When labels hurt

I feel I always start posts by saying this is painful or difficult! Much of our journeys are littered with difficult situations, painful treatment, hard decisions and loss. The loss is what binds anyone who falls under the banner of childless. To the outside world that term might seem relatively simple. Within our community, it can be fraught with misunderstandings and argument.

In her wonderful piece, 50 Ways Not To Be A Mother (with apologies to Paul Simon), Jody Day, founder of Gateway Women, lists the many ways in which women and men by default of their partner, find themselves not a parent. That it’s 50 ways means cnbc (childless not by choice) barely scratches the surface. Then there is the whole issue of acceptance and moving on.

Some of my close friends have lost older children and struggle to find support. For them, cnbc groups that cover trying to conceive or paths to acceptance can be challenging because they may have experienced birth and parenting if only for a short time. Yet comfort and support are required on all sides. Some friends have adopted or foster children but are wondering how to fit in with parents who have had children. Those conversations about the pain of childbirth are still hard to listen to. Where are the groups for them?

In couples, we have a push and pull against views. My loss is much harder than my husband’s because children would have been a bonus. For me they were everything. I’m not forcing him to change that narrative because his views have saved me many times. It’s why he’s not so heavily involved with Walk In Our Shoes. He doesn’t view this site as any less important but his feelings are different and we respect that in our marriage and with our audience.

I write this post because I wanted to explain the diversity of the infertility world. I had a lovely conversation today with someone about the different groups that make up childlessness and the complications of labels. These have been playing on my mind recently. For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself witnessing upset between friends who all do good work in the world of infertility and they are all hurting. Some of that is down to paths they have walked to the place they are now and the work they now do.

Out there in our world are many support groups and campaigns. From where I sit, it’s very exciting. When I first looked for the support I found Gateway Women and Kelly Da Silva’s Dovecote who were both fundamental to my making new friends and getting coping tools. Now there are many more new ideas on Facebook and other platforms.

How these groups and campaigns are entirely down to the owner and the members, but what is absolutely critical is that there is room for everyone to do their thing. And they must be allowed to do so without fear of recrimination, with respect for their beliefs and kindness. Having been less than wise and under the influence of necessary medicine, I have learned from my errors of judgement. Thus it’s incredibly painful to see a small group of people repeating this with what could be devastating consequences to the wider community.

At the heart of this is loss. The loss in different ways but an absence that fundamentally binds them. That anger, upset and pain can result in cross words that were said in haste. I’ve personally cursed and sworn at family and my husband and stomped across the pavements in anger. Words in said across the internet are more than ever prone to misunderstanding. The loss of friendship is even harder.

Much of this post is cathartic to me, because I’m conscious that these friends are involved with my work and I respect their involvement. I have a due care for my welfare and also that of those in the groups I run and the twitter chat #ChildlessHour.

Our grief and upset are not measurable. But they are valid and in our circles, we have to be mindful that game playing, accusations, threats and baiting aren’t levelled lightly but that they must be resolved or we beg to differ because around are those who will also suffer. We are, after all, only human.