Perhaps it was inspired by my Ovidrel trigger shot, but I was overdue for an emotional outburst. I expressed to Husband that whatever is the outcome of our infertility journey, whether we are fortunate enough to have a baby or whether we continue our fabulous child-free life, there will always be a part of me that resents the fact that it was all so easy for Myrtle. (Please note, I don't resent her for it; I wouldn't wish infertility or pregnancy struggles on anyone. She was merely fortunate. I do resent her for her lack of sensitivity and lack of interest in the details of my fertility treatments, but I've covered that in previous posts) I expected Husband to tell me to get over myself and to move past it, but he said something that truly surprised me.
"I know you will." he stated calmly "It's because you're so competitive, and that's why I love you so much."
It was so obvious and yet so eye opening. However it finally made sense to me. For so much of my life, being competitive has been a good thing. Until that moment, I had no idea it endeared me to my husband. My competitive drive has enabled me to achieve so many of the accomplishments in my life. It never occurred to me that my competitive spirit could have negative consequences too. It has made me bitter and petty.
In my early adolescence, I had little self esteem and struggled academically. When I got to the 9th grade, the teachers in the maths department listed the top 5 students in each of their classes on their bulletin boards. After our first test, I looked at the board. The usual over-achievers were in the top spots, but there in a three way tie for fifth place was my name. With that small piece of validation, I began to believe in myself. Armed with my newly found confidence, I started working harder in all my classes, but especially in maths, as I was determined to stay in the top 5. Several years ago, I went back to my old high school to tell the teacher how much that top 5 list influenced the path that I was on and led me to one of success. "Oh, the top 5 list?" he noted "We had to stop doing that a few years back. Too many parents complained."
More recently at my last swim meet, I was pacing around the deck trying to calm the butterflies before my 100 m butterfly. I was approached by one of our team's veteran swimmers. She was a child swimming prodigy in her home country of Japan, who was invited to swim on the national team, but burn-out had taken its toll and she stopped swimming for 25 years, until she joined our group. She's a relentless worker and she still dominates the backstroke events with her flawless stoke that she makes look so effortless. "I'm so jealous of you, Jane." she began "You always go out and get your best times in competitions." Perhaps it was the years of having so many expectations upon her that she struggled with her performance during the actual event. Where as for me, I carry no pressure, so I can just go out and race. Still, it was so surprising to hear that such an accomplished swimmer could have any envy toward me.
Since I was young, I have been living the virtue of 'set a goal, work hard for it, achieve, rinse, repeat'. This is something that I can't achieve with hard work and determination alone. I'm not in control of my own destiny to a certain extent. I can remember my tennis coaches telling us "Your level of play may not influence the outcome of the match" which is a covert way of saying, 'you'll run into someone much better than you, and even though you'll play your best tennis, you'll still lose'. It feels like I'm in that situation again. Despite our best efforts, we may still lose. It's up to the force in the Universe and is [literally] someone else's hands. I realise that I will always carry these frustrations and resentments, it's the way I'm wired, it will always be a part of me, but I can work on learning to live with out them. To quote Amber at Old Lady and No Baby, "I'm okay coming in last place, just as long as I get my medal for finishing." I'm in it not to win it.