“What has been the hardest part?”
I cut to the chase. We don’t have time to pretend we’re interested in small talk.
They cut to the chase. Raw. Real. I can only imagine the tears that dropped on the keyboard in the process of getting the words out. Their stories are all different but the same. I’m honored to sit and read paragraphs and paragraphs. I write them all back. I feel like I’ve just acquired 25 new pen pals. Brave women who have walked and are walking a path that puts their 20-year-old daydreaming selves to shame. Literally, some of them told me they are feeling shame about this one word…
Who knew it’d be so hard to have a family?
I’ve been doing research for my book proposal and having conversations with women about infertility, specifically…what has been the hardest part about it, for them.
In this last week, after a posting a prompt on Facebook, 25 women contacted me. Most of them, I’ve never met. But now, I feel like we’re sisters of some sort. Cut from the same cloth.
I have so much to say about it all (hence the reason I’m writing a book 😂), but I wanted to share what I learned here. Just in case you’re facing infertility or just in case you have a friend who is facing it (which is highly likely).
A few things I heard this last week, from women just like you and me RE: what’s been the hardest part about infertility…
- Self blame
- Tired of crying
- Feels like you’re failing
- Questioning God
- Angry at God
- When will it be our time?
- Lack of purpose
- No one understands
- Walking this road alone
- No one talks about it
- I want to share but I don’t want people to think I’m looking for sympathy
- Knowing women are dealing with it, but still no one is talking about it
I was blown away by their vulnerability and how connected I felt to them after one interaction via social media. But, I wasn’t shocked. I mean, I went into the research hoping these would be the stories I heard. Not because I want any woman to feel the heartache I’ve felt, no of course not, but a) to know I’m not alone and b) to prove my purpose for my book stands strong and true to the direction I was headed. Sadly, this is the reality.
I’ve added 25 new names to my prayer list and there’s so much more to be said about these conversations, but I want to talk about something else for a second.
I read that list above over and over again and quickly realized these feelings, these secret pains stashed deep in my new friends’ hearts, well, they’re pretty universal, if you ask me. Please, please hear me right now…I’m not down-playing this list or their struggles. Trust me, I’ve experienced all of it. And these feelings are real and valid and hard to shake, but therapy helps 😉. But, I tried them on for size for some other areas of my life that have been hard. And you know what? They’re easily applied. They make sense.
No matter what we’re going through, it’s so easy to feel like people don’t understand. And, in my experience with infertility and this adoption process and the wait we’ve been working through and praying desperately about for almost five years…
Well, yes , it’s incredibly encouraging and powerful to have people by your side who’ve walked in your shoes, who’ve sobbed their eyes out for the same reason. But, you know what else is incredibly encouraging and powerful? To have a friend walking next to you on the sidewalk, one second chatting about something seemingly small and stop, look you in the eyes and say, “How are you doing?” No, really, tell me: How is your heart? Where are you at? How can I come alongside you right now?
Doesn’t that just make you relax your tight shoulders for a second? Knowing whatever you’re going through is hard, but that someone wants to hold your hand through it? I get that it’s a little nerve-wracking to ask your friend who’s struggling with infertility or the long wait of her adoption process or her recent miscarriage or the death of her parent or the tension between her and her husband…I get that it can feel awkward to ask, “How are you doing?” when you can rightfully assume they’re not doing so hot. It feels like the sky is falling, because honestly, in this moment, in these long, hard years, it is falling. But, I think it’s incredibly more awkward to carry on, having relationships pretending, avoiding, laughing and skating by when the sky is falling.
(Obviously, not everyone wears their hearts on their sleeves like I do. She might not want to talk about it, but at least she knows you are there for her.)
This week, I met 25 women who need some extra love and prayers. I guarantee you know at least one of them. Maybe not specifically that girl, but a sister of hers, cut from the same cloth. And if it’s not infertility, it’s something else. Maybe not in this moment, maybe not this month, but life’s struggles don’t discriminate. We all have them. We all go through them. I’m working on it just as much as I’m preaching about it, but let’s just take a moment to do a little emotional inventory of the people we’re walking through life with…
“How are you doing?”
I believe, it’s the least we can do.