Healing Salon: Some Unfinished Business
I need to get some of the dust and cobwebs off the furniture so I can offer those involved in the Healing Salon a place to sit, ponder and participate.
For those new to this blog, here’s some background on it: The Coming2Terms posts were initially written under a pseudonym. This allowed me the freedom for cathartic writing about my futile trying to conceive (TTC) experience and the losses associated with it. I could experience and process all the raw thoughts and emotions in a safe place and express things I wasn’t comfortable articulating in my offline life. Through C2T, I connected with women who have profoundly influenced my life.
My blog began at the end of a decade of TTC, unexplained infertility, unsuccessful treatment followed by more unsuccessful treatment, followed by anger, sadness, grief and, ultimately, acceptance…
In the early days of TTC all I’d ever hear about were the success stories. The infertility (IF) blogroll maintained by Stirrup Queen Mel and the community it fostered offered a place to let my hair down, but after treatments failed it was hard not to feel like an outcast. I couldn’t hide (in real life or online) from, at times, pain-inducing pregnancy announcements or joys of motherhood stories.
At times it felt as though the IF blogroll was a living room with three doors. Door #1: in treatment; door #2: on the path to, or actively parenting, by way of pregnancy/adoption; door #3: the door no one wanted to open — reconciling a life without once sought after children. The world beyond door #3 became my little niche of the infertility blogosphere.
After several years of thrashing about I concluded that part of my inability to move forward and find peace was the lack of real life, relate-able stories of women who had walked in my shoes, stumbled and gotten back on their feet.
My “outing” brought about a new responsibility and accountability. I not only became more measured in what I said, the nowhere-to-hide-nature of my writing forced me, further, to think about the impact of my words on others. Did I become less provocative and colorful in my blogging? Perhaps, but because I was more circumspect I also began to explore the motivations behind what I thought and felt. It was no longer just about me, but about me and the infertility experience in the context of the world in which I lived.
As longtime readers know, a few years ago I retired Coming2Terms and set up a new blog called A Fresh Start. The break was symbolic on many levels. It gave me an official way to declare an end to my infertility crisis days. The impetus for my new space? To no longer wrestle with the “what ifs,” and instead to live the “what is” — my life after infertility. It’s a life that doesn’t involve parenting, but it does offer a whole new world of discovery and a different series of enriching experiences.
So why am I participating in Mel’s Healing Salon? It began with a dustup involving a set of infertility bloggers who, after becoming mothers, made a move to create their own community called PAIL (parenting/pregnant after infertility and loss), separate from the larger infertility community that includes some 3,000 blogs categorized further into a variety of smaller subsets.
My initial reaction to the catfight had been, Seriously…?
But the more I read, the more I found the spirited “can you believe what she said?…” “that is so not what I meant…” “how dare you?” nature of the commentary sort of refreshing. I also found it curious that the alienation each group was claiming was, in fact, universal.
Silly me. All along I thought it was just those of us behind door #3 feeling left out.
I would preferred the bloggers and commenters used their real names (as I think that would have made it even more honest) but, nonetheless, I think the discussion blew the doors off what has long been a set of dirty little secrets within the larger infertility blogging community. Here are my observations gleaned over the years:
– most of the women who enter the infertility blogosphere come to it with blinders on
– many of us don’t know how to offer support to those on different paths
– some of us are better equipped to handle the truth than others
– alienation occurs in every community — even those created to provide a haven for those feeling alienated
– it’s easy to overlook the grey when you live in a black and white world (e.g. there are those “ttc or those parenting”)
– many of us arrived with preconceived ideas (prejudices) and our writing tends to reflect accordingly, but for the most part we do our best to grow from this infertility experience
– we ultimately gravitate toward those we have the most in common with …
I fully recognize that it must be hard to resist falling into the all things mom (or Momzilla trap) after working so hard to achieve motherhood. There must be great temptation to “pass” and disregard the scars of infertility.
There was so much indignation from the two dominant groups (those still TTC and those now parenting after infertility) that quite a number of us in the minority were drowned out in the conversation that followed. Here’
s the comment I left on the initial thread.
Now, as part of the Healing Salon discussion, a couple questions to consider. The PAIL initiative provoked strong reactions. Do you see other underlying issues — abandonment, guilt, a wish to forget? If you’re parenting after infertility or not: Do you make an effort to empathize or to keep relationships alive with those who are outside your current tribe? If not, why? If you are or are not raising children, how might your writing/reading habits be different?
Update: You can read more and participate with all who are hosting Healing Salons here.