Monday, June 27, 2022

The Children's Boutique

My struggle with infertility has unearthed all sorts of unexpected traumatic feelings that were laying dormant inside me. At times it gets difficult to keep all of my fancy new emotions contained as they often take hold of me when I least expect them to erupt. 
There is a beautiful children's boutique shop in my neighborhood that I've had to avoid. The boutique is absolutely lovely, but when I walk past it I feel like the ground is being pulled out from under me and as if I'm falling backward in slow motion. The window display is so sweet and nostalgic of my early childhood, that I sometimes can't help but stop and gaze in. I can't stay long, though, because I start feeling like someone is pressing down on my windpipe.

I attempted to avoid the boutique by not looking in when I walked past. I'd close one eye so I couldn't see the shop in my peripheral vision, quicken my pace and hold my breath until I'd cleared the boutique. Playing games with myself kind of added a bit of internal amusement to my sad situation. The boutique is decorated exactly like the nursery I envisioned for my baby, so sometimes it's difficult not to look in and fantasize. But as I stand there staring into the window like a weirdo, my reality always creeps in to destroy my beautiful fantasy and I have to turn and swiftly walk away.

I decided that it would just be best if I walked on the other side of the street so that I could avoid the boutique completely; but I was on the phone as I approached the shop a few weeks ago, so I was distracted. I realized too late that I was walking on the same side of the street as the boutique and had no choice but to walk past it. Although my breaths became short as I neared it, I decided that maybe it would help me to get over my overwhelming feelings if I just went in. 

I stood outside for a bit with my heart hammering in my chest. Mentally I was weighing whether it was really a good idea for me to go in. The door was propped open so I had a good view of the bulletin board hanging at the entrance. It was brimming with an array of beautiful cards and photos of babies that had been sent in by their families. I know what the shop conveys to me; the sweet, pure excitement and joy that comes with adding a new baby to your family. From the abundant display on the bulletin board, it's apparent that this shop is special to people and that it has been there for the new additions to many families over the years. 

I finally forced myself to step over the threshold before I changed my mind, but once I was inside, I wondered if I'd made a mistake. I could feel a heaviness in my chest and the invisible thumbs pressing down on my windpipe. As I took in the racks of tiny clothing, the shelves of books and wicker baskets filled with toys, my mind began to spin a bit.

The owner, who was behind the counter, looked up and greeted me; and when I opened my mouth to respond, I instantly burst into tears. She immediately came out from behind the counter and held me in a long, tight embrace. "It's okay." She whispered. "It's okay." I apologized for becoming emotional and she waved me off saying, "Don't apologize, lots of people cry in here." Instead of her being cautious of this strange woman walking into her shop and bursting into tears, she treated me with such warmth and kindness. Without my fully speaking it she just understood my internal struggle. 

She pulled out one of the tiny toddler sized chairs set up in the middle of the shop and made me take a seat at the tiny table. I really just wanted to leave so that I could escape my feelings. I felt shaky and exposed and I wanted to run out of the shop so that I could breathe again. The shop owner pulled out a tiny chair for herself and sat down with me. She asked me what my name was and introduced herself as Ariana. She told me a story about a recent customer who had also become emotional in her shop. She told me about her life. She asked me about mine. She just sat and talked with me for about twenty minutes until I decided I'd taken up enough of her time. I felt like if I needed to sit there with her a bit longer she would have let me. A few customers came in to browse while Ariana was sitting with me and she knew every one of them. It's no wonder that the bulletin board is filled with love. 

Before I left, she made me promise that I would stop walking on the other side of the street, but after the way my body responded once I'd stepped into her shop, I don't think that I can promise her that just yet.

Shortly after I left the shop, I came across a bright, white feather lying on the pavement. I don't really believe in things like this, but the feather jolted me as if I was hit by a dart. When I got home, I Googled the spiritual meaning of a white feather and this is what I found:

White feathers often show up in your life after a period of disappointment or grief, as a way to provide encouragement and let you know that the universal flow of energy is working in your favor. Many people report feeling the presence of Angels when they find white feathers, and that may be a way that your angels are communicating with you.

How interesting! Ariana definitely fulfilled her purpose as an angel of comfort, that day.

I don't know if I'll ever be fully healed from everything I've experienced over the past decade, but I know without a doubt that everything happens for a reason. My experience with infertility is not in vain and hopefully one day I can use my pain to offer someone else comfort and to help them make sense of their own struggle.

Although physically, I feel like giving up, mentally I'm keeping the faith that one day I will walk into that shop, not to have another panic attack, but to purchase something for my baby; and one day he or she will have their photo displayed on that bulletin board!

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

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