Sometimes I feel like an imposter in the world of infertility. The only place where I really feel like an infertile is here on this blog; here is where I vent, where I cry, where I lay out my hopes and my dreams and my fears. Here is where I work through all the emotional issues surrounding my acceptance of this condition. And when I leave here, I feel like I leave it all behind. As much as I share here and as much as I have accepted that this is part of who I am, I don’t like to talk about it with people in my day-to-day life.
You see, I’m terrified of becoming that woman. You know her. The one who’s so wrapped up in her own problems that she can’t see anything else. So focused on what’s wrong in her life that she can’t feel joy for anyone else’s happiness. The one that you feel like you have to keep contact with, but you really don’t want to talk to.
The fear of becoming that woman is what I think holds me back from confiding in my friends about what we’re going through. While I am no longer hiding the fact that we’re having problems, I don’t seek out people to talk to about how this is affecting me. Several of my close friends know that we’ve been trying for a few years and are now seeing a doctor, and somehow it leaked out at work, but that’s as far as I’ve let it go. If it comes up, I usually smile and make some acknowledgement that yes, we’re trying and we have been for a while, and then I change the subject. I try very hard not to give anyone an opportunity to hurt me.
The other thing that holds me back is a lack of trust. Deep down in my heart, I don’t trust my friends to give me the support that I need. I don’t trust them to know how to say the right thing. I don’t trust them to hold me up when I can’t stand on my own. I can’t bring myself to plunge headfirst into honest emotional communication with someone I don’t trust with my soul. I have always been the one who pulls back in our friendships, the one who holds back a little to keep from being disappointed and hurt. That’s why I’ve hesitated to let everyone know what is going on. I’m afraid that someone will respond the wrong way, and it will hurt me, and I won’t be able to be as close to that person as I was before.
Infertility is like a litmus test for friendships. Is this person a Class One friend, someone who will be there through thick and thin? Or are they a Class Two, someone who can be a friend during the good times of life only? In the end, the person is going to be one kind or the other, and nothing I can do will change how they respond to me. But at the same time, right now I’m not sure I want to know. There is only one that I really shared the details with, and her response was … less than optimal. It turned out that she and her husband have been trying for some time as well; I’m pretty sure she’s trying very hard to not believe that they have problems, and I was living proof that they indeed have to seek treatment. I was the “other”, the thing that she didn’t want to believe in. While she wasn’t patently offensive or rude, it was still and uncomfortable conversation to have. Given some more time, I think we could revisit the topic and probably have a productive conversation for both of us. But it’s made me a little gun-shy.
The time is coming, though, when I won’t be able to hide from my friends anymore. I can only hope that when I have to tell them, they’ll step up and be the kind of people that I believe they are — people who can love, support, and hold my hope for me.