I’ve written before about feeling like my story does not qualify me to be a part of this community. One year TTC and an ectopic pregnancy an IF story does not make. While I’ve never claimed I’ve suffered infertility even my the badge of “pregnancy loss” seems superficial, as I’ve only ever lost one pregnancy. The reality is that much of my struggle was (and continues to be) internal. It’s the worry I’ve felt since my early twenties about pregnancy loss and infertility. It’s about my mom’s story and my amenorrhea and my own penchant for anxiety and depression. It’s not so much about what I’ve actually gone through. I mean, it was just 12 cycles of TTC (in 11 months) and one (albeit fairly traumatic) ectopic pregnancy; I feel, a lot of times, like a fraud. Like an imposter in this community. Many times I feel guilt that people with much harder stories than mine offer me comfort when their need for empathy surpasses my own. I especially feel that now that I have a beautiful daughter to come home to.
Recently I started reading the blog of a wonderful woman who has suffered three miscarriages in the past year (I’m not sure if she’d want me to link to her so I’m not going to). We’ve started emailing and have felt a connection with each other. As luck would have it, she lives not far from me and we’re planning on meeting up next weekend. I’m very excited to see her and I think she could be a good friend.
I must confess, though, there is a part of me that feels like I don’t deserve to be friends with her. She wants to meet with me because I’ve also suffered a loss. But my one loss pales in comparison to her three. And I have a daughter! Part of me can’t understand why she’d even want to see me. Won’t I just be an painful reminder of what she doesn’t have, someone whose story is less painful than hers. The honest to gosh truth is that I wouldn’t want to meet with her if our situations were reversed. I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with a woman who’d made it to the other side and after less time trying and few losses than me. Maybe that is my other confession.
I guess my question is, does my one loss qualify me to “understand” where this woman is coming from? I don’t feel like it does. I know it makes me more sensitive to what she’s going through than someone who’s never experienced a loss. I know that I can’t fathom how hard three loss in one year would be. I know that it would probably rip me in half and leave me a broken mess on the floor, unable to complete even the most basic self-care tasks. I know that three losses in one year would absolutely devastate me, force me to sever most friendships and isolate myself completely, possibly ruining my relationship with my partner. Does just knowing those things qualify me to hear her story? Or are more similar experiences required?
I don’t know why I do so much qualifying around these things. Perhaps it’s my guilt, for how easy I’ve had it compared to others in this community. Perhaps it’s my fear that I will experience unimaginable loss in the future, becoming one of the woman whose stories terrify me. Surely I don’t judge others that I meet the way I expect women in this community to judge me. I just can’t seem to get past the “pain game” that so many people have written about.
I look forward to meeting a fellow blogger next weekend. I know that she is a self-aware woman who is familiar with my story and would not put herself in a situation that made her uncomfortable. She obviously feels that I have something to offer, despite the differences in our stories. I’m sure I have a lot to learn from her and I’m honored she considers me “friend material”. I guess I just need to get past my own insecurities and realize that while we might not share exactly the same experiences, the similarities are enough that I can empathize with what she’s going through. I hope, with all my heart, that is the case.
Do you ever play the “pain game” (compare the suffering of yourself with others)? Do you tend to gravitate towards bloggers with similar experiences or struggles? Do you think there is a minimum requirement for participating in the ALI community?