So, I figured it out

Why I’m angry that is. I finally figured out why I’ve been so angry lately. It’s nice to have a reason why.

I’m angry that I’m going through this really difficult time, and no one in my life cares. And I’m angry that our cultural expectations don’t require them to care. I’m angry that it’s totally okay–expected even–for people to post pictures of ultrasounds and baby bumps but it would be frowned upon for me to post a picture of a stark white BFN, with a comment about how devastating it feels. I’m mad that I’m supposed to like and comment on and respond enthusiastically to pregnancy and birth announcements and no one is required to give a shit about my struggles to get pregnant, just like they weren’t required to give a shit about my ectopic pregnancy. I’m frustrated that our culture only has room for the good news and hides the bad, because that kind of society only supports people when they don’t actually need support, leaving everyone else to struggle silently and alone.

I’m angry that I’m expected to celebrate everyone’s happiness while I’m not allowed to express my unhappiness. I’m angry that I’m required to care about people’s good news but there is no expectation that they will acknowledge my bad news. I’m angry that attention only flows toward the good, sidestepping the bad entirely.

I’m angry that I have to go through all of this completely alone (IRL). That there is no one to recognize or validate what I’m going through. Mostly I’m angry that there isn’t even a societal expectation that someone will be there for me. Basically, we accept this kind of isolation and rarely expect anyone to step up and show us that they care. It pisses me off.

It pisses me off that I basically had to pay someone last week to give a shit about my struggles. I had to hire someone to listen to me explain how hard this is. How messed up is that?

Seriously, if it weren’t for this community, there would be literally NO ONE I could talk to about this stuff, save my partner and occasionally my mom.

And speaking of this community, my realization of the anger-making has created some insight into why my feelings have been so hurt recently by what I’ve seen happening in the ALI blogosphere as well. Because even here–when self-preservation necessitates it–people can just walk away. If they can’t handle your sadness, if they need to leave that part of their life behind, they can just go, moving on to experience their happily ever after. And of course it’s infinitely more complicated and nuanced than that, but when you’re the one left behind, it can really feel that way, like people just can’t be bothered to care about you anymore.

And of course that is not what is going on. It’s not even what’s happening on sites like Facebook, where it really does seem like people can’t be bothered. And honestly, I don’t know if it would be better for us to talk openly about our struggles. Maybe if everyone talked about how they were suffering we’d all be sadder for it. And I don’t presume to insist that we owe it to each other to lift one another up during times of difficulty. I also don’t presume to insist that people support people when it’s not in their best interest to do so, whether in this community or in the real world. I’m just trying to express how hard it is to be on the other side of that need to move on. How challenging it is to walk through the dark times all by yourself, pretending like everything is hunky dory when it’s not.

We go out of our way to celebrate pregnancy and child birth. And I’m not saying it’s wrong to do so, but I hate that it comes at such a high price to those who struggle to conceive or lose pregnancies or babies. I hate that it leaves those people all alone; makes their burdens even harder to bear.

And of course, a lot of my anger is just about being frustrated that I’m stuck here, still trying. I’m also realizing that I really, truly believed that this time around would be easy, that I’d follow in the footsteps of so many IFers and find the path to baby #2 a quicker, smoother one. After all, I got pregnant twice in a year last time! Surely this time it would be simpler. And yet it’s not, and I don’t understand why and I’m ANGRY about it. It’s like I’m going through the stages of mourning, but I’m mourning this idea I had for my life. And I’m mourning what I wanted my family to look like. And I’m mourning that I will never have ONE PART of my family building experience go the way I’d hoped it would. Instead it will be defined, in its entirety, by bitter negotiation and compromise, then struggle and loss. That will be the ONLY story of family building that I ever get to experience, and I’m ANGRY about that.

And I’m angry that no one, at least not in real life, is expected to acknowledge that loss, let alone support me through it.

