Saturday, November 19, 2011

You Shouldn't Say

Here, for your benefit, are a list of things you shouldn't say to a single person or a couple dealing with infertility.

1. "Just relax." Which goes with "It will happen when you least expect it" or its twin "Stop trying and it will happen."
Everything I've ever gotten in life was because I did something. Part of getting married is actually putting yourself out there the best you know how. People get pregnant because they do something, and in the case of infertility it's because they do a LOT of somethings. Telling someone to "just relax" is basically telling them faith doesn't need works. "Just relax" denies my works.

2. "Have you tried...? That's what worked for me."
That's wonderful. But I'm not you.

3. "I know how you feel."
Really? You've been exactly where I am with my exact background? If you have been in a similar situation it is to turn that from a "you" statement to an "I" statement. "I felt this way when..." rather than assuming you know how I feel. Or even just simply ask how I'm feeling.

4. "Everyone needs a favorite aunt." or "You can always adopt."
No, being single/infertile is not the end of the world and yes, there are other ways to be fulfilled in this life. But each person needs to figure them out on their own and it is nobody's place to say what to do next.

5. "Husbands/Kids are a lot of trouble."
I swear I'm walking out of a meeting if it ever turns into husband/kid bashing. There's a bumper sticker that says "A bad day fishing is better than a good day working." In some ways a bad day in a good marriage is better than a good day all alone.

6. "How are you doing?" when accompanied by sad puppy dog eyes of pity.
Please, hold the pity. It doesn't do anything to build anyone up. Especially if you give me pity about the area of my life that isn't going the way I want when I'm having a pretty good day in other areas of my life and would rather talk about that at the moment.

But that does not mean you should be silent and ignore reality. So here's some things you should say.

1. "Let me know if I can do anything."
And mean it. And then leave it.

2. "How are you doing?" when accompanied by genuine interest in my life as a whole.
Simply acknowledging there is more to my life than my marital/parental status is huge. When I want to talk about the marital/parental stuff I will, but if I don't bring it up, maybe you shouldn't either. The friends I appreciate the most are those who don't always press for details and who acknowledge me as a whole person.

The best response I've gotten about our infertility was when I told a friend why I couldn't schedule a meeting with her for a certain week because I wasn't sure what I'd be doing medically that week because of the next step we were taking and she replied with the most genuine and excited, "That's great!" She didn't give advice. She didn't give pity. She didn't judge. The most she's said since was to tell me once that she was thinking about us and praying for us. And isn't that what we all need.


erinannie said...

Excellent post!

I am single and unemployed in my late 30s. I have really started to notice over the past 2 years of unemployment how many people say incredibly stupid things, and how many say "let me know if I can help" and mean it. I know exactly how many people have actually tried to help me, I might add. And it never comes from the people you expect it to. Just recently, out of the blue, (which, imho, means as answers to prayers) people have started inviting me over for dinner at their homes. Not to set me up or anything, but just to be nice. I'm unemployed and live alone. You have no idea how lonely I am. An invitation to dinner absolutely makes my whole week and gives me something to look forward to. Very few people have made job hunting suggestions, and even fewer have made useful ones.
I've learned a lot from my experiences, and have started to make my bigger efforts to be of help to other people, and to make more sincere remarks.

TRS said...

Roxie, this is a great post!!
#5 is a big one for me and I like your comparison to a bad day fishing! Like I say about money... people say money won't make you happy/solve your problems - I say, "Give me a chance! Give me a million dollars and I'll do my best to prove that theory wrong!"

Same with marriage -- when people say that... I'm not shy about saying that a lifetime alone is no picnic either.

Erin has some great points in her comment too.
Wish people would think a bit before they speak and consider what other people are really going through.