Time Warp: Fear and Mr. Rogers

Fear Among the Rapids

Today’s Time Warp topic is Fear. Want to know more about the Time Warp, hosted by the lovely Kathy? Go here.

I have written about fear a number of times. But I really liked this post. Maybe because it has a Mr. Rogers story in it. Mr. Rogers makes everything better.

Revisiting this post, I was struck by two things.

1) I was recently at my parents’ house and I found the Mr. Rogers book. It was inscribed to my BROTHER, not me. Doh.

2) I really like the lesson Mr. Rogers imparts:

“Because deep down, we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win too. Even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.”

Lately, I’ve heard a new criticism of the ALI community: that we create an audience that enables those suffering from fear. That our supportive comments perhaps keep bloggers in a static place where they don’t “smile” all the time and perhaps even keep them from being happy for others.

Honestly, I was aghast to hear this.

We blog because no one understands us in our daily lives. I have read so many ALI bloggers write about their TTC journeys and so many of them have mentioned a few universal fears: that they won’t be able to to conceive, that they will lose a pregnancy and that they wish they didn’t feel punched in the gut when they see friends and family easily get pregnant. But they do.

I felt these things, too. I felt like a freak in my day-to-day life, because no one understood. During my pregnancy, I was dropped by another pregnant friend (who had no trouble TTC) because she didn’t like my attitude. I was too fearful and anxious for her.

Well, I had good reason to be afraid. I had suffered a miscarriage and gone through 3 IVFs on my way to that pregnancy.

I remember when I was single, a popular pick-up line was: “SMILE! You’d be beautiful if I could see you smile.” It never, ever worked on me.

First of all, I smiled a lot back then!

Second, don’t dictate my emotions to me!

Look, we all put on fake smiles in the real world.

I don’t think we need to put them on HERE, in our spaces, where we can bond and share and be supported and EVEN CHALLENGED by people who have gone through what we have gone through.

Fear is a true emotion. I acknowledge that all of you feel it too. And I support you in acknowledging that fear.

Because like Mr. Rogers, I’d like to support you all on your journey, whether it be a path to adoption, fertility treatments or a life childless/childfree.

Mr. Rogers is right. We all win when we help each other.

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12 Comments

Filed under Fear, Infertility

12 responses to “Time Warp: Fear and Mr. Rogers

  1. Yay! I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I just wrote so. Well, in a very long-winded way. 😉

  2. Thank you for this. Just thank you.

    I have thought a lot about this too, about whether or not we enable our fear and jealousy and rage by supporting each other instead of pushing each other to think or feel differently. In the end I came to one conclusion: we have to put on the happy faces all day, we say the right thing and swallow our hurt and pain. Like you said, this is our space, to be understood or at least heard without judgment. And that is so very, very important. It’s really hard when someone from the “real” world shows up and bad mouths how we feel and what we’re doing for each other. It really, really sucks. But it also serves as a reminder of how amazing this community is and how lucky we are to have it. It is good to be reminded of that.

  3. WTF? Where is this new criticism coming from??? I agree wholeheartedly that we need spaces in which we don’t have to put on fake smiles.

  4. Nicely said! Blogging has been a wonderful outlet for me – even though I try to keep it sunny (because you never know who (my mother) may stumble upon it and find out how I really feel about them!). I’m generally a happy person, but there are rough days, (I think some are coming up since we’ll be TTC#2 soon) that need to be written about and released. Blogs are all about release to me – and validation. What could be wrong with that?

  5. Interesting post and discussion here… I agree that our blogs should be our safe havens, where we can share about and process our experiences with ALI or anything else we want to write about. However, it does get tricky when our blogs are public and we invite our family and friends (or they find them on their own) to read.

    In the monthly perinatal bereavement support group that I go to, our facilitator talks about how “every time we tell our story it becomes more real to us” and in doing that we are able to learn how to incorporate our loss (or our experience with IF/Adoption) into our lives.

    I have often wondered if participating in that group and/or blogging does perpetuate some wallowing/self pity after all I have been through on my journey to expand our family. However, I know that connecting with others in person and online who “get it” works for and is healthy for me. It may not be right for everyone who has faced ALI, but it is for me and that’s what is important.

    We all need to find our tribe that understands how we feel and what we are going through. I was talking about that with a loved one recently who trains to run a marathon every year with a big group of Chicago area runners and another who communicates often with friends on Twitter who all love Pearl Jam. We all agree that we each have found groups that help us to feel the most comfortable in our own skin and who can relate to the way we think and process life.

