Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Real life

I have an immense community online who have supported me through this terrible tumble down the rabbit hole. Yet there is, of course, only so much people online can do for me. Writing out what I am going through, writing down what I am feeling, allows distance to what I'm feeling.

And while sometimes that is good, as it allows us to put it out there and sort through our myriad of emotions without getting lost- it isn't always a good thing. Sometimes we need to say it out loud to release it, we have to give it a name.

Sometimes I keep it all inside, and I let it simmer. I write it down, but it comes out muted and incomplete. And then, eventually, I dare to utter it out loud- and my house of cards comes crashing down. As happens every now and then, late at night, when I can't take it anymore- and I say what I'm thinking to my husband. I open the box where I keep all my fears. And I bawl for several hours, late into the morning, and though nothing is resolved- I feel better. Not the next morning, and maybe not the next day, but I feel better eventually. Maybe that week, or the one after that. It's like shaking a bottle, and finally twisting the cap off. I feel spent, but so much lighter.

But I know this probably isn't healthy to keep doing. I know I probably should say these things out loud more often. I should scream them in the car from time to time. I should curse them out.

But, the thing is- to who would I tell them, other than myself, my husband, and my cats. My husband has heard it all before, he's been through it. My cats just nudge me and nuzzle me- and while that's nice, it isn't enough. I need to know I'm not alone, that my husband and I are not the only ones drifting through the dark trees of the forest, where the sun doesn't shine. That we're not the only ones that hear the laughter, and see the light through the treeline, and know that it's not for us- not now, and maybe never. And I appreciate that online support is, well, awesome (and so sad because so many of us have been in these shoes)- but I can not speak it out loud here- it's not exactly the same. I don't know how to explain it.

The only person I know in real life that gets it, I mean actually gets any part of it on that basic deeper level, is my sister. And she understands the losses, since she has had a still birth. But even she admits she can only imagine how painful infertility must be for us. She never had a problem getting pregnant, it was delivering living children that kept her up at night. And also, she lives across the country from me, all the way out west- and I am out east. She can talk to me, listen, but the whole time I can hear her children calling her in the background- and most of the time she can only half listen because her attention is always elsewhere. I don't blame her that, I understand that her kids need her. It's just hard because then, who does that leave that I can I talk to?

I have been thinking about going to the local resolve group that meets once a month. Well, if you can call it local- it's an hour drive! But, there are no local support groups here in my community. I've already checked. I am interested in going to this meeting, but I just don't know. One, it's an hour drive. Two, I am afraid of crumbling in a heap of tears if I open my mouth. Heck, I mean, I don't know what goes on at these support groups- and maybe I should at least email about it. I just don't know. I've got a lot on my plate, but I know I need to take care of myself emotionally at the same time. And I think making a personal connection, meeting up with fellow infertiles, would be good.

At the same time, I am not a social person. I don't like crowds, being around strangers, speaking in public, and I always feel like people stare at me. I was a very unsocial child, we never lived anywhere long- I was always the new kid, and also the class nerd (I got bullied a lot). I eventually gave up on making friends after we moved so much (one time we moved three times in one school year). I still don't make friends easily, I am too shy. The friends I have, well they always approached me first- so I am an introvert surrounded by extroverts. Well, my husband is a shy introvert too, and doesn't talk in public (or at doctors appointments, or around my friends... at least not until he's known them for a year) Don't even ask how two extremely introverted people hooked up, ha ha. Awkwardly- that's the best way to describe it.

I have become more social, to an extent, since starting college and getting my job at the shelter. I've become more confident, if you will. But I still tense up and fear social things. It's ridiculous, but I can't shake it. I just don't know what to say, where to look, what to do- maybe I am over-analyzing it all. But, I never had much experience. My heart catches in my chest, and I freak out in a mild panic.

Let me give an example of me in a crowded room... I was asked to be a guest poet at a book store last year, because of the literary awards I won on my campus. I went, and I read. And my voice shook, and my hand rattled... the paper I was reading from shook lightly. I got cold and clammy, and read fast to get through my two small sections of my short stories, and one poem. I was asked to read again this year, and I did much better. But man, it was still bad. Thank goodness I only read two poems this year. I want to be a writer, but a reclusive one that is mysterious and ambiguous... who doesn't do book readings and signings (at least not often!) I guess the best way to say it, is that I'd rather be in the shadows than the spot light. Which makes me feel even more self conscious, because almost everyone seems to want to be in the spotlight.

Maybe a group isn't going to be good for me. I feel like I keep making excuses though, because I also feel like it would be a good thing for me at the same time. I just don't know.

If you've gone to a support group, tell me... what did it do for you?


