Light at the end of the tunnel

Light at the end of the tunnelThere comes a day in many a woman’s life when she wakes up and realises that things haven’t really gone exactly to plan…

Where is my husband? My family? she says to herself.

What was I thinking:

  • being with him
  • not being with him
  • focusing on my career
  • neglecting my career
  • partying
  • staying home
  • travelling round the world
  • not being all that bothered
  • expecting it all to just somehow happen, organically?

(delete as appropriate and tick all that apply).

Shit.

I’d better get:

  • a wiggle on
  • lose some weight
  • go out more
  • stay in more
  • get married
  • get divorced
  • get a hair cut
  • get therapy
  • give up drinking/smoking/hoping
  • move cities
  • join an internet dating site
  • stop internet dating
  • listen to my mother

(delete as appropriate, tick all that apply and cry where necessary).

Shit.

Because suddenly you realise that in a few years’ time, that ‘have a family’ option won’t be there for you anymore. Or maybe, in reality, it’s already pretty unlikely or damn near impossible but you’re unable to come to terms with it (and it seems like nobody will let you come to terms with it either, and if you dare to bring the subject up you get bombarded with lastminute.com miracle baby stories that make the stork sound positively rational).

Shit.

And so, suddenly, it’s all you think about. Or maybe obsess about would be a better word.  You try not to be too much of a cliche, but it does seem like everything in your life is now coloured by the frantic realisation that every choice you made in your life brought you to this point. You feel like an idiot that you didn’t manage it better, and didn’t see this moment coming.  Which means that every single decision you make now, today, this week has got to be the right one or….

Shit.

Welcome to ‘the tunnel’.  That narrow, cramped claustrophobic space that gets more cramped as each year passes.  Made for one.  The only view ahead is a very narrow shaft of light, somewhere off in the distance.  And behind you in the dark is every wrong decision, every failed relationship, every missed opportunity.

The tunnel.  A lonely, pressurized space where you can’t turn round, can’t reverse, can’t go sideways.  And your only guides in this fetid space?  The polarized opinions of others and your own, by now thoroughly freaked-out self.  Because, even though you may or may not have given the issue much thought, you’ve suddenly realized with an awful sickening thud that if you don’t have a baby, you’re not a real woman, you’re on the shelf, you’ve failed.

Sound familiar?  Sound true?  Sometimes it’s hard to remember that these are just thoughts – not truths.  Because the echo in the tunnel can be pretty deafening.

You are not a failure. You haven’t screwed up. And you are not alone.

The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t always a train – sometimes it’s hope.

About Jody 84 Articles
Jody Day is a British author, trainee integrative psychotherapist and the founder of Gateway Women, the global friendship and support network for childless women. She’s a founding member at AWOC.org (Ageing without Children) and a former Fellow in Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School. She's the author of 2016’s 'Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children' (Bluebird/PanMacmillan). Gateway Women hosts online communities, workshops, retreats, courses, social events and private sessions for childless-not-by-choice women. Jody lives alone in London with her cat, a stereotype that she warmly and humorously subverts.
Contact: Website

23 Comments on Light at the end of the tunnel

  1. Would love to know if there are any groups meeting in the United States. More specifically Pennsylvania! Love this amazing information!!!

    • Hi Rosie and welcome! Yes, we have a private Gateway Women meetup group for the USA. There is a meetup in Philadelphia, but it’s not very active as it needs a ‘host’ (ie, someone who’s prepared to be listed as RSVPing ‘yes’ each month, you don’t actually have to attend if no-one else is, but once one person is listed as ‘yes’, others are encouraged to do so). You’ll need to be a member of Meetup.com (free) and then apply to join http://www.meetup.com/Gateway-Women-USA/ (free) as it’s a closed group. Any problems, email our community manager H
      Helen community@gateway-women.com And if you could volunteer to the the host for the Philly meetup, I’m sure it’ll get going again! Hugs, Jody x
      (PS, You can also suggest a meetup in other places too, not just Philly, if that’s not close to you).

