Our story may not seem particularly difficult. But I think that is why it needs to be said. And I'd like to preface this by saying that a lot of torturous things in life seem to feel this way, but I'm using this current torture in my life to try and explain how I think a lot of things must feel.
We've tried to have a baby for what I consider to be a while. And it just hasn't happened. Waiting and trying to have a baby has taught me something about pain. It is painful to want something and to try to have that and to never get that. But it is made more painful by the waiting to feel part.
The discussion around difficulties in life often falls to comparison. "At least you haven't had (insert horrible things that happened to someone else) yet." That and the telling of various heartbreaking stories about other people who have it much worse than you do. And it's something that has been ingrained in me, considering the sentence I used to start this letter.
So that first month or that twenty-second month, when you really want a baby and there is nothing on the ultrasound or the cancer is still there or you still haven't been able to forgive them or you still haven't forgiven yourself you don't know how to feel.
When can I feel sad? When is it okay to weep? When can I throw things across the room in an attempt to channel my rage in some direction? When is that deep, unrelenting ache in my chest valid? 6 months? A year? Five years? That's what you ask yourself day after day, month after month and year after year.
But that isn't fair. Sadness is sadness, whether you've been sad for a month or for years. Emptiness is still emptiness. And aches are always achy. You shouldn't have to tell yourself that it's not your turn to be sad yet. You shouldn't have to pretend that you're fine with feeling like something is tearing up your insides into little tiny pieces. Just because someone hasn't felt pain like you have or another has, doesn't mean that what's happening to them doesn't hurt. If someone hasn't felt the 10 year pain yet, it doesn't mean they're not allowed to feel the 6 month pain.
Maybe instead of saying, "just wait till you get to where I am or where this other person is, then you'll know real pain," we should say, "you know, I remember that part, and it felt really terrible and I'm so sorry you have to experience that...it's awful."
Pain, anguish, sadness, tears, and torture don't have start dates and "only allowed if experienced X amount of time"-type conditions.
It has been some time that we've wanted a baby of our own. As I write this I'm counting down the hours to take our next pregnancy test. I'm hopeful that there will be a little baby growing in there this time. But if there's not, my pain is still pain, regardless of how long I've felt it.
Just because someone doesn't hurt as long as you hurt, doesn't mean they don't hurt. I now understand what it feels like to be told, even unintentionally, that my pain isn't that bad. I'm sorry to those of you who confided your hurt with me and I told you that it could be worse. No one should be told to hush and then be forced to wait and wonder when it's acceptable to feel out loud the despair they've been feeling inside for much, much longer. And I'm tired of waiting and wondering if it's okay to feel.