We all do it. “If only I had done this.” “If only I had done that.” “I should have…” “I will never do that again (repeat 4 times).” “How could I have been so…” You know.
And I know that sometimes we beat ourselves up over experiences in our lives. The negative thoughts and feelings of guilt repeat. We feel “bad, sad, and mad ” about what happened. Why is this? Isn’t it just another experience equal to all the good stuff that happens? Yet it triggers unpleasant feelings and thoughts. But should we expect every single experience to be pure bliss? Seriously. Why do we beat ourselves up over it? Does that make us feel better? Or worse?
Years ago, I had been struggling for years to get pregnant with my first daughter. No matter what we did, it was not happening. Or happening as quickly as I would like. I was ready. Getting pregnant was on my radar. In a weird kind of way, it had become a goal. An obsession.
I did everything the doctors told me – stopped running, put on weight, and decreased my hours at work. I, also, took meditation classes, drank herbal teas, ate a super healthy diet, and went to acupuncture weekly. Why couldn’t I get pregnant? This became a very emotional time for me. I was on a mission, and I was going to get pregnant. And if that did not work, I was going to adopt. The person who was often in very good control with other areas of her life like diabetes, work, running, etc. felt out of control. That person was me.
It was time to take the next step and meet with a reproductive endocrinologist. Since we had been trying with the help of my OB/GYN for 3 years, she felt it was time to consider infertility treatment. I was beyond ready. Get those fertility drugs in me.
After the first attempt ,I was pregnant! Yes. Pregnant! I was thrilled. And relieved. I was pregnant.
The reproductive endocrinologist kept me on high levels of fertility meds (synthetic hormones) to help ensure the sustainability of the pregnancy. Those first two months were complex. I felt horrible from the nausea and fatigue but thrilled that I felt so bad. Feeling horrible was a good sign to me. Everything was working like it should. I was suppose to feel sick.
At the 11 week mark I suddenly starting feeling better. My parents were visiting from out of town, and I woke up feeling like a new person one morning. I was a bit worried but had read one would feel better in the second trimester which was so close. Having my parents in town helped keep my mind off wondering. Wondering if I should feel this good?
My parents were avid hikers and had found a place near our house that they wanted to explore. I loved hiking and decided to join them since I was feeling so good. I had promised the doctors I would not run, but a slow hike would be okay? Nothing too strenuous.
I went for it. The fresh air and sunshine felt so wonderful. Walking outside with my parents and taking in the surroundings was amazing. Life was good.
Until two days later when my life took a downward spiral. I started bleeding while taking my parents to the airport. Oh no! I had this gut wrenching feeling that something was horribly wrong. After years of trying to conceive I feared the worse- I was having a miscarriage. NO!
Tears rolled down my face as I called the reproductive endocrinologist. She told me to come in immediately and not to worry. How could I not worry?
My husband and I went to the doctor and an ultra sound confirmed my fear. I was having a miscarriage. Sadness and grief consumed me. And then the anger stepped in. Why? Why me? Had I caused this by going hiking? Was I to blame? You can imagine the harsh words that came out of my mouth.
Over the years I have beat myself up for different things – low blood sugars, high blood sugars, putting my career on hold, eating too many M & Ms, and the list goes on. But at the time these choices and actions felt right.
There is no going back but we can learn so much from our choices and the outcomes. Life is a work in progress. It does no good to beat oneself up for the choices we have made or the consequences we have sustained.
Instead, formulate a plan of action. For example, the miscarriage was not what I wanted. But going on a hike was something that I needed. I chose to go on the hike. I had to accept that Mother Nature’s plan was different than mine, and it was out of my control. It was alright to initially feel guilty, sad, angry, and frustrated. But I had to let it go and stop playing the “what if” game. “What if I had not gone hiking?” “What if I had just stayed home that day?” I would never know they “why”.
The fact was that I could get pregnant. This pregnancy was not meant to be. Whether I had gone hiking or not was irrelevant. I had gone hiking. Beating myself up was not serving a purpose. I had to refocus and move forward.
The same with something like eating too many M & M’s and subsequently having a high blood sugar. Not the same scale as having a miscarriage, but still no reason to beat myself up after the fact. Feels much better to look at what I learned from the experience. The M & M’s tasted yummy. I will eat M & M’s again. And I will take more insulin when eating the M & M’s. It feels so much better to look for a message of learning or positivity than to beat myself up.
Life happens. Our responses to life are a choice. Choose well. And eat some M & M’s.
And just so you know…I ended up going through a cycle of IVF a year after the miscarriage and had a beautiful baby girl. 7 months after her birth I got pregnant naturally with daughter number two.
It all worked out…