Because trying to conceive has been a constant in my life for over three years now, I tend to forget that my inner struggle is not immediately apparent to everyone. This can lead to an interesting dilemma as I get to know new people through my career and recreation: Do I tell them about any of what I have going on, or do I keep it private?
With new colleagues, the decision is pretty easy: They don’t have a reason to know, and I don’t think it’s relevant to how I do my job. Interestingly, I just got a new manager, and she has been very open from day one about her own struggle with infertility, and ultimately futile attempts to procreate. Since I am…. not an easy person to manage … this has probably had a positive effect on our working relationship. However, my own fertility issues are still not something I want to discuss openly at work, and although we’ve had discussions that have touched on enough details for her to probably guess, I have not explicitly told her anything. I have a few people I work with who are aware – they are individuals I have a long standing positive relationship with, and who are more like friends I happen to work with than colleagues. They are also individuals who are peers, not the management or any of my mentees.
New friends I find more difficult. Infertility is not a comfortable subject to broach, and I generally do prefer to keep my business to myself. So with any initial friendships, I do not share what is going on, and it’s not relevant to my day-to-day interactions. However, as the friendship deepens, I tend to start to feel like I am actively hiding something by omission. It’s not that I think they have a right to know, it’s more that its a big part of who I am, so not even acknowledging it leaves a pretty big gaping hole in them actually knowing me well enough to be considered a good friend. I don’t bother to maintain a lot of superficial relationships, largely because as an extroverted introvert, I find them exhausting. Vulnerability scares the ever-living bugeezuz out of me, but it seems essential for a deeper connection, and I value that.
I would say in the past three years, I have met maybe two people a year for whom this is even slightly relevant. So far the conversation has ended up happening quite organically, and mostly isn’t that awkward – if it seemed like it was, I probably wouldn’t have it. What I do wonder, though, is at what point is it no longer relevant? At the moment, we are still trying to have a baby, so it remains a constant in my reality. At some point, if we decide to stop trying and give up, it will remain a part of who I am, but will not be an evolving part of my life. As I move towards accepting that I won’t be a mother without some pretty significant medical intervention, I am less sure of how much is relevant to share, and when it becomes a footnote in my life story.
If it wasn’t apparent before, I am somewhat socially neurotic – functionally so, it’s pretty fun to live in my head some days, and absolute hell on others. Yes, I am overanalyzing this, and no, I have no intention of stopping.
The whole conversation becomes a weird push-pull between my desire to keep the greatest source of emotional pain I have (right now) private, and the drive I feel to continue to build solid, meaningful, and happy relationships with the interesting people I meet.
Welcome to my brain, it’s a weird place.