May 18th 2014: Today was day 17….It was nerve racking

By Shannon

I wake up with my stomach in knots. I slept alone last night because Eric stayed up late working in the living room of the apartment we’ve rented, and he didn’t want to wake me by coming into bed at 3am. Waking up in the bed alone, but with Eric just in the other room, is another reminder of how even though we are hiking the camino together, we are both doing this separately, for different reasons.

Ever since my pregnancy, I have felt myself drifting away – craving space and not wanting comfort from him. The experience of the pregnancy has created a wedge between us. At times, it’s small and unnoticeable. Other times, it feels like we are worlds apart. I know I am the main force behind the distance between the two of us. I have let my unsureness pull me away. I know Eric would go to the end of the world and back for me. I never doubt that. I love him. I do. It has nothing to do with my love for him. It’s something deeper.

I want to tell him, but that would mean telling him just how unsure I am about our choice not to have kids. While he knows I am questioning the future of a possible kid, he believes that I am just a tiny bit unsure. He is convinced that I just need to do a little bit of exploring to realize I still don’t want a kid. Only I know the truth — that as each day goes by, I lean more and more to the side of wanting to have a baby. I know I need to tell him. I realize this secret, and this secret alone is driving the wedge between us. I’m terrified to tell him the truth. To tell him how much I can see it and feel it, not only as something that I want, but something that I inevitably see happening is so scary. How would our relationship change if I tell him?

It was a question that our couples therapist first asked me, in in a one-on-one session that caused me to start questioning why I didn’t want to have kids. She said, “Do you think part of the reason you don’t want to have a kid is because of your experience with divorce as a young child?” When I responded with a, “Yes.” She then pushed me to look deep and said, “Is that fair to you, to Eric, to the possibility of a child?”

Her words made me angry. I knew she was right, only I didn’t want her to be right. I wanted to go back to feeling sure. I was pissed that she so quickly overturned the fact that I had built my whole life convincing myself that I didn’t want to have kids, ever. That I thought because of my past, it was inevitable that I would be a horrible parent.

After that session, I didn’t know how I was going to tell Eric about my new discovery. When he picked me up from therapy that day, he asked me how it went, and when I mumbled, “Fine”, he asked, “anything you want to talk about.” But I told him I wasn’t ready yet to talk about what had ensued.

At that point, I was feeling 50/50. I thought, this is just confusion as a result of the pregnancy and therapy. I kept thinking it would pass. Now, I’m 70/30. I fear, soon, I will be 100% sure.

I want to tell Eric. I do. The words are at the tip of my tongue. I know at least part of him knows already. Every time I see a cute baby, he notices the look on my face. He sees how I look at baby clothes and those tiny adorable little shoes. I thought being out of the country and traveling would make me realize I don’t want a kid because I love the life we are living. Instead it has me thinking about how much of an incredible life Eric and I could give a child.

But how can I tell him this? How do I break the news to him, when I’m still not sure and he still claims he is 100% sure he doesn’t want a child, ever. I know with all of my heart, there is a part of him that wants this. I, too, see the glimmer in his eyes when he sees a cute kid, how he is always eagar to play soccer with young kids, or how he makes goofy faces at the baby in front of us in the airport security line. I can sense it with the way he puts his hand on my stomach, which is different from before I was pregnant.

Last year after that therapy session, I tried to broach the subject by telling him about my new-found unsureness. We were at the Barbe High School track, which is just around the corner from our house in Lake Charles. In the summer we like to go run a few miles around the track at midnight when it’s finally cooled off some. We started walking around the track to warm up, and Eric asked me if I was ready to share anything from with him. I couldn’t keep it in any longer, so I shared everything that was said in therapy, how I’m actually doubting the choice not to have kids. I start to cry, because I know what I was telling him, could end us.

I remember the exact spot we were on the track when we started the conversation. I remember what I was wearing, his shock, the fear and sadness that washed across his face.

And then he said the words I had feared hearing, “I know without a doubt that I don’t want kids. I can’t. I don’t want that life.”

His certainty made my heart sink. When I told him why I was questioning my choice, how it was based on my childhood, and how maybe it’s similar for him. See, similar to me, he has told me that watching his parents fight cemented his ideals around kids from an early age. His birthday wish for years growing up, was that his parents would just stay married and never get divorced. As a grown up, he confessed this to him Mom. As it turns out, divorce was never even a question in his parents mind. But the fighting affected him so much that he still sites that as one of the main reasons he doesn’t want a child.

