet and we talk, not even that often, but we never lost touch, and from the beginning there was this sense of trust and understanding. And this friendship made it even more clear: There was (is) this woman and her husband. They are good people. They would make wonderful parents, they are thoughtful, reliable, loving, responsible. They have good jobs and a good life (like me and my husband). They even live in the same neighborhood. They are like us - in a sense. And still: They can't have children. And their life - like ours - is deeply affected by this and will be forever.
    And then there is another "group" of real women that I feel connected with. Friends who are single and are now over 40, who don't have a family and probably will have to accept that they won't have children of their own. I guess what I want to say is that I feel connected to those people in my life who had to deal with and accept that life doesn't turn out the way you wished it would turn out. In my mind this really changes a person. I know it changed me and I recognize that in those people.
    Still I know exactly what you are talking about. I am in no way at ease with my identity as being an involuntarily childless woman. I desperately want - or wanted - to be a mother. That will not be. So I struggle as well with finding a new identity.

    Lots of love

    Anna

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  6. Dear Lilly,
    I'm also so grateful to have found soulmates among the blogging community. It saved me during the darkest years of infertility.
    Today, I still define myself as a childless woman, but I also identify with other groups which have nothing to do with me being a mother or not: for example, I'm a singer in a choir, and a member of an assocation for nature conservation. For me, it was also important to find role models which show that women can play a role in society independently from motherhood (such as Joyce DiDonato, the most amazing and coolest mezzo-soprano ever, and Rachel Carson, one of the "mothers" of political ecology).
    You can count on us to accompany you on your journey towards your new identity :-)
    Lots of love,
    Léa

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