Things are not always as they seem.
I admit it. I’m nosey. I meet women, often, in lots of different situations. Sometimes through my work with RMACT, sometimes as a Yoga teacher, sometimes through the gym and so on. You know. I can stand on line at the supermarket
and start chatting. That’s just me.
And infertility is never far from my mind. Now, why is that? Why does my antenna go up when I am chatting with someone and discover that they’ve been married 4, 6, 8, 10 years and don’t have children? Probably my years of being involved with reproductive health, years of being with Resolve and then The American Fertility Association. Or maybe I am just nosey and this is how it comes out.
It’s odd that I have to consciously refrain from asking about children in these situations. After all, I’m someone who writes all the time about how to answer awkward questions from family, friends, and yes, nosey strangers on line at the supermarket. So why is it hard for me to refrain from asking?
I think I see myself as a safe place, neutral, sympathetic even. I have this idea that I exude understanding and empathy; that the women that I speak with know that somehow I am not just a nosey stranger, poking into tender places. That somehow they will know that I understand their reasons for being childfree, whether by choice or not. That I am a safe person to talk to.
Interestingly enough, nosey as I am, this is often exactly what happens. Sometimes even when I don’t ask, women pour their hearts out to me. It appears that I do invite confidences, particularly when it comes to this upsetting place of infertility.
Just recently, I’ve had 3 separate, spontaneous conversations with women on line. (Oh, yeah, it’s so that time of year!) In each conversation, movies and books were talked about first and then, yes, children, and then yes, infertility. Maybe I just know the right language, or have just the right look on my face. What I do feel comfortable with is that I don’t believe I caused any discomfort. In fact, the relief on these women’s faces as they shared their stories was palpable. It was as if the line, the store, everything around us disappeared and it was only the two of us speaking from the heart.
Turns out, I’m glad I’m a little nosey. It’s so hard to be alone with infertility. We all know the reasons that we need and crave the isolation; inappropriate questions at bad times from friends and family members and more. So interesting that sometimes it’s a stranger in a supermarket that feels like just the right person to talk to.