Helen Adrienne L.C.S.W.

On Fertile Ground

Nature Loves the Truth

The adversity of infertility can lead to greater authenticity.

Posted Mar 05, 2012

Would an orchid keep its bloom in a closet without water, fertilizer, or exposure to the light of day? Would a palm tree last very long in Siberia? Could a herd of elephants sustain itself in a concrete jungle? Doesn't Mother Nature demand that each form of life live according to a certain set of built-in truths or risk death?

What are the truths which control our human species? Of course, there is the basic need for water, food and shelter. Given the unity of body and mind, our physical needs slide over to a psychological realm where we aim to thrive, not only survive. There is a vast array of emotional responses which reflect the experience of living in a human body, running the gamut from ecstasy to despair. It is my belief that our nature is most at equilibrium if what we feel and what we show—to ourselves—are in sync.

Some emotions are easier to experience than others. Our capacity for denial and suppression allow us to manage our emotions to a certain degree. Sometimes we use denial to the hilt. Sometimes this capacity for denial saves our lives.

But when we are stressed to the max, as is the case with infertility, if denial is not helping you, could it be hurting you? I am not talking about denial of the infertility. I am talking about denial of the feelings which cannot help but be evoked when something as profound as procreation is at stake.

How does one square denial as a bona fide coping mechanism against a "nature loves the truth" postulate? This story is illustrative:

I was working with a woman who became a convert to the power of emotional truth. Let's call her Jane. Jane was relatively sophisticated and understood that emotions land in the body in the form of symptoms, and that symptoms are the body's wisdom trying to grab our attention. She had a pain on the left side of her neck which was unresponsive to Advil, heat packs, ice packs or yoga stretches. Deep tissue massage had given her relief, but shortly after getting off of the table, her neck went back into spasm.

She came in for a session totally frustrated. I gave her a paper and pen and asked her to "journal," stream of consciousness style, while I remained quiet. I wanted her to be in touch with herself—in touch with her truth. She wrote and wrote and suddenly looked up at me as if she had seen a ghost. I asked her what had just happened. She said that she had found herself writing about Mary who was a real "pain in her neck." She had not thought of her friend in this way, but when she wrote this, her pain went away. Nature loves the truth.

Of course, the problem with denial is that it can be out of conscious awareness. This notwithstanding, nature has a way of poking at our body, hoping that we'll respond to the invitation to "get it." Jane was not going to get relief from her discomfort until she allowed her body to teach her how she was feeling.

Infertility is "treated" by the medical community on the basis of what scientific evidence is revealed by blood tests, sperm tests, post-coital tests and surgery. That is fine and dandy. Many grateful moms and dads are pushing strollers around because of the sophistication of modern medicine that seems sometimes to border on science fiction.

But for you, the patient, it's only half of the story. Stress levels can interfere with a logical conclusion to this approach. It opens up a "treatment" approach to unexplained infertility, doesn't it? It also allows those with a clear diagnosis to "participate" in their medical care. In both cases, self-awareness can make the difference between conception and disappointment. I've seen it!

If in Jane's case, the pain in her neck resolved when she identified the "truth," imagine your power to contribute to the resolution of your fertility challenge. This does NOT mean that your infertility is your fault! It does mean that you can suspend the horrible feeling of being out of control and participate in discovering the truth of what you are feeling that, as they say, can set you free.