I can’t help but wonder if Eric explored this more, like I am, what decision we would make. But right now, he is closed off to even the idea of discussing this in therapy. He tells me, “No. There’s no way. I am going to change my mind. My mind has been made up for years.”

That’s where we’ve been for the last year. Him so sure he doesn’t want kids. Me questioning daily. The only thing we know for sure is that we love each other and we want to spend the rest of our lives together. So we’ve left it at that. Under our therapist’s suggestion, we are taking it year by year and keeping the discussion going. I am trying hard to be OK with not having the final answer from myself, or from him. I realize things change daily for both of us, and we are changing together – hopefully for the better, whatever that means. As we keep saying to each other, we will cross that bridge when we get there.

I’m scared of what this journey is going to uncover. The nervousness I feel in my stomach reminds me of those “night before the first day of school” jitters I used to get, especially in middle school and high school. I always felt strong sense of mourning at the end of the summer. Like going back to school meant the loss of my freedom. There was always such a mix of excitement of possibility for a new year and clean slate, mixed with fear of change and unknown, and uncertainty that I was not prepared for what lay ahead.

So on this night, before we hike over The Pyrenees, and meet up with all the other pilgrims starting their camino, I feel just like I did the night before I started 9th grade. I’m not ready, but I know now, we are never ready for what we have to face. We just figure it out, and deal with it as life unfolds. Because it’s going to unfold whether we like it or not.

Ever since I can remember, music has been a form of therapy for me. Lyrics to songs have helped me unravel countless feelings and thoughts I couldn’t yet comprehend or put into words. Music pushes me to think deeper and feel the things I don’t always want to feel. Sometimes there is nothing better than listening to a song, that allows you to just feel everything. Today, that song for me is John Mayer’s “War of my life”.

Come out angels, come out ghosts
Come out darkness, bring everyone you know
I’m not running and I’m not scared
I am waiting and well-prepared

I’m in the war of my life, at the door of my life
Out of time and there’s nowhere to run

I’ve got a hammer and a heart of glass
I gotta know right now which walls to smash
I got a pocket, got no pills
If fear hasn’t killed me yet, then nothing will

All the suffering and all the pain
Never left a name

I’m in the war of my life, at the door of my life
Out of time and there’s nowhere to run
I’m in the war of my life, at the core of my life
Got no choice but to fight ’til it’s done

No more suffering, no more pain
Never again

I’m in the war of my life, at the door of my life
Out of time and there’s nowhere to run
I’m in the war of my life, I’m at the core of my life
Got no choice but to fight ’til it’s done

So fight on, fight on everyone
(I won’t give up, I won’t run)
Fight on, got no choice but to fight ’til it’s done
(I won’t stop for anyone)
Fight on, fight on everyone
(I won’t give up, I won’t run)
Fight on, got no choice but to fight ’til it’s done
(I won’t stop for anyone)

So fight on, fight on
(I won’t give up, I won’t run)

“I’m in the war of my life. At the core of my life. Got no choice but to fight ’til it’s done. So fight on, fight on.”

Distance: N/A
Location: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France

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One Response to May 18th 2014: Today was day 17….It was nerve racking

  1. Maria says:

    Shannon, you and Eric should try to understand that your life will change if you have a child but that children adjust to any can of life. If you like traveling you can continue that even after you have a child. Neither of you shouldn’t say you don’t want children because of what happened growing up. You should leave it open to fate and if it is meant to happen it will and if not it won’t. Things in life happen for a reason and couples should be open to having children. It Children are such a blessing in a loving relationship. Eric needs to think about why he really doesn’t want children. He should realize that his parents argued whether they had children or not. Knowing that the arguing affected him, then if and when you have children you know that you will not argue in front of them. I know my parents never argued in front of us when we were growing up. They kept there arguments to themselves and never showed their hurt feelings in public. They wanted us to see them as a happy couple and they did.
    Remember weather you have children or not you both will have arguments and fights throughout your relationship. That is just part of being a couple and living together. It is how you deal with arguments when around others is what makes a difference. It’s okay, to argue and teach children the respectful way to argue/disagree.
    I will pray for both of you to open your hearts to having children in the future if that is what is meant to be.

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