Since recognising how I felt about no longer being able to have children I have been caught between being ‘hidden’ and being ‘invisible’ to those around me. This double-edged sword takes some navigating. But there is no road map is there? Last year I referred to those who attended the first Conference as Pioneers. And they were. They were not only leading the way but finding their way too.
Childlessness comes with a whole other level of ‘extras’…….embarrassment, shame, a feeling of loss of status or purpose, physical symptoms, emotional distress etc. All this is carried deep inside, sometimes even from our partners and close friends, further adding to the burden. But how can this burden be lightened?
How do I start a conversation and with whom? How much of this deeply important aspect of my life do I risk in opening up to others. Will they understand or dismiss my feelings with well meaning or casual words? Will they try to distract me or sit with me while I work through my situation? Will they avoid me because they don’t know what to say or do to help? After all, they have no road map either.
So I stay hidden…….
Socially life can get become very isolating. Those with children have a timetable to stick to with the school day and evenings pretty full. Weekends are for ‘family time’. All understandable but who do I get to play with? As time goes on invites to baby showers and others Hen Do’s become painful to accept and they too then stop coming.
There are all kinds of social groups I could join, charities that would welcome a volunteer but I know that THAT question will be asked pretty soon in to any conversation I have. That’s without having to be happy for my fellow volunteers as they parade endless photos of their own children/ grandchildren. Where I work, one woman from another department actively seeks me out to update me on her grandchild’s latest outfit or videoed attempt to say ‘mama’. And while I’m pleased for her I do breathe a little deeper until she leaves.
Colleagues have lots of conversations about their children but I am never asked , say, how I might solve a problem they may be having. I’m either not viewed as having any wisdom to impart or maybe they feel I would be upset at being asked when I have no children of my own. Most of the time I am not included in the conversation at all until the subject changes.
So I stay invisible………..
And so the painful cycle continues…………unless one side or the other starts to break it, for all our sake’s. Welcome to Conference everyone!