Losing at the shittiest race in life

You know the film Dumbo? You know at the start when the storks are delivering the babies to all the animals in the circus? Mrs Jumbo looks up hopefully as every single stork flies by and misses her out?

I’m Mrs Jumbo.

Here’s the situation.

I know we shouldn’t compare ourselves with others. It’s not healthy for the mind. I get that we all have our own paths to follow. I understand that everybody else in the world has their own journey with their own challenges to overcome. To compare your own achievements and setbacks with someone else is pointless. 

But we still do it.

I was dreadful for doing it when I was growing up. Comparing first kisses, first boyfriends, first time you had sex, first jobs… And all it did was make you feel shit about yourself.

And the irony is, for every person that you would look upon with envy for their life and achievements, there would be someone else looking at you in the same way. We are always so quick to see what we don’t have, rather than what we do.

I feel I’ve made peace with that now I’m in my 30s. I look back on my teenage self and wish I could tell her not to stress. Tell her that I may not be kissing boys at 15 and shagging them at parties by 16 like everybody else seemed to be at the time, but that I’d have plenty of fun with guys once I’d left school. That I’d actually hook up with one of those bad lads from school in a bar when I’m 20 and go on to marry him. That I’d forge a successful career in the same profession I had my heart set on from when I took my GCSEs, when many others would still be flitting from job to job. That I’d be in the fortunate position to buy my own house at the age of 27 when so many are trapped in the rental market or even still living at home with their parents. That I’d be able to travel the world on exotic holidays and weekends away when others would be struggling to pay the bills. I wish I could just tell her to chill out and trust whatever destiny had in store for me. Because it’s all worked out anyway, whether I cried myself to sleep about not having a boyfriend at 16, or not! (Waste of damn tears, girl…)

But I also wish my 60 year old self could come back and visit me now to reassure me that my happy ending DOES happen. That we’ll end up with our rainbow baby and then accidentally fall pregnant immediately after – with twins – and we are blessed with many grandchildren and the patience and heartache would prove to all be worth it.

It’s like I am competing in a race that I didn’t want to enter. I’m racing against others who are also in the same situation, but there are also those at the starting line that are not in my situation at all. It’s an unfair race before the whistle has even been blown.

And I don’t want to run.

I know I’m not going to win so I don’t see the point in starting. But those on the sidelines cheering me on say I can do it and I shouldn’t stop trying so I wearily get into position and wait for the whistle to blow.

Sometimes I’m running alongside someone who has done no training whatsoever, and they sprint ahead of everyone and win first time.

Sometimes I’m running alongside people who have to pull out because of injury. They are helped off the track crying and heartbroken. They don’t know if they’ll ever be able to compete again. But I know they’ll be back, once they’re stronger.

Sometimes I’m running alongside people that don’t even know they’re in the fucking race but they still seem to finish before everyone else.

Sometimes I’m running alongside people who have already won a previous race, and now they’re back again for a second time. And guess what? Yep. They win that race too.

Sometimes I’m running alongside someone who has been next to me since the first race we ran together, and then they sprint off ahead of me and ending up winning. I don’t mind that so much. But it hurts watching them disappear into the distance and leave me behind. I hope they come back to the starting line to cheer me on next time.

Sometimes I’m running alongside somebody who has paid thousands to be there. It’s always a good day when they win.

Sometimes the races get cancelled. And you have to wait another month until you can compete again. It’s a long wait when that happens.

Sometimes you get so weary from the constant racing that you just want to stop. You collapse before the finish line, on your knees, aching, crying. Someone from the sidelines walks over to you, puts a comforting arm around your shoulders, picks you up, smoothes your hair, lets you rest but then gently encourages you back to the start line, where they give you a smile and a thumbs up.

I have a racing twinnie who is alongside me for every single race. We often start at the same point and finish at the same point. Sometimes she’s a few paces ahead of me, sometimes I’m a few strides ahead of her. We’ll cheer each other on, whilst bitching about those who overtake us. More often than not as soon as we cross the finish line (with no prize of course) we’ll head straight to the drinks tent and get wasted. Smug shits, already bestowed with their prizes, will occasionally come up to us and say we should be in the yoga tent doing our cool down stretches, or eating in the organic vegan tent, or thrusting a water in our face and giving a ‘should-you-be-drinking-that-cocktail?’ face. We throw said water over them and sashay off to get another 2-4-1. At the end of some races we’re made to attend the prize-givings, and play games to celebrate that they won first place. Twinnie and I will more often than not show our faces, but we’ll sit at the back, messaging each other and wishing we weren’t there.

The worst kind of competitor is the one who sidles up to you after winning the race to give you suggestions on how to improve for next time. Bitch, I’ve raced so many times I’ve completed a motherfucking marathon. You’ve done a 100m sprint. Fuck off with your advice and leave us running pros to keep doing what we’re doing.

