It is very hard for us to exercise self-compassion when we are hurting. But so often, what hurts most are our own views on a subject, and the very cruel judgements we make about ourselves. I know I do it - sometimes to feel that I am prepared for the worst case scenario in a particular situation, sometimes just out of habit.
When we are going through infertility or coming to terms with the idea of living without children, it is so very common to feel that we are not “real” women or men, that there is something wrong with us, that we are less of a person, and that we are not strong enough. In short, we beat ourselves up. We’re much harsher to ourselves than are (usually) any of our family or friends or colleagues.
And we can’t escape ourselves, we can’t get any respite from those negative thoughts. Daily we torture ourselves, daily we give ourselves the message that things will never get better, that we’ll never be happy, unless we get the “holy grail.” Daily messages dictate how we feel, how we think, and how we behave. When they are as destructive as this, as narrow-minded as this, as cruel as this, they need to change.
“But I can’t stop!” I hear you cry. “How can I not think these things?”
Imagine that your best friend or most beloved family member was in a similar situation, struggling with infertility, or at the end of their journey, unable to ever have children, to be parent. Would you stand over them, telling them to “get over it” or say cruelly, “you’re not a real woman (man)!” Would you say “you’re so weak, you’re not important enough to pass on your genes/parent a vulnerable child?” Would you tell them they were “less of a person?” Would you tell them it was their fault? Would you tell them they were worthless? Would you tell them “your life doesn’t matter because you’ve never had children?” And would you tell them “you’ll never be happy. Ever! Your life is over because you can’t have children?”
Can you imagine the pain that would cause to someone else? Would you ever say that to someone you loved? Would you say that to me? Or to any of those of us without children? Would you say it and believe it, if it wasn’t about you? Would you even think it? No. You wouldn’t. Of course not. You’d probably hold them (us) close, and surround them (us) with your love.
So why do you say these things to yourself? Don’t you deserve to be treated better than that? Don’t you deserve the same compassion that you would show someone else? Don't you deserve the intellect and logic that disputes all these stereotypes? And don’t you deserve to be held and loved and comforted?
The answer is yes. You do deserve it. I deserve it. We all deserve it. Giving that to myself was a gift. Recognising that I deserved this, accepting it, believing it, exercising it, helped me begin to heal. I hope with all my heart that it will help you too.