Fertility Week #LifeWithoutChildren by Stephanie Phillips

As I lay in bed earlier this week I had a revelation that shocked me. On the morning of the same day I had contacted More To Life as I wanted to know if they would be interested in sharing a blog from me for Tuesday 30th October #LifeWithoutChildren which was part of Fertility Week.

My head was instantly filled with the thought of why did I contact them, why did I think they would be interested in anything I had to say and what the heck would I say? So many questions that focused on one thought

 Where did this confidence come from and who am I?

When did that change happen? It was time to sleep but my head was busy mulling over everything at break neck speed and I started to look back and reflect on the last fifteen months and realise how my life had turned around.

On the 31st July 2017 I announced that I would be starting the first ever World Childless Week on Monday 11th September. I’d decided to create a week to raise awareness of the childless not by choice community. A community I belonged to that felt unheard and unrecognised. I hoped the week would let anyone who was childless not by choice know they are not alone and help them discover there are support groups that could help them through their grief.

Seven weeks later I woke up feeling drained emotionally and physically. I felt as if it had all been a dream but I knew it was reality. With the help of so many amazing people World Childless Week had happened, and been noticed.  I felt completely dazed but in the following days I collected the figures that represented the potential reach of each post. 

Collectively the posts had reached an audience of over 123 thousand people. Each post contained words that reached somebody’s ears. Each post had the potential to let at least one other person know they were not alone. Each post had the potential to help a parent understand the world through our eyes. Each post, each word, each comment and each like was important. Each of those individual pieces created the full picture. Each person had worth and each action was valuable. 

Fast forward to 2018 and everything started to expand and speed up. World Childless Week now has a website and Champions to help spread the word. I knew that in my community I was not alone and understood the importance of support and suddenly it was there in abundance. It overwhelmed me and I withdrew; I wanted to walk away and forget World Childless Week. I had personal issues that were darkening my days and I did not feel good enough or strong enough to lead something that in all reality still felt like a dream. My insecurities were compounded by an ongoing onslaught of negative comments on social media. I have never wanted to be the centre of attention and yet I’d put myself in that position.      

So what happened between then and now? Nothing miraculous, but a series of incidents and changes gave me strength and a spark of confidence. I slowly took control.

I still don’t see myself as someone who speaks out and yet here I am doing just that. I almost feel like there are two sides to me. The introvert who would have been sad to see World Childless Week fail but also relieved that I didn’t need to continue with it. And the extrovert who wants to raise awareness and will happily speak out and bare her emotions on social media. 

I am sure there are many of us that feel the same. We want to make a difference but we are not sure how or if we are strong enough to do that. I am not saying those differences have to be big explosive events that the whole world can see. They can be small actions that start by helping ourselves.

These are the most important because before we can try to help others we have to help ourselves. We need to whittle away at the negatives and replace them with positives. Find happiness where sadness once dominated. Explore ideas and options that were once unknown or feared. We have to step out and step up to face our own demons. It isn’t easy but it is possible. Life can be good and happiness is there even if today it seems out of reach.     

So who am I today, am I the introvert or the extrovert? In reality I am a mix of the two. I started writing by posing a question and here is my answer

I am me and that is enough.

Stephanie Phillips

Founder, World Childless Week