    Okay, its late here in CST and I rambling a bit now. But thank you for this post, for sharing that AWESOME Mr. Rodgers story, even if he didn’t dedicate his inscription in the book to you, and thank you also for doing the Time Warp again with us this month! xoxo

  6. There’s a line I heard recently about wallowing in self-pity (which is a phrase I don’t really like). It may have been in a movie or on TV, I just can’t remember, Anyway, the jist of it was this: If I don’t feel sorry for myself, who will. That sounds like a joke, but it wasn’t to me. I think we have to allow ourselves to feel sympathy and empathy for ourselves and express that in order to heal. We share with others because we want to know that our experience, which seems so isolated and isolating, isn’t. Sometimes, the best thing that has happened to me in a day is someone saying “I know how you feel” when I’ve expressed some moment of sadness, frustration, and even self-pity.

    Great post. And, good for Mr. Rogers, he’s right.

    • I agree. I’ve often advised other IFers to allow themselves to acknowledge and feel the entire gamut of emotions because if they don’t, who will? Mostly we are advised to focus on the positive or keep a stiff upper lip.

  7. Funny, this is something I’ve wondered over the years – whether by default the support I’ve gotten from the community, the thing that makes this community so amazing, has furthered my magical thinking that our reproductive woes are somehow my fault. I’m just realizing, by the way, that it’s how I think. I am not pregnant because I did something at some point to screw myself and karma’s paying me back somehow.

    Back in the day when I was trying for my first, my best friend said something to me which was hurtful – probably akin to just relax. I blogged about it, and she read it, and she was upset with me. She told me she meant well, that all my friends meant well, even if they didn’t know the right things to say. And I realized – it wasn’t fair for me not to take that into account whenever someone said something I found hurtful.

    I feel like there’s a difference in having a safe space to acknowledge and work through your feelings and a place where you can get stuck in those negative feelings and perpetuate the idea that no one understands where you’re at except other people just like you.

    Sometimes I feel like there’s a lot of “us against the fertiles” mentality, which promotes judgment on people who are incredibly ignorant but wishes we didn’t hurt like we do.

    I’m rambling now. All I know is that I love the idea that we need to help others win. In the ALI community, it’s each other. And it means creating a safe place to share feelings. But I like the idea, too, that we need to challenge each other, too. Mindful support is like that – acknowledging that yes, IF really sucks, but ithere is more to all of us than just that side of us.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

    xoxo

  8. I think there’s legitimate criticism to make about the ALI world, one aspect of which is that our awareness of things that could go wrong is heightened because of our all our exposure to people who’ve had every devastating thing imaginable happen to them, which in turn heightens our own fears. (Not to mention super-volcanoes, OMG 😉 ) But I don’t buy into the idea that our supporting each other or getting support from each other is, itself, negative. I’m not sure I could have survived three losses without this world when I didn’t know anyone my age IRL who’d even had a single loss. I love the Mr Rogers post, and I love Mr Rogers.

  9. Love the discussion in the comments. What I learned from doing crisis counseling was that when your emotions – the whole range of them, especially the ones that are socially unacceptable – when those emotions are heard, validated, and reflected back, the intensity abates. Listening to each other – abiding – affirming that what you feel is what you feel and it’s ok to feel that way – that very process makes it possible to release it and find a measure of freedom from those really intense emotions. Release and validation, indeed.

    At the same time, I know that I’ve stumbled across situations where it felt like someone was in a negative spiral and the feedback wasn’t helping them pull out of it. I’m not sure why – or what the difference was – or if maybe it had nothing to do with the feedback, it was just that person’s process at that point in time.

    Really good, supportive feedback isn’t easy. I know I’ve botched it more than once, leaving comments I thought were supportive and helpful but turned out to be hurtful when the blogger felt misunderstood, like I’d missed what she was trying to say, didn’t get it.

    There was a piece of the crisis counseling training that I don’t feel like I ever fully wrapped my head around, and that was sorting out “I feel” from “I think.” Because people could be challenged on the “I think” part, but you had to be really really careful to continue validating the “I feel” part of it. Maybe take a statement like “everybody hates me” – you feel unloved and rejected. Does everyone actually hate you? Probably not. Anyway, I’m not sure I can remember how it all works (that was 13 years ago) but I wonder if that’s part of the supportive comments vs. enabling wallowing divide.

  10. i hadn’t heard that criticism before. I know dh sometimes tells me he’s worried about me after he reads one of my blog posts — he thinks I sound very depressed or negative. I try to tell him that I don’t necesarily feel that way ALL THE TIME; I’m just venting (& possibly being just a teeny-weeny overly dramatic). ; ) Doing it makes me feel a whole lot better.

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