21 November, 2022

Community and support groups

I’ve had infertility and No Kidding support groups – official and otherwise – in my life now for over 20 years. I have been enormously thankful to one group in particular which helped me through the hardest years of my life, and where I made friends who are still there if I need them (and Bamberlamb has found her way here, to the No Kidding/CNBC blogging world.) And of course, I have you, my fellow bloggers and readers, who have been part of my life, and supporting me, for 12 years now (I just passed my 12 year blogging anniversary). It has been invaluable. I’ve met – in real life and online – some wonderful women. I consider myself very lucky.

But sometimes I have wondered. Do these support groups help, or hinder? They can provide a wonderful outlet for venting, so that we can go on and live the rest of our lives calmly, or a space where we can contemplate our situations honestly, without fear of judgement, a safe place where we can grow and blossom. But sometimes I fear that some groups also provide an echo chamber of views, where those who don’t want to grow or who don’t have the resilience to do so can stay, feeling part of a group, but not really growing. I’ve certainly heard others – who maybe have never needed such support – disdainfully expressing this view. They see support groups as places where we can wallow and feel sorry for ourselves.

As a result, I used to worry about this every so often. Was I being self-indulgent in continuing to write about not having children, in focusing on what I don’t have, rather than looking forward and feeling positive? I worried that I was self-pitying, and that I didn’t want to move on. I worried that I was wallowing. After all, I have seen people struggle with this, here and in other groups, and I know what it looks like. Some people don’t seem to ever come to terms with their fate, to accept their lives, and to embrace the advantages and gifts of their life. But by far the majority do manage to move forward.

That’s the thing about balance, isn’t it? Maybe I just see some people at their lowest, when they’re feeling most vulnerable. Maybe they just need someone to listen? To understand? Maybe, by listening, we give people the chance to grow and develop and emerge back into the light at their own pace, when they are ready. That should be celebrated, not denigrated.

That’s why I love blogging, and bloggers. People are able to work through their issues on their own blogs, or in comments. I’ve often said that I don’t always know what I’m going to say until I sit down and write a post. It helps me figure out what I think. That’s a quote too, I think from Stephen King. “I write to find out what I think.” So I want to thank you for being here for me for so long, for being part of my group, for sharing your own issues and concerns that have made me feel part of a loving, wise community. Thank you for allowing me to be honest, to grow, and to figure out what I think. In doing that, you have brought me peace.

2 comments:

  1. dear Mali,
    I love being part of your group. And I love having you in mine <3
    I have worked through many issues on my own blog and in comments.
    My blog has seen me at my lowest. But it has seen also my highlights.
    I love Stephen King's quote!
    Sending much love from Europe.
    Klara

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  2. Yes! I remember reading somewhere where someone (who was NOT an infertility survivor or bereaved parent) expressed a similar opinion once about support groups -- how people should keep these matters among their families and friends. All I could think was, yeah, and what if the families & friends are part of the problem?? If families & friends & coworkers were more supportive and more willing to just listen sympathetically and ABIDE, instead of offering platitudes ("it was meant to be...") and lame solutions ("just adopt!"), maybe people wouldn't feel like they HAD to turn to support groups, virtual and/or online.

    Personally, I've found writing out my feelings and issues and thoughts, on my blog and in message boards, tremendously cathartic and clarifying. :) Plus, sometimes bouncing these thoughts & ideas off a third party, who is not so close to the situation (but has been in a similar situtation), can be enormously helpful.

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