There is so much running through me right now it's difficult to come to words, but I will do my best on the three updates: Brunch with Bloggers, The sit-down with A~ and K~, and meeting J~, my one-man support group.
The Boston Infertility Blogger Brunch
It was nice to meet these very sweet women, all with very familiar struggles. But they are much deeper into it than I ever was, throwing around infertility acronyms (IVF, IUI, GnRH, FSH) as if they were part of their regular everyday language, which of course, they are. I felt humble staring into my Cobb salad and chamomile tea with only two miscarriages under my belt. "What clinic do you use?" T asked, and it took me a beat to realize she meant fertility clinic. I wasn't sure whether to be sad or relieved or embarrassed that I never got that far.
Listening to them commiserate about nightly hormone injections, complete with geysers of blood and baseball-sized bruises, I have to admit, I was glad to have nothing to add. I did share my saga in baby-making, though, when the moment seemed appropriate, and received supportive noises and questions and even a laugh as I concluded with a little inside joke for the fertility- and adultery-challenged: "My problem is strictly male-factor now."
"Are you considering getting a donor?" pixi asked. Again, it took a beat to fill in the blank in my mind. (Organ donor? Baby donor? Oh, sperm donor.) She isn't the first to bring up the question of raising a child alone. I am surprised that each time this comes up, I have to look within and actually consider this as a possibility. But each time I come back with the same answer. Single parenthood, for now at least, is not for me.
The Big Sit-Down: Meeting K~
First of all, her physical presence was a surprise. The woman I pictured was lean, with long blonde hair, and a small, tan, magazine-pretty face. I guess I fixated on the image I felt most threatened by. But this girl had dark, short hair, eyebrows plucked into a pencil-thin line, and a nervous, pale face slathered in flesh-tone concealer. She was thin, as A~ had told me she was, but in a mousy rather than command-of-the-catwalk way. I can't say she wasn't cute, but she definitely wasn't threatening.
When I asked K~ what she had been thinking when she started her affair with A~, she had a lot to say. She admitted that she'd had strong feelings for A~ before she knew he was married. ("The sun and moon rose and set on this man" is the way she put it.) "When I found out [he was married]," she went on, "I thought, it's par for the course. It always happens this way. I didn't set out to steal him from his wife. I just thought of him as a nice guy. When I found out he also had feelings for me, it was very selfish. I thought: For once I could actually have something I want? I rationalized it by saying I'm not breaking any promises. But when I thought about it more, I started feeling guilty. I don't expect you to ever forgive me, but I am sorry."
She went on to admit her fear that A~ will think less of her down the road, will think of what he's done as a mistake, will want to leave her to come back to me. "Well, let me put your mind at ease on that one," I told her, "It probably isn't an option." I explained that at the core of the problem between A~ and I was that he was never really sure he wanted to be with me. "As much as, I have to admit, I'd like to see your relationship crash and burn, and I can't help fantasize about A~ winding up in the gutter, begging to come back to me, and as much as I'd like to imagine him becoming sure he wanted me, and making the changes it would take to regain my trust and respect, I don't really see it happening." They both laughed at this, nervously I think.
In general, the event was less dramatic and cathartic than perhaps I had hoped it might have been, but in the end, I didn't need it to be anything more than it was. I said the things I wanted to say, I asked the questions I wanted to ask, and K~ was pleasingly forthright with her feelings. Her apology, I believe, is as sincere as can be expected. Mission accomplished.
Saving the Best for Last: Meeting J~
This one deserves a blog entry of its own. For now, I will say only: Dinner? Dancing? Cry-fest-2006? Yes, all of that and so much more. It was truly lovely, and I wish we could do it again immediately.
I called my brother, the one who introduced us, and told him all about it, while being careful to stress the clarity of the boundaries J~ and I were communicating. I admitted that I feared I was setting red flags a-waving frantically in his mind about rebound relationships and who knows what else. "Not at all," my brother assured me. "I wouldn't have gotten you in touch if I had any concerns like that. I have a lot of respect for J~. He is a good soul. Whatever your relationship is or becomes, I'm happy for you."
I wanted to cry hearing that. I still want to cry. But it's not about the immediacy of pain, or even the strangely beautiful sadness I've felt thankful for in recent days, as I engage in the good but difficult work of tending my long-neglected inner garden (see Weeding the Garden). I've been bracing myself to endure years of dormancy, and here I am, shocked to uncover a tender, vibrant green sprout. It is pure relief. It is joy long before I thought it could be possible. It scares me to be this wide open, but I wouldn't want it any other way.