Just for the record, I do think about a whole bunch of things that have absolutely nothing to do with broken reproductive systems, but given the charter of this blog … infertility is what I write about here.
It’s not surprising, then, that as I read and contemplate I’m on the lookout for useful blog material. Just this morning I came across this passage in today’s New York Times:
“It’s easy to feel that one isn’t working hard enough, that one should try harder … To rebel publicly, even to engage politically, would mean exposing your own inadequacies, so most people just hunker down and keep plugging away …
As our shame grows, we shutter ourselves inside. Afraid of acknowledging our anger and unable to join those similarly suffering, we grow distant. Worse, we judge quickly and harshly the actions of others; we devolve into snark, which will never lead to meaningful change.
To restore our social bonds, each one of us must overcome our isolating feelings of embarrassment and humiliation and understand that this is a shared plight. We’ll also have to accept that anger, real anger, has a role to play in producing collective catharsis and fostering healing.”
You might be surprised to learn that this was an opinion piece written by a sociology professor from Columbia on today’s economic crisis. There are some eerily familiar parallels to the infertility experience here wouldn’t you say? Some good food for thought, perhaps?
Now just to prove that I’m about more than my reproductive capacity, I’m off to find the sunscreen. It’s a perfect day for a long hike. I’ll be back to join in the conversation later my dear Internets.
Updated: During my Sunday hike, I had more time to think about the NYT passage. I firmly believe anger can play an important role in catharsis. If rage is channeled in a way that doesn’t cause anyone else harm, the energy from it can get us up off the couch and doing something about overcoming our “plight.” Hiding from it and pretending it’s not there only causes it to fester or weigh us down. This reminded me of an NPR segment that highlighted a place where people can air out their anger — where they can seriously break things. The place is called the Smash Shack down in San Diego. Can you imagine if there was a room dedicated to infertility? I’m sure the line would be out the freakin’ door.
Hey! Let’s go for a virtual plate throwing here! You get to write on the plate the focus of your anger. What would your plate(s) say? The first plate I’d throw would be for Mother Nature cheating women out of their biology…now, you.
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Update #2: You can also read and comment on my latest Fertility Authority post — now on the home page: You Know You’re on Your Best Behavior When…that talks about “fertile” behaviors that have the potential to drive infertiles mad. Feel free to add to my list.
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Facebook me (my profile pic is now in the sidebar) and become a fan of Silent Sorority.
March 29, 2009 6:03 pm
I think this applies to many, many things. For instance, isn’t that part of the theory behind groups like AA – if you hide stuff you might go back to using but putting it out there and admitting your problems and asking for forgiveness helps in the healing?
Of course, I instantly applied it to my life – infertility. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t stumbled upon blogs and then created my own. It is so healing to put my crazy out there and have others confide that they feel the same way.
I do love me a little snark though.
March 29, 2009 6:25 pm
Mmm, I thought the piece was about infertility – which just goes to show you how normal our feelings and reactions are. “to expose our inadequacies” – that’s exactly how we felt, inadequate, not good enough, “unlucky”. It’s natural to become isolated and bitter. Being able to share my experience with you and others has really helped so much, and I am grateful.
March 29, 2009 7:59 pm
Enjoy your hike. It’s a nice day here too although a bit windy.
March 29, 2009 9:58 pm
Good eye, PJ- Great comparison.
I’d like to print this out and hang it on the lunch room wall for starters. Ha
March 29, 2009 10:59 pm
Ack! So since we’re infertile AND poor, we’re really screwed! 🙂
March 30, 2009 3:01 pm
It’s funny where you can find parallels & reminders, isn’t it?
It’s nice to have someone (an “expert”) say it’s OK to be angry. Women particularly are socialized not to make a fuss about anything, & that’s something I really struggle with.
March 30, 2009 6:13 pm
My plate would say “F*cking, f*ck, f*ck!” It summarises all my feelings about infertility.
No amount of linguistic gymnastics will amount to the same level of emotional catharsis. When you dig beyond the words of any type of trauma, you end up with “F*cking, f*ck, f*ck!”
And I’m not the swearing type…
March 30, 2009 6:30 pm
Did a spit-take at Io’s comment. It spoke to this card-carrying infertile who has lost obscene amounts of money to both the economic crisis and 3 IVFs. Yes, screwed we all are! Nothing to do sometimes but laugh (just a little, anyway) . . . 🙂
March 31, 2009 5:09 am
Great idea PJ
I’ll be hurling a couple of plates with F$*K YOU MOFO written on them in the general direction of God/the universe.
