Monday, May 12, 2008

Walking on Eggshells vs. Hearts Knit Together?

My comment over at Happy Meets Crazy got too long, so I made it into a post.

Thanks for a thoughtful post. I wanted to add another layer to this conversation.

I am one who has children, but has wanted more. For health reasons, that has not been right for us. And it is a pain I carry almost every day, something I struggle with, wonder about, hope we are making the right choice with (because for us, this is a choice we are having to make, not a choice made for us...and that is hard in and of be able to conceive but not feeling right about doing that).

Anyway, there have been times when an announcement of a pregnancy has ripped through my heart, and tears have come. I feel I am more empathetic to these trials of infertility that I ever was before. Having also been single for a decade of my life while friends and family married and became parents, and people sometimes asked why I wasn't married, I understand that side, too. I don't ever want to say something that hurts someone else with this tender topic.

But I don't believe avoidance of the topic is always the answer, and indeed, I think sometimes that can be an unfair expectation, a barrier to healthy relationships in and of itself. As with everything, there is a balance, I think. I would not want people to avoid talking to me about the joy of their pregnancy or infants just because they know I have ached for another baby. And if they *don't* know about my pain, might it be that I am partly to blame for not opening up a bit of my heart?

I think we all need to be sensitive, but I have come to believe that those of us who struggle also owe those we love the comfort of knowing that they don't have to walk on eggshells around us, that we can rejoice with those that rejoice even as we hope that they can also mourn with those of us who mourn. The only way we can really get there, imo, is to be more willing all the way around to open up a bit more, and to be willing to listen a bit more, to be a little less me-focused and a little more others-focused. Easier said than done, I know.

And so, I try not to worry so much. If someone asks me about having another child, I am open and honest with them. I let them know this is a struggle, that we have prayed about it and it doesn't feel right. I don't have to go into deep personal details, but to me, an honest response helps them and it makes me not feel like I have to go to a corner and cry. And I usually get love in return. But I also try to rejoice with others who don't have my struggle, because motherhood deserves to be celebrated! And I think it's not only in focusing on our similarities (important thought this is -- so I am not trying to take away from this post and its sensitivity!) but ALSO in sharing our hearts and learning to *bridge* these difficult differences that we can often grow as sisters and friends, as daughters of God.


SilverRain said...

I'd like to add something. You have three absolutely adorable children. Don't lose enjoyment of them over a feeling of loss.

I've had to learn that the hard way, as you know.

Papa D said...


The flip side of mourning with those who mourn and comforting those who stand in need of comfort is rejoicing with those who rejoice, which is a form of "comfort" for them. We can get so caught in our own pain that we fail to allow others to celebrate, and blunting their joy is just as bad as ignoring their suffering.

Cheryl said...

Thank you for posting this!

I do understand what you are talking about and I appreciate your view of this. I actually agree with your stance how women really shouldn't feel the need to walk on eggshells around people. If we were all super sensitive to every trial anyone was going through, than we wouldn't be able to discuss anything!

I guess what prompted my post, though, were the experiences of friends I've had --where conversations were so ignorant to the point of wounding those that weren't suffering with infertility. I felt wounded for my friends from such talk, and I don't think it's ever malicious or intentional --just uneducated. So, my main idea was to point out that women can connect in many different ways --not just through shared experiences.

But thank you! A woman named Lisa just commented on my post about how one family member has shunned her entire family out of bitterness, because she couldn't handle the reality of her life.

I really loved how you said that those who struggle have to still be able to rejoice with the happiness of others. I think that can apply to so many other aspects of our lives, too.

Thank you! This has me thinking some more...

m_and_m said...

You are ABSOLUTELY right. And this is exactly what the Spirit has said to me. So you had better believe that I am savoring them and even enjoying their bigness. I have sooo much to be grateful for! (All the more reason to not need to go in a corner and cry...gratitude is a good antidote to grief.)

papa d, thanks for your comment.

And Cheryl, like I said, I didn't want to take away from your sensitive post. I agree wholeheartedly that it's important to be sensitive, and I think we all could use a bit more of that kind of sensitivity. Even still, others' willingness to be open with their pain can help us, too, to be more aware and more sensitive. In my mind, it ends up being a game of give and take in the ideal. But usually we aren't at the ideal, so none of us will be in trouble by being a little more sensitive, I think. Thanks again for your post, and for your comment here.

Ginny said...

LOVED the part about rejoicing with those that rejoice!!! Been thinking about that since I read it!