I knew writing a post titled “At peace” was tempting fate.
One of the strongest lessons I learned from pregnancy loss and infertility is that people worry more about themselves than they do about us. When I first had losses and then faced infertility and childlessness, I felt as if I was walking around with “barren” or “defective” or “heartbroken” tattooed on my forehead. I felt conspicuous, and imagined everyone was talking about me. I tortured myself by imagining friends and family (though to be honest, mainly family) talking about me behind my back, or saying dreadful insensitive things to my face. I practised what my responses would be, justifying the self-torture. But of course, these dreadful things were never said to me. (Insensitive things were said – but not the truly awful things I had imagined – and I coped with them.) And they were probably never said behind my back.
I’ve since recognised that I frequently feel this way. I think maybe we all do – our grief, our hurt, our shame, is so central to us that we forget others might be focused on other issues, that they might not even be thinking of our situation, that their bad moods or rudeness or reluctance to talk to us might simply be a result of something going on in their lives. I recently suggested to someone that this might be how she was feeling too. I think I might have upset her, and hope I didn’t.
Of course, I wished that I could hear or feel or imagine such rebuffs and acknowledge that it is all about them, not me. Sometimes I could (and can), and when that first happened it was a real freedom, an “at peace” moment. But often I couldn’t. And I wondered why I couldn’t. Why do I let these things upset me? And then I realised. It was how I had been feeling and thinking myself. I’d been telling myself these terrible thoughts and comments (real and imagined) and I had believed them. That’s why they hurt me so much.
And so even this week, when something terrible happened and I felt awful about it (and still do), my negative voice woke up and started telling me these terrible things; things that weren’t true, weren’t my fault, or even at their worst, things that were done and could not be undone but were never done with malice. I recognised this negative voice. Damn it! Unfortunately, that doesn’t always stop the sinking stomach, the stress, the worry, the shame, the desire to hide away from everyone. It hasn’t stopped it this week. Intellectually I know it will pass. My experience shows it will pass. But getting through it emotionally isn’t easy.