Is It Possible to Feel Two Conflicting Emotions at the Same Time?


More than once in my life I’ve thought my brain would be a great specimen for a Discovery Health episode. It’s not that I think my brain is all that and a bag of chips. No, the truth is it puzzles the bejesus out of me.  I’m thinking a few enterprising scientists could go to town hooking up electrodes and the like, and if all goes well, discover some elusive answers.

For instance, in the wake of Infertility, is it possible to be at peace with a decision and yet sad and weepy at the same time? To feel fierce but reluctant all at once? Apparently it is, and that’s the subject of this post.                                                                        tugofwar

It all began when MotherofNone and Jenna offered up some opposing perspectives on Infertility.

Well, my past two entries would have you (and me) believe I’m skipping down easy street. Infertility — it’s what’s for breakfast. Yeah, right. I want very much to believe that everything is and will be just fine. I’m like The Little Engine that Could making my way up the mountain: I think I can, I think can.

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That’s because I want to make it to the top and yell out to the world, “I’m A-Okay and by the way, let me tell you a thing or two about Infertility.”

I’m signed up to the idea, and while I’m at peace with knowing that I’ll never be a mother, it still makes sad.

I have my moments of fierceness and reluctance, too. Like the other day I tied on my pomegranate bracelet and all but dared the crowd at Whole Foods to ask me what it meant. I was feeling downright fierce and more than a little sassy in my favorite slim fitting jeans, form fitting sweater and kicky boots. I was simply too hot to be a mama and actually feeling good about that.

On Monday I tied the bracelet on again. I got to the office and found myself wondering if it clashed with the yellow sweater I was wearing. As the morning wore on I started feeling glum for some reason I can’t explain. Then later when a colleague dropped by my office I all but sat on my hand somehow fearful he might see it. So much for my bravado. What was that all about??? I went home feeling defeated. The next day I was out of the house in a hurry and realized halfway through my commute that I’d somehow forgotten to tie it on. Damn.

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I’ve since read a few more perspectives that evoke deeply held, conflicting emotions:

The Crying Game, by My Battle with Infertility

2 First Birthdays, 2 Births and a Dedication, by A Someday Mom

I Wish I Could Say I Wasn’t, by Flutter of Hope

In each of these posts there’s complexity and subtlety. They’re far from neat and tidy. I relate completely to their angst. As for today, I’ll try again. I’ll tie the bracelet on, but this time I’ll be more prepared for the emotional tug of war likely to occur.

What I realize is that I’ll never stop looking back over my shoulder entirely. Have you ever tried skipping forward while looking backward? Well, unless you’re more coordinated than me, it can cause some not so graceful tumbles.

The competing emotions often leave me bewildered. My brain neurons must be going haywire. Seriously, now don’t you agree I’m a good Discovery Health candidate?


12 Responses

  1. 2Sweet

    September 26, 2007 3:52 pm

    In life nothing is all smiles or all tears, there’s always a mixture of both!

    Since even when you are sad, there’s hope!

    When there’s happiness, a “what if?”

    Ah, the stuff of life! Hang in there…

  2. Lindsay

    September 26, 2007 6:59 pm

    I am definitely not unfamiliar with diametrically opposing emotions. It’s so frustrating, and you question which is the more true feeling. Sometimes that feeling can change in a blink of an eye, and in any number of directions. I don’t know if we ever get past that, or if we’re just really learning how complex our emotions are, and are more in touch with them than most…

  3. Jenna

    September 26, 2007 9:48 pm

    When someone asks me how I’m doing I tend to give them an answer and then I back pedal with, ‘but that’s just today’. It’s hard to make up my mind. I’m not in the same place I was in back then, but I’m also not in the place I’ll be in tomorrow.

    This journey isn’t static. I find myself sometimes feeling like the engine that will and other times I’m the engine that won’t.

    At least it keeps them guessing!

  4. Lori

    September 27, 2007 2:17 am

    I feel like I spend much of my life with competing emotions.

    We humans have so many layers. Especially we thinkers/bloggers who try to dig through them.

    Maybe ignorance IS bliss. And simple.

  5. Geohde

    September 27, 2007 5:59 am

    Call it a flaw of my computer taking so long to load the comment page and bone-acing fatigue after an egg retrieval induced tension state but I’ve clean gone and forgotten whatever pithy comment I had prepared for your post.

    I’m sorry for my absent mindedness PJ, but I will comment that I like the new blog colour schema



  6. Bea

    September 27, 2007 12:32 pm

    Worthy of vivisection. But I think this is very common for people who’ve been through a major, life-altering experience like you have. Hell, we all have, but some of us, if we’re lucky, get a better chance to pretend it never happened.

    Studies show (so I’ve read) that happiness does return. Even so, I’m sure there are always sad days.


  7. SaraS-P

    September 27, 2007 12:40 pm

    I wish you would get a special on Discovery Health. I get tired of all their pregnancy and raising multiples shows. How about an honest look at infertility and how it affects mental health and other aspects of personal life?

  8. Lori

    September 27, 2007 1:54 pm

    I understand what you mean about conflicting emotions. I am 9 years past the stillbirth of my dd & 6 years since my last treatment. I am sure that most people believe we have “moved on,” and sometimes I can even believe that myself, but then something will happen to remind me that the shadow of infertility still looms large in my life, and probably always will.

    I have often said this — I hate, absolutely hate, knowing that people feel sorry for me & dh because we don’t have kids. I hate being the object of pity. I want them to know that we’re OK, the world didn’t come to an end, I’m not about to throw myself off a cliff, etc.

    But at the same time, just because I’m not standing at the cliff’s edge, I don’t want them thinking that our life is peachy keen either, and that we don’t keenly feel the absence of a child in our life, every single day. I hate the snide little digs about how much free time & money, etc., we must have — because we don’t have kids — almost as much as the pity.

    What I would like is some respect for what we’ve gone through to get to this point in our lives — respect for the fact that, despite all the cr@p we’ve endured, we’re still here & standing upright and even relatively sane, sometimes. ; ) Is that asking too much??

  9. niobe

    September 27, 2007 2:52 pm

    I think there are some things that happen to us that are so important that they color the way we see the world. So, when one day you feel like you’ve come to terms with (or can even celebrate) infertility and the next you feel that it represents an enormous, painful loss, you’re experiencing the same thing — the huge space that infertility occupies in your life.

  10. MotherOfNone

    September 28, 2007 1:32 am

    Hello, friends

    It may seem overly simplistic to say I’ve put the sadness behind me entirely. Honestly though, I think the way it manifests is that I get ANGRY: angry that others take for granted their blessings, angry that I get trapped in seven conversations about kids a day, angry that I have shelled out about $15K and have nothing to show, angry that no RE ever really seemed to get serious about wanting to knock me up, etc. Sometimes someone’s kid careens into me in the supermarket and I want to rip the mom a new one. Resentment, bitterness, righteousness, rage, yes. I just don’t have the hate toward myself or my own body for “failing” me, because I just refuse to see it that way. NO WAY.

    Which reminds me, I remember once upon a time hearing that promiscuity increases the risk of infertility. What a crock, and what a way to make women blame themselves for something that isn’t their fault! I swear my infertility has mobilized my feminism more than anything!

  11. Pamela Jeanne

    September 28, 2007 6:49 pm

    I very much appreciate and am a beneficiary of the great things women before me did to advance women’s rights. My anger and sadness about my inability to reproduce is caused mostly by the misinformed and ignorant types who assume reproduction is a certainty and that infertility is something that is self-inflicted. It’s not. In our case we have both male and female contributing biological factors.

  12. Foreverhopeful

    September 29, 2007 4:02 pm

    I think this is part of a process when faced with adversity and tragedy. At times, I feel strong and hopeful and convince myself I’m ok. Than my anger and pain just somehow take a hold of me and I feel defeated again. Sometimes it does seem like we take 1 step forward and than something happens to and we take 3 steps back. But you are moving forward and trying to and I hope you have more happy and strong days than the later. Hang in there and wishing you happiness anad peace.

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