In 2009, the stop-motion animation movie Mary and Max was released. Stop-motion is something I've learned to appreciate with age (think Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run), so I was surprised how quickly this movie grabbed my attention. The story is about a lonely little girl who establishes a pen pal relationship with a middle-aged man who has Asperger's syndrome. The story unfolds as over the years their relationship grows and changes, hitting emotional mountains along the way. It was the ending that got me, though. Despite all the trials and tribulations, this moment where Mary visits Max, only to find he has died hours before, revealed the power of human connection and lifelong friendship.
Like so many introverted geeks, I struggle to find human connections; kindred spirits I seemingly click with. I always assumed that this stemmed from not having much of a connection within my own family and that I had failed to develop the necessary skill set to foster relationships. Hence I'm one that has always had a small circle of friends, focusing instead of the quality of the relationship vs. the quantity. And in general, I've learned to be comfortable with being alone.
Mali's post has me wondering though. Is this lack of human connection actually inhibited due to family? Have we been programmed from a young age to embrace family over all else? If so, is that part of the reason that infertility is so painful? A dual loss not only of potential family, but also the one at present as we become outsiders looking in. The added trauma of having to build human connections when one is unsure where to start.
When I began blogging about my journey through infertility, I found I was in the minority when it came to family involvement. Sure, most people weren't overly open with their journeys, but through reading it seemed that most had the support of parents and loved ones, even if it was more peripheral. In my case my family was completely cut off, leaving me struggling to find any source of support as I was grieving that loss. I was fortunate from the beginning to find the support I did through this space. To find my tribe. But this issue surfaced again just before the Beats were born. There was a disconnect about me not sharing this news with my family that many struggled to wrap their heads around.
The story of Mary and Max gets at the heart of this for me. With my family, I was a black sheep. So finding a human connection elsewhere, usually with strangers, became natural. In a weird way, it did prepare me finding my tribe within the ALI community. Shared pain and uncertainty do created a lot of bonding.
What I never considered, though, was that for many this sudden distance with family could actually be terrifying. That as Mali pointed out, most deep connections may be restricted to family and shared only within family. Making the mantra "blood is thicker than water" take on a whole new level and, as Mali pointed out, all the more traumatic when seemingly lost. And maybe, just maybe, that's one piece of information those who have never experienced infertility and loss ever really consider: the possibility of losing the human connections we know and have fostered simply because of the failure to relate.