Monday, 21 December 2015

No Shame!

So I was part of a holiday thread on infertility - some of you reading this may have been part of that thread too.

A couple girls were dreading the holidays with their families because of fear of breaking down, or embarrassing themselves when asked when they're going to have kids. I wrote a paragraph, and then subsequently decided to bite my tongue and erased it.

I'm outspoken. I'm honest... sometimes brutally. From the very beginning we were very open to everyone about our situation. I mean everyone. I never once took on the responsibility of whether what I said was going to make someone else uncomfortable or embarrassed. Why should I? That's not my responsibility!!!

 I believed from the get go, that there was no shame in my struggle. I think perhaps thats what makes it so hard for me watching others struggle with shame and embarrassment on the topic. Watch others be so closed off in sharing their experiences. Its amazing once you open up the amount of stories you hear from others going through the same. (I have a rant on this in a different post re: why more ppl aren't open but I'll let you find and read that separately).

Now, I'm not saying being open is for everyone. I consider myself an incredibly strong individual who can take peoples moments and comments of "idiocy" or "insensitivity" or "naivety" and let it all slide off my shoulders... most of the time. At least in the long run ;)
Being open is not for the feeble or weak, sure. But I believe we should all stand strong in the face of infertility. It is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Here is the initial post:

Is any one else really fearful of family gatherings this year? I have been having a lot of anxiety regarding them. We go to my husbands family this year and though a few people on that side know of our struggles, I do not think most do - they are a very private family when it comes to things like this, which is the complete opposite of my side - everyone knows what is going on. Yesterday all I could think about is how I would react when some one inevitably asks when we are going to have kids or when someone announces they are having another one. I am trying to have a script, but right now I can not think about it with out tearing up. Basically I am scared, and do not want to embarrass myself or anyone else. Any one else in this boat and/or have some advice? This is our 4th Christmas season while struggling with this infertility thing and it only seems to be getting harder.

then another response: I'm nervous about it, too. Neither my nor DH's family knows we are struggling to conceive, and neither family is especially nosy, but I'm just worried about how I'm going to react. We have 3 babies less than a year old in the family, and of course I love them very much and I'm excited to see them on their first Christmas. But since we're fresh off an unsuccessful cycle (AF starting any time now), I think I'm probably going to feel pretty melancholy. Basically I don't want to break down in tears at a family event and like you said embarrass myself or other people!

Now... this is where I had to bite my tongue. I already erased the response I typed unfortunately... lost forever, but it was to this effect:

I really want you ladies to know that infertility is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. It is something that is completely out of our control, and something that a lot of people don't understand, yes, but try to! I have had many social gatherings where I had to retreat to the bathroom to cry... even sometimes in a room of people who know my situation. If you don't walk in our shoes it can be hard to understand. But that being said, I find so much comfort in knowing that a friend who is aware of our situation, can intuit and know when I must be hurting in a given circumstance. I don't even have to say anything, yet they are there to comfort me, hug me and empathize to the best of their ability without hesitation. 

I understand the choice to not share openly. That is a choice. But know it is a choice. When people continue to ask about kids/family plans, it is because they care about us, and want to know about our lives and plans. They have no clue we're struggling unless we tell them! Many of them want to know, many of them are already guessing... I have found so much peace in sharing, and am not trying to say its the only choice, because again... it is ONE choice, and one that I made long ago and have never once regretted. But that being said, we are so much more than an infertile. We are beautiful, kind, compassionate, intelligent women who have so much more to offer this world than the identity of conceiving and carrying a child. Hopefully one day we all get to, but we should not feel ashamed of how that one aspect of our lives is currently playing out. 

Everyone struggles in their lives... at differen times... in different areas. Maybe its career, relationships, health, whatever it may be. When we only share the good, we are closing the doors to receiving compassion. When we are willing to be vulnerable and open, not only can we receive compassion, but we open the door too to others' struggles and the ability to give compassion. My friend will cry on my shoulder about heartbreak of a lost relationship. Why is it so inconceivable to do the same about my heartbreak of infertility? I seem to be preaching here about openness, and that was not my intention. It is a completely valid decision to keep your private life private. Everyone is different and you have to choose what is right for you. This is just from the perspective of someone who did the opposite and feels so light and free. May 2016 fulfill all your hopes and dreams!

note: please feel free to share your honest thoughts or comments about this topic. How do you feel about this topic of shame or embarrassment?

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