Friday, February 29, 2008

The Painful Stuff: How To Deal With People Who Don't 'Geddit'

If you've read my blog thus far, you realize I have a good-sized dose of pragmatism in my personality - life is not all kittens, sunshine and flowers, and I'm okay with that.  It makes me celebrate the good stuff more.  

Sometimes life is unfair - really unfair.  And sometimes, you have to explain yourself to people when what you really want to do is tell them to go away, or maybe to stuff it.

My husband and I are dealing with infertility.  It's very painful - more so than I ever expected it to be.  Little comments by friends who don't know (we haven't been very open about it) or small things can be extraordinarily painful.  Even the well-intentioned comments of others can feel like being whipped by a stick fighter from the Philippines - death by a  thousand small cuts.

It's like wearing your nerve endings outside your skin.  You try to put them back under, or cover them with gloves and knee socks, but they work their way out anyway.  Being different from the world around you sometimes hurts.  A lot.

Being different from the world around you in any way can be painful.  It's hard to say no when everyone is going out on the weekend, or your friends are all planning a great vacation that you'd love to go on but can't because you are paying off debt or saving for something, or simply don't make enough.  And since we live in a world where instant gratification is not just expected, but actually demanded, there's a world full of people who just will never understand.  

But sometimes those people who don't understand can get pushy.  "Live a little" they say.  "Oh, c'mon, join us" they implore.  But you can't, or really really shouldn't.  

And so you say "No thanks.".  And you stick with it.  But still, it can be tough to be different, and inside you sort of wish you weren't.

That's human.  Perfectly acceptable.  

But if you can reach a point where you can celebrate the differences, then you win.  I'm still working on being gracious inside when someone tells me "Oh, I get pregnant so easily" like it's some sort of superior trait.  Or "Goodness, when ARE you having kids anyway? It's not like you guys are young."  I'm gracious outside, and I'm faking it 'til I make it.

Because faking it 'til you make it works.  I know it does - I am no longer bothered even a little when people do things without me because we have different financial goals.  Those goals drive me from within, they are the candle that burns a thousand kilowatts brighter than any trip with friends or dinner out can.   

It's again about wanting what you have.  And I know that we will have a child with treatment, or have a  child by adoption, so even the painful stuff has a buffer for me, although sometimes the buffer is stronger than other times.  And in the meantime, I list my immense and varied blessings - great marriage, wonderful family, seven beloved nieces and nephews, good job, great house, good friends, great life.....

Same with money.  When you can say "Oh, I'd rather cook in" and mean it, something changes within.  Say it enough times and you will eventually mean it.  Because you go from thinking about what you don't have, to thinking about what you do.

It's a small change.  But it's bigger than the world in many ways.  And eventually, you'll wonder what all the fuss about going out, or having kids to be a 'young mom' or whatever - is all about.

Because you know your way is the best way for you.  And that, that one piece of knowledge, is the most powerful knowledge in the world.  And so you can look at the person who tells you to live a little and think "I'm living more than a little." And you smile.  And mean it.  

They may never 'geddit'.  But that doesn't mean you have to let them bother you.  


leann said...

It's amazing how something like this completely changes how you react to the world around you. A comment that might be flippant by the giver is interpreted so differently by the receiver. I experience this in a completely different way when people make jokes about suicide - it's something that's so close to my heart and every little comment brings waves of emotions. Your strength is inspiring. And I hope to one day be able to have the same drive from within about our financial goals...but I'm not quite there yet.

Ms.Moneypenny said...

Leann, I appreciate all your comments. It is hard knowing what that a statement means nothing to the person you are speaking with, and they mean no harm, but cut you to the bone nonetheless. I'm trying to take it all as a lesson in learning greater empathy.

You will get there with the finances. It's taken me years....and I still occasionally feel twinges of all those unpleasant emotions. I'm just learning to forgive myself for them.

Simplicity Living said...

You are so right on so many things. I would rather eat in any day then go out and always get judged by it. I'm sure people think they can't afford it or something. The truth is we love cooking and having no distractions. The other point... about children. I recently found out a friend of mine was having fertility issues. It's hard on either side. You don't want to say anything because what if there are problems. We were in conversation about someone being prego and she just burst. I think it really was getting to the point where she needed to tell someone. I know it wasn't easy for her, but think it helped her so much and for me to try and put myself in her shoes on how it feels. I know I will never ever know the feeling unless I'm in that situation, but I do have a better understanding. I really enjoyed what you had to say. I hope you are blessed with strength and determination to get thru this and I'm sure it will be a Happy Ending or may I say New Beginning!

Mandy said...

We're dealing with this in a budgetary way right now - having to say no to trips we can't afford, and now just not getting asked, having to decline dinner invitations, etc. All because we are trying so hard to be financially responsible. It's no fun.

We haven't started trying for a family yet, but part of me feels as though we may have to deal with infertility issues (my mom did, and even though I know it's not necessarily genetic, it's just kind of hanging out there for me). I know I can't say anything that would really offer comfort, but I think it's great that you know that whether or not you can have biological children, you can still have a *family*. I wish you the absolute best.