15 April, 2019

We are not alone

Last week a friend wrote a post that I could identify with, one hundred percent. I guarantee you could too. It wasn't about being childless. No, she has children, which I have been privileged to watch grow up on the blogosphere. She wrote about being divorced, and what it would be helpful for people to say and do, and what is NOT helpful.

Well, in some cases you just had to exchange a few words - replace "divorced" with "childless"/"divorce" with "infertility" and you'd be sitting there nodding. In particular, she talked about people asking her if she had considered marriage counselling. Replace "marriage counselling" with "adoption" and I could have written the entire paragraph. She ended by saying,
 "People getting divorced know about marriage counseling. Perhaps they have gone. Perhaps not. But it's no great secret that it exists."
She listed things that had obviously been said to her, things that were judgemental, or that assumed she hadn't thought things through. She had obviously been asked, "why?" This is such an invasion of privacy, and one that is familiar to many of us. "Why don't you have kids?" echoed in my ears. I've said once, I think, "if I wanted you to know I'd have told you." Or at least I've said it several times in my head!

She emphasised too the importance of listening, of staying in touch, and of not being scared to talk about logistics. This reminded me of many of us being dropped from invitations to children's birthday parties or school plays or baby showers, rather than being asked and given the chance to choose not to go.

And what S's post really reminded me was how similar our situations were. We are not alone in being on the wrong end of "those comments." So many people struggle to know how to provide support in a wide range of situations. So many people say the wrong things, are thoughtless or judgemental, and as a result, intentionally or not, cause us hurt. It reminded me that if we - the No Kidding - share this situation with the newly divorced, then we probably also share it with many other life situations too. That we all probably have more in common that we realise. And that our experiences can only teach us to be better friends, providing better support, for others, and hopefully, all of us, learn to spread love and understanding.

Note:  Edited to include the link above to her post, or just go here.


  1. I don't know what to say, except that it's important to know that we are not alone and that even though divorce and infertility are different a lot of the emotions can be similar and we can receive a lot of the same negative comments. Thanks for sharing. #microblogmondays

  2. I really love this - I think a lot of life situations have some of these commonalities. I think people asking "why" in painful situations is a major common feature. When my younger brother died, several people asked me "why" and it was absolutely awful - totally an invasion of privacy. Definitely heard judgmental comments, definitely had people assume things rather than talking logistics.

    I think you're right - most everyone goes through a "major life event" (or multiple), whether that's infertility, divorce, loss, etc. - and that it's something all of us can use to be more empathetic to others.

  3. Interesting perspective. There are definitely a lot of similarities. I also think it's so important to never assume anything about someone you just met. Like I never assume someone is married or has children or whatever and I try to ask neutral questions about their weekend or upcoming trips and let them bring up whatever details about their life they are willing to share.

    1. You're so right. It's been a good lesson for me.

  4. Your post is spot on, of course. And I get it from the realm of family -- children and spouses.

    It also makes me wonder about the times I think I'm being helpful when someone tells me about a challenge and I say, "Have you considered _____?" Which is probably most UNhelpful.

    I see that my problem is that I'm not just sitting with someone where they are. I will make an effort to do more of that. It's funny because I thought I was pretty good about abiding with someone, thanks to IF. But maybe I'm not as good as I thought.

  5. Love, love, love this. I do think there are a lot of situations where people feel misunderstood, lonely, and the target of terribly unhelpful comments. I can think of divorce, CNBC, death of a child, death of a spouse, chronic illness, cancer diagnosis, being single in a world of coupledom... I think people either want to "fix" your situation or are so uncomfortable that they disappear. The art of just listening and being there is so important, and so hard for people to do. I agree that IF gave me perspective on how to be there for someone, and I cringe at things I said in my 20s.

  6. You are so right Mali, it is good to bring some perspective into our pain. It is the key to empathy towards others.

  7. That was a great post -- both hers and yours. ;) I think many of us whose lives have not turned out exactly the way we thought it would become more sensitive to others in the same boat.