Underestimating our loved ones

I am one of those people that when someone is telling me a story and they digress into what they would have liked to say or what their real reaction was, I almost always ask “Well, did you say that?”  or “What did they say when you said that?” The usual response is, “Oh, well I really didn’t say that out loud, I just thought it.”   I realize how little we express what we’re really thinking. How do you expect the other person to know what you were thinking if you don’t tell them?  Since no one can read minds, you have to explicitly say what you’re thinking if you’re going to hold people accountable for their reactions. (Not that I always advocate saying exactly what’s on your mind, but I’ll leave that for another post…)

This is probably one of the reasons that I have not told everyone in real life about our troubles conceiving.  If they don’t know because I don’t tell them how I’m really feeling or what’s really going on, then I can’t get upset at their casual comments. In general, I try to abide by the “they only mean well” assumption to not take things personally.  Its when I feel they should know better than to say things like that that the relationship starts to feel damaged.

So after getting enough bad reactions or odd comments after telling people that we haven’t been able to conceive yet, I’ve decided to compensate by not telling anyone. That way, I cannot hold them accountable.  While most of my family is aware that we are trying and not conceiving, to my knowledge my husband’s family is not (unless they read this blog, of course, which now would be a as good a time as any to tell me!).   It is not that we’re purposely withholding this information so much as just not bringing it up first after my first couple go-rounds went so poorly.  My husband once asked how I can write on a blog for the whole world to see that we are sub-fertile, but can’t tell my in-laws?  Valid question.  I’ve concluded its all about 1) knowing my audience and 2) being OK with it myself.  I hope for the day where I can bring this topic up in normal conversation and not start crying.   Unfortunately, tears elicit attempts to “make it better” which, let’s face it, usually do not help make it better.

So while my defense mechanism of not talking about it has probably avoided some hurtful and/or embarrassing situations, it has also destroyed the chances of my friends and family showing how positively they can react.  In short, by assuming the worst, I may have underestimated them.

I’ve realized this because I told some good friends this past weekend what’s been going on.  It just came out, and I cried, and they hugged me, and they reminded me just how good and loving people can be.  Granted, this couple has dealt with their own fertility issues, different that mine but, still.  Perhaps it has made them more willing to just listen and love.  I haven’t felt this good after talking with someone in a while.

And this morning when I came to work, there were some freshly baked cookies on my desk from them.  So. Sweet. And tasty :)

So, yes, I will not always get the right reaction from people, even though they mean well.  But I am again reminded that when I underestimate my friends and family under the guise of protecting myself, it is possible that I am only preventing myself from being helped.  They cannot read minds and know what’s going on with me.  And who’s loss is that?


Do you tell people what you’re thinking/feeling always?  If you’re dealing with sub/infertility, have you told everyone in your life?  We all know about the bad reactions, but has anyone surprised you by their reactions in a good way?



16 thoughts on “Underestimating our loved ones

  1. I was blessed with some really great, loving reactions. My sister-in-law found my blog and read it all in one night. While that would have been my worst fear come true (at that time no one in my family knew about it), she cried and told me how moved she was by it and how she was now committed to stepping up her prayers. My sister had the same reaction after I told her too. I can’t stress enough how my family knowing helped them to understand what I was going through and the true depths of it, which I never would have shared in face-to-face conversations. I know most people would view sharing their blog with family as pretty extreme, but it worked for me.

    • Wow! That’s crazy about your SIL finding your blog but so nice that she had a supportive reaction. I definitely think the reaction varies if you tell people a few months in vs. a few years in.

  2. I was just thinking about this the other day, though with our new situation. Provided all goes well with this pregnancy, the time will come when we make it public and I was talking with Ryan about whether or not to tell everyone the whole adoption story along with it. He leaned toward no, probably just because he’s more private. I leaned toward no as well, but for the reason you stated above. I have used the same logic with infertility for years. If they don’t know, honestly, it will hurt me less when they say insensitive things. I came to that decision because of the hurt I had experienced in telling people. It is the same with the adoption situation; I’ve been hurt by some people’s reaction (complete disregard for the loss we feel) and so I just prefer not to shout it from the rooftops. I won’t hide it if it comes up in conversation, but it won’t be a part of our pregnancy announcement.

