Today I want to share a few thoughts on how to show love and forgiveness to people who may say or do insensitive things when it comes to infertility.
It has taken me ten years to realize that people usually do not mean to be insensitive in their remarks. Most of the time they are not trying to hurt our feelings, and they are not out to purposely make us feel sad or uncomfortable. The truth of the matter is they probably don’t know better and they probably think they are trying to help.
That is one reason why Infertility Awareness is so important. If we talk about it more- then it can help educate others. It can help not only people going through infertility- but those in our lives who want to support and love us through this trial.
But let’s not ignore the fact that even if people do say things that might be insensitive- whether intentional or not- it still can hurt. Their words or actions still might make us cry. It is important to acknowledge and validate those feelings.
So often I have felt guilty for having hurt feelings because I rationalized them away by saying “so-and-so didn’t know any better, so I shouldn’t be feeling that way.”
But I am human. I have deep emotions and feelings- and so do you.
Whether it is a random stranger at the grocery store, a casual acquaintance from church or a family member you love dearly- people might say and do things during your infertility journey that doesn’t necessarily help you feel better.
This isn’t going to be a post on “what not to say to someone going through infertility”. And to be honest- I sat down to write an article on just that, but as soon as I started to write I felt inspired to touch on a different aspect of it. Rather a post on how to show love and forgiveness to those who may say those things we label as “no-no’s”.
Allow yourself some grace
Don’t beat yourself up for getting your feelings hurt or for feeling sad. There is too much judgement and feelings of inadequacy in infertility. Do not feel bad for getting your feelings hurt. Don’t let others tell you when or how to respond to hurtful comments. If you have felt judged, wronged, hurt, or embarrassed by the words or actions of others- it is okay to feel that way. Don’t push it away. Acknowledge it. Take some time to let those feelings in.
But also allow yourself to let go of those feelings, too.
I often feel that if I let go of the hurtful comments of others- that it means I am giving in or letting the other person win. That is not true though. It is empowering to have control over how you let other people make you feel.
Give others that same grace as well
I had a conversation with a pregnant stranger once. She was at my home buying our baby video monitor that I was selling. Somehow it came up in conversation that she was not excited about her pregnancy. She started to complain about having another baby. She went on and on about how nice it must be for me to be selling my baby stuff- how she wished she didn’t need to be buying it.
My heart was literally breaking inside.
I started to feel anxious. I didn’t know how to respond. If she only knew how much I was aching to have another baby. If she only knew how hard it was for me to be selling that baby item she was buying. If she only knew that weeks earlier we had experienced our second failed round of IVF. If she only knew. But she didn’t. So I kept on smiling and hurried through the exchange.
After she left I took a deep breath and decided how I was going to react over what had just taken place. I could have crawled up on the couch and had a good cry. And that would have been okay.
But that day I decided to let it go.
And it felt so good to have that control over my emotions. That day I decided I was going to forgive this women for her ignorance. I wasn’t going to let it ruin me. Doing so didn’t mean that I wasn’t hurt or bothered by her comments, but It meant it wasn’t going to let it control me.
Teach with Kindness
There have been many times when I have felt saddened or hurt by comments given to me.
Once I established that people usually mean well and often times don’t know their words are hurtful- it made it easier for me to be more forgiving toward them. Realistically, if I held on to that grudge, they probably wouldn’t even know what it was about unless I spoke up and told them.
There is a time and a place for teaching moments.
If the situation is right and you are with someone you can be honest with- you should talk to them about what was said. This can be done after you’ve had some time to think about what was said so you have a clear mind.
I think there is a right way to go about something like this.
If you choose to bring it up with someone- do so with love , compassion and make sure you tell whoever you are talking with that you know they didn’t mean to harm you. I know that several of my family and friends are so much more aware of what they say around me and others suffering through infertility because I have taken the time to be open with them about our infertility. It has made them more sensitive to others. Being open and honest with those we love can make a huge difference in the way we have conversations with them.
Whether you come out in the open and talk to someone about what was said, or whether you choose to let it go and not say anything at all- choose to forgive.
It doesn’t mean what they said doesn’t hurt, but I promise- you will feel a weight lifted every time you choose to forgive and show kindness to others. Teach them. Show them a better way. Explain why something hurt you. Kindly express what conversations you want to be involved in and don’t be afraid to walk away either.
I have walked away or zoned out of many conversations because I knew it would be too hard to hear what other people were talking about.
Everyone’s infertility is different. We all have different triggers and things that are hard for us. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself- and that means taking care of YOU first. Always remember that you are not alone on this journey and that even when you feel like you are- there are so many of us out there who have been where you are.
Don’t give up! Let this trial help someone else and share with others what you’ve learned.