Infertility can bring out the worst in us.Facebook is both a blessing and curse in my life—a great source of information and support, but a huge distraction to getting my work done. Last week I was working on something that absolutely HAD to be finished that day. I was plugging dutifully along until I heard the ping of an email arriving.  Ignore it, ignore it, ignore it…oh, what the heck, I’ve concentrated for 5 minutes, I deserve a break. The email said that I had been tagged in a Facebook post.  Oh boy, an even greater break awaited since I had to go to Facebook and read the post, and once there I had to read all the wonderfully long and thoughtful comments.  At least this once the diversion was well worth the time.  Something you don’t see too often and probably should see a lot more—a letter of apology.

Thank you God for friends who reach out and tell us the truth that we so desperately need to hear in order to heal and move forward. I shared a lot of my grief about infertility on my FB and my anger came out in some unhealthy ways to some of my FB “friends” and co-workers.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who was in the anger stage of their grieving who did this. We all take our suppressed anger out on people in some form or another. Especially when we’re unaware that we have it, and don’t realize there are more appropriate ways to deal with it.

I’m appreciative for those who supported me; who knew what was going on inside of me and didn’t mind being my sounding board. If I offended anyone during this process who didn’t know what was going on with me or didn’t really understand it or felt attacked, I’m so sorry. For most of the time, I didn’t even know what was going on either. Once I realized it, I got help. As I healed, these negative behaviors disappeared. It became much easier to control the impulse to act out.

I had no idea I was in mourning and going through the anger stage until my friend Jennifer invited me to her grieving class. I’ll always be grateful that God put her in my life and she responded to the call.

And then the poster (T) went on (and on) to thank and apologize to specific people in her Facebook life and outside life that she may have hurt or who supported her.  “And so many more! … I do want all of my family (who I’m not going to tag because I will tell them in person) to know they had to put up with the most- lol.”

Her apology letter was heartfelt and sweet.  I loved her acknowledgement that she didn’t fully realize that she was “acting out” and didn’t know the cause until someone told her.  I had actually never seen her be anything but helpful in her comments on the Creating a Family Facebook group or when she commented on my posts, but I don’t doubt her need for a mea culpa.  Infertility is a painful disease and when in pain people often lash out.  Infertility is often an invisible disease, so when people lash out, the ones hit often don’t know why.  Infertility is often a misunderstood disease.  “Pain?  What pain? Oh, a little disappointment maybe, but nothing worth crying or getting angry about.”  Yeah, right!?!

Unintended Consequences of Infertility Grief

One of the least talked about fallout from infertility is how it affects our support system of friends and family.  Often, we don’t talk about our infertility for any number of reasons. Maybe we are ashamed because we feel like it’s our fault our body isn’t working. Maybe because infertility involved sex (although with treatment, maybe not) we don’t feel comfortable sharing.  Maybe because we’re afraid people will discount our sadness and fear, we don’t share.  Because we don’t share, our friends and family don’t really know what’s going on.  But just because we don’t share, doesn’t mean we aren’t feeling the pain and aren’t acting like a wounded animal at times.

I don’t want a show of hands, but how many of you are guilty of one of the following, or some close variation thereof?

  • Were overly critical of how your sister or friends are parenting their kids.
  • Skipped a friends baby shower without explaining why.
  • Avoided going out with friends once they became parents.
  • Made a snarky remark when you heard of someone “getting pregnant by accident”.
  • Showed a lack of enthusiasm when a friend announced her second pregnancy because now you were even further behind.

Yeah, no doubt about it, infertility gives us plenty of reasons to write an apology letter.  Whether you actually write the letter of not, I think you can benefit from composing one, at least in your head. Infertility is hard, not just on the infertile, but also on their friends and family as well.

The comments to this letter of apology were as good as the letter itself.  Her friends and family were kind and accepted her apology with good grace.  T was caught off guard by their response.  “Thank you for all the love and blessings from your loving comments and emails. Tears of joy have washed over me several times since I posted this.”

One especially wise comment came from her aunt, which is fitting since it’s said in such an auntly way.  “What a positive message and very well explained. Yes, u are fortunate to have friends who felt safe in helping you face the truth. Obviously, you were open-minded and listened to their comments. If you had denied, shunned & attacked anyone who recommended that you seek help, you wouldn’t be in the healing phase.”  Words we should all heed!

P. S. Friend me on Facebook to provide even more much needed distraction!  I’ll accept and we can get to know each other better over there.

Image credit:  -bLy-