Monday, 16 September 2013

Talking with the elephant and tree therapy


I'm trying to shake my feeling of annoyance at my sister for her lack of support.  I'm trying to be grateful for what I have and not upset about what I do not.

Easier said than done. For some reason these feelings are proving to be sticky.  "Is this a real problem, or is it just me being silly?" is what I've been asking myself.

I've been trying to think of reasons why this is still bothering me.  It could be D has been stressed and grumpy, and it's rubbing off on me.  It could also be because I am now on cycle day 30 and PMSing.  I dunno.   Those are definitely contributing factors.

I feel like it annoys me because it's not like she doesn't know about it.  It's a big huge part of my life.  She knows it's tough.  She knows that talking helps (she's a social worker for crying out loud!), and still there is silence.  No reaching out.  No, "how are you doing with all of this?".   There's no talking about this huge IF elephant in the room.  I don't always want to go into a big conversation about it, but every couple of months, or after something big happens (like ending our OE journey), I feel like it warrants some love.

I suppose, I'm also comparing this silence in contrast to some other more generous experiences. I know it's not a good thing to do...

This summer, we had friends that visited us from out of town.  They aren't our closest friends, but are people that we keep in touch with and see a couple of times a year.  They are fertile-mertles, and have  two children born within a year and a half of each other.  She also had a miscarriage in between, which was very difficult for them emotionally.

When they came to visit this summer, she asked about how our fertility stuff was going and I told her.  I shared our excitement leading up to our last cycle, and then a few weeks later, our heavy disappointment. After hearing about this news, the next time they visited, they brought us a beautiful flowering tree and a home made card with a lovely verse in it about friendship and their support for us.

It was truly one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for us in this journey.

I've learned it takes a really special person to see another person's pain and not get scared away by it.  Empathy and understanding are special gifts.  I think that most people refine this skill with practice in watching and experiencing things in their own lives.

This doesn't come naturally for me. I think because it wasn't something that was practiced in our home growing up much.  I know that I've gotten better.  Partly because I've learned from D.  Being empathetic is one of his greatest personality traits.  I've also learned first hand what it's like to go through something painful. Grief and I have gotten to know each other up close and personal.   I know what it's like to crave understanding and a listening ear.  It's exactly what I'm craving right now from my sister.

I no longer believe everything happens for a reason.  But, I do continue to believe that good can come from bad.  The good is that IF has shed light on friendships that can be distanced, and those that are to be nurtured and cherished.  It's help me be more present in someone else's pain with them, and to know that by 'going into it' with them that I don't need to be scared.  Just being there, asking about the elephant in the room, and carefully listening is all that needs to be done.

The red tree in the background is also something I'm thankful for.  Our friends gave us money to purchase a special tree in memory of my late Grandfather in lieu of flowers.   I'm hoping to get a plaque that says "In memory of a life well lived".     Both trees will remind me of two important chapters in our life and some of the beautiful thoughtful people that have been there along the way.


  1. It's tough with some people. It's hard to share your struggle with them, but when you do, their reaction/acknowledgment is sooo critical. Sometimes all they need to do is text or call every once in a while and ask how things are going. They don't need to try and understand because they probably never will. They just need to acknowledge that you're hurting. Some people I have told say the right things; they offer their empathy, prayers, and encouragement. Other people completely ignore the fact that you're going through this hard time; they act like it doesn't exist even though you've spilled your guts out. I don't get it.

    1. Exactly! Especially the spilling your guts part!

  2. I had a friend call me on Mother's Day once just to tell me she was thinking of me. It meant the world! But my sisters...hmmm...I think they try to avoid talking about it b/c they want to protect me. Thinking that maybe it's me that doesn't want to talk about it (and trust me sometimes I don't!). I think they think they are doing the right thing...

    The trees are beautiful!

  3. I'm sorry your sister isn't providing the emotional support you need. It does sound like you have some amazing friends!

  4. I think that Michaela has it right. I think many people are scared to say the wrong thing, and they don't want to raise the issue because they think that might upset us. They want us to be okay, so if they don't raise it, we'll seem okay. Of course, the difference is, we might seem okay, but we aren't. And unless they've been through something similar, or perhaps just are blessed with huge empathy genes, then they won't get it.


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