Tunnel Vision

The day after speaking with Berenice about this website I started to compile a list of the support and social groups that I wanted to include on the website. I wrote a brief introduction that I would be placed at the top of the social group’s page. A few hours later I suddenly reflected on something I had discussed with Berenice and how it linked to something I’d briefly written about in the social group’s description.

I had become insular. It’s not something new and certainly not a place I hadn’t visited before but since Christmas I’d shut myself down and my head was focused on one thing and only one thing. In fact that’s not fully true. I’d become fixated several weeks before Christmas and it had stopped me moving forwards with anything else. I wanted to have the new World Childless Week website up and running now, this instant, immediately. But I couldn’t.

Berenice from Hello Lovely, had kindly offered to create the website and her experience and skills were invaluable to me. I knew that her heart was in it to make this a great website, one that could develop as World Childless Week grew. She was doing this free of charge through the goodness of her heart and I loved her for that. She was doing this around her business commitments.

I needed to sit back and wait. I needed to learn patience. I needed to accept that some things take time. I needed to see the broader picture. I needed to accept that I can’t control everything. I needed to focus on what I could do with my time. I needed to get on with other things in my life.

So I decided to look at my notepad and address some of the other childless issues that have come to my attention. They are on my agenda but their importance had slipped backwards because my focus had been solely on the website. These are things I can do. These are where I can give my attention.

It was so easy to fall into this tunnel vision. I don’t know when it started but I do know it finished the day after talking with Berenice. I’m not saying that I’ve suddenly forgotten my eagerness to get the website up and running but I know that it will go live when it is meant to, and not a day before.

Another thought came into my mind when I was analysing my fixation with the website. How many times do we get fixated with one idea, or one outcome? How often do we try to see timescales and deadlines in our head? How often do we feel the need to know when something will be finalised? The frustration of not having an answer can be all consuming.

 We can encounter these thoughts and questions over numerous situations throughout our life. For many of us who are childless there are two significant times in our life when we may have become fixated and had tunnel vision. Firstly when we asked ourselves “when will I become a parent”? Secondly when we discover that we would be childless for life and ask ourselves and others: “How long will I feel this pain”, “how long will I grieve”, “when will I start to find acceptance”, “will I ever feel happy again”?

I wish there was a set timescale that I could give to people. Wouldn’t it be great to say “Yep, a week on Monday you’ll not be bothered by pregnancy announcements anymore”. Or “I know you’re hurting today but in a years’ time you’ll be happy to attend that baby shower”. How about “Don’t worry, in a decade you’ll be the one leading the Mother’s day sermon in church”.

Unfortunately there is no easy answer. No response that can lead to a date circled on a calendar. The only answer I can say is we all heal at different speeds and in different ways. Something what doesn’t hurt tomorrow may suddenly hurt in a week. Grief has no order and that is fine. What I can say is being with those who understand can make a difference. We can share our stories and relate to each other’s emotions. We can and will feel better over time. I can’t give you a timescale, but I can give you my support and help you to see the wider picture.   

Stephanie Phillips

Founder of World Childless Week