There’s nothing more invalidating than being unheard. Unseen. Invisible.
Especially by those closest to us.
How many of us can say, “Been There. Done That. Got the T-shirt” ?
That’s why two blog posts written by women living two completely different lives, but facing identical emotions resonated this week.
The first came from across the continent and the Atlantic Ocean. From deep in the heart of Slovenia, Klara wrote:
“….our friendship was seriously damaged because she did not know how to handle my infertility issues (her way of dealing [with] unpleasant issues: Let’s stay positive & do not even mention anything at all. If we do not talk about [it], it means everything is perfectly fine.).
“Why [is it] people do not get it? — which topics are safe area for somebody who has invisible scars? [A] few days ago I went for a long walk with another friend and my dog. We spent many beautiful hours together. This friend is single, childfree. She is single because she never met the love of her life. And I know she is a bit sad about it (she is two years older then me). Anyway, whenever I am with this friend, I am careful that I do not say something that might hurt her. Why can’t other friends do the same for me? “
Klara: I wish everyone was as kind and self-aware as you. What you’re asking for isn’t anything extreme. In fact, it’s really quite simple, you want only to have your life acknowledged. While you are willing to do this for another friend, clearly some people are unwilling or unable to oblige.
This point was made in greater detail by Esperanza — who, a day later and on the west coast of the U.S. (experiencing secondary infertility), confronted the anger and frustration felt by all who feel invisible in their infertility struggles:
“I’m frustrated that our culture only has room for the good news and hides the bad, because that kind of society only supports people when they don’t actually need support, leaving everyone else to struggle silently and alone.
“…I’m just trying to express how hard it is to be on the other side of that need to move on. How challenging it is to walk through the dark times all by yourself, pretending like everything is hunky dory when it’s not.
“…We go out of our way to celebrate pregnancy and child birth. And I’m not saying it’s wrong to do so, but I hate that it comes at such a high price to those who struggle to conceive or lose pregnancies or babies. I hate that it leaves those people all alone; makes their burdens even harder to bear.”
Esperanza: Your post speaks volumes about how ill-equipped society is to face up to any pain and suffering that doesn’t square with their own experience. Discomfort on the scale we’ve experienced forces people to confront the unthinkable — and rather than do so, they’d prefer to duck and run.
What struck me most about these two blog posts? They signify that, through a shared crucible, a bridge can be built between our unfamiliar worlds. While our lives may pull in different directions we inhabit common ground.
Regardless of the hand we’re dealt, it’s up to us, each and every day, to truly see and hear those around us.