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It’s not uncommon to see my clients struggling to own their stories; especially to own every single part of their stories. We can all struggle to own, accept, embrace, and maybe even like every part of our stories.

I’ve been asked, “How do you just put it all out there without any qualms or fears?” I make sure to be very real, very honest, and very brave. Owning all the parts of my story, even on my strongest of days, involves mustering up courage; this courage does not exist without fear.

On the good days, I say who I am, my choices, and my mistakes without skipping a beat; palms dry, voice steady, my light shining through.

On the harder days I say who I am, my choices, and my mistakes while stumbling over words; palms clammy and hot, voice shaking, and yet, I make sure my hope shines through.

It’s only been through my own brutal work with my therapist that the ownership of my story has strengthened. With this continued work, practice, fight for recovery, my shame slowly dwindles.

I will continue to own and tell my story to help and change myself and – hopefully – others. I can only do this with bravery, feeling the fear, and doing it anyway.

I was recently challenged about the amount I am able to own my story within the limitations of judgment. We all judge, some more so than others. We have all been judged, some more so than others. I’m not sure we’ll ever fully escape this human experience of judgment.

What I do know is that the more I accept, embrace, and own my story – all the parts of my story – including the really difficult, misunderstood, invalidated, and judged parts of my story is that this judgment doesn’t have any room to grow.

It is really difficult to truly judge someone who wholeheartedly accepts, embraces, and owns themselves and every single part of their story.

I am not sure there will ever be a day that I am not judged on my story:

Judged for not figuring out how to try more rounds of IVF, both financially and emotionally,
Judged for knowing and making it clear that we are not choosing to adopt,
Judged for accepting a child-free life while leading a very child-full life,
Judged for living this all out loud,
Judged for attempting to change the shamed silence of infertility,
Judged for authentically living my work in recovery,
And judged for being the genuinely vulnerable therapist that I am.

But I dare you to hold on to your judgments as you read my words let alone hear me speak my story.

I dare you.
I am a survivor of infertility and IVF.
I stopped treatments after two failed rounds, because for us that was enough.
I know adoption is not my path to a family.
I bear the soul scars of three never-to-be babies, and yet I am still a mother.
I accept a child-free life, while having a very child-full life.
I will spend the rest of my life finding the end to my story by giving people permission to break the silence of infertility, and to break the silence of any of their sufferings.
I am resolving to know more than one happy ending.
I am an open and honest therapist who fights for her own recovery.

And, I dare you to judge me.

I have faith and trust that when I own every single part of my story, through my fear, shame and all, your judgment will become uncomfortable enough that your world will open up.

You will learn. You will see me – all of me. With that sight, I can only hope you grow a little more educated, a little more compassionate, and a lot more brave yourself.

And, I assure you, I will not allow your judgment and your misunderstanding to dim my light.

I will own it.

All of it.

Because only then do I find myself again.

And, only then will this light shine bright enough to hopefully give others the ever upward courage to do the very same.

I dare you…