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Should You Go on That Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip? Or, uh, Experience Infertility?

Discovery magazine peed in my Cheerios with their article about how having an extraordinary experience can ultimately bring you down.  Apparently we don’t really savour the memories after a big trip like we would an expensive piece of chocolate.  We more gag and choke on the memories once the experience is over.

Crap.

The reason given: “A new study finds that’s not always so: extraordinary experiences can actually generate unhappy feelings as well, because others in your ordinary social group are unable to relate to your stories.”

So you go through a life-changing experience and come back a different person, but now you’re out of sync with everyone around you, like Alice returning from Wonderland.  How could she explain the White Rabbit and the Red Queen and what it’s like to grow bigger and smaller to anyone who wasn’t there?

The article states:

Social pleasures, however, stem from other things we crave like acceptance, belonging and camaraderie. Therefore, an exciting trip to Bali may come at a social cost when standing around the coffee machine on Monday morning.

This is, as the article points out, remedied by taking people with you that you can discuss the trip (or substitute in any unusual experience) with afterward.  Though that doesn’t really solve the fact that you will still be standing around the coffee machine Monday morning with people who didn’t go with you.

All of that said, I was thinking about infertility as an unusual experience and how it does isolate you, even after it’s “over” in the sense that you are parenting or living child-free (in other words, not actively building your family).  The experience changes you and causes a social rift, even after it’s over.  Maybe moreso after it’s over.  Hence why it is important to have people to discuss it with.

Just a small thought I’m tossing around this weekend after reading the article.

And hey, tiny thought, I could have made it as a #MicroblogMonday post for tomorrow.  Except that this post runs a little on the long side for a micro post.

12 comments

1 A. { 01.18.15 at 8:52 am }

Many years ago when I was muddling through my early-twent-something, post-college discovery, a friend was saying how hard it was to relate to people who didn’t go away to school. Not that college is extraordinary, but it is perspective-altering, and I had to agree with her that there was a disconnect in coming home to people who had not shared that experience. I wonder how that will all translate to parenting after IVF at Mommy and Me or the PTA.

2 Northern Star { 01.18.15 at 9:25 am }

So true. Infertility is the most isolating experience I’ve dealt with… And you’re right, it hasn’t gone away even though I’m parenting. In many ways parenting has exacerbated the isolation, as people now assume that I came to be a mom just like 90% of other moms. Hard to find a balance of feeling included, sharing only parts of the story and being considered ok with isolation. My favourite mom friend is another adoptive mom who went through 20 years of infertility before deciding to parent and is waiting for baby 2… Exact same situation as me. Birds of a feather right?

3 Northern Star { 01.18.15 at 9:26 am }

10 years not 20!

4 Working mom of two { 01.18.15 at 10:46 am }

I haven’t found it to be much of an issue parenting. Yes, my parent/child group was mostly younger moms who had a baby easily. But there was also another IVF mom and even one who used a GC. Plus at that point I was over how my kid got there–my concerns wee more like will this child ever sleep, etc. now that I’m past the baby stage the difference is mostly just that I’m older (yeah I’m older because 6 yrs of IF but still). I’m fortunate in that after years of no hope we ended up with the number of kids we wanted. So it’s easier for us not to dwell, especially when there’s so much else to dwell on–daycare preschool sibling fights play dates etc.

5 Sian { 01.18.15 at 10:48 am }

All my friends children are all around the age of 12. When it comes to my one year old I feel out of the loop and alone. I am lucky that I have made new friends with children the same age as my daughter but it isn’t the same as friends you have had for 20-30 years.

6 noemi { 01.18.15 at 1:47 pm }

This is really interesting, and I can imagine it’s true. Right now a big group of women from my work are in Vegas having a fabulous time and posting a ton of photos to FB. Ever year I can’t afford to go and every year I find the week leading up to the trip and the week after kind of excruciating, because everyone is talking about it and I’m not going. It’s a lot like waiting in the wings while we were trying and everyone else was getting pregnant and having babies. I hate feeling left out, not a part of the group, different in some way, but it seems I always will. I’m getting better at it.

This year the photos are barely phasing me, probably because my new friend at work isn’t there either, and I actually have my own shit to do. I guess that was the same with infertily too, once I met others (via my blog) who understood, it was easier to stand around the water cooler and hear the stories of those who didn’t, who were leaving us behind. Oh, and this year I leave work at lunch, so I’m not really at the “water cooler,” which helps immensely as well. 😉

7 Katherine A { 01.18.15 at 5:53 pm }

I can totally see how this could be the case. I’d just never thought of it that way. Lately, I’ve found that I’m surprised how many disconnects I have from other women that haven’t gone through infertility. It’s so many seemingly small things but that together add up to a really different sort of reality.

8 Finding My New Normal { 01.18.15 at 6:01 pm }

Having lived overseas I can completely relate to this. When we would first come home and want to talk all about our experiences, no one cared. I remember one time talking about a beautiful castle in Germany and the person I was talking to changed the subject to talk about some big sale at Macy’s.

My solution was to find more people like me, who were expats, who I could share my stories with. I suppose I’ve done the same thing with infertility and loss as well.

It’s good to find “your people” once in a while.

9 Mali { 01.18.15 at 6:05 pm }

Hmm. I guess I have issues with the premise of the article. The only downside of an extraordinary experience is having to end it, and get home and back to work and cleaning and cooking. I savour memories of my travels, my “trips of a lifetime” regularly – they pop up to brighten my day when I least expect it. In an instant I can be in Cappadoccia, or on safari (my happy place), or lying on a tropical beach, or in an art museum in Madrid reliving the joy of those experiences. These are very different to the idea of watching a different movie from others, and not being able to discuss it with them.

Infertility, on the other hand, does change you and can isolate you. When I come home from a trip, my life here is the same. Whether friends travel or not doesn’t make me feel left out – perhaps because it’s not a negative experience. Yet infertility can make us feel left out, so finding people to share the experience with is invaluable, and talking about it.

Still, I would love to be able to share my experiences with others. Which is why I’ve promised my friends and family that I’ll take them on safari if I win the lottery.

10 Lori Lavender Luz { 01.18.15 at 8:23 pm }

On the other hand, with infertility I met a new circle of friends that got my experiences and the emotions surrounding them. What was, at one time, isolating, later became enriching.

11 Valery Valentina { 01.19.15 at 6:31 am }

mhmm, from a very young age I was always the odd one out. I don’t fit in social groups easily, it is always a balancing act. So even if and when I do fit in, it doesn’t feel all that safe or comfortable. The people who are my safety net are special and love travel.
Even my mom-friend is a 47 y o DE mom. SO um, like Mali, I did go on some life time trips (after IVF failed) or work abroad.
I have this private memory of standing on a Thai beach, my toes in the clear warm water and soft white sand, contemplating to NOT fly back to a dark and rainy country the next day. A clear moment of choice. You never know who you meet around the water cooler, and what their moment(s) of choice or truth are.
But hey, maybe the articles ‘gag and choking’ is my social suffocating of conforming to the average…

12 loribeth { 01.19.15 at 9:40 pm }

I actually saw this article awhile back, but I never thought to relate it to the infertility experience — although I can certainly see it now that you mention it. 🙂 I can relate… there were lots of times that I’d come back from a fabulous, earth-shattering vacation or experience, just dying to share with someone — and nobody would ask me how my vacation was… or they’d ask the perfunctory question & before I could elaborate too much, it would be on to the next work project. Very deflating.

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