Monday, April 08, 2013
Validation vs. Platitudes Infertility Style
Pamela over at Silent Sorority recently blogged about grief and her post resonated with me so deeply, specifically the use of platitudes when helping someone through the grief process, I wanted to write about it as well. See her post "Grief is a Form of Love"
I REALLY do not like platitudes. As in when I hear one, it makes me want to crawl out of my own skin and I find myself instantly shutting down. It seems to me that many of them are just cop outs or ways to avoid an ACTUAL conversation about life, and grief. One that Pamela had mentioned in her blog post that really gets me going is "God/life/universe doesn't give you more than you can handle." I call bullshit.
Throughout my life I have been challenged way beyond what I would call "handling." Have I survived? Yes, but I hardly consider barely getting by and living in complete survival mode "handling." I have busied myself, numbed myself, eaten my feelings and enlisted numerous other coping "skills" to get through the challenging times, but I can't look back on all of them and honestly say that I "handled" them. I survived them.
I think people use this particular platitude in order to avoid really talking about someone's struggles. I know many do this unintentionally, but it really is just an easy way out of a potentially uncomfortable conversation about grief and how damn unfair life is at times. It is a way of brushing it off, undermining the pain and desperation from the struggling individual. As if saying that the person struggling is in the wrong for feeling hopeless, depressed, and/or anxious because no matter what is thrown at us in life, we will be able to handle it. If this is true, then I would like someone to explain how our suicide rates across the globe keep increasing at alarming rates.
Throughout my infertility struggle, the platitudes and assvice I received was at times mind boggling. I definitely heard the above referenced platitude more times than I can remember and every time I hear it, I get more and more infuriated. Then there are others like: God's timing is perfect. Ummmm...ok not really sure what this is supposed to mean but when people say it to me, it makes me feel like they are saying "Stop being do damn impatient you ungrateful woman...God will bring you a child in his time, not yours so just sit down, shut up and be patient." What if he doesn't? Oh...right - then the platitude changes to "God has a perfect plan for you."
And the platitudes just keep coming:
Time heals all wounds - really? Cause my pain 8 years in to my family building journey is much more intense than it was at 1, 2, 3 or 4 years.
Everything happens for a reason - Well of course everything happens for a reason, but not all of them are good reasons and if platitudes are meant to make people feel better, then this one fails miserably. I don't see any good reason 4 of my babies had to die, meanwhile women all over the globe are having kids that they don't want, and can't take care of. Care to explain?
There is someone worse off than you - this particular platitude really PISSES me off. How much more demeaning and belittling could a platitude get? By telling anyone this you are LITERALLY saying: You don't deserve to be upset, feel this pain or be sad because other people in the world have it worse than you. What a craptastic thing to say to someone you care about.
It will all be worth it in the end - In the infertility world - this may be true if that "end" results in a child. In fact, usually the people I hear spewing this particular platitude are already on the other side of infertility. They have a child in their arms. What about those that choose to get off the crazy train and instead choose to live child free after infertility? Will all of that pain, heartache, money, emotional trauma, physical abuse and loss be worth it then? If there are any readers reading this that have decided to remain child-free after infertility I would love your feedback on this one.
Let me challenge each of you that when you feel that platitude (let's face it, we all use them at one time or another) squirming up from your gut through your vocal cords - to stop it short there and instead really engage in the conversation and offer some real support. Real, true, unscripted support. Can you imagine how much different our relationships would be if our fears, hurts and insecurities were met with understanding, validation and support?
What are your most hated platitudes? And....go!