  2. As much as there are understanding child-ed friends, and childless-by choice-friends who have supported me this week, finding this site today just after discovering my egg reserves have dropped from ‘upper good’ to ‘poor/negligible’ in two or so years, has allowed me finally to breathe out, a bit. Fear, shock, grief and self-recrimination, the colossal wagging finger admonishing me for ‘doing it all wrong’. It’s such a horrible place to be…but what a blessing to find a forum to hear others’ experiences. I hope to gain much strength from Gateway Women – thank you for being there…

    • i have read this abt a million times and it feels like you have digged into my heart and put it on a piece of paper, I have cried reading this has it is exactly how i feel, so many ppl dont understand this situation but i admire you for reaching and be able to writte this down,thank you,..xx

      • Dearest Laurna
        I’m so glad you found us, but I feel your sadness too.
        We understand you, I understand you.
        Where are you based? Make sure you sign up the events mailing list as I’m ‘going on tour’ from later this month!
        Big hug, Jody x

        • hey Jody,.. I saw this reply,.. just now,.. thinking,.. no one will reply,.. I am based in Manchester,uk.. tried everything to get that almost perfect family without going overboard,.. Seem like we all got the same things in common,.. n that u feel misunderstood by many who dont get that you are in a tunnel,.. am praying the sadness goes away,.. so I can come to term with my new situation,.. God bless you,.. and thx

  3. great site and swear away, not in the least bit offended by the language as it sums up what a lousy situation this is to be in …but so great to know not alone. cheers!

  4. Wow! Read your blog posts, watched the Tanya Davis video and then read this – seriously made me stop and think. Thank you for voicing my thoughts.

  5. Hello Jody

    good to read your blog, I have never responded to something on line in this way, which indicates its impact. Can’t say I am in the tunnell but I know what its like to be there. As a forty five year old women I do feel very alone, without partner, without children, alone in that I dont know my place in society I’m sure I read somewhere about identity either in your blog or elsewhere on your site, its a difficult thing to articulate identity its often defined by other or by role, I guess if I dont define it others will or perhaps that’s what I find difficult. Dont know, just thinking out loud but happy to do so with people who may have an insight as to how I feel. I am relieved to know of others out there (assessible in this way) and look forward to staying in touch with this site. It gives me a perspective I can loose all by myself.

  6. Thank you for putting into words the reason for my indecision and paralysis over the past year and a half. A tunnel where it is difficult but necessary to move forward.

  7. A great and relevant website for all cultures globally!
    Re the age groups – maybe it could be broader. I’m also aware that there are much younger woman who are affected by not being able to have children for various reasons. The age grouping could alienate some in your audience who may be in other age groups that have not been mentioned.
    Re ‘Shit’ – it would be better and more respectful to others to find more appropriate and non offensive language. Maybe use ‘What now?’ or something else that you feel is more appropriate instead.
    You’ve done a great job Jody! Well done.

    • Oh for fuck’s sake this isn’t a tea party. In the rough-and-tumble REAL world people say “shit” and “bugger” and much, much worse. What was she supposed to say — “oh golly gee” ??

      • No, it’s not a tea party, but appropriate language is about showing other people respect, and IMO that’s essential. When people use obscene language in a casual way, it puts me off reading any further, as it doesn’t indicate respect for others.

  8. Great website Jody! I’m not quite in your target age bracket yet but really identify with everything you’re saying. Having spent the past 15 years making sure I don’t get pregnant, mostly for my career / not being with ‘the one’, now I’m hoping I haven’t left it too late (although I have just married ‘the one’, I hope)!

  9. Comes across very personally and though I’m not in the category, I can imagine that people who are will relate to it immediately. Just a small thing – will using Shit, which is very dramatic, put some people off or wouldn’t you want those people anyway?
    love Caroline x

    • In response to Caroline … from someone who is in this category … “Shit” actually says it perfectly, and really captures the feeling for me … because that’s exactly what it feels like. It is not a “nice” place it IS shitty and messy and frightening and a state of panic and despair and and and and so “shit” just about covers it. Yes it is dramatic but the tunnel IS dramatic and actually even more colourful words could apply.
      Thanks again Jody for not being scared of voicing this, or if so voicing it anyway, for all of us.
      Stella

  10. I f’ing LOVE this!!!
    I am 40 and childless by choice and I’m sick and tired of being “weird”. I’m not, I’m just someone who prefers to be auntie and has no desire to be a mother.
    I’m really interested in this site – looking forward to hearing more and I’d love to come and speak … my mission is to encourage women to ditch their diet, love their bodies and get a life!

  11. Hi Jody,
    This looks great … I got a shiver up my spine reading your intro!! I wanted to look away as it was quite painful to acknowledge all that and yet inspiring and refreshing to be acknowledged … thank you!

    Can’t wait to see your events programme.
    Thak you so much for putting this out there!
    Stella

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