4.04.2012

Blurring Lines and Hiding Tears

I knew it would happen. It has already happened. My job of coordinating marriage and family life has blended with my personal life. Sometimes it's a good thing. When I can share The Man's and my story and help others; when I can offer words of undertanding and prayers for someone else with divorce parents; and when I can share my reversion and be a witness to Truth. This week, this whole month I have the feeling, it is a hard thing. I won't say bad because it is an opportunity for growth, but growth is never easy is it?

Late last week I gave an interview to our Catholic Newspaper about Infertility Awareness week. The Editor of the paper happens to be on the other side of a long IF journey herself (her son is 6 months old), and we have talked before. I was not worried about doing the interview as I knew it would be behind a closed door with an understanding person. She even let me see the article before it was printed which is not usually done. It is exactly what I wanted. It is not personal to me at all, but it is authentically Catholic, gentle, and helpful and if only one person feels less alone as a result of reading it, it will be worth it.

Then, today is editing day for the newsletter I publish each month. One of the secretaries is our proof-reader and I've already proofread the article I wrote about IF Awareness Week and asked my boss to read it very closely (she knows our story) because this secretary and I are like oil and water - and she is sometimes very harsh with her proofreading reports. I knew I needed to be able to take the criticisms and suggestions about commas and spacing just as I would for any other article, and while again this is a general, not personal article it is so close to my heart that I was worried as to how I would respond. As this secretary finished reading this article, she came over and I admit, I cringed when she said "I was reading this article about infertility..." but then she proceeded to tell me about this couple that she prayers for every night that has been trying for a year and a half and who just last night she found out that the unmarried sister is pregnant. She of course continued with how bad she feels for the IF couple and how hard it is going to be to tell them and yada yada yada. All things that any normal person would have been able to engage in a conversation about and express the same concerns and opinions.

Instead, all I could do was say "yes, that is a difficult situation," and fight to hold the tears back. When the topic of children comes up and I have nothing to offer, I often wonder if people suspect our IF, or if they just assume I'm a career-driven woman using birth control. But now I wonder if, in this situation and others, I just come across as heartless?

Don't get me wrong, there is a piece of me that is grateful that my office is mostly unaware of our IF (my boss and one other person being the exception), but there are times it would be kind of nice if they not only knew about our IF, but also knew exactly what to say and do (or not say or not do). Ha! The hilarity of that statement - I barely know what to say to me, let alone what someone else should say to me.

The lines between my job and my life are blurred, and while there are of course some things that stay private, this blurring is usually a good thing. But at these times when life and work intersect in ways I don't anticipate are when the tears must be hidden, quickly and on the spot. When I can prepare myself, when I know what is coming, I can put the walls up, but when I'm caught off guard the only thing I can offer is silence and hollow words, even when there is a piece of me screaming out to be seen and understood.

15 comments:

  1. Why do you feel the need to keep this a secret? Admittedly people will offer advice, it is what people do--tell me how to lose weight, what to do on vacation, how to cut my hair.....but, without giving all the details, just to say that you are trying, gives witness to the fact that you AREN'T a career driven woman using birth control.... I was just wondering....because it gives people a chance to learn how to say the right thing, if they know. Just saying, we're trying,,,,it's personal,,, I don't want to go into details....

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    1. Thanks for asking Mary. The issue, for me anyway I can't speak for others, is that the emotions often catch me off guard as it is - for example sometimes I'm perfectly fine chatting away about our IF and others I can barely even think about it. With close friends and family, if they ask how I'm doing and I feel the tears coming, I can just say I don't want to talk about it, get a hug, and we can move on. Bursting into tears in the middle of work at a simple question OR feeling like people walk around me like they are on egg shells does not allow me to participate fully in my work environment. I mean, if someone asks I simply say "it's in God's hands" and change the subject, but to actually let on how hard we are trying and how badly it hurts would cross the line (in my opinion). I don't even tend to talk about if I'm on a diet or where I'd go on vacation, let alone something this personal. I guess that's it I tend to be pretty private in my work environment as it is. I am able to advocate for NFP (and honestly most of the people who work here know we use NFP b/c of my job, but I still worry about the perception) and discuss contraception without our personal story.