Kristin said...

I've never been to a support group but I wish I had known about them when I was dealing with the worst of my infertility.

BTW, even if you did dissolve into a puddle at the Resolve meeting, it would be ok. It has happened before and will happen again.


Anonymous said...

Instead of a support group that brings out inner demons, have you considered seeing a therapist or your pastor at church?
I am so sorry for you pain. I hope you can the outlet you are searching for.

Sweet Georgia said...

I understand completely what you mean by giving voice to what you're feeling in the real world. I think the support group is a great idea. I haven't been to one, but have been considering looking for one in my area.

I suggest that you email the group and let the leader (is there a leader?) know of your concerns. Maybe just go and observe, sit in the back row and take things in. I think once you get past the fear, it will be a great experience and emotional release for you.

Celia said...

It wasn't a support group, but in college when I was diagnosed with a learning disability I had to take a class with other learning disabled students. It was the only time in my whole life where I felt like I belonged. It was wonderful and I learned a lot of coping skills that help me have a normalish life. It felt so good to be with people who understood and were like me. And an hour drive is not so bad, I drive an hour each way for work every day. I have dyscalculia and while my short term memory is in the top 10% of the country, my long term memory is in the bottom 10%. So I can tell you what you just said, but I don't know my own anniversary, or my parents birthdays,my phone number etc.

Susan said...

Going to an infertility support group was the best thing that I ever did to help myself feel better. Being able to express how you are feeling to other people who have been through the same thing, or at least been through a similar enough experience to know what is going on without having to explain all the terms and procedures is really refreshing.

I found that when I tried to talk to people who had not been through such experiences, they either pitied me, tried to tell me to get over it, or otherwise oftentimes I just felt like I was droning on about the same things and that they were tired of hearing me.

At the support group I felt like people understood with compassion instead of pity, and the whole point was to talk things out, so no one felt like I was talking to much about it.

I also thought it would be odd talking to strangers, but when you have someone so large in common, you bond right away over the common experiences.

I say go, what is the worst thing - you dont' like it, and dont' go back. But you might find you really like it. I always feel better when I leave the meetings. Mine only meets monthly, but I wish it met every week.

Anonymous said...

I never did go to a support group, though I really wanted to. I'm kind of the same as you, introverted, and really wanted to find a place where other people understood and "got it", but dislike being around new people. There was a Resolve support group that met once a month nearby, and I'd put it on my calendar every month and then lose the nerve to go.

I also bailed on a 'pregnancy after loss' therapy group that started this summer. It cost money, and I was nervous about going, so I never called the therapist back. I wish I wasn't so uncomfortable in social situations, because I think it could have been great.

It is so hard to not have anyone to talk about it in person with. For a brief time, another IF blogger lived near me and we got together several times, and that was great, but she moved away. My husband got so sick of me talking about it nonstop that it caused major problems with us. He got angry that I was so "obsessed" and thought we should stop treatments, which I was not ready to do. My sister was always willing to listen, but hasn't been through it so she didn't understand.

I say go once, if you can make yourself, and see how it feels. You may find that it is a great support.

Amber said...

I am sorry you are having such a hard time. I wanted to let you know that you mentioned something that TOTALLY hit a soft spot for me. I moved 12 times growing up. I was always the new girl, people approached me. I never tried to stay in contact with my old friends because it was just too hard back then, we didn't have Instant Messaging or Email, you know. And it always was like, well I will just make new friends at the next city. I have no friends from high school and none from college either and am very much alone. It is DH and me and that's it. I wanted to join an infertility group and it happens to meet less than a mile away but I have a fear of meeting new people, making small talk and being stared at. I feel awkward making conversation and feel like the outsider all of the time. It makes infertility that much more lonely. So that's why I turned to the blogs, it helps. I have only been blogging for a month but reading blogs like yours helps very much. I feel like I do have friends, I may not have met them in person but I finally feel like I have friends.

Thanks so much for sharing.

Bethany said...

There aren't any local support groups here either but I am not sure I would go to one. I like the privacy of the online community and it's provided an outline and means of emotional support I would not have otherwise had. (I have yet to verbally refer to myself as infertile.)
I hope you find the real world support you are looking for. And even though reading your work in front of groups of people rattles you it's extremely brave of you to do it in spite of your fear. Kudos!
I would love to hear how two introverts got together and got married! That sounds like a story!

Michelle said...