    In making these choices, to keep some things private, we do deprive ourselves of the good reactions, but we also protect ourselves from the insensitive, hurtful ones. I think it just depends on where you are in your journey. Most of the time, I just couldn’t (and can’t) handle the insensitivity; I ended up feeling bitter, resentful, and more isolated. It was worth it for me to keep quiet about it with most people.

    • I can definitely understand you getting some horribly insensitive comments right now, so I completely understand that decision. Yeah, that would not be good. With this particular situation, I had tried to bring it up before but was met with silence, which I mistook as indifference. When we talked this time and were able to address the last instance, I realized that it wasn’t that she didn’t want to support me (how I took it) but that she didn’t want to pry if I didn’t want to talk about it. So, I guess in my case I really was just assuming the worst and just depriving myself of a good confidante.

  3. I was/am very private and did not share with anyone, but that is my nature in general. Anyone who knows me (and some bloggers do), know that I just keep back a little bit more than most people. A long time ago I did a post explaining some of the reasons why I was so private about it all and I brought up this same thing. I took the attitude of “forgive them, they know not what they do.” However, it wasn’t that I anticipated bad reactions from people. On the contrary. I think I surround myself with a pretty supportive group, but it just worked better for me.

    • Ha, I’d gathered that from your blog! I’m definitely the opposite…which is why I’m probably finding that this ‘open’ quality does not make this part of the journey any more helpful…

  4. Sometimes I really want to tell my loved ones what’s going on, but based on the reactions that I’ve gotten from a couple of my close friends, I can’t see how it would be worth it at this time. I’m sure that some of my closer friends who know, but don’t seem to remember that I told them, just feel awkward about it and don’t know what to say. But I am left almost feeling more lonely with that information hanging out there…yet they don’t ever tell me they’re praying for me or anything regarding it. I guess that’s better than them saying hurtful things. The art of discussing infertility seems to be quite the balancing act.

    • I think timing is key. Maybe since its been longer at this point I’m feeling more comfortable talking about it? Towards the beginning those comments just made me feel guilty for my feelings. And yes, I have felt more lonely with the information out there than I did before. Balancing act for sure…

  5. I don’t always tell people. When you’re sitting in a room full of people talking about weddings or coming babies or what have you and you’re feeling more alone and like you’re dying inch by inch, it’s really hard to tell people. And obviously, that’s not the time to bring it up. When is there a time for that? To be honest, when I do try to tell people, very few get it. Very few can give much support. But those that do are critical. Of course, in my case it’s obvious that I’m single, just not always how I’m dealing with it. (Because no one wants to live up to the bitter spinster stereotype!)

    • I feel for you…bitter spinster…stressed out woman trying to conceive, its like there’s no way out unless someone else brings it up! And even then, don’t wallow for long and prove their point! I think this is why having supportive ears to listen felt all the more like a blessing. And the cookies just confirmed that they didn’t think I was a mess. Or maybe it was proof they did. Ha! Only kidding. I think.

  6. (((( Hugs ))))

    In short, by assuming the worst, I may have underestimated them.
    I think self – preservation is the gut reaction of most of us

    So happy you could be you and it was ok !!

  7. In the beginning, we told everyone we were TTC. I was so confident that it would happen on the first try, so the thought never crossed my mind that it wouldn’t happen on my own timeline. So after a few months of no baby, everyone started asking questions. I answered honestly to all of them and got a lot of “Relax, it’ll happen” responses. After enough of those comments, I decided to make the group of people “in the know” a lot smaller than it was before. Most of them just didn’t get it.

    • While I didn’t tell anyone in the beginning, I would talk about it if prompted, so I have a feeling that we’re very alike in this regard, hence our quick email friendship :)

  8. I’m a pretty private person, so there are still only a few close friends of mine who know. DH’s parents know generally that we’re having trouble conceiving but without any specifics. When I told one friend of mine it went amazingly well. She had just been dumped by her boyfriend and was sick of the comments from other people like, “You’ll meet another guy. Don’t worry.” She knew very well there was no guarantee of that and was quite frustrated with everyone’s “advice.” She just wanted a little sympathy and a listening ear. Later when I told her about our situation, she seemed to really understand how I was feeling and so she gave me a little sympathy and a listening ear in return. :) Another friend of mine with past subfertility has been a great support–she too knows not to give unsolicited advice. ;)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s