There are times when I’m stood on the starting line, and at the finish I can see my friends and family all waiting for me to get there. Sometimes it energises me to run the best I ever have. Other times I can barely see them through my tear-filled eyes as I mouth to them “I’m sorry. I can’t.” And pull out of the race.

On the other side of the field the men’s race takes place. I will glance over to see Dave trying his hardest, focus in his eyes, determination in his stride. There aren’t quite so many blokes on the sidelines there, because their race isn’t quite so well known. But the ones that have turned up to cheer him on are ready to give him a pat on the back and a pint when he finishes. They don’t talk much but they head straight to the beer tent. Us ladies leave them to it.

Every now and then, I’m at the start of my own race, and I just wish that nobody else fucking turns up. Just for once. Let me win. Please.

This week I learned another woman in my life is pregnant.

22 thoughts on “Losing at the shittiest race in life

  1. These last few days I have been a emotional rollercoaster. Crying, frustrated, sad, more crying…not my normal self (no added hormones). My poor bus and want even sure what was going on. I was super clingy, self doubting our marriage, didn’t know if he found me attractive, was annoyed with me, bored with me?! I didn’t want to tell him how I was feeling or thinking.

    My husband has a very physical and labor intensive job, he’s very tired often. It was my fertile week and I tried. I tried hard and got the “I’m so tired and pissy from work”. He would go to the garage and just have his time. Come in, shower and go to bed. More rejection (how I felt).

    I’ve been struggling the last few days with a decision to give up the baby dream. With 38 around the bend for me (husband is 5 yrs younger, who says I have lots of time…grr) perhaps it’s time to fully close that door and just move on and enjoy what I do have. The heartbreak each month is becoming harder and harder and my happiness seems to be fading. I feel like a failure to my husband, family and mostly myself. I’m an only child and knowing I may never give my dad (don’t know my birth father) a grand baby kills me. I’ve always wanted to give my baby boy part of his name as he. Never had his own kids.

    To know this may never happen breaks me in two, causing me to be an emotional and needy woman towards my husband.

    Do I try a little longer? Do I give it up and move forward? How do I control the tears every time a friends makes their announcement? How do I answer the questions without wanting to punch someone or cry? Will I fee guilty that I didn’t put us in debt for a “maybe baby”?

    My race matches yours, but I feel like I’m at the starting line…the gun fires, the race starts and I get disqualified, because I’m not eligible.

    2 baby announcements & 3 births this week.


    1. Lovely, who knows what the right thing to do is? I think you already know that even if you tell yourself you’re giving up, you can’t simply switch off knowing when you’re ovulating, or hope the sex you have is at the right time. You can’t help what the heart desires. If only it was that straightforward. Just know that I understand, and I’m here. And it’s shit.


  2. Yeah, I’m so glad someone else remembers Mrs. Jumbo. I wrote about the metaphor on my blog in February. I know the feeling all too well. Just know that you are one hour, one day, one cycle closer to meeting your baby. I read that in 2013 and it’s helped me immensely. Even though it’s been 63 tries in 4.66 years without one whiff of a BFP, I’m still hopeful. And I’m hopeful for you, too. Cry it out. It’s ok to have these feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I identify with all of this. I am living it right now too. Its awful and horrible and I don’t know what to say to comfort you other than you are not alone, and I completely get how you feel.
    I feel like we aren’t in the race anymore at all. All of our friends who are couples are now pregnant or have children. All of them. Its life changing. We don’t fit in with our friends and are very much left behind.
    It feels like we just won’t get to have a family. I am not happy about it and I hope I am wrong, but after 2 and a half years of trying I am spent.
    I sincerely hope things turn around for both of us soon. Sending love. xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You know what, I have stopped taking part in this race a year back. I am walking with slow pace but being happy. People around me are shouting why aren’t you in this race, I tell them I am tired let me take a stroll who knows this I may reach the rainbow with this stroll rather than running in the race?


    Liked by 1 person

  5. You continually express the same feelings I have about TTC, yet much more elequently than I can ever convey. I am just sitting on my lunch break reading this and crying cause it’s just SO REAL. It makes me feel less alone in this battle. Thank you for sharing. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OMG I love Mrs Jumbo! I sobbed like a baby when I rewatched it as an adult and bought myself a toy Dumbo.

    For me the worst is when someone who won a race tries to cheer you on by shoving their prize in your face, telling you not to give up because they got a prize so you can, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is pure brilliance! I wince with every shit race that you have to start again and feel every sentiment. Of course you’re happy for the winners, me too, but I feel that frustration of never winning. I hope you win your race soon xx

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is so brilliant !!! I love it, are you sure you aren’t me ?? These are my thoughts 🙂 Sitting here crying thinking who can I send this to so they will actually get it. Thanks for wording so well what I cant put into words myself.

    The only thing Id add is the people who have already won the race… standing there holding their prize telling you if you just stopped trying to win so badly you probably would, just like a friend of their cousin’s workmate who once went through something similar….
    Oh Fuck off.

    Liked by 1 person

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