My DH and I went to a RESOLVE support group last year a couple times after my last loss. It was before I start blogging and I thought it was GREAT to be with a bunch of people that knew exactly how I felt. I went because I knew I had to TALK to people who knew. I felt I was going to jump off a bridge at any minute. I went and when I left I thought I was doing really well compared to everyone else in the room. Even though out of all of the people there I had the worst story, as far as losses and how long and stuff like that, I was still in a mich better place then most of these women. I learned a lot in the group but after a couple of times I realized it really was not for me. It was nice to connect with these people but it was a LONG night and very emotionally and physically draining. Because there was someone new in the group every time we always had to go around the group and tell our stories. That is really hard to constantly do. So that is why I turned to blogging.

I think the best thing that it would do for you is that you would meet people and then find one or 2 people that yoyu can connect with and then meet later. I met one girl that I felt I connected with instantly when I saw her. We have kept in touch and it is nice to be able to talk to someone IRL.

Another side, my sister lead a support group for infertility at her church (why? I have no idea because she has never experienced it herself and this made me very upset but that is a whole other story). Anyway, her group met weekly and they all LOVED it. In fact they wanted to meet more then that and often times would get together 2x weekly.

I know what you mean though because the whole reason I started blogging is because I was sure my DH was getting very sick of me dumping on him all the time (even though he would never say that). I would say to give it a try. If you don't like it then don't go back but it never hurts to try. You may find exactly what you need.

Sorry for such a long answer. I guess I should have probably just emailed you. I hope all this helps a little.

Sending HUGS!!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you're having to take some time off. I was tricked into time off due to an insurance snafu, but now I've vountarily decided to extend it for a month or two. I can't wait to get back to it, but I'm enjoying the break.

I'm sorry for the BFN, too. :( **hugs**

I haven't tried a group but I've thought about it. I'm curious to read others' comments to see what they thought of groups they went to! It's a good question.

Michelle said...

I nominated you for an award! :)

MK said...

I just had to comment on the thing about calling your sister and hearing kids in the background. That right there is the reason I won't call my girlfriends, even the ones who understand what I'm going through or at least are just amazing listeners. I absolutely cannot deal with hearing all their kids in the background for the entire conversation and just knowing that, you know, "yes I care about you, but I'm basically giving you 3% of my attention right now."

Just another way infertility screws with us.

Jenn said...

I went to the Resolve support group and was a founding member of one that was restarted. I think the first few times all the three of us did was cry. It was a safe place to go and be with others who understood what I was going through. Especially since I didn't have a blog yet or wasn't out about it with the public or friends. I don't think I could have survived without it. Not a bad idea to e-mail the leader and get her take on the group first.

Shelby said...

Attending my local IF support group was the BEST thing I've ever done for myself, but I must prefice this with a few warnings. First, I got lucky. Not every group's make up is great, but that day, mine was. There were only four of us including the leader, all of whom are amazing women. I became really close friends with both of the women in attendance.

Second, I am not fearful of jumping into crowds of people and especially not fearful of therapy-like situations because I counsel everyday.

However, even if these perfect scenarios do not describe your experience, I still think it's well worth a try. It is most important to know that you will not be required to share. You can merely be an observer. That in and of itself is so healing. We've had many throughout the time I've attended my groups (whose composition grew and changed each time I went) and no one ever holds the silence against you. In fact, they all understand. Also, just be prepared that you will likely cry. I HATE crying in public, and at my first meeting, we all were sobbing within the first five minutes and it didn't feel icky--it felt necessary and healing. You won't be alone in your tears, either. Just remember, everyone there is likely as nervous and as heartbroken as you are. You're there in similar boats.

It will take a lot of guts, but if it works out, the payoff could be HUGE. I am now surrounded by the most amazing group of women (who I often have to drive about an hour to see and I do so easily). I realize my situation was incredibly fortuitous, but just the possibility of one real-life connection to someone who truly gets it is worth the risk in my opinion.

Cara said...

As someone who runs a support group for loss I have seen the power in them. That said, certain people find it doesn't meet their needs. Hence, we have a crew that comes monthly, and others who float in and out depending on how their month is going.

It is worth a try. You will know if it did what you hoped.


Susan said...

I should add - that at my support gorup, if you are feeling shy, you don't need to ever share or talk, you can just listen. And then if you feel like chatting - you can always speak up.

Bluebird said...

I get totally what you're saying. I too am an introverted, shy person, and I wonder if the intimidation factor would detract from any good I might take from such a situation!

I'm so private that I don't really like talking about these things out loud (except to DH), so I find that blogging really suits my needs. That said, if I ever felt otherwise - it would absolutely be worth looking into a support group. In fact, a group setting might actually be best because you might be able to just blend into the background at firs :)

You've received some awesome comments and insight on groups. Sounds like it might be worth trying at least once :) ((Hugs))