I found out I'm infertile

Now I'm jealous of other guys who can make women pregnant. I wanted to have a child!

By Cary Tennis

Published November 12, 2012 1:00AM (EST)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Zach Trenholm/Salon)
(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

Almost six months ago I received a piece of troubling news that I have been unable to come to terms with: I am 100 percent sterile, due to what my doctor calls a "random genetic abnormality."

This revelation has sent me spiraling downward into a dark mood that I have been unable to lift since. I have always envisioned my future with a family of my own taking center stage, and now that vision has been shattered. It doesn't help that each of the three women I cared about began to shun me shortly after I told them, and as of this writing, still are. It's as if infertility has thrown some invisible barrier up between myself and the world of dating, leaving me to find solace in large amounts of alcohol and far too many pints of ice cream.

Upon receiving the news that my best friend's wife was going to have a baby, I congratulated him, only to feel hatred and jealousy bubble up inside me. He'll soon have a son or daughter that is his own flesh and blood, a precious blessing I will never receive, and as much as I'm trying not to, I hate him for it. I'll never hear the words "He looks just like his dad!" or "She has her father's eyes!" like he will, and I fear constantly that the growing animosity I feel toward him might tear our decade-long friendship to tatters.

I know that many women suffer from infertility -- I've even spoken intimately with a few -- but it seems as though they have it a whole lot easier in their love lives than I ever have. They are gentle, and caring, and sympathetic, and even when I try to imitate these feelings I find myself not truly feeling any better. I find myself becoming less and less productive as the weeks go by, and I'm to the point where I no longer feel any enjoyment out of life. I cannot go on like this much longer.

Is this emptiness I'm feeling just a stage? Are there women out there that won't care if my balls don't work, and I'm just not seeing them? Or should I just give in and get comfortable with the thought of living my life alone?

With heartfelt thanks,


Dear Fruitless,

Sometimes we become attached to things that don't exist, so when we find out they don't exist we react as though we were actually losing something. But you haven't lost anything. You haven't lost a child. You haven't lost a relationship. You have simply gained some knowledge. It is valuable knowledge.

Gaining knowledge about ourselves is a good thing but it often hurts. It hurts because it hurts to sever our attachments, even to things that are wrong. If we are attached to an image of ourselves that is incorrect, then when we have a chance to learn the truth about ourselves it comes with pain and a sense of loss. So we resist learning about ourselves because we have to give up our illusions. If we had no illusions or assumptions about ourselves then life would be nothing but a blissful succession of learning experiences. It is not our incorrect notions, but our attachment to them, that makes learning painful.

Before you knew you were infertile you were fine. Now that you know, you are in turmoil. That indicates that you are having trouble letting go of an attachment. The attachment is not to anything real or true. In fact, it is an attachment to a falsehood. So let it go.

Your infertility in and of itself makes no difference in the pleasure you can take in life. If you like children then go and be with children. If you like women then be with women.

Having dreams and plans is not bad. But attaching ourselves to an idea of future happiness leaves us vulnerable to conditions far outside our ability to control. Also it takes us out of the immediate moment, which is the only moment in which any happiness can be experienced.

So I suggest that you set out to enjoy yourself.

Imagine this scenario. You are dating. You are meeting a woman for the first time and she shows up with bright red lipstick on, in a silk dress that is sort of tight but not too tight, and she wears some kind of perfume that makes you lose your balance for an instant and you have to grip the door handle of her Ferrari as she asks you to drive and slides out of the driver's seat and into the passenger seat, with the faint crackling sound of silk crushing leather and then you walk around the front of the car, keeping eye contact with her the whole time and not tripping over the curb as you step down and come around to the driver's side door and put your hand on it and open it and get inside and start up the engine and then turn to her and look into her eyes, which are blue with a hint of lavender and little specks of gold around the irises, and you say, I just want you to know, no matter what happens between us, I am completely, 100 percent, medically certified infertile.

Now where would you like to eat? I know a nice place on the water where we could eat oysters and you could tell me whose eyes those are.

Cary Tennis

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