18 responses

  1. IF is a constant cycle of grief. Every cycle that fails brings on feelings of mourning. I think everyone can agree on that. I also get your anger at everyone “covering up” the negative sides of TTC to (sometimes) over exaggerate the positives. If there’s bad news to share about just about anything else, people can’t wait to spread that around. But if it’s regarding TTC or loss everyone’s lips are sealed. It sucks. I’ve suffered so long but I was always expected to jump for joy for everyone else when what I really needed was someone to say “I’m sorry that you’re hurting, do you want to talk about it?”. Anyway, just wanted you to know that I get where you are coming from.

  2. Oh girl, I SO understand this. And what Teejay said is spot on. IF is a constant cycle of grief; of mourning the idea of what your family WOULD be – and isn’t. And yes, there is a lot of feeling alone in trying. From my experience the second time around is even harder, because even the most ignorant people understand that being childless is heartbreaking. This time, though, I could tell that people had less patience for my struggle – hell, *I* had less patience for my struggle – because I had Lucky at home.

    It’s a tough place to be.

    I will say, though: I believe that the people in your real life want you to be happy. They are not what you need right now, that’s definitely true. But I think it’s more they don’t know what to say, it’s uncomfortable, so they try and help make it better in the only way they know how – either they don’t talk about it, because they don’t want to make you feel bad, or they try and get you to think about something else (aka: how awesome your daughter is) or they suggest a “break” because you seem so unhappy in the meantime. They just don’t understand that IF is something you can take a “break” from. It’s pervasive, and ugly, and impossible to get away from.

    Hugs, sweetie. I’m sorry this has been so hard.

    xoxo

  3. Oh how I wish I was your next door neighbor. I would so be there for you to talk over coffee or whatever. We are so in the exact same place right now. And I too feel there are some the ALI community who are being less supportive due to their situation. I totally get it, but I really feel if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. This is a place for support, not to judge someone else’s choices for family building.

    I’m sending you hugs….and I totally get it…I’m paying my friend/therapist later today to hear me out….I really wish you were my next door neighbor!

  4. I think it’s so great that you figured out what you’re angry about. And you hit upon exactly why it is unfair, too. Not that that’ll make it go away, but I hope that really hitting the nail on the head makes you feel better, instead of worse. There *are* people who understand how you feel, and every once in awhile you are lucky enough to find them in real life. In the meantime, I’m glad you have them here (and hope this stage ends for you soon).

  5. sending a hug … and wishing I could get you a cup of tea. There’s a larger truth, here, too: that as a society, we deal with grief really badly. We deal with IF grief and loss especially badly. I’m sorry that you are feeling so alone in this … sometimes it’s hard to see the hands of other people who want to help hold you, but they are there. xo

  6. I cried some tears for you. I wish I could sit and listen to you rage and scream if that’s what you wanted, and then scoop you up into a big hug. I just wanted you to know that I’m listening.

  7. “I’m frustrated that our culture only has room for the good news and hides the bad, because that kind of society only supports people when they don’t actually need support, leaving everyone else to struggle silently and alone.”
    Amen, sister. Amen!

  8. I can feel your pain through the screen. I’m so sorry that you are going through this. I just want to reiterate to you that secondary infertility is a VALID and difficult struggle. I know you know this, but sounds like those around you might not. Sending many (((hugs))).

  9. You are so allowed to be angry. And lonely in your anger. I get it. I really really do. I have chosen to open up to a very small number of close friends about my infertility and that has helped to diffuse my anger and grief a little. It will never take it away, but it does help to know there are a few women IRL who know I am in pain and who I can talk to about it if/when I need to. Do you have anyone who you would feel comfortable talking to? (I assume not if you haven’t approached them before…) It’s great that you can express yourself so well in writing and that you are seeking someone to talk to, but if you ever want more, e-mail me and let’s set up a phone call…I know your story and you know mine, so…you know…we’re all up to date! 🙂
    verymadhatter@live.com
    Love,
    Maddy

  10. I totally agree with you that it’s not right that people are expected to revel in everyone’s joy, but no one is expected to support those who struggle. It upsets me a great deal that we’re all expected to say, “oh, wow, congrats,” to every pregnancy announcement but sharing a BFN isn’t OK because it makes people uncomfortable. I actually read a blood boiling article recently talking about this in regards to baby loss parents. The expectation is to not share photos of your lost babies because it’s uncomfortable for the person you’re sharing with. What about the discomfort for the sharer when no one asks them about their baby? It’s maddening.