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  2. I can only imagine what it is like to be in the environment you describe. Hang in there and know that you are loved and lots of prayers come your way. :)

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  3. Oh, I can so understand emotions catching you off guard! Sending you a hug through the screen!! (Hug)

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    1. I understand this too! Sometimes I can make jokes about my lack of children, and sometimes I just want to cry (or bite somebody's head off).

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  4. Such a tough situation to be in. I feel that we are very similar with regards to how much detail we want to share in certain situations. I have often told my husband that I have a quick sense of whether I feel comfortable with someone and when I do I can immediately open up more. But, in certain situations (i.e a work environment) or with certain people opening up is not an option. If people try to be pushy with questions then I close up even more. Ughh.....IF stinks! It effects so many aspects of our lives. Prayers for you!

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  5. I was going to ask exactly what Mary did, but your answer is beautiful and helps me understand you better. All I can say is do what is comfortable for you. I have been pretty open about our struggles and yes, there was the occasional uncomfortable moment that you describe (and yes, I had to quickly hide the tears sometimes - hello, work bathroom...ugh). But when we did get pregnant and have Elizabeth it was amazing how many people would tell us they were praying for us - a lot of people I didn't even know (I am referring to people IRL that may have heard our story from others at church, etc.), not to mention those in blog land and to me it was such an amazing example of the Body of Christ lifting others up. Now, if I suspect someone IRL is suffering from infertility, I will probably not ask them outright - but wait for them to say something, but I will pray for them. I pray you find the support and encouragement you need - in a way that is tailor made for you!

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  6. :( Praying for ya. I agree with PW, I felt comfortable with some people/situations but not others...it just depends on how you feel. I felt like having people know could open the door for them to be supportive and sensitive, but it also hurts more when they know about IF and are still insensitive. It's so hard when those emotions catch you when you're not expecting them. :(

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  7. I too have a hard time opening up unless it's "safe". I eventually ended up opening up at work because EVERYONE was PG and the ? started rolling in. It got too painful not to share. Sure I still cringe when weirdo comments/advice surface, but it's better than holding it in. I don't know if I would have done it but another coworker ended up telling everyone about her IF and I jumped on the bandwagon. You and I work in very different environments though, so I understand your need for silence and privacy. You are SO strong!

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  8. I'm exactly like you. I share with those I know are also carrying the cross quite easily (I know they know when to ask questions and when to shut up, lol!) but I don't go around publicizing the fact that I'm IF to people I know would say dumbass things and put me in a position of breaking down completely.
    Ugh :(

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  9. The last time I helped present on NFP at our parish's seminar for engaged couples, someone from the audience brought up infertility (a friend of hers was IF) and how it "wasn't fair" and asked me to comment on it, not knowing that I was IF. In an attempt not to cry in front of everyone, I gave a generic answer, and even though what I said was true, I wondered if I sounded like I lacked compassion...or that was I heartless, as you described in your post. So you're not the only one who thinks that. But there are definitely times when you limit what you say out of self-preservation because it's not always an appropriate time to becoming a sobbing mess. ;)

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  10. I know the feeling well of not wanting everybody to know about your IF and of emotins catching you off guard. As TCIE mentioned with some people I was very open but with others I needed to guard myself. I think its so wise from you to trust your instincts on this one.

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  11. I am like so many IF'ers, I only share openly with my sisters in struggle. There are very few people that know about our IF struggles, nor do I choose to speak openly about it. I hate feeling vulnerable!

    I am so sorry that you had to go through this. Continued prayers for you!

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  12. It's such an amazing thing you are doing ... writing the articles about Infertility Awareness. I can understand the criticism of her article hitting so close to home. It always does. Prayers that this cross is lifted soon.

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  13. Along the lines of what Mary said and your response, it seems a tricky balance about what to disclose and when that's entirely personal and up to you. However, like Mary said, it may be helpful for peers to have some understanding. I know how mortified I am to learn that I may have inadvertently hurt someone, given how friend's past comments hurt me =o/

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