To the Women Suffering in Silence,
I struggled with infertility for a long time before finally getting (unexpectedly) pregnant and having a successful pregnancy. Since having my daughter, however, I have had four back-to-back miscarriages. I started blogging about my experiences after my second and worst miscarriage. This blog became like a warm country kitchen on a cold winter morning. People came together around the table with warm sweaters and hot mugs of coffee to talk and listen and relate to other women around them. We connected through our struggles and shared virtual hugs and love. I receive messages from women all over the country sharing their stories and thanking me for mine. My voice has become a megaphone for the voiceless. But there is one thing that I can’t believe: how many people sent me emails and messages telling me they were struggling to conceive and no one, not even their families or best friends knew.
Many women are suffering in silence. For a myriad of reasons, these women are choosing to fight relentless and exhausting battles alone. Some have told me they are embarrassed, some have told me they prefer to fight alone, some have told me that crying about it to friends won’t help. What these women don’t know, is that speaking about it WILL help.
I’m not suggesting starting a blog and baring your soul to strangers like I do but rather, I advocate that sharing your thoughts and feelings with a select few will change you and your situation. This is why: When we’re in relationships, whether with friends or partners or family, that connection means doubling your joys and HALVING your sorrows. You don’t hesitate to share the best parts of life with them, so why do you not share the sorrows too? That’s what those people are there for: the good and the bad. Fulfilling relationships equal communication and holding space for you to vent or cry or yell or stare blankly at the wall. We want to be there for you during the struggles. We want to help offload the weight that sits on your shoulders so that you can eventually stand again. We can handle your weight. We are your life preserver and we want to support and help you. Sure, we may not fully understand your situation or your feelings but we don’t need too. We just need to love you. By love you, I mean the verb to love; we will make you food or hand you tissue or give you a hug. We will rub your back, babysit your kids or shave our heads for you. We will run kilometers by your side, eat chalky protein shakes and cheer with you as you lose that last pound. We will do whatever it is needed to be there for you in whatever capacity you need. Because that’s what friends/family/partners do. We love you when you can’t love yourself.
I’ve heard people say things like, talking about it won’t change things. No, it won’t change the circumstances but it may change your perspective and strengthen your relationships and make you feel loved and supported. That’s changing things. You will be changed by the conversations or the love showered upon you. Some of my most breakthrough a-ha moments have come from blabbing it all out to friends only to discover I said something I never knew I thought/felt until I just said it then. You will learn some people aren’t meant to be in your life and you’ll also learn who you can depend on. It’s tough times that show you who your true friends are and I’ll tell you, that’s valuable information to have. We’re getting to an age where we shouldn’t want superficial, flaky relationships. Authenticity is far more attractive to me than Gucci purses.
Hard times wake you up. You either wake up and see the value in a person or you wake up and say, “awe hell no!” and move on. As the quote says, find your tribe and love them hard.
Plus, you never know the knowledge and wisdom you’ll find when you open up to people. Because of my willingness to talk about my struggles, two people recommended my fabulous homeopathic doctor. She helped me get pregnant my second cycle of seeing her. That wouldn’t have happened if I had been dealing with my fertility on my own. Another friend recommended a podcast about hormones and another, chasteberry. You don’t know what you’ll learn if you don’t share first.
Obviously, there will be times your people will say the wrong things. They’ll tell you to go on vacation because that’s what Peggy did and she got pregnant or they’ll tell you eat more asparagus while undergoing chemo. They won’t always say the right things but they will never be wrong for trying to relate on some level with you. But then it’s up to you to say, “please don’t say anything right now” or later you can explain how their words were offensive or wrong. Then your people know.
They can’t know what’s wrong or right to say if it’s not communicated clearly, right?
Another reason I believe opening up to your people about your hardships is the potential to help others that comes from it. Changing your focus from “helping me” to “helping you” is a huge boost to your productivity, your soul and your morale. It feels good to help other people. Not only is it a distraction from the troubles in your life, it’s like a salve to your fractured soul to have someone reach out and say, “I’m struggling with this too” or “thank you for speaking out” or “you inspire me” or “I admire your courage so much.” Being a voice for the voiceless gives my life more meaning. It gives my struggles a purpose. I truly believe that the grief and heartache I have endured through infertility and then recurrent miscarriages is because I am meant to speak out and connect with women in similar situations.
At the end of the day, we all want to be understood. We want people to understand our struggles, our fears, our grief and we want to still be loved in the face of Darkness. We want to be heard. More importantly, we want the Life we dream of. Sadly, that doesn’t always work out the way we intended but I’m telling you, the struggle is easier when it’s willingly shared with someone else. Do your soul a favour and allow your sorrows to be halved. We can take it. We will take it. And we will still love you after the storm. At least, the worthy ones will. Let us love you through these times. You don’t need to suffer alone anymore.
A Loving Friend You Haven’t Met Yet