Irish Country Living - Article

October/November 2014

Bríd Ní Chionaola is an actress and children’s party entertainer living in Co Meath. Having struggled with infertility, Bríd discovered ‘The Work of Byron Katie’ which helped her realise she could still be happy without children. Today, she uses her experience to help other couples find peace. 

"I will never forget the day that I did a pregnancy test and it was positive. I rang my husband Paul thinking, ‘Thank God, it’s all working out according to plan.’ Later that day, I got my period. I was inconsolable.
I always pictured myself having a boy and a girl. If I was doing something exciting, I’d say, ‘I’ll tell that to my kids one day.’ When my husband and I moved in to our house, I could almost see them running around the garden.
I was 38 when I met Paul and we married within a year and a half. We started trying for a family straight away, but after a year I thought, ‘This isn’t happening.’ Tests revealed I had endometriosis, stage four. I tried lots of things- acupuncture, diet, exercise- so IVF seemed like my only option.  Then in 2006 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I couldn’t go for IVF for two years and by then, I was 43. We went down the adoption route, but first Vietnam closed, followed by Kazakhstan. I didn’t have the heart to keep going. 
I had this picture of how my life was going to be and I had to give up on that really. While my husband was very supportive, I felt I had failed. I cried in my car a lot. If I was doing a children’s party and the family seemed very happy, I’d leave thinking, ‘Why can’t I have that?’
It was around this time that I discovered ‘The Work with Byron Katie.’ Put simply, The Work is a way to identify and question stressful beliefs, like ‘I can’t be happy unless I have kids.’ You ask yourself four questions: ‘Is this thought true?’, ‘Can I absolutely know I’ll never be happy if I don’t have kids?’, ‘How do I react when I believe this thought?’. ‘Who would I be without this thought?’ Because without that thought, I could be happy now, right this minute. I’ve been happy in the past. I’ve seen people that have kids that are very unhappy. Kids don’t necessarily make you happy. The Work helps you to connect to a deeper part of yourself and waiting for the answer to come from you. You see that ‘I can be happy without kids’ is equally as valid as ‘I can’t be happy without kids.’
When you have children, their needs and wants come first and your own often get thrown out the window.  Paul and I have more time for each other, I travel, I have become a certified facilitator of 'The Work' and I can be there for my mother. And of course, you don’t have to have biological or adopted children to have kids in your life.
Of course, there are lots of ‘could-a, would-a, should-as’, but they’re just thoughts about a parallel life that doesn’t exist. The reality is I don’t have kids, but there is a way of dealing with it and you can still be happy.  You can mother a biological or an adopted child: but you can also mother yourself."

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