Tomorrow I release The Mother of Second Chances, based on this very blog. She is technically my fourth book, although the last two in some ways I hardly count. Taking Flight, my coloring journal, I published for my own creative joy. And my ebook, Lessons in Ever Upward, I released out of the desperate hustle that is slowly, and with effort, leaving my life; leaving only because I am allowing it to.
For the last six weeks I have been working with a new coach, and for the last six weeks I have been doing assignments that have challenged me, pushed me, made me frustrated, made my body feel weird in ways I’ve never experienced, and of course, there have been tears. All to only give away to a clarity and peace I have been longing for for most all of my life.
I began my work with Cassandra after seriously considering quitting all of this; no more writing, no more advocacy, no more hustling to get this noticed, no more trying to help.
It had begun to drain me. To only feed the scarcity message I already get most days in our world, especially as a woman who cannot have children.
I am not enough.
I called Cassandra because God put her Facebook post in front of my eyes after my heart was finally willing to receive it. I was realizing I had come to a stand still in my own therapy work and that my desperation in this work was turning into bitterness.
And so, six weeks ago I started looking myself in the mirror for five minutes every morning and five minutes every night saying my affirmations (I am a good student and always do my assignments). I started reading and listening to books that are a wee bit out there for me but have nuggets of truth and light that I wanted and needed to hear. I have written down my biggest fears and focused on them as things to create rather than be squashed by. I have told myself over and over that I can trust and accept the process of life and that when shit hits the fan I choose to find the good within it.
And within these last six weeks, really only the beginning of our journey so far, everything has changed.
I am less reactive.
I am going back on my own work to say, that yes, peace is actually possible.
My faith has grown.
And for real, like no joke look-you-in-the-eye-with-a-joy-that-you-can-feel-taste-and-smell, I am actually trusting, letting go and surrendering.
None of this was without much convincing. But it did not take me long to learn and to agree with Cassandra that if I did not change my relationship with my pain, to let go of it, to change how I do this work and to trust and know that I am enough no matter what, that I would never ever help the people I truly could. And, I would continue to be stuck in the dark of never enough.
I knew with all my heart, that quitting would only mean a life with regret. And, to be honest, my fear of this regret mixed with what can be a bitter pain-filled grief from a life without kids was too much for me to risk.
I have not been through what I have for a life like that.
My work with Cassandra has only proven that more.
One of the books she has had me listen to is Caroline Myss’ Advanced Energy Anatomy, I’ve listened no less than 4 times in the last several weeks already (I speed up my Audible because, well, this is the life of an entrepreneur). Through this book I am learning that it is my child and victim archetype at work when I torture myself with,
Why did this happen?
This is not fair!!! How could You do this?
I’ve especially listened to Chapter 8 where Caroline talks about Jesus as the ultimate example of surrender and therefore co-creation with God. It is also here in this chapter she talks about Helen Keller and states,
…in accepting what happens to you, in accepting it, not as a disability but as some form of directive, some form of purpose…
Lightening strike clarity.
I AM DONE.
Done with the how could this happen to me? Done with the victim mentality that this is unfair. Done with insisting for an answer as to how and why this could happen. Done holding onto this as a disability.
This whole time I thought I had let this go, that I had redefined my own happy ending, hell it is the subtitle of my bestselling book Ever Upward. But, what I have learned in the last six short weeks is that I needed to change my relationship and the meaning I attach to my pain.
I am done because if I don’t release it fully the only thing in the stranglehold of my pain is my very own happiness, truth, joy and power.
I am not a tragic story; back surgeries, a year in a body cast, failed IVF and life without my children, none of it tragic.
And, I will no longer allow anyone else to project that travesty onto me.
None of it was tragic then and it is definitely not tragic now.
Sad? Still and always will be.
Exactly as it was meant? Absolutely.
A brilliant and amazing gift of this incredible life? More than I ever dreamed.
Surrendering to and accepting this allows me to receive the gifts within it and to co-create all the goodness within and from it because my God’s got this, and because I am worthy of it.
All this, and yes I’m wordy but you know this by now, to say,
I am done.
I am different.
Five years ago today we got the phone call that would end our infertility journey without the hoped for, dreamed of, planned for and paid for babies.
It is no coincidence that this five year anniversary falls on Easter, the day my Lord and Savior was resurrected giving those of us who receive His gift of grace a new life.
Five years later I am finally ready to receive this new life in the way He always meant for me.
Five years later I am resurrected myself.
Five years later I wonder who they would be and I am grateful for who I have become only because of them.
Five years later I am letting go, giving them back as they were always His to begin with, and receiving a new life.
This is truly rising ever upward.
And so, tomorrow I let go of The Mother of Second Chances.
She is beautiful, she is flawed, she is exactly as she is meant to be.
She is a gift.
She is me.
Hi! My name is Justine Brooks Froelker. In February 2011, my husband and I began our journey in the world of IVF. Gestational surrogacy was the safest way for us to have our children since I had two back surgeries in high school (including a year of my life spent in a body cast). IVF and 3 babies never to be born later, Ever Upward was conceived. After much mourning, confusion, anger and sadness, I got back up and started doing the work. The work to redefine; my life, myself, everything.
I live in Saint Louis, Missouri with my husband Chad and our three dogs Bosco, Gertie and Gracie. I enjoy spending my time with friends and family, practicing creative self-care, laughing my ass off (sometimes at myself) and building butterfly gardens on our acre of land, which has made me an accidental butterfly farmer.
A big part of this journey has been telling my story, and ultimately educating people on how difficult, expensive and painful IVF can be and that sometimes you just don’t get the joy of motherhood from it, or at least the version you had hoped for. And telling my story to model, because we need to talk about it! And that yes, sometimes it is okay to say no more. And even more, it is okay to say adoption isn’t for you. And that after the work, you can take the step forward into a fulfilled childfull life and stop being stuck in the childless life, even in this, our child obsessed world. We must talk about infertility and pregnancy loss it in order to embrace it all and practice our recoveries. Because only then will we own it all and find our ever upward and our own happy ending.
Ever Upward is not the typical infertility book and blog filled with follicle counts, Clomid crazy train side effects and recounts of painful procedures. It is filled with struggle, hope and recovery, it is a book and blog about life. Ever Upward is my story, and yet every couple’s story; parent or not, because behind the wall of silence, shame, the smile, and the ‘I can do everything’ attitude lies millions of people suffering in silence with the pain of infertility, pregnancy loss and recovery. And yet our connection to our stories, is the only way back to the truth of who we are, to own ourselves again.
MY PROFESSIONAL CREDENTIALS
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (based on the research of Brené Brown) with a private practice in St. Louis, Missouri. For over 16 years I’ve worked with clients using a straight-forward and non-shaming approach to create a safe space for clients to address concerns. I have extensive experience working with all ages on such concerns as infertility, anxiety, infertility and common discontent.
Additionally, I write as an expert therapist for the monthly publication St. Louis Health & Wellness Magazine and am regularly published by The Huffington Post. I also can be seen regularly on the St. Louis KMOV live midday show, Great Day St. Louis. My story and advocacy work will soon be featured in the feature length documentary Don’t Talk About the Baby.
Justine Froelker, MEd, LPC