Shame, Guilt, Infertility and Fertility
Shame, Guilt and Infertility – what do they have in common?
Here are two very common definitions of shame and guilt:
Shame – a painful feeling of humiliation or distress cause by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
Synonyms: humiliation, mortification, chagrin, embarrassment, indignity, discomfort
Guilt – the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.
Synonyms: culpability, guiltiness, blameworthiness
Here is one, very standard definition of infertility:
Infertility – the failure of a couple to conceive a pregnancy after trying to do so for at least one full year. In primary infertility, pregnancy has never occurred. In secondary infertility, one or both members of the couple have previously conceived, but are unable to do conceive again after a year of trying.
Diminished or absent ability to conceive.
What does this mean to you?
Is this about how you feel or what you think?
Infertility & Feelings
We know that our feelings are not facts. We know this in our heads. We do. We know a few other things as well. We know that our feelings are powerful and come from way deep down inside. Our feelings come from our core values; even ones that we cognitively believe are erroneous.
Our feelings become self-fulfilling prophecies. We feel it. We proclaim our feelings. We declare them. We argue about how real they are. How strong they are. We convince ourselves that are feelings are us. We feed them. We are our feelings and if they don’t fit exactly right, we become them.
Just like we are our diagnoses?
Wait a minute. Back up please.
We are not our diagnoses. We are not infertility. We are not infertile. Any more than we are cancer, heart disease, diabetes or mental health. We are not these names of diseases or diagnoses.
We are people. That’s who we are. And our diagnoses are a very small piece of who we are.
Our feelings are even more transitory than our diagnoses.
Our feelings sway and move in the breeze.
When we let them. When we don’t demand that they define us. That they are us.
Look again at the definitions of guilt and shame. They point the finger at us. There is not a single redeeming aspect of shame or guilt. Not one positive attribute.
The opposite of guilt is innocence. The opposite of shame is pride.
I’m not here to talk you out of your feelings. I am here to remind you that observing and acknowledging your feelings does not mean having to live in them.
The opposite of infertility?
You know what it is.
Here are a few mantras to combat “infertility”:
We are fertile.
We are alive.
We are vibrant.
We are worthwhile.
We are whole.
And we are complete. Exactly as we are in this moment.
Yes we are.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.