Thursday, 9 August 2012

No, I'm not stuck


The internet can be overwhelming, addictive and all-encompassing.  Perhaps more explicitly, the blogosphere can be addictive, overwhelming and all-encompassing.  This can be wonderful.  It helps us feel less alone, less isolated.  It helps us learn, understand more about what we are going through, get advice and gather tools for coping with whatever it is we are going through.  It can provide a focus when going through a difficult time, and it can help with healing.  It can, quite literally, be a life-line.  The ectopic forums, for example, that I first joined have saved lives.  No question.  The benefits of these internet communities can be incalculable.  At the very least, it can make us smile, and yes, laugh out loud.

But.  And yes, there is a but.  The internet can keep us stuck in one place.  It can make us feel obligated to read and comment, and rather than be uplifted by the friends we have online, it can make us terribly sad, or feel left out, left behind, or pressured to achieve whatever it is we are trying to achieve. 

I’ve been involved in this international on-line community (in different ways – not just blogging) for about ten years now.  I see women who from time to time declare their need to step away from the intensity of the internet and their internet relationships, and I want to applaud them for recognising that – at that moment – it is not helping them.  But very sadly, I have also seen women get stuck in one place, perhaps addicted to the attention and comments they get for their grief, the comfort they feel being in the trenches with everyone else, rather than growing and learning from the love and caring and advice they receive, and feeling the comfort and independence of healing. I saw this a month or two ago (when I started drafting this blog), and wanted to reach out to the person concerned.

Then I stopped.  “What about you?” I asked myself suddenly.  “What does it say about you that you are still involved in this community, still writing about infertility after so many years?  Are you stuck?  Are you addicted to talking about your grief?”  And that’s a fair question, one friends or family or readers might ask, given that I’ve been living my No Kidding life since October 2003, and yet only started this blog in 2010.  And I think that sometimes my presence here leads others to assume I haven't resolved my infertility, or accepted my life.

My short answer – because this has already got too long – is that I don’t think I am stuck.  But infertility and living my life without children is undoubtedly part of who I am. I like to think about issues, learn and grow, and I like to share lessons and get feedback.  I'm not going to brush this under the carpet and ignore, pretending it doesn't affect me.  And it’s not something my other, in-real-life friends might understand. I have a friend I talk about travel with, another one who will sit with me and bemoan the state of politics in the world, others who will talk books and business, and another who shares my struggles with the scales.  So, just as I make time to be with them, I make time and space to be with friends (yes, that’s you I’m talking about) who understand the ups and downs of living a no kidding life.  I recognise when my place in this ALI community helps me, when I need to take, when I need to give, or simply when it gets too much for me.  Take yesterday as an exampleThrough my contacts in this community, I was reminded of my isolation, not my inclusion.  But then I was also enveloped by people saying “you are not alone.”  And the value of that is priceless.

11 comments:

  1. This is a fascinating post, on a topic I've thought a lot about. I have never worried that my blog, per se, has created a cycle of negativity for me, because I write about whatever aspects of my life I feel I'm tackling at the time, but I sometimes wonder if continuing to read the blogs of others who are struggling keeps me in an IF/loss mindset when I might otherwise be elsewhere. I've revisited this many times and I always come to the same conclusion, the positives of being this community outweigh the negatives: sure it's not perfect but I appreciate the good more than I fear the bad.

    I would say, from the time i've been reading your blog, that you don't seem at all "stuck". You come here when you need to process the reality of your life. You don't dwell on it and you don't make it into something destructive, you just work through what you need to work through and get validation from others in a similar situation. I think that is a very healthy relationship to have with a blog and a community. But that is just my two cents.

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  2. LOVE the last two sentences the most!!! I feel the same way - that there are just people that understand me better because of infertility. I've shared our infertility experience with some IRL people, but none of them can understand my situation as well as fellow IFers. And I think I once wrote about wearing IF glasses, because IF glasses do affect the way I view the world, even if we've surrendered to life without kids.

    But I think in some ways wearing those glasses has also helped me recognize similar pains/grief that I wouldn't have detected without wearing them. And having that insight is helpful in some cases. :-)

    A friend of mine said "Don't let the pain of the past affect the present." Wise words, but I have a different opinion on that. Why not let the pain of the past affect my present? If I can make that painful past affect my present positively, why not? Then I realized that I don't want to lose my IF glasses 'coz I have learnt so much more after I put those glasses on. It's like I may have turned this into "my cause"...just like cancer survivors proclaiming "fight against cancer" as their cause...or animal lovers trying to spread awareness on "fight against animal cruelty".

