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02 July 2010

Non-PC rant

My 20 YO niece, Ellen, just posted this on FB:
 *sigh* goodbye slim figure, hello pregnant body!
Really!  Do i have to know this?  I don't have a slim figure or a pregnant body or children to justify the lack of slim figure.  :(   

I think it human tendency to do a "one-upsmanship" of pain on one another.  I went to lunch with a dear, sweet lady not too long ago.  I spoke of the pain of remaining childless.  She sympathized, but came off with, "Well at least you didn't have 4 just to see 2 of them die."  

She's right.  I didn't.  But, of course part of me responds (not verbally to her), "Well, at least you had the joy of their birth & their raising, & giving your husband children, even if you had the sorrow of losing them.  At least you got to be called 'mama' even with the sorrow that came.  I never had any of that & i never will."

Why is it we do these things?  I said once to someone after being asked if we had children, "No, God hasn't blessed us that way."  Her response was, "If you don't have children, don't blame God.  There are lots of children out there needing homes.  !!!

She didn't know me.  She didn't know my circumstances.  Yet she felt free to lecture me on something which was 1. not her business & 2. not comprehending the complexity in our "choice."  

It hasn't felt like a choice to us.  It is something imposed on us by circumstance.  

Why do we do this to each other?  "My pain is so much worse than yours."  

I'm no better.  If i responded (which i will not), it would be essentially saying, "You think you know pain, little girl?  Wait.  You will never know that much pain.  Just imagine being more than twice your age, no children, no slim body, & knowing you will never, ever know the joy of having a child.  Never to be called 'mama.'  All those years waiting for something that will never come.  Don't go sniveling to me about how your body is expanding with your baby.  I don't want to hear it.  I don't want to hear, '
ick, none of my clothes fit anymore! This is getting really depressing.' Keep it to yourself!"
Lack of empathy is not helpful of course.  But i do think there is the tendency in us to say, "At least you had __________."  ("I'm so much worse off.")

I don't have an answer to this, except to try to focus to keep myself "content whatever the circumstance."  (Philippians 4:11)  And continually having an attitude of thankfulness helps with this.  Still, at times it is hard not to complain.  That's why i need to stop here.  Anything more i might say would not only be non-PC, but might get downright rude.



justme said...

i don't know why we do this either, but all i know is that it's painful no matter what side you are on. i know that it is hard, when you are seeing people have what you so much want. there is nothing that anyone can say to make the pain any better. i love your "content whatever the circumstance" thought process.

Amrita said...

I think its a knee jerk reaction from most people. They try to offer comfort by saying things like that...most don 't know what to say.
I would say, I am really sorry about this, we just don 't know how God works in our lives but we can commit ourselves and our sorrows into His care.

I would never offer personal advice to a person I don 't know and have a close relationship with.

Everyone does not have the right to advise a person on deep things.Its the relationship which matter.

I have a Christian doctor friend and whenever she visits she compares my health with my mother 's. My Mom is 30 plus years older than me, she 's had 2 major surgeries in the past 4 years.
Her health has gone down and SDhirley make s me guilty about it, as if I am starving my Mom. I don 't like it, it irks me.

Cindy - Letters From Midlife said...

I can relate to what you are saying. Yes, I've given birth and am a mom so on that level I can't completely understand your pain. But I do understand the tendency toward one-upmanship and playing the game of who is the bigger victim of circumstances. And I also understand coming through it to the truth of Philippians 4:11.

Thanks for another honest post. It's one reason I enjoy your blog.

Jo said...

"My pain is so much worse than yours." It is a very selfish person who does that to another person.

Your pain and your grief is very real, and all your friend needs to do is give you a hug and say, "I understand..." We have all felt pain and grief, even if the source of it is different for every person. A little kindness goes a long ways.


"I understand."

Kathryn said...

Just me - thanks for coming by & your understanding. :) I think understanding one another goes a long way toward letting go of the tendency to isolate ourselves.

Amrita - i'd be upset with the doctor, too! You are in the unenviable position of caring for your mother with little help, but somehow being constantly criticized for the hard work you do. But God sees the heart & knows how you love her & how difficult it is. You will be greatly blessed, i know it.

Cindy, thank you so much. How lovely to have you here. :) Empathy for one another is a big factor in reducing these divides.

Jo - you are so kind, understanding, & empathetic. Hugs right back! I agree that it is very selfish to feel we are more important than others, & i think that is a factor in "My pain is worse than yours." But i have to admit, hard as i try, i'm sometimes guilty of that myself.

Mrs. Mac said...

My heart aches for your pain.

Anonymous said...

I hate facebook... I admit that I can only imagine how tough it must be to have "kids" in your face all the time when you don't have them and want them so much.
Many people don't have an ounce of compassion. If things are great with them - that is all that matters. It's the world we live in. Concentrate on the wonderful things (and people) you have in your life. Thankfulness and faith is key.

Kathryn said...

Thank you for your kind understanding, Mrs. Mac. I'm sure you're in a hard place too, as much as you love your children, they do put you thru hard times.

Hi New England's NR. :) I'm not a big FB fan either, tho if it wasn't for FB i'm almost certain we would not have Eva with us right now. Because she reached out to me there i got to know her a bit better & asked her to come out. It has its compensations, even if i find much of it frustrating.

And you are right, some folks don't have an ounce of compassion, much less empathy & are unable to be imaginative enough to put themselves in anyone else's situation.

BUT, i need to get over being "so sensitive." It isn't going to stop because i'm struggling with this.

Stacey said...

I'm so sorry about this, Kathryn. First of all, no one who has struggled like you have wants to read about how "bothersome" a pregnancy is to someone. I don't understand why people do that publicly but I really think it is because people are often too wrapped up in themselves to even consider what might hurt someone else.
And I really don't know why we often hear those comparisons about whose pain is worse. Infertility and recurrent miscarriage have shown me that it ALL hurts and it's all hard. Of course it will hurt you tremendously when it's your personal struggle, whatever that may be. We all have our thorns in the flesh, so it's hard to try to judge which are more painful.

Anyway, I'm just sorry that there are insensitive people out there. Also, I've found that little "hide" button on facebook quite useful for situations such as these. :)

Rosemary said...

I can't say it any better than the poster above me. I don't understand why some people don't have any empathy or consideration for another person's feelings. It's as if they can't help themselves from feeling they must fill in a gap in conversation no matter what.

Jennifer Gill said...

I so feel for you (and me!) in this post! I sit on my hands regularly to avoid posting comments on some FB posts...actually I don't post very much as I just don't feel the need to share with people who would likely comment insensitively anyway.

One-downsmanship is the worst. Thank you for sharing your feelings; you've really helped me feel less alone. :)