the truth hurts

Thank you all for the insightful feedback and affirmation. I actually replied in the comments to the interesting perspectives and suggestions.

Part of me just doesn’t want to deal with this person at all. I’m tired of people tiptoeing around our infertility and our baby that died. I’m tired of everyone avoiding it, pretending it never happened and that we are normal and happy for everyone else’s joy all the time. Of course they don’t know how to deal with it, so I often have to choose whether I will step up or step back. Retreat is much easier, in many ways. But it’s not a long-term solution. And it won’t work in this case. 

am tired of keeping quiet to avoid other people’s discomfort. But I’m also tired of having to explain all of our invisible losses. To remind people who shouldn’t need reminding. To teach people who should know better. I’m tired of having to lead by unfortunate example on all things loss and infertility, when I’m not even showed the respect and empathy one would hope for under the circumstances. It does feel like another burden to bear. I’m tired of feeling like people should just know better, yet they choose to be ignorant and insensitive. 

Would anything I say even make a difference? Maybe. Could the truth do more harm than good? Maybe. 

Since I don’t honestly believe she’s capable of hearing the truth without being offended, I’m not sure how much I have to gain by speaking the truth, and I may have more to lose since there are two very important people at stake in this relationship. 

For me, this is about damage control. If I say nothing, I miss an opportunity to try to foster some level of understanding, I shrivel back to silence, and risk being hurt again by the next encounter. If I say something, I risk offending her with the (partial) truth and leaving her wondering how she’ll be ever be able to say anything to my sad infertile self about her baby, her friends, or being a mom. We go back to whispers and exclusion. Either way, retreat by one of us is not a workable option, because I want to be a part of my cousin’s life.

So what will I say? Will I reply by email, pick up the phone, or wait until we see each other in person? I’m still not sure. I’m not so inclined to respond just yet. We don’t really talk on the phone. But we will see them soon enough, although it would be easy to ignore by then…

If I didn’t respond at all, I wonder if she’d be apt to think for herself, for just a moment, about what kinds of things might upset someone in my situation. Just for a minute, to put herself aside and consider someone else (apart from her baby). Or maybe she would just assume I don’t want to talk to her about it, which would lead to more awkward moments, or exclusion. Or maybe she would use my lack of response as an excuse to give up and say she tried so that’s that.  

I imagine I’ll probably respond by a simple email about how I enjoy hearing about my baby cousin but it can be difficult to hear about other pregnancies and babies. What I’d want to add is especially when it comes so easily, or when my face is rubbed in it by insensitive self-absorbed glowing new mothers. But I won’t.


~ by luna on August 20, 2008.

9 Responses to “the truth hurts”

  1. “What I’d want to add is especially when it comes so easily, or when my face is rubbed in it by insensitive self-absorbed glowing new mothers. But I won’t.”

    Of course you wouldn’t say it like that. But! I do think you could work in a gentle reminder of the loss of your baby, the years of infertility, and how you’re still coping with all of that; which makes it tough to hear complaints about pregnancy/motherhood (if you want to reemphasize here that you love hearing about her baby and that you understand it is tough for her, too … well, that would be nice). If we can empathize that motherhood isn’t easy, maybe they can empathize that infertility and loss isn’t easy either!

    You nailed it when you said we must “lead by unfortunate example on all things loss and infertility” but, luna, who will if we don’t?! I know how strong you are. Do whatever you’re comfortable with but I know I’m encouraging myself to start speaking about our IF and the fact that we will never have a child. People will never know unless we tell them. But it is very hard to bare my soul, so I understand what you’re dealing with. I do.

    D keeps telling me he thinks I’m special because this path was chosen for me. Keeps repeating that I’m “so special”. It makes me tear up when he says it … but know this: You are special, too.

  2. This post, and yesterday’s has really had me thinking. I think I just want to add that for me, writing an email would be difficult. Not only is it an exercise in hurt, i.e., it hurts to even dredge up a list of what you may or may not want to talk about or what it feels like to experience loss and infertility, but more importantly, it is not a static list. What you say to her may be misinterpreted or come back to haunt you at some get-together when she acts strangely b/c you’re around and some topic on “the list” comes up. Further, you’re changing and evolving every day, what’s on your list today may not be tomorrow–you just never know. I opt for a brief note about the fact that infertility is a type of loss that hurts in a way that is difficult to explain, it is sometimes hard to be around pregnant women, but not always. As with any loss, the thing that is most comforting to you is compassion and understanding. With that said, I would tell her that it’s a difficult task to respond to her questions. Would you say to someone who’s spouse just passed away unexpectedly, so how does that feel and what can I say around you? Never. So, I’ll stop rambling, but I think the best response is the most honest about how difficult it is to respond to her question–some things hurt, a lot–here are some good reads about it–and thank you for reaching out.

  3. I felt myself nodding with the lines about being tired of teaching people compassion. I find myself saying, it is not the job of a grieving parent to teach others how to deal with me, to teach them gentleness and compassion. These people are our friends, and they should know to be compassionate, they should figure out how to be gentle on their own. I shouldn’t have to teach them, in the midst of everything else.

  4. I tend to agree that some kind of a response is necessary. I have no doubt that you’ll be able to eloquently and tactfully word an email in a way that confirms your interest in baby stories, but perhaps makes her think twice about sharing “difficulties in parenthood” stories. It’s not an easy place to be, and it’s certainly not fair that on top of everything else us IFers are faced with, we have to add “educator to the insensitive and ignorant masses” to the list.

  5. I was thinking of this whole situation again and I’m going through the same hand wringing. There are so many “what if” kinds of scenarios here. Good luck with the appropriate response, feel free to reply only when you have the energy. I’m leaning towards Mrs. Spit’s reaction above. I also see the wisdom in debbie’s comment.

  6. I think you should say something. Yes, you should edit yourself a bit, but she is really trying to reach out and be sensitive and I think you would prove yourself the stronger person by doing so. She asked. You should answer. But you are right that you need to be careful in your answer.

    Can you say something like how even though you are happy for other people, their happiness does remind you of all that you have lost? And you are happy to hear things about her because you care for her, but short and sweet is better for you?

    I think short and sweet is a good approach for you too.

    Good luck. I’m happy to help in any way I can….

  7. You’re big to do this. I guess after thinking about my response, it would depend on the relative. I have some who are just so clueless, that it would probably bowl me over to know anyone cared even an iota to just ask. And as tired as I am of all this tip-toe-ing and being the good sport and taking the high road, I’d probably think about answering too.

    I hope she listens.

  8. Infertility is like being in hell- I too have struggled with infertility issues. I just thought I would share with you a great book that really has helped me get through the sadness… the book is titled, “Tiny Toes”
    and is written by Kelly Damron. I suggest that anyone who has experienced the displeasure of having infertility issues to read it. I also suggest that anyone who knows someone with infertility issues read it since it really does help people understand the emotional issues related to infertility struggles. Good luck to you. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  9. […] The second family includes a beloved relative and his partner, so fertile she conceived their first while they were living in separate states. Their second child is just two years younger, a ‘let’s just see what happens’ on the first month baby. A couple so fertile I’ve blogged about them and how it felt to stand in their full house as the only childless woman in the room. This is a woman so clueless about how to be a compassionate friend to another woman struggling with loss that she had to be schooled. […]

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