One thing infertility has taught me is to be very mindful of what I say to people and to remove some words from my vocabulary.
We see a lot of “What not to say to someone suffering from infertility” articles and I always try to apply that sort of thinking to my everyday interactions with people.
The two words I’m the most conscious of are “At least”. I actively make a point of never starting my response with “Well, at least…” to any news even if it’s just someone feeling fat that day.
I know it’s human nature to want to make someone feel better but when we replace their pain (my boyfriend and I broke up) with another seemingly less painful scenario (well, at least you’re free to do as you please now) doesn’t really make them feel better. I think it makes them push down their current feelings of despair when they’re not ready and that’s never helpful. We have to be allowed to grieve and feel the emotions of whatever we’re going through and the words “at least” do not help with the grieving at all.
I know that I’m preaching to the converted here and we’ve all been give some “At least” lines a few times while navigating this infertility road, though.
I think, where I am now, I’m good at being more empathetic towards people. I have a pretty good handle on putting myself in other peoples’ shoes. Sometimes to my own detriment but that’s another story. What I’m trying to learn now is to remove the words “At least” from my vocab when talking to or about myself.
I always tend to diminish my own pain and struggle with these two words and I’m trying really hard to change that.
For example, when IVF 4 failed. I’d always say, Well at least this isn’t my 10th failure. I’m still a puppy in the infertility failure world.
While it’s true, it’s really something I shouldn’t have said. Yes, it did help me get up off the ground faster, but it didn’t help me heal properly from the failures.
This “At least” tactic I use on myself I learned from being in an abusive relationship. I actually just realized I almost did it again. I almost wrote “a semi abusive relationship”. I almost wrote it that way because well, at least he never left bruises.
I really have to constantly remind myself that “At least” doesn’t fix the problem. It doesn’t make my situation better. And it is a struggle because if you take away those fix it words you’re forced to face the problem. You’re forced to internalise and feel those stupid painful feelings.
Nobody wants to feel pain, least of all me. But what’s interesting is this. My shitty relationship taught me how to switch off all pain and I’m quite adept at it now and what I find fascinating is that it helped me get up and dust myself of quicker with each failed round of IVF. I would cry for a day but the next day I could act like nothing happened. When you’re in a shitty relationship most of your days are spent acting as if nothing happened just to survive. But the fact that I could push through and not appear broken is a skill I’ve mastered. And as much as I’m loathed to say it, maybe those 2.5yrs with that guy weren’t completely wasted.
My job now, is to unlearn that behaviour. I have to feel all the feelings and stop switching off the pain. Because as much as it is a good survival tool, it’s not a good tool for living.
I definitely still need therapy because I’m still not able to talk about that part of my life without some sort of reaction and I carry a lot of hatred towards that person still. I want to start healing and I want to be more whole.
Anyway, in the absence of therapy, I have my self awareness and my tiny life lessons and my goals for now. And this blog of course.
Sorry, if this turned a little deep and dark but it is Monday after all. Just getting some thoughts out of my head.