Belonging, and Not

It’s our first morning in our new house. And all I can say is it’s cold here. I hope the blanket I put on Isa is enough to keep her warm. I also hope she falls back asleep because it’s only 6:30.

Yesterday was truly the most hectic and stressful day I’ve experienced in a long time. And because we don’t have Internet yet and I’m typing this on my phone, that will be all I relate about it. Needless to say I wish we had been more prepared for the movers and I also wish a magical unpacking fairy had visited us last night.

But that isn’t all I have to say. I wrote the following on Friday night and I sat on it, to be sure I wanted to say it. But I do and I will so here goes. I’m putting it out there now:

I came home from our little date night. I packed some more. I took apart Isa’s crib. I read some posts and then read the comments. Then I wrote a post of my own.

But you’ll never read it, because it will never see the light of day. And that’s a shame, because it was a good post. Really good.

The truth is I don’t feel comfortable putting it up anymore. I don’t feel comfortable saying my piece. For the first time in my three years writing here, I don’t feel welcome as a member of the community (not by all, but by some). And for the first time, I don’t have it in me to put up my own words.

Some are probably thinking, that’s good! You’re finally learning! In order to be a member of this community you need to watch what you say. When you’re speaking to and with women who have been through what we have, a certain amount of sensitivity must be shown. And sometimes you need to make sacrifices, to censure what you express, so you can continue to belong.

And maybe that is the lesson I had to learn. Maybe that is true of any group of people, and it just took me longer to realize it. All I know is I used to feel one way about this place, this community of ours, and now I feel differently. And for me at least, it hasn’t been a good change. But not all change is good.

The next two weeks are harrowingly busy, in good and bad ways. Between getting the old apartment ready for inspection by our land lord and getting the new house unpacked enough for two adults, a two year old and a cat to live at least semi-comfortably I have a lot on my plate. Add school starting on the 27th, a wedding in LA the weekend before and unpacking my classroom this week, plus Isa starting school for the first time, we’re quickly entering crisis mode. I doubt I’ll have much time to post and that is probably for the best because honestly, I’m not sure anymore what I feel comfortable saying. There has just been too much said both here and elsewhere to be ignored and I need to reassess where I belong and whether I even want to belong there.

Thank you all for the well wishes yesterday, it gave me energy to keep going when I saw that you were thinking of us on moving day. I have to admit, it’s surreal to wake up here, in our new house. It’s overwhelming to see all the space we have, to park our car in our own garage and see a washer and dryer that belong to us when we do
It. I’ve wanted a house like this for a long time and I’m so excited to have finally arrived. It’s a dream come true.

13 responses

  1. In my opinion, you can refer back to my e-mail about whether or not you belong here. The Internet is open to anyone. I understand your feelings and I’m sorry that others have made you feel unwelcome. Support should not hinge on whether someone has a differing opinion. Anyway…I’m so excited for you and your new home. Take the unpacking slowly. Start with the kitchen and bathroom. That is what I’ve always done. And you will rearrange things a lot your first couple of weeks until you find a system that works for you. Are you going to share pictures? If not publicly you have my e-mail address. I’d love to see your new space. Congrats again on the new house.

  2. Enjoy the new home. Unpacking sucks, but figuring out where to put things, what to do with the blank spaces, how to claim the home as yours – I always liked that part.
    You do belong in this community. I’m sorry you feel censored in your space.

  3. Here’s what I think: you create your own community. No one else defines it for you. Yes, we share a great deal in common with others who have experienced ALI … but that experience alone does not necessarily make us friends.

    The people who support you will always read what you have to write here and respond thoughtfully. The people who don’t, the people who say things that hurt you? They may live in the same internet, and because you have made this a public space are entitled to have their say, but they shouldn’t have power to censor you beyond your responsibility to be a considerate citizen of the blogosphere writ large.

    As Kir put it during the BlogHer’12 panel on blogging after life change: “write, sister.”

    I love to unpack. Wish I could help. I know it comes at a bad time of year, but think of it this way: it’s an opportunity to take your time and really think about the order of things that makes sense for you. Like your space here. Start with the things you need immediately, with the kitchen and bathroom. And go slowly. It doesn’t need to happen overnight.

  4. Great advice about the kitchen and bathroom. I can’t wait to read about what’s next. I know it’s been a rough summer, full of so much transition and change and, frankly, drama with buying a house, TTC, Isa in a new school, etc. and trying to process that change here, in your space, which was met with a mixed response. I think your move will be a really good one for everyone, but change is a massive life stresser. Be kind to yourself.

