Always, Katie: How to Not Judge or Alienate (or Invalidate the Feelings of) Your Infertile Friends at Christmas Time


Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Not Judge or Alienate (or Invalidate the Feelings of) Your Infertile Friends at Christmas Time

I probably lost two friends today.  

I haven't clicked the "unfriend" button.  Yet.  I may.  I don't know.  But I certainly will never think of these two people in the same way again.

Last night, after this particular pin showed up multiple times in my Pinterest feed, I shared it on Facebook with this comment: "You know what the inverse of this is? Give you a hint: it's exacerbated by stuff like this. Do ya really need to spike the football?feeling left out."   

Now, maybe my comment wasn't the most patient or eloquent... but I thought I got my point (and my pain) across pretty clearly.  

Declaring loudly and proudly that folks cannot know or understand the TRUE awesomeness of Christmas unless they are parents is HURTFUL, and... I'd like to believe... it is INCORRECT.

That being said... the people that pinned this yesterday and have pinned it in the past, by and large, are really sweet, awesome people, who would never voluntarily hurt anybody.  I'm not angry or holding a grudge against them at all.  I'm sick of being hurt, but... I can forgive inadvertent injury.  These are not the people whose friendship I am mourning.  (In fact, one of them is a dear, dear friend who actively encourages, comforts, and lifts me up. Love you, woman!)

The reaction I got passive-aggressively from two people on Facebook, through pointed personal statuses and not directly on my post, was along the lines of "Everyone needs to stop being negative about Christmas.  Stop 'putting a damper on everyone that actually loves Christmas'.  Even if things aren't going the way you want them to, the real meaning of Christmas should make you happy.  Quit whining and ruining things for everyone else."  This status got a lot of agreement, especially from her retired pastor father.  Shocking lack of compassion from people of God.  One brave, lone woman chimed in that it was hard for some people, herself included... no response or compassion to her story, either.  Another status this morning... the gist of which was that her sister thinks she is wonderfully brave for handling her secondary infertility the way she does, and how secondary is painful too... yeah, that wasn't pointed at all. </sarcasm>

Infertility hurts.  All year long.  But Christmas brings a special kind of pain, especially (I think) for someone who loves Christmas and traditions and family as much as I do.  That's right, y'all... I LOVE Christmas!  Almost every aspect of it: from the weather, to the food, to the decorating, to the thoughtful hunt for the PERFECT gift for everyone on my list... I love it!  And I desperately want to share that love with my children.  And... I know secondary infertility must be awful... I have a lot of friends who are going through it, and I know they ache to give their kids siblings.  But, no, I don't honestly, in my gut, believe that that can compare to empty arms and empty wombs during the most kid-centric time of the year.  

But regardless, this is not the pain Olympics.  We don't have to compare notes on who hurts more, or handles the hurt better, or puts on a more convincing mask of "Christian" joy.  We just need to love, because that is what Christmas is about... LOVE born in human form.  While this is the most joyous time of year for many people, that joy can be joined SIMULTANEOUSLY by deep sadness.  Infertile couples don't have the monopoly on this.  Single folks who don't want to be single... people who have lost family or friends recently (or not so recently)... people who are estranged from their family or have painful memories of Christmases past... there are any number of people who have heartbreaking and very legitimate reasons to feel sad this time of year... to suggest that they should mask or just "stop" their sadness is unrealistic, cruel, and unloving.  

I would never ask anyone to not enjoy their holidays, or to refrain from posting the avalanche of kids-on-Christmas pictures I am already bracing myself for.  So please don't ask me to censor my pain, or judge my faith by that pain.  (If you haven't already, or need a refresher, please read this post about anxiety, depression and Christianity. It has resonated with a lot of depressed Christians on Pinterest, and some of it is applicable to this discussion, too.)

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1 comment :

  1. YES!! That sweet little meme is like a stab to the heart for me every time I see it. It's obviously not the intention of the people posting it to make us feel like garbage, but it just adds to the pile of depression most of us are already feeling. People that never struggled to have a family just don't understand our despair and feel justified in telling us to get over it. Thank you for putting this out there. Makes me feel less alone.


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