Those of us who blog as part of the infertility community know that we do so in a place of great stress, of hurt and pain and disappointment. But it can also be a place of great joy, of surprises, of elation and happiness and hope. Unfortunately, sometimes these intense emotions collide, and fight for space. This happens from time to time – I have been watching it happen periodically for over 12 years.
It happens throughout social media - on forums, on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. Technology has given us many ways to connect, but equally it has given us many ways to be exposed to hurt and pain. Unfortunately too, it has given us many ways to inflict hurt and pain. And of course, “hurt people hurt people.” People lash out, people express themselves poorly, insensitively, and thoughtlessly, are sometimes intentionally cruel, or sometimes unintentionally cruel, and as a result some are terribly hurt.
When we go online, we know we are opening ourselves up to potential pain. Things are inevitably going to hurt us, because no one can please all the people all the time. There’s no way to avoid hurting anyone, so we are going to be hurt. That’s a given. I accept that. And if I am hurt, then I try to look inwards, figure out why something upset me, and maybe how I can respond rationally and sensitively and kindly, rather than lashing out. Lashing out only spreads the hurt, and never solves anything. Telling someone not to be hurt never stops the hurting either. (If only it did!)
In my earlier career, I was a diplomat. Diplomacy is under-rated. Analysing a situation, interpreting motivations, and expressing our responses in a way that promotes understanding are all skills that help us in life as well as international relations. As a result of certain family dynamics, I think I’ve been doing this – with varying degrees of success - all my life. Thinking about what I am saying, when and where I am saying it, and why I am saying it, is the first step. Endeavouring to understand another’s position, their pain and their feelings, is the next step. Trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes, and figure out what I might do if I were them, or why they might have acted in a particular way, can help me understand, and grow, and perhaps realise that the hurt was never really intentional. (I try to practise this, but as with anything, it’s a work in progress.)
I think it’s the same in global politics as it is in family relationships, in friendships or in online social media. I think the world would be a better place if we all tried to understand each other, rather than react aggressively, unthinkingly. I just hope those whose instinct is to lash out will in time step back, think, and find another way to deal with their emotions. The fact this community is so diverse – globally, situationally, generationally, whether we are just starting out or have resolved our infertility a decade or more ago, parenting or not – means that we can learn and grow and accept and understand, and ultimately see each other differently. Our diversity is also our strength. I have learnt so much from others in the community, seen new perspectives, and hopefully given others insight into my lifestyle as well. We all have a place here.