Thursday, October 28, 2010

Remembrance

First thing this morning on Facebook, I found this.

I've been wanting to write about this very thing for a while; about how hard Facebook has the potential to be if you are on the outside looking in. The ultrasounds and baby photos subbing as profile pictures, the "offers" to sell naughty children, cute birthday/Halloween/Christmas/Thanksgiving stories, announcements about potty training successes, first teeth, and new pregnancies...

Facebook is rife with childcentric information.

And there's absolutely no reason why it shouldn't be. None whatsoever.

But because it is, it can be a dangerous place for someone trying to navigate the bloody waters of infertility and loss. And it can be torture for someone for whom all those lovely baby things will never be a reality.

The interesting thing is that we generally stay very quiet about all this. So much so that it likely never occurs to anyone but us that it might be painful. The landmines are invisible unless you see them as such. We are blown to smithereens every day by things others look at with wonder and joy.

That's just the way it is.

It's the way it has to be, in fact, because the world can't (and shouldn't) stop merely because we are sad. There is no reason our sorrow should trump another's joy.

But that's precisely why I was so shocked to see the link above; stunned that someone would actually dare to put it all out there - to demonstrate in a tangible way what it can sometimes feel like to be a childless person floating alone in a seemingly endless sea of fertility.

We, as a group, generally concentrate our efforts on making sure other people don't feel uncomfortable. The last thing we tend to do is point out our own discomfort. We might be broken, humiliated, and desperate - but we are usually silent.

And I'm not sure what I think about this phenomenon anymore, this strange code of silence.

I don't want to be the person who rains on everyone's parade, reminding people with my sad looks and pitiful sighs that I envy what they have. I don't want to be the needy girl from whom people flee in horror. And I certainly don't want to end up being a one-trick pony who can't talk about anything but the life she wishes she'd been able to have.

But sometimes I do crave a certain level of acknowledgment - a little something that lets me know you would smother my pain with a pillow if you had one big enough, or strangle cruel fate with your bare hands for denying me my joy. I am desperately struggling to co-exist in this fertile world, and that pain I feel is real. This life is hard - harder than I ever dreamed - and I'm not always okay. I probably look it most of the time - maybe all the time - but I am stuck together with tape, staples and prayers. And chocolate and wine.

I'm not looking for pity. I can't stress that enough. I think what we all want so much is simply for people to remember that we're here too.

13 comments:

Julie said...

This is a really, really, REALLY wonderful post -- honest and nuanced. Many of the comments I've seen around the blogosphere about this topic blast infertile people for wanting everyone else to protect us: "Why should I have to hide my joy?" And they miss the point entirely. As you say, they SHOULDN'T have to. We don't expect them to. It's so much more complicated than that -- and it's not about THEM, but about us.

Thanks for this.

amyunicorn said...

I'm so sorry :( I can't imagine how difficult and frustrating it must be.

loribeth said...

Julie's post totally rocked. : ) And so does yours. Fabulously well said!!

I've often said that I don't want people to feel sorry for me. I just want a little acknowledgement & respect for what we've been through. Is that really asking so much?

Another Dreamer said...

Great post, very well said!

Rebecca said...

Mmmhmm, amazingly said!

Brandy said...

You literally took the words out of my mouth. And said them way better than I ever could!

www.brandysheaif.blogspot.com

kymmi said...

I often don't know how to handle this. I struggled with infertility for years, and remember vividly the horrible reminders that I was unable to achieve what others did without much thought. It was beyond painful and seemed to be something I was supposed to just "take in stride".

I somehow made it to the other side, but my best friend did not. I am acutely aware when I speak of my now 6 year old, that I am probably touching a nerve in her. But how do I acknowledge it? I do try to ask her how she's doing. I don't shy away from talk of not having kids, and celebrate the things her and her husband do. But I guess I don't think it's enough, and I don't know how to make that any better.

Pipsylou said...

This is so great.

You really are such an eloquent writer...

Yes.

areyoukiddingme said...

I sometimes enjoy raining on other people's parades. Because there are so many people who will not because they are too polite and kind, sometimes, I just want to cut through the BS and tell it like it is. I don't want pity. I want acknowledgement.

Illanare said...

Thank you (and Julie) for writing so beautifully what so many of us feel but haven't the words to say.

Beth said...

I love the way you write. You are amazing.

the misfit said...

You don't know me but I tracked over here via all the interesting posts discussing the Post article. I love and admire your perspective. I'll take the liberty of sharing a somewhat different one: although this would be difficult to accomplish across the board (without a substantial cultural shift), I do think maybe people should rein in the "sharing their joy." Why? Because the joy of having a child (for example) consists in having the child, not in having other people congratulate you, or in having other people admire your photographs of the nice things in your life. (Although sometimes, with facebook, I think that people enjoy their experiences principally because they think other people will later think they looked like they were having fun, not because the experiences have intrinsic value without the faceboook photos to come.) Anyway, whereas the people with the blessings would not be harmed by sharing about them a little more restrainedly, the people desperately seeking the same blessings actually are harmed by the oversharing. So I would think the least socially harmful response would be to share less. But that is obviously very unpopular and therefore isn't going to happen.

Pamela said...

Like you, dear Msfitzita, I read most of the commentary around the Washington Post piece.

As usual, you brought a level of reality that is usually missing. Thank you for eloquence...