Cheers, dear readers,
Do you remember what it feels like be an outsider? To not quite fit in? To be the minority? To feel invisible, and not seen, heard, or perhaps valued as an equal? There are SO many reasons that each of us experiences these emotions, these moments of awkwardness and anxiety. Whether it’s on the playground as a child, or in the boardroom, or at a gathering in mixed company, these moments are challenging at best, sorrow-producing at worst. These episodes of “Oh dear, how will I survive this seeming lack of acceptance? When will this moment pass?”
Well for some of us, the moment never passes. In a boisterous world that celebrates parenthood loudly from every mountaintop, those of us who are unsuccessful at bearing our own children, the realization of the disease of infertility is ever-present. It is like a dull ache that is always under the surface. Even for women that choose freely to not become a mother, that unpopular decision is typically frowned upon, often criticized and frequently misunderstood. The word “selfish” gets thrown around – as if raising a child is the only way to contribute to society and the world at large – and anyone who chooses a different path for themselves is at home eating “bons bons” and partying in bars until 2am every night. Why make unflattering and negative assumptions about other people who live a life differently than you do? Why discriminate against any minority? Why stigmatize infertility by asking those who suffer from it to please stop talking about it already? Should we stop talking about cancer too? …Right, that is ludicrous.
As my dear friend Pamela Tsigdinos writes on her blog “Silent Sorority”:
“It doesn’t matter what age, what ethnicity, what country we hail from — we all desire respect, acknowledgment and acceptance.
There are few things in life that can feel so exhilarating.
We have more ways than ever to connect with each other — a Tweet, a Like, a comment on a blog or a newspaper article. Each point of intersection holds the capacity to bring us together and remove great distances. Each allows us to express ourselves, to ask for help or to offer encouragement.
The joy we feel when we’re heard, respected and acknowledged is no less potent. In some ways, it’s greater because it’s complicated and unexpected.”
I am so thrilled, excited and in awe of my good fortune. Why do you ask? Because in just three days, I will be in Vancouver, Canada meeting several amazing women that I respect and admire in person – including Pamela – for a coming together of women just like me: Women who have suffered and survived through infertility; who have chosen in the end a different path; and who have bravely created works in the world (books, blogs, etc). These fantastic females are all advocates doing their part to create awareness and understanding for others like us, doing our part to help educate and create a feeling of community instead of isolation for those struggling with infertility.
As Pamela shared (and I cannot say it any better):
“Out of the once difficult, uncomfortable, and isolating experience [of infertility]we discovered new courage and toughness — and acceptance. We may, in fact, be the first gathering of women in history to come together, stronger and more whole because of what didn’t happen… If you had told this seven-year-old girl (me) that many years later she’d be happily planning a trip with new-found friends — accepted just as she is with no judgment or questions — she’d be thrilled. I hope one day another girl or woman finds this blog post and sees that she, too, will be accepted and valued just as she is. I’ll be basking in the joy of being among those who effortlessly ‘get’ one another.”
The seven-year-old version of me (see photo) AND the 47 year old version agrees whole-heartedly. As we strive to “fit in”, sometimes we forget that maybe we weren’t meant to. Maybe we were meant to share our unique gifts in our own unique way, with no apologies. Maybe the road less traveled can be awesome, even though it wasn’t the path we thought we were supposed to be on or that we originally wanted for ourselves. Maybe we can become stronger, wiser, and more compassionate for others each day that goes by – just by surviving each of our own challenges in life.
To Vancouver and beyond! Stay tuned!
Please join me next week to hear more about my personal journey down the infertility path. I look forward to speaking with you. And I wish you the best on your journey.
This post is also available in: Arabic