(In)visible childlessness

I am sadly childless not by choice. The trying for a family and the attempts to come to terms with it not going to be for us, has overwhelmed the first ten years of our marriage. There is a lot more to the story of those ten years, including many happy experiences, but our lost children are the dominant theme. I am in process with accepting we will not have our children and with embracing my life as it is.

For a long time I suffered with my childless grief, through avoiding being with it, despite it loud and incessant knocking on my heart. In the main because I was ashamed, viewing myself as a failure, as less than a Man. Due to this shame and accompanying avoidance I lived a life through masks, fearful of attaching in case I received further hurt, fearful of making meaning, of having purpose. I was a shell, empty and disappearing.

I was also more than that, for there were many moments of being with the grief, of working through not only our losses, but also the aspects of me my grief hooked into. Behind the masks there was a part of me fighting for me, and that part is growing as I try and accept I matter, with or without children. I am currently in the process of shifting how I view my childlessness and how it impacts on my sense of self. Moving away from narratives of failure and self-criticism to embracing self-compassion and an acceptance we did all we could and sadly that was not enough.

My writing about being childless not by choice is collected together and available to read at childlessness.

These and other moments of creative expression, are the reasons why I have set up (In)visible childlessness. An online gallery for the expression of how it feels to be childless not by choice, a place to make the grief visible and to further develop the childless community’s voice. I hope it to be a safe place where the griever and their grief can belong and connect, through expressions of the bumpy process of childless grief, as well as the process of moving onto the next part of our lives. I am accepting submissions, be they art, film, music, photography, writing or a combination of these – any expressive capturing of the aspects of being childless. I am especially keen to hear from men, as we don’t talk enough, if at all, but it is a place for all voices. Submissions can be anonymous, which is important as it will also be public, to raise awareness, to improve the conversation and to make the invisible visible. To view the site and submission guidance please go to (In)visible childlessness.