    You have support. It just isn’t in the form that you’d most desire – and that sucks. Before blogging, I always had two close friends who both did IVF to get their kids, and having that support was invaluable to me. Still is. Online friends are great (truly truly are!!!) but offline friends can wipe your tears and hug you as tight as you need. Physical touch and listening is so important when you’re struggling with something.

    Hang in there. It’s going to be OK.

  11. You are absolutely right. I’m with on all of this, except I’m lucky enough to have people in real life I can talk to. It’s nit in any way easy fir me to do it, but I am thankful.

  12. I’m sending hugs. You’ve expressed what so many of us feel. All I can say is that all those people with their “happy Facebook lives” might be just as angry or sad about something else, something they don’t feel they can express either. It doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t give you the support you need and deserve, but maybe it helps you feel not quite so alone in your anger and frustration.

  13. I echo others’ sentiments and am glad that you had this breakthrough. It is so hard to feel alone in your struggles. The years that we were trying to have another child were really rough. Secondary Infertilty sucks. I felt so grateful for my son, but having him forced me to be around others whose family building dreams appeared (fromy vantage point) to be going just as they hoped and planned. I was happy for them, but sad for me and struggled to make peace with my reality. I am glad that you have this space to share, where everyone may not “get you,” but a lot of people do. It makes a huge difference — to feel understood and validated. Abiding with you and sending lots of peace, love and light your way for your journey. (((HUGS)))

  14. you nailed something critical here, I think. not only for you personally, but for society in general and the way we focus on positive achievements and results, leaving no room for discussion — let alone acceptance and support — of struggle and loss, of grief, of failure.

    we celebrate birth yet barely acknowledge grief and death. we fetish-ize pregnancy yet silence discussion of miscarriage and infertility.

    most people unaffected by struggle and loss simply make no room in their everyday lives for it. while some may be well meaning, it still doesn’t mean they know how to support you, or even realize that you need support. sometimes it’s just ignorance. or it may be lack of empathy or compassion. infertility and loss makes people uncomfortable, or they don’t know what to say, or they want to try and fix it.

    I remember once, in my darkest days, we were at an intimate gathering of family and friends and I made a joke about being the only childless woman in the room. dark humor was my way of coping with the despair of being forced to celebrate yet another baby blessing ceremony with empty arms. of course it went over like a lead balloon. but I felt completely justified. I thought, you know what? fuck them. so what, they had to be uncomfortable for maybe ONE MINUTE when I am living in agony every freaking day. something did come out of it though: I realized then I had to just say no to more invitations. and I wrote a cathartic blog post about that day, nearly 5 years ago.

  15. Sending LOTS of hugs to you. Wow, was I reminded of how I felt during TTC and IF treatments. What you wrote:

    “It pisses me off that I basically had to pay someone last week to give a shit about my struggles. I had to hire someone to listen to me explain how hard this is. How messed up is that?”

    Wow. I remember saying that exact thing b/c I started seeing a therapist and was outraged that I had to pay for support that no one IRL was giving me.

    It’s ok to be angry and to grieve. Embrace the emotions we shy away from because no one else will do it for you.

  16. It is so true that this is how our society works. If you’re happy people are expected to jump up and down with congratulations, but if you’re struggling, they feel no qualms about running away. Every excuse is used – you needed space (even if you bring it up to them and want to talk about it), they didn’t know what to say, etc, etc.

    I really think we would all be better off if talking about it was the norm. I even wrote a post about this on my family blog on Thursday because of October being pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. I think it’s so important that as a society we get better at this. It’s incredible that we should all have to suffer in silence.

    So sorry you’re going through this. I’m glad that you have an appointment with an RE, but I hope so much you won’t need it and you’ll be pregnant with a sticky baby before then. But having that appointment – that if I get here we will get help – was huge for my sanity. Thinking of you xo

  17. Pingback: Alone But Together | Silent Sorority

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