There 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
- 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).
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).
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).
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….
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.