Build Your Support Squad
Struggling with fertility coupled with the stress of the holidays can lead to intense feelings of loneliness and isolation. That is why it is so important to have a good support team around you. It is essential to be able to tell someone that in a really low moment you just screamed at a bunch of carolers or started bawling and got a hug from the Salvation Army Santa.
However this holiday season manifests, sharing it with someone will make it feel more manageable and help you feel more sane. So connect with your support squad, and don’t forget that YOU are an essential member of the team. (It doesn’t matter how kind and uplifting your squad is if you shut down any amount of compassion that comes your way).
Be Compassionate with Yourself
We are often our harshest critic. Instead of “shoulding” on yourself- (focusing on what you should or should not do) focus on what you need or what is most effective. Instead of berating yourself for not doing enough, praise yourself for what you did do. Allow yourself to feel your emotions and don’t judge yourself for having them. Identify what your needs are at this time of year and give yourself permission to meet your needs. (Revisit Part 1 of the Infertility and the Holiday series).
Treat yourself with kindness and patience. Be your best friend, not your worst enemy.
Get a Battle Buddy
This may be your partner, which is awesome. This person might not be your partner and that is okay too, your partner is going through their stuff. But have someone whom you can turn to. Perhaps this is your BFF, a family member, a religious leader, or an infertility support group.
What is key about Battle Buddies is that they listen, empathize and are there. They don’t minimize, mention how hard it is that they are unexpectedly pregnant, again, or tell you how great everything will work out. They know that they can’t pull you out of the muck, and they don’t pretend not to see you stuck in it. A battle buddy will sit in the muck with you. Check in with this person as often as is needed.
Don’t worry about “burdening” them, they love you and want to help. Life swings on a pendulum and constantly goes up and down. You will have an opportunity to support them soon.
Be Compassionate With Your Partner
It’s also important for your partner to have a battle buddy, and there is a chance that battle buddy won’t be you. That can be hard to accept. “I tell you how sad and pissed off I am, how come you don’t talk to me but you talk to Joe Schmoe at work?” There may be a whole host of reasons why they can’t talk to you, and hopefully they will be able to share these vulnerable feelings soon. However, in this moment they just need to share it with someone, and if that is a neighbor, family member, colleague, or guy in line at the grocery store who cares? As long as it provides some relief for your partner. So apply what you are working for yourself and show your partner patience, room to process, and love.
Partners Grieve Differently
No kidding?! It seems like you are frequently not on the same page with each other and the holidays are no different. Maybe one person wants to celebrate and the other doesn’t. One person wants to be with family and the other would rather be waterboarded. Whatever the conflict is, remember that you are teammates and are in this together. Find compromise, take care of yourself, do what you can to take care of each other, and accept when your partner tries to take care of you. There will be MUCH more on this topic soon.
Please don’t wait to seek out a mental health professional if your struggling is consuming you. If you are unsure about counseling check out Infertility Counseling Series Part 3: What is Infertility Counseling and Do I Need It?
If you would like to schedule a consultation with me please submit that request in the Contact section of my website and I will be in touch. Stay tuned for the upcoming Infertility Reflection blog as we get ready to close out not only a year but an entire decade and set our intentions for the future.
Wishing you support, self-compassion and a happy holiday!