Friday, March 1, 2013
When we're going through infertility, we fear those* comments. The comments that are going to hurt, the comments that are judgemental, the comments that accuse us, imply that we are selfish, or not mature enough to be parents, that we are lacking somehow. Those comments bite into us, and leave scars. And often, in an attempt to armour ourselves against these comments, we start anticipating them. We imagine the worst that someone might say to us, so that we will be prepared. But as we imagine these things, we are doing even more damage to our already damaged psyche. When what we need to do is heal those wounds. But sometimes it feels as if the wounds will never be healed, as if the scars themselves will always be painful.
But they won't. Nine years on since I learned I would never have children, I can tell you they won't. I've grown so much as a result of this - putting much less emphasis on what other people think, and more emphasis on what I believe. I have put work into figuring out what it is I believe, and to be comfortable with that. And the answer is that it won't always hurt. The pain fades. You become stronger and more able to cope, even when the comments come.
In particular, I've learned three things that make it easier:
1. Once you're in your 40s (and eventually, gah - 50s) people don't ask you about when you're having children anymore. I'm very rarely asked if I have children, and when I am asked, and I just reply "no" the subject is changed. No big deal. In your 40s and 50s, people's children are usually growing up, leaving home, and the parents are starting to enjoy (or at least, to anticipate a future when they can enjoy) a child free life themselves. I figure I have at least a decade or more to enjoy this, before the grandchildren issue kicks in in full force.
2. You realise that the comments are all about the people who make them - their bias, their ignorance, their insensitivity, and sometimes, their own insecurities. Let them make judgements, I think now, because they're so ignorant they know not what they do. If I can, I forgive them for what they've said. I can laugh at some of the worst comments or judgements. Because I know they're not true. It becomes much easier to let them slide off when you don't let them attach in the first place.
3. I feel confident enough in myself now to counter their statements, to point out if they're just plain wrong, or if they're insensitive or rude or biased against people without children. I do it calmly, in a nice way, and sometimes jokingly. I will laugh, but make my point. I don't put pressure on myself to do that. But it does feel empowering to be able to stand up for myself, strongly, proudly.
*This post started off as a comment on Life Without Baby