Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing.Shawshank Redemption
It was the first day of a new cycle and I was about to start injectables for the first time. I was taking a shower, thinking about the days to come, when I suddenly found myself hoping. Hoping that the new treatment would yield better results than all the ones that preceded it. Hoping that this cycle we’ll finally hear good news. I caught myself and hurried to keep the hope in check and push those dreams out of my head, but it was too late. A glimmer of that hopeful feeling remained, like the droplets that show up on your shirt when toweling off hurriedly after a shower.
One of the things that infertility taught me early on is that hope can be a dangerous thing. Time and again, I got excited about a new treatment, a new opportunity, only to find myself facing another disappointment. I learned that no matter how many times I’ve been through this, the moment of finding out I’m not pregnant would be as big a letdown as ever. If I wanted to take some of the sting out of the bad news, I needed to lower my expectations and prepare myself for the worst. Hope just got in the way.
I’m a natural-born pessimist, so expecting the worst comes naturally to me. When my husband and I rush to catch the train, he always assumes we’ll get there in time and I always assume we’ll be late (he’s right more often than I am). I find it quite easy to expect a treatment cycle to fail, and it does help soften the blow of a negative pregnancy test. Yet despite my best efforts and my natural inclinations, I often catch myself hoping, daydreaming about positive outcomes, like that day in the shower.
It got me thinking, why is it that we hope? Even when it seems to go against our common sense. Even when it seems ‘healthier’ for us not to. Even when we resist.
I think it’s because hope gives us the strength to carry on. When I feel like I should eliminate hope from this process, I’m thinking short-term. I want it because I know it will help alleviate some of the pain of a potential disappointment. But if I really thought that all that’s waiting for me in the future is just more failure and regret, why should I even proceed? Why should I subject myself to injections, blood tests, multiple doctors’ appointments? Hope is what helps me see the bigger picture, the long-term potential of getting what I’m longing for. It’s stronger than shortsighted calculations on how to manage misery. It’s what keeps us going.
Yes, hope can put us at risk of failing once again, but those who don’t even try, don’t give themselves the opportunity to succeed. The ability of hope to find a way into our hearts, even in the darkest times, is what propels us to try and try again. It’s what keeps us moving forward, knowing deep inside that we’ll find what we’re looking for down the road, no matter how long and winding it is.
I started with a quote from Shawshank Redemption, and I want to end with one too, because I think this film captures really well the enduring spirit of hope. As much as we might perceive hope as dangerous sometimes, we only need to take a step back to realize what a powerful and almost invincible thing it is:
Notes: The beautiful photo of Banksy’s graffiti ‘Hope’ is copyright (c) 2004 Scott Burnham and made available under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license.
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