    Anyway, I agree with Esperanza that I've never felt that you're "stuck".

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    1. Amel, I LOVE this. You should copy your comment and make it a blogpost. You've got it exactly - seeing life through my IF glasses (and now my No Kidding glasses) makes me a much better person.

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  3. It's good to do this sort of self-check once in a while. It's like cleaning out your closet... And also, you can't ignore who you are, and this community is part of it. The amount of space it takes up in your life varies from day to day, I'm sure.

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  4. Interesting post. It's good to keep these questions in mind and it's made me think about my involvement (or over-involvement?) in the ALI blogging community.

    I've been involved in different online communities in the past (not associated with IF). I outgrew some of them. Others became dysfunctional and unhealthy for me. Fortunately, I was able to recognize this and to step away from them. But there is some question about whether or not I can do that again, particularly since infertility has been so all-consuming for me. All I know for certain is that right now I need this community and will probably need them until my infertility is resolved, either through motherhood or deciding to live child free. I simply can't find the support and understanding I need elsewhere.

    I'm glad you wrote about this. I hope it will help to remind me that I need to do a mental check every once in a while. Thank you. :)

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  5. Awesome post. I often find myself editing because of what I'm perceiving those who read my blog might think...which I realize is crazy and perhaps too blog focused on my part. Aside from this, I thank you as when I read your blog I feel less alone...less crazy for not being able to "get over" infertility. I don't even know if this paragraph makes sense but any ol' way, your blog is comforting..so thanks.

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  6. Nope, I've never picked up on 'stuckness' here (not that I'm exactly Miss Expert. I've always seen this blog as the hope of coming through this 'journey' and not ending up as Bitter Stinky (which is the fear), that there is hope. I've *always* felt hope from this space.
    The honesty of real life prickling even with the acceptance and having 'moved on'. This is what this space is for, amongst your other blogz, I know. And as Esperanza said, you write about a topic but don't dwell. You get incensed by 'worthy' things and describe the reaction well. (this is turning into a it of an arselicking, isn't it? trying to reflect what I see here?), its less mindspew and more craft.

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  7. I have felt stuck in the recent past, and stepped away from my blog for something like 2-3 months. It was a time I needed to think about what I was doing - going around in a metaphorical hamster wheel going no where. I tend to get mired in negativity, and that's no help to anyone in a blog format, least of all myself. I came back once I decided on a new path, and for support.

    Your blog has never struck me in the least bit like a person stuck in loop. You've been inspirational in your thoughts and insights into the way we all deal with our infertility, and how to move on and have an absolutely awesome life. You've definitely been someone I like to read in general; doesn't have to be about anything even related to infertility or anything - your writing is entertaining and thoughtful.

    I'd be very sad to see you go, and I'm SO glad you aren't planning on taking off any time soon. We NEED your voice out here! :)

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  8. Eek! I found this amazing blog just recently, and only 20 days ago you were talking about the 'stuck' feeling and how the internet (blogs) can sometimes feel like they keep us on a hamster wheel. I absolutely get this (I'm feeling it after only 6 posts on my new blog!).

    However, like the friends you described (the travel one, the politics one, etc) I've realised that I don't have 'the infertility one' either, and that's why I think I am drawn back to the internet time and again. I have learnt to stay away from the forums, with their tiny little sections for the childfree...

    I don't feel particularly stuck either, but on a blog like this one, I feel like I fit in... whereas I just do not have that same basic feeling out in the real-life world (sad as that sounds!). Your blog has already 'been there for me', even now, as I explore my life as it stands, sans-children. So I guess, it's okay to go back to the core of the matter on occasion. It's like checking in, sharing the support, and accepting a real part of ourselves. I like that you write all about these things that matter!

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  9. Mali, I have asked myself the same questions sometimes. And my answers are similar to yours. : )

    I know one reason dh wanted to stop facilitating our support group was because he was afraid it was "holding him back" from getting on with his life. I don't know how he feels now, but I don't feel like I've "progressed" any more since then. I miss the friends we made there & having people to talk to about Katie -- but I don't miss the internal politicking & the responsibilities involved. ; )

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