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Stepping Out of the Infertility Closet

Infertility is a taboo topic. For a culture obsessed with sex, we are not willing to talk openly about one of the biggest challenges many modern couples face (1 in 8, actually). Even if it isn’t something you’ve directly experienced, I promise you know someone that has been touched by it in some way.

Why don’t we talk about it openly? One reason: shame. We don’t discuss it freely in our culture because we don’t widely understand it. Yet, 1 in 8 couples know the amount of shame that rides along with their stories.

When we feel shame about something in our lives, that is when we hide it. I spent years in the infertility closet bottling up the reality of my experience because I was afraid of what other people would think of me if they knew about our struggle. I had the door to that dark, lonely closet closed very tightly for years.

In public I would keep it together as best I could and deflect the questions and comments from unsuspecting friends, neighbors, and coworkers. I would respond with one of my canned answers, politely excuse myself, and retreat to the nearest space where I could shut and lock a door behind me. Once there I would crumble under the weight of my own thoughts and my face would burn with shame.

I would think to myself, “There must be something wrong with me. Why in the world is it so hard for us and not for other people? I can’t believe she got pregnant and I can’t.” I would lament over those thoughts for the rest of the day, reciting them over and over. I’d end up carrying them around like an obligatory weight that comes with the infertility diagnosis. The thought that there must be something wrong with me fueled the emotion of shame the most. I kept this thought just below the surface at all times and it was readily accessible at any moment to fan the ‘shame’ fire. I knew it well.

Feeling shame sucks. It really sucks. But do you know what’s worse than shame? Resistance to it. Resisting shame and trying to avoid it by not allowing it to come and go but letting it stay present in your body for an extended period of time. Shame will hold on to you longer than most emotions and the intensity that you feel it is directly related to the thoughts that are driving it in your head.

Learning this I realized I wasn’t actually feeling shame. I was resisting it at every turn. I wanted to avoid experiencing it at all costs and instead of allowing it, I deflected it before I could even really feel it.

To overcome it, I had to learn how to be present with the feeling of shame. Instead of resisting it, ignoring it or avoiding it I finally just named it. I called it out for what it was and linked it to what was thinking. I owned it.

Once I started allowing it in my life, I didn’t feel the need to hide anymore. I realized that even though the feeling sucked, it was just that: a feeling. I told myself, “I can feel this and I will be okay. I will live.” From there I was able to dry my tears, unlocked the door, and take a big step out of the infertility closet and back into my life.

Are you living in your own shame bubble about infertility and want to get out of it? Let me help you through it. Schedule a free strategy session with me to learn how.

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Infertility Mental Health Checklist

Managing your mental health during infertility can be a challenge. With this checklist, you’ll learn nine tools to help you get through the struggle with your sanity.