  5. Seriously, you have SO MUCH going on right now – I’m impressed you can even string words together to create a coherent sentence! You are in a pressure cooker. As things simmer down and cool off a bit, there will be time to sort through all the emotions and thoughts wrapped up in your blogging journey, even as you sort through all the boxes of stuff in your new home.

  6. I think that there’s no requirement of what you must (or must not) write about in order to be a part of this community, but that if you write something that stings someone else’s sensitivities, especially on a topic so central to this community, that you have to be prepared to hear about it from that person. I have a close friend in this blogging community, and we’ve been friends for 5-ish years now, and for the majority of our blogging friendship, she’s been pointing out to me the folly of some of the things I write, how complaining about the ONE IVF cycle it took to become parents is *nothing* compared to what she’s gone through, nothing compared to what most people have gone through. And while I *HATE* the Pain Olympics, the “I have it SO much worse than you!” sentiments, by participating in this community where the pain of thwarted parenthood attempts are central to everyone’s story, I have to expect that people may occasionally put me in my place by pointing out exactly how silly it is to whine about progesterone-in-oil shots (or whatever).

    And yes. It sucks feeling like I have to censor myself and/or qualify my statements, but just like in real life (though I think my blog friends are sometimes closer than IRL people…), I can’t just blurt out whatever I want whenever I want, even if what I have to say is really, really great. Granted, among our closest friends, we *hope* we can say what is closest to our hearts, but part of being close friends is recognizing when someone else is too raw to hear our honesty. So if you’ve got a whole community reading this, it’s nigh on impossible to know whether someone reading it is going to be in that “too raw” place. So, you either edit in order to prevent hurting those raw people, or you throw it out there, hoping that you don’t cause pain. It’s a hard balance to find, the importance of sharing your own truth vs the possibility of getting feedback from people you have inadvertently caused pain.

    In all honesty, I’ve found it hard to comment here (though I have been reading, I promise!) because I haven’t known what to say. I’ve never miscarried, so I’d be inauthentic to comment on your path to parenthood. I don’t know what it must feel like to know that your body has failed you in that specific way, but I do know what it’s like to feel your body fail you in conception, over and over and over again, month after month. I know what it’s like to not be able to afford treatments. I know what it’s like to pin your hopes on drastic procedures. So, it’s like until I’ve walked some of your steps or you’ve walked some of mine, I don’t know that I can respond genuinely to the despair that you seem to be expressing regarding TTC #2. What I’ve wanted to say is “don’t give up hope so quickly!” but as a member of this community, I know that can come across as “just relax!” which is not what I mean to say. And I also want to honor your experience and your very real struggles, but I find it hard when my path has been so very different from yours.

    I really hope you are able to find your voice in this community again. And I really hope you are able to find that delicate balance between authenticity and protecting people’s sensibilities. It’s hard.

    • Thanks for this reminder. I needed to hear these words in this way. You’re right that we have to be sensitive and I have always tried to be, especially since I don’t really understand the struggles of IF and I try to always be upfront about that. I would never compare my experience with anyone who has to endure treatments. I just have no idea what that is like, at all. I think what has been bothering me lately in this community is not that people are sensitive and need to put me in my place. I respect that. The sentiment I have issue with is more about the threat of people being forced out if they don’t write in a certain way. That just isn’t what this community is about.

      And I needed to hear that I shouldn’t give up hope yet on baby number two. And I haven’t. It’s just that with each passing month I do lose a little hope and I fear I won’t know who I am when there is none left.

  7. This post made me happy, and sad. Happy that you’re in the new house, that you’ll settle in and sooner than you know it, it will feel like home. Good luck unpacking. Just don’t put pressure on yourself to have it looking perfect immediately, or to completely unpack immediately.

    And this post made me sad. Sad that you don’t feel you can post what you want to post. Sad that I will never read what you wanted to post, so can’t offer any insight or encouragement or simply love.

    A community is made up of individuals. We are all unique, and have our own unique voice. Your voice is yours, and that’s why I visit.

    I don’t entirely agree with Kate. Yes, I agree that we have to be prepared to see responses we don’t like, or that hurt us. But we don’t have to validate them by responding, or feeling we have to justify ourselves to them, or by changing what we write. Because I think if we change what we write simply to please others, then we’re changing who we are.

