Part One here.

Our response to sympathy versus empathy

Stop Trying to Make It Better 2When we practice empathy we connect. When we receive empathy we feel seen, known and loved. In other words, we all feel not so alone in this huge, hard world.

Sympathy on the other hand is a sure fire way for us to all feel disconnected. When I receive sympathy, or pity, I feel like I am in this fight all by myself.

Sympathy versus empathy is at the heart of my Fertility Compassion Survey.

Question Two on the Fertility Compassion Survey:

How did you respond? And why? (to those difficult/insensitive statements or questions in regards to your family planning).

The difference between fear and love; despair and hope

I was saddened and yet motivated with feeling empowered at these responses as they seemed to be almost split down the middle

About half of the responses were along the lines of responding with the truth and the other half of the responses were along the lines of dimming our light.

The educational truth

The truth came out mostly in one of two ways; educating being at the heart of both. However one from a place of love and ownership and the other from a place of anger or what I think is really fear, sadness and shame.

According to my findings about half of the time, when asked a difficult or insensitive question about family planning we are truth tellers. We speak our truth and we educate. But, some of the time this truth telling came out in anger. I think in retaliation of wanting (or needing) to shut that person back down as we feel so shut down by their question or statement. So we make them feel stupid and we use words that cut like a knife.

After my work, for me it is in the ever upward way of just schooling the person; saying the truth and taking the opportunity to educate. For example, here’s my script I’ve gotten used to saying as this is just a part of my life:

Stranger/Friend/Family: Do you have kids?

Me: We tried to have kids but we can’t.

Stranger/Friend/Family: But you’re still so young!? Well, you can always just adopt?

Me: We did IVF with a gestational surrogate and lost three babies and adoption is not for our family. So we are accepting a childfree life. IVF is very expensive and the losses are terrible and adoption is a long difficult path, we’ve decided to determine what is our enough and everything and accept a childfree, yet childfull, life.

Sometimes they’ll keep asking more questions. Sometimes they’ll have no idea what the hell to do with that and awkwardly change the subject.

Either way, I own my story. It doesn’t come from a place of fear or anger anymore (after a lot of work on my part), it comes from a place of love.

We lose our light

The other half of my respondents responded to these insensitive questions and statements by allowing fear, sadness and shame to dim their light; making themselves disappear.

Some changed the subject. Some faked it by brushing it off. Some took care of of the other person by minimizing how difficult it really is.

Most then left those situations in more pain, feeling more alone and ultimately feeling worse.

To speak our truth

An essential message of Ever Upward is that we must speak our truth. It doesn’t have to be to the whole world in a book or a blog. Still, I think, we must speak it. It is the only way to educate and it is absolutely the only way we will ever get more understanding and compassion when it comes to family planning.

I know this is hard and I know it takes great guts of bravery no matter how big or small your truth telling is but, I also believe it is the only way we will see fertility compassion grow.

I will not dim my light to take care of you, I will not dim my light because if makes you uncomfortable, I will not dim my light to make you feel better any longer. I will move and I will be ever upward.

Family planning, fertility, infertility, miscarriage, infant loss and recovery are some of the most difficult struggles and losses of our lives. And, it is something that literally impacts all of our lives at some point somehow.

Speak out, embrace it all, practice recovery and own it; own all of it.

~~~~

In Part Three I will discuss the third and final question in my Fertility Compassion Survey: What we need instead; how can these questions and statements be more compassionate?

 

Housekeeping

Ever Upward available now!

30 Day Toolkit to Living Ever Upward here!

Fertility Compassion Survey is collecting all responses.

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating  😉, please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

6 thoughts on “Please Just Stop Trying to Make It Better – Part 2

  1. Rachel says:

    I’m now blogging openly about my journey with infertility, among other things . It feels quite freeing. However, when people ask me insensitive questions, then depending on the person and the place, I may just say that I don’t want to talk about it. If someone asks me when I’m going to have children and why am I waiting and points out that I’m not getting any younger, then I guess I think they’re not going to be sensitive to any response I might give. Then I prefer to just end that topic of conversation as soon as possible. I will sometimes say that we haven’t been able to , but again, if I don’t feel safe I’ll add that I don’t want to talk about it. My latest blog post was rouching some of this issue actually.I think that owning my story means that I get to choose to share if I want to, but don’t have to if I don’t feel like it. If it’s the wrong time of month and I’m in a public place, then I guess I’m going to want to move the conversation away from that topic. But, it’s not to protect the other person. It’s to protect myself. Thanks for some great thoughts.

    Like

    1. Rachel,

      This is a great point and I totally agree. We definitely don’t need to necessarily educate very Joe Schmoe we come into contact with. I feel like owning it all to at least those close to us can help in our recovery and even maybe help treatments be more successful. Thank you so much for reading and for leaving this very thoughtful and insightful comment, it is very important to tell this side too. Thanks Justine

      Like

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