Tuesday, October 31, 2017


It was a simple email exchange. My MIL is going through a work issue and Grey and his siblings have been working with her to navigate all of it. Since first learning about this issue, there's been emails exchanged between the siblings to share advice, strategy and determine who can handle which aspects.

But it was a portion of one email that caught my eye; a paragraph actually. In that paragraph, Grey shared with his siblings how taxed we've been with all the transitions, illnesses and surgeries, telling them that he was limited with what we could provide. And though that may not seem like much, this was the first time openly shared any hardships with them instead of trying to take everything on.

He would go on to do it again during a conversation with MIL. Opening up to her in a manner he likely hasn't done in years, with it being clear she was surprised. But the unsilencing has been good for him; for them too.

Like Grey, I've never been one to talk openly about my struggles. From a young age, I learned it wasn't socially acceptable to "whine and complain" about my ales as it was likely others around me had it much harder. Instead, my role was to act as a support system, helping others in need find solutions and roads forward. There's a lot of problems with this thinking, particularly the learned assumption that asking for help is a sign weakness, but another one is the burn out that comes from suffering in silence. When you're giving all the time, neglecting your own self care, it's hard not to start resenting others for their requests, be they simple or overly complex.

Loribeth's post about the Misery Filter got me thinking more about this, particularly the point most the need to educate people about suffering. Part of this education requires training and learning how to be resilient, but there's another point which involves normalizing suffering and making it much more common place then it already is.

With infertility, we're starting to see this. Whereas a few years ago, post like this one from Dear Prudence were common (and I'm still angry with Emily Yoffe for her callous response), the articles now are more sympathetic (and this podcast had me cheering for Mallory Ortberg) with people finally opening up about their journey. The big thrust behind this change is because of normalization. It's because a brave few started all of this by coming out of the infertility closet, shameless sharing their stories. And those few grew to many more, empowering many more to do the same. And though infertility and pregnancy loss are still taboo, particularly if you don't resolve by parenting, the truth is there are more much needed conversations that are happening. The unsilencing has lead to awareness.

Something has lifted in our household recently due to the embrace for openness. Things are still hard with surrounding this period (finding out our new rental is likely going to be foreclosed on in the near future hasn't helped), but by asking for help while acknowledging the hardships of others has been freeing and selecting. Those who love us and want to support us know not to jump in with assive or offer callous critiques, but instead to offer empathy and someone to talk to. But there's also something very freeing about no longer living under the shroud of silence. A validation that we actually matter too.


  1. It wasn't until I got into the world of adoption that I began to understand the value in openness, in vocalizing and communicating, in sharing appropriately. If I'd known earlier, so many big problems in my life would have been more manageable. Down with shame and secrecy. (Privacy, yes. Secrecy, no.)

  2. I understand your reticence about sharing your problems... it's hard to change the habits & mindset of a lifetime, but I generally agree that openness is the healthier option. (I do like Lori's point above... I read an article somewhere recently where someone made the point about being pressured to reveal more information than they were ready or willing to do: "It's not a secret, but it is private.")


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