I was cruising my Facebook newsfeed when I saw an interesting status post - "I just laugh when people think they've been through a lot." It struck me as odd. The girl who posted it is dealing with both health issues and infertility. She's had numerous surgeries and is a very brave and lucky lady. To me, I'd agree she's been through "a lot" and I genuinely admire her. At the same time, I wondered (and asked), "who gets to decide what 'a lot' is?" Is there some arbitrary amount of physical or emotional distress one must go through to earn compassion and sympathy?
I feel like I see this in the IF community sometimes. As understanding, supportive, and empathetic as we