The pain is different with TTC. It lingers and it fades, but it comes back again and again and again. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced.
With writing, it’s different. You go into it expecting a long process. You go into it knowing that it is a daily, uphill battle – but also that each battle begets success, in a way. Not every novel will be a success, but you will learn with every novel. You will get closer, inch by inch, day by day. And when you look back over the months, years, decades, you can see that progress.
You still feel pain, flares of insufficiency, but that pain changes with the progress. It evolves with each new challenge and the challenges are just that – new. There is pain, but there is also growth.
And if you ever quit – you still have the words you wrote.
With Crossfit, it’s different. The first few workouts are awful, maybe far worse than you expected. You get anxious the night before each class. You are terrified when you see what’s on the board. When you can’t finish a workout or have to scale it, there’s guilt and shame.
But then it gets better. You get better. You learn to take each workout as it comes, to get through the tough ones rep by rep, heartbeat by heartbeat, and to celebrate your small successes.
Sometimes, you still cry when it’s awful and you can’t breathe and you’re only on round 3 of 10. Sometimes, you look at the other girls who started when you did and watch their weights go up faster, their muscles grow larger. They can do more than you. They can always do more than you.
Then you look back at all you’ve done and how you’ve grown and how much stronger you are and you realize there will always be pain, but in the pain, there is growth.
And if you ever quit, you can still carry your friends to safety.
Then there is infertility and TTC. Every four to five (to six to seven) weeks it feels like you’ve been slammed in the gut by a train. But the pain teaches you nothing. There are few lessons you can take from punch to punch, except empathy and patience and how to take care of yourself. The waters are too murky to improve – you’re just throwing darts blindfolded.
When you’re in that murk, you have nothing to show but bruises and scars. Which you hide, of course, beneath a foundation of smiles because maybe you should just relax or consider adoption or here, take my kid.
There’s no growth, no trajectory, just endlessly cycling in place, watching the world pass you by. Pain that you swallow, pain without growth.
And if you ever quit, all you have to show for it are scars.