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?