Having just read this article (link via way back machine);
I feel inclined to agree, I have witnessed friends and family members react to my partner in the exact same manner and I find it shocking. When we achieve, we feel proud and we want to share. When we fail, we desire compassion and understanding. When we learn something new, often the inner child wants to tell everybody, especially those closest to us. This had never really been an issue, until we became pregnant!
We quickly learnt that the further we were from the process experienced by the individual, the more we were lambasted. It varied in amplitude, but stung and hurt no differently.
We entered pregnancy thinking we would go to a midwife led unit, have drugs and use anything that sped the whole process up. However, within 1 month we realised how wrong we were and by 4 months had more or less decided that we wanted to be at home, in water and in a non pressured environment: Thus allowing everything to proceed as naturally as possible, in a time that suited both the mother and the child, no rushing, no drugs and no hospital.
We came to these decisions slowly, individually and gradually. As we learnt and our knowledge gained; we wanted to share with family, expecting similar “WOWS” to our own! They very rarely came and we were often faced with accusing looks or verbal, aggressive defensiveness of their own decisions. We have always been fairly pragmatic in our approach to decision making and felt our decisions were sound, unbiased, informed and most importantly, perfect for us. Not them! But many conversations quickly became exactly that, all about them.
It’s not that we weren’t interested in their experiences, quite the contrary, we wanted to know everything, the good, the bad and the ugly. It was incredibly important to us, there could be similarities and learning about their experiences we could better prepare ourselves. We rarely found out very much, the slightest question or deviation from their perceived norm, descended into a defensive rant.
We had hoped that once the birth had come and gone things would lessen and ease off. In bringing up our new bundle of joy we had hoped to gain knowledge, share new findings and receive joy and support from our friends and family. Especially as all the work and effort we put into achieving a calm birth, at home, in water, with no pain relief, paid off. Everything we shared that had been received badly was proved to not be nonsense and could work. In some instances, we got just that. In others, not at all.
Our new found thirst for knowledge transcended from pregnancy and into the land of babies! This proved to be even more fraught with potential land mines, waiting to explode at a moments notice. We have found our social and larger family dynamic change as a consequence, as we become ever closer to those willing to share and discuss without judgement, dismissiveness or defensiveness and shy away and distance ourselves from those who show just that. The sad truth is that the latter are some of the closest and dearest and cannot see that all we want to do is share our own experiences, gain knowledge from theirs and provide each other with very much needed support.
The following is from the same article that sparked this post and explains it succinctly:
“We are at a stage where people – notably women and mothers – seem unable to get beyond themselves when talking to someone else about their experience. I honestly believe that many of us carry a lot of emotional baggage about our choices and our experiences that this pops up when we are encountering someone else’s. For some, the guilt of a choice made makes them defensive and seeing attack around every corner. For some, the sadness of what they missed means they read judgement into all comments. For some, even the happiness of their own experience colours how they respond to another’s situation, particularly a sad one. Yet it isn’t about you. It’s about the person who’s talking and sharing and when we are so focused on ourselves, we are failing miserably at the one thing that we give a lot of lip service to these days: Support.”