I don't want your Pity10th October 2020
I don’t want your Pity
I have been childless my whole life. I have lived the experience. I know exactly what I’m talking about. No one needs to tell me about what I’ve felt and now I’m more than happy to talk about it.
There were many years that I wasn’t happy to talk about it and I did struggle with occasions and conversations that made me felt excluded. No one knew why I retreated, goodness, in the early stages not even I knew why I was feeling so upset about another pregnancy announcement or birthday party invitations for 5 year olds (and all the rest).
What I needed then was for someone to ask me about my absence at events, to follow up with me, to check in on me. But I wasn’t being celebrated. So I celebrated myself. I had a grand 40th to celebrate my friends and family all coming together and made the theme around my travels. It was a great night.
It’s only more recently that I’ve found my voice and conversations are bringing brought up with like minded women and progressive people who are open to hearing the views of this not often discussed topic.
What I’m wondering about is the silence from many. I’ve gathered a large network in my travels, my work, my social activities. Having spent most of my years single its inevitable to build a strong network around you.
So many of these folks have reached out. And I am so damn proud of them for doing it. They broke the taboo and I let them. They stepped out of their safe space (like I did) and they joined me. They showed they were aware and
Still, there are a number of people who haven’t reached out. Its not my place to guess but I’ve surmised it could be…
- Doesn’t impact me, not interested
- I don’t know what to say, I might offend her
- I am listening and digesting, I’m waiting for the right time to say something
- With all the terrible things going on in the world this is hardly something to worry about
- How can you have grieved for something you never had?
- I’ll like a post but think poor thing, she never got her dream
- I’ll talk to my friends about it and feel sorry for her, she seems sad.
So, this is what I have to say, to perhaps help you with your silence.
I have made myself vulnerable for the exact purpose of talking about this, to ensure that the generation that follows me knows it’s ok to think not having children is ok and that pronatalist attitudes are not owned by everyone. To not feel bad if you’ve not been able to have children for the many reasons that brings this. To let the 1 in 4 women who this will happen to feel heard.
1. Doesn’t impact me, not interested:
Stop for a moment, think about your family and friends for a moment, for I guarantee you will know a childless or childfree woman or even a man. Perhaps you could have a conversation with them that would make all the difference to them. Think about the conversations you have with them and don’t make “do you have kids” the first question you ask when initiating conversations with strangers.
2. I don’t know what to say, I might offend her:
We’ve heard it all, if we know you are genuinely trying to broach the subject we will open to you. It depends on the relationship you have with the individual of course but in my case I’m being very vulnerable about my approach so trust me, any opening will be welcomed.
3. I am listening and digesting, I’m waiting for the right time to say something:
Absolutely, that’s all I can ask for, in fact that’s what I’m hoping for. That the conversation we are having brings a different lens to something you perhaps hadn’t thought about.
4. With all the terrible things going on in the world this is hardly something to worry about:
Fair enough but life goes on for everyone. And this is life, this is a big part of our lives. It has impacted our lives significantly. Those without children are known to be amongst the largest number of volunteers and primary carers. We know about the terrible things in the world, we only ask you take a moment to understand what this world says about us and how wrong they have it.
5. How can you have grieved for something you never had?:
Disenfranchised grief is little understood and I’ve only recently been introduced to the word, its made so much make sense to me. I may not have had anything tangible to lose but I lost a whole life I thought I would have. That’s a massive loss. The loss of a miscarriage is a tangle but for some reason it’s also not recognised socially like it should be. So many women have had miscarriages but not enough women get to grieve that with support.
6. I’ll like a post but think poor thing, she never got her dream &
7. I’ll talk to my friends about it and feel sorry for her, she seems sad:
These last two are the pity stories and I want none of it. I never did this for pity, I did this for an open conversation. If you know me at all you know I’ve lived a very full life, exposed myself to experiences, worked hard, tested my body through physical challenges, been a friend and an active family member turning up when needed.
I never want pity, I’m just not that person. I am strong. I’ve done all of this on my own. Lived in other countries, defended myself and created networks to help do that. Nobody wants pity.
If you want to listen, ok
If you want to wait, ok
If you’re not sure what to say, know that you have a pair of ears willing to listen and happy to talk
If you want to pity, keep listening because you’re not ready to talk just yet.