Caroline Thurling is a Melbourne based counsellor, coach and consultant.
After a number of years coming to terms with involuntary childlessness, Caroline says she developed a tailored therapy that responds to emotional, psychological and social experiences unique to women who have become childless without choice.
She tells Mamamia about her story and her therapy.
Like so many of us, I was a “high functioning” griever. I maintained a successful career, was reliably present at gatherings with friends and family, actively supported loved ones in need and, (ironically in hindsight), progressed my studies in counselling. While a chosen few knew I was “sad” coming to terms with childlessness, no-one knew the depths my grief was taking me or indeed where it nearly took me. I began to question my sanity: why do I feel “this” upset? I know women without children, they seem fine. Why is it just me that feels this way? Have I lost my mind – I shouldn’t be feeling “this” bad. Why am I here?
As a proud advocate of counselling it may be surprising to know that I resisted seeking help for over a year. I didn’t want to say out loud: I am childless. That, to me, would be the end of who I believed I was – a mother. I desperately wanted to hold on to that and the idea of facing that well-worn term of ‘letting go’ struck a fear in me like no other. What would be left of me if I did?
Eventually when I did seek help – it didn’t work. The therapeutic relationship is a two-way street and I tried as much as my two counsellors and one psychologist, to explore and connect my sense of loss to a meaning so I could begin to heal. The problem was not in the quality of therapy but in psychological and sociological theory – or put simply, my loss didn’t “exist”. My therapists were left to borrow from a number of approaches that simply didn’t fit the complex experience of our sense of loss and grief.
Frustrated, lonely, angry, and deeply sad, a glimmer of my former self, my fighting spirit, muscled its way through. It sparked an unfamiliar belief in myself that I could help solve the missing link in therapy for involuntary childlessness.