Fragility

For all that we talk about recognising and accepting our limits, and making choices that are best for ourselves – in reality it’s a lot harder to put this into action.

It’s easy to get caught up in expectations, society niceties and family responsibilities. Earlier this year I said (mostly to myself) that I wouldn’t go to gatherings such as family events, where all our niblings’ would be together, and wouldn’t go to friends kids birthday parties etc (self preservation right?!), but would make an exception for niblings’ birthdays…..so when a certain someones 3rd birthday came around, I agreed we’d be there, and despite Mr’s misgivings, convinced him to come too – partly out of duty and partly as moral support for me.

As the day got closer I recognised I was feeling pretty fragile…a bunch of triggers and a whole pile of stress does that to you I guess. But instead of acknowledging my fragility and changing plans accordingly, I stuck to my normal ways – do everything you’ve committed to, don’t let anyone down, and plaster a vague attempt at a smile on your face while faking it til you make it.

In hindsight I should have politely changed my mind about going to the party, and organised to see the birthday child at another time, when I was feeling more up to it and when I wouldn’t have to deal with the family gathering with all the kids together. I got caught up with not wanting to let anyone down, and still wanting to be a great Aunty, that I didn’t think about what worked for me…or even realise that a 3yr old wouldn’t remember if I came to their party or not – and actually children would probably prefer having time with an Aunty where said Aunty can smile and be more playful, than a token gesture.

And of course attending something like this when not in the mood just becomes a vicious cycle…feeling apprehensive, means I’m more socially awkward than normal, so interacting with anyone/everyone feels weird (whether or not anyone else notices that I have no idea) so then I leave the situation feeling weird & like I’ve let everyone down anyway! Sod’s law really, isn’t it? And being fragile going into a situation means that things like seeing cousins playing together hurts my heart more, and a certain child turning 3 is an even bigger reminder of our “what if” that would have been 3 a few weeks ago if they’d become more than just a “what if”…

It can be really difficult navigating all these social events – you never know how you’re going to cope, and you figure you have to start attending/participating in life eventually, so you try things again before you’re quite ready….think I’ll be avoiding these kind of gatherings for a while now (she says as she realises there’s another family birthday party coming up in a month or so, that will probably end up trapping her just the same!)

I hope you’re all finding ways to navigate this situations in a way that works for you – I think it’s a constantly evolving and changing combination of our coping abilities and the events characteristics, which means we might never have a perfected way of coping…but I guess we just have to keep trying don’t we?! xo

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18 thoughts on “Fragility

  1. It is definitely an evolution. All I know is that the older I get the less I care about pleasing others. We all know that birthday parties for babies and toddlers are for the adults and not for the child – like you said the kid’s not going to remember it anyways (I think the earliest birthday memory I have was when I was seven and that we went out for pizza… Do I remember who was there? Nope, I remember pizza.) Our situation is unique however in that we don’t have any strong family here anyhow and most of our friends ghosted us after the infertility got really bad, even a few of our neighbors with kids are much more distant now (as I suppose they just don’t know what to say so they figure it’s easier to just ignore us because we could never possibly understand their lives since we don’t have kids ourselves)…so we’re not really stuck with any obligations. Fortunately all of this crap has brought my husband and I much closer… but I think he and I’ve both become more cynical about the world as a whole and who we can really trust.

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    • Yes I’ve definitely become more cynical about the world too. I’m better at not going to parties/tricky events with friends – tend to go on another day when its just them and give undivided attention. With family I’m still figuring it out, as its only recently that all that side of our family live in the same area – sometimes physical distance is a good thing for helping set some boundaries.

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  2. I’ve avoided extended family gatherings the whole time. I also avoided a funeral just after my mc. When I told my mum we were dealing with infertility, she said she thought I was shutting all those things out because “it’s just K being K” and that’s what makes it difficult, because even people knowing the why doesn’t necessarily help with your boundaries being accepted. I hope that’s not the case for you, but I know how hard it is to say no when you don’t want to upset others

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  3. Yeah in retrospect it sounds like attending the party wasn’t the best idea. I hope that events such at that will get easier eventually. I’m sorry about your “what if” thoughts and what could have been. Thinking of you.

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  4. Avoid avoid avoid and good for you. You have to put yourself first and if it pisses anyone else off then they need to work on their empathy. Being surrounded by kids is a living nightmare but, worse, is being surrounded by the doting parents. We should all be fitted with an emergency eject button (perhaps for them!) xxx

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  5. This is completely me “must stick to commitments”. I’m finally learning (following my doctor insisting I take time off and then becoming quite poorly), that this is not the answer. I’m finally putting myself first and I’m so proud of myself – I’ve never done that before! I’m only doing the things I can and want to do and I can already feel my mental health improving. We need to be kind to ourselves 💕

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      • Definitely. It feels selfish, which is not me at all, I’d always put everyone else first above me. But my mental health has taken a bartering recently and so I’m learning that a little bit of selfishness is actually necessary for survival.

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      • Yes I find I feel selfish too, and not the person I used to be….and since I’m still struggling to like the current me, I find I keep trying to go back to the person who put everyone else first….but then I remember that’s not healthy for me at the moment either, so I end up flip flopping between looking after myself and putting others first.

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      • Gosh, so true!! After my doctor insisted I take time off, I thought I’d use it to see everyone I’ve not seen in ages and do everything I’ve not done and basically be really productive. This wasn’t really what my doctor meant! A week later I was struck down with shingles. I believe that was my body saying “enough”. I’ve had no choice but to rest and recuperate and yes, be selfish – and I can’t believe the difference it’s made in my head. It’s not easy, but it’s been a god-send really, having no choice but to do nothing and accept that I have to look after myself.

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