    I also think that our blogs are a bit like our own homes. And what we do in the privacy of our own homes is our business. Yes, they’re open homes, so perhaps that means we have to be aware that others are reading what we write. And we don’t go out deliberately to insult others – I think that is what is important. But if Kate wants to complain about having to do one IVF cycle, then she should feel she is able to. Her feelings are valid, regardless of other peoples’ experiences. If someone invites you to their home, and you don’t agree with what they say there, or do there, or you don’t like the food/substances on offer, then you don’t go. It is the responsibility of the visitor to choose to visit, not the person in the home to change who they are.

    Kate talks about protecting people’s sensibilities. But that’s impossible, because you’d have to read everything you wrote and say “does that upset the adopters, or the donor egg people, or the no kids group, or the male factor people, or the ectopic people, or the people who have never had any loss, or the conceived first pop people, or the no problem conceiving but multiple miscarriage people, etc etc?” I just don’t think it is your responsibility to protect other people. You’d go mad if you tried to do that to the extent suggested. There are sites I don’t read because their attitude and/or circumstances can be upsetting to me. I don’t think they shouldn’t write what they want to write. I just don’t think I should go there. However, I DO think that comments are where we do need to think about other peoples’ sensitivities. If we disagree, then we need to do so sensitively, constructively. If we can’t do that politely, then we shouldn’t respond. I can tell you, I’ve read a number of ALI posts where I’ve chosen not to respond because what I want to say wouldn’t be polite!

    Finally – you worry you won’t know yourself at the end of this. (Whatever the “end” is.) That’s what blogging does for you. It helps you know yourself. It helps you grow. That’s why I think you should write what you want to write, what you need to write.

    Phew. Sorry this is so long.

    • +1000 to this. Although I may have selfish motives as a reader I honestly think censoring yourself is the solution to this conflict that is least likely to help you grow, to benefit, and to mature from it as a writer and a person trying to overcome the wounds and recover from the scars of infertility. I for one hope you choose at least one of your spaces to keep being real at.

    • I want to clarify that I don’t support censoring yourself in a blog space. Rather, I meant that if you think about it as you would an in-real-life communication, you likely *would* be censoring yourself, depending on your audience. And as I pointed out, that’s nigh on impossible when you’re posting to an entire community. So you have to do your own internal balancing act– will I write a post about how amazing and important and central to the parenthood experience it is to carry your child in your own body (even if I did actually feel that way, which I don’t), knowing that I have parents-through-gestational-surrogacy and adoptive parents? I don’t think so. Would I write about how incredible the genetic link is and how it’s just the most perfect, amazing thing seeing these genetic representations of myself and my husband, knowing that there are donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryo and adoptive parents among my readers? I wouldn’t.

      Perhaps that means that I’m not honoring my story, and I’m not furthering my development as a parent and a human, and perhaps that makes me somehow less-authentic, but while my blog is about telling my story, I also think of it as a communication between myself and my community. And in real life, I would never sit in front of a child-free friend and tell them how empty their life is without kids, even if my experiences lead me to feel that way. And so, for me, with the way in which I consider my blog, I do find myself being extremely sensitive so as not to hurt people, just a I would in real life. I probably still do inevitably end up hurting people, but I feel better knowing that I at least attempted sensitivity.

      If I thought of my blog as therapy, as my place to explore my darkest, innermost thoughts in safety, then yeah, I could see that it would be important not to censor myself. But if I think of it as communication, then tailoring my message to my potential audience, or at least expecting some response when I *don’t* tailor my message, is what I feel is necessary. As I said in my original comment, it’s a balance– *you* have to decide where you draw that line between sharing your truth and being sensitive to people in your audience. There’s no judgment implied there, but just a matter of how *you* decide to view your blogging space. I don’t feel that everyone should censor themselves, but that if you don’t censor yourself (and you are posting in a public space, among a diverse array of readers), there is the potential for readers to reply.

      Also, note that I don’t say that it’s appropriate for people to attempt to force someone out of this community for not writing their stories in the way that someone else feels is appropriate– just that it’s reasonable to expect a perhaps somewhat critical response.

  8. I know things are super crazy right now for you but I wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you. I hope all of your new transitions are going as smoothly as possible.

  9. I only found your blog recently, but I really liked your posts where you just let it all hang out. You have been through some really tough times here in the community, and you’re one of the more visible bloggers, thus more prone to attack, I think. I hope that once the dust has settled on your move, school starting, and the travel, that you are able to reclaim your blog. I for one would keep reading. Take care.

    P.s. I would never win the pain olympics. In fact, some people probably think I’m a quitter because we never went beyond IUI cycles. It’s all relative, and I think it’s stupid for those of us in this community to be pointing out that we have it so much worse than so and so. It’s lame. It’s detrimental. It gets us nowhere.

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