When I wrote my last blog post, waaay back in April (I know, it’s been a while) I was pretty taken aback by the response. Close friends, strangers…all sorts, insisted my story should be read by everyone.
I was happy to share my story but I wasn’t convinced it was newsworthy. I connected with one of the editors of a national Irish newspaper, Yvonne Hogan in The Irish Independent. Yvonne read my blog, she wanted to know more. She said my story gave insight to an experience that is rarely shared. She asked me to write a new piece, telling my story of IVF, miscarriage and of most interest to her – our decision to say ‘Enough’.
Writing it was really challenging. Remembering each step of our journey, each decision, the counselling sessions, the tough conversations, the loss of our babies…it hurt me to recall them. I wondered if I was causing myself harm by stirring it all up. I wondered if this could really help someone else. I kept going. While it hurt to write, I could also feel a release, a degree of healing in the ripping open.
My story is my story, it doesn’t necessarily represent anyone else. We all have exceptionally different experiences of growing (or trying to grow) our families, but something about my story struck a chord with many. The article was published. I waited for the backlash many friends warned about.
There was no backlash. No trolls. No nasty comments. Sweet relief!
For weeks after the article was published, I received emails every day. Some thanked me for telling what felt like their story. Others sent words of encouragement and kindness. Some offered solutions, which I didn’t want or ask for, but I realised their words came from a place of kindness and, I think a degree of discomfort with my decision to say ‘Enough’. I accepted every email with grace and gratitude. I replied to as many as I could and offered advice to those who asked.
Since then, a few beautiful women have shared their story with me privately. They have thanked me for writing about my experience and almost apologised for not being able to share theirs publicly. They have told me they wish they could be more open.
To those women I say – you do not need to share your story. No-one needs to share any private part of themselves if it does not serve them.
You do not owe anyone access to your hurt.
I believe that we share our private hurt only with those who have earned the right to witness it. Not everyone has earned that right and I want to say to you – protect those pearls. Share only with those who have earned your trust. If you don’t want to share, it’s ok to say “that’s not something I’m going to talk about now”. No apology or explanation. Try it, it’s kinda liberating!
To those of you who might be the witness to someone else’s hurt – please, listen with kindness. Please, do not judge. Please, I implore you, rather than offering solutions or comparison…stories of friends who have had miracle babies…please simply offer a hug and your presence, as a witness to this sacred pain that is being shared with you. I know all too well the urge to fix. I have been that soldier and sometimes I still am. Some things cannot be fixed. Sometimes we will ask for advice, or help. If we don’t, we are quietly asking for acceptance and kindness. If you have it to give, we could sure use it.
(Thanks to staff photographer Steve Humphreys at the Irish Independent for the photograph)