And here’s another one for all the dumbasses out there making there dumbass comments about reproduction babies and suggestions for both.
And what about some for – not aimed at, but just to express the pain it causes – the new mums. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 go smashing and skidding to the corner).
Hmmm, I seem to be on a roll. A few more chucked around for good measure.
Feeling better already.
March 31, 2009 12:23 pm
My plate would say something like “Screw you, Universe. You will not beat me down!”
March 31, 2009 3:13 pm
I got your plate right here.
March 31, 2009 3:18 pm
After spending my entire savings and beating myself up, I have recently decided to leave my quest for children behind me. There is no more I can do. I am worn out. It is such a great thing to find some people who also understand the feelings of anger and utter disappointment in the hand that has been dealt to me. After trying to survive infidelity, now infertility, I am finding it hard to make it through my day. Smashing a few plates would definitely help and again, thank God there are people out there who understand why I’m so angry!!
April 1, 2009 3:04 am
Sorry to be cliche, but being an infertile in this world is like fighting a war. You need to have the vigilance of a soldier.
First you have to battle your own evil demons that plague and torment you both mentally and emotionally. Then, you have to deal within the context of your personal world to figure out how to juggle friends, family and co- workers. How does one deal with their insensitive remarks or silence? Do you out yourself or suffer alone?
But perhaps the most depleting aspect is to face off against the media on a daily basis which has elevated motherhood and having children to a level of martyrdom. It is a constant slap to an infertile’s face. Baby bump lookouts are a painful and unfair reminder of what everyone else seems to be able to do so easily but YOU CAN”T!
And all that is hard to take.
For these and other reasons, my plate would say,
F#ck the lot of you!
April 1, 2009 4:36 am
Thank you for this comment, Beth. Thanks, too, to Penny, Phoebe, IrishGirl, InVivo, Lisa, B, Michell, Loribeth, Deathstar, Io, Heather and Stepping Up.
Seriously. Your thoughts came at just the right time. Your thoughts validate and soothe my own recent battles.
Beth: The demons were all over me last night and I was defenseless. I knew better but I still couldn’t keep them at bay. Much like last spring — when I knew the NYT piece revealing to the world my full name and my infertility was weeks away from running — I worry again about my infertility disclosures causing the loss of respect of friends and colleagues. I worry about being condemned for laying it all out there — warts and all.
I am once again popping TUMS like they’re going out of style. This time it’s because I’m moving into the final book proof of Silent Sorority. In more detail than ever before I’ll be throwing open my life in the most intimate way, naked to the world and its judgment. I wonder yet again about whether I’ll be ostracized. I know it’s irrational, but it’s part of the curse of living in a modern yet still very backward time when we’re socialized to feel worthless for our busted biology.
I appreciate your honesty. It makes me understand that I’m not in this alone.
April 8, 2009 12:34 pm
I can fully appreciate your anxiety and acid-reflux over exposing your self in such a raw nerve way. I admire your candor and I want to thank you for not only creating this space that we can all seek refuge in anonymously, but also for having the bravery to help further our cause by giving voice to our plight. It’s one thing to discuss privately and quite another to have your likeness and name published in the New York Times. Thanks for your bravery!
What you have undertaken is dangerous to your own psyche and you have sincerely put yourself out there in a truly unselfish and compassionate manner. And your only motive for doing so is to help out your sorority sisters. At the risk of the attack of your screaming demons, you are the General of our troops.
What makes the Hotten-Tots so hot? COURAGE!!!
April 1, 2009 1:56 pm
Final proof, huh? Can’t wait.
Yes, there are parallels to infertility everywhere. People really don’t have an excuse for not being able to sympathise and empathise, at least in some small degree.
April 2, 2009 4:50 am
Today my plate would say “Insensitive assholes”. Yesterday it would have said “depression”. Last week it would have said “broken eggs”. So much anger and so few plates.
Loved getting to hear your voice the other day. You really know your stuff with all of this! Creativity is just not the forte of an engineer. LOL.
April 2, 2009 8:01 am
This is so true, rage can be cathartic, its also quite healing. During a rage attack earlier this week I managed to set myself free of some burdens that had been hurting me for weeks now. And I LOVE the smash shack! Thanks!
June 28, 2009 6:18 pm
My plate: Congratulations, God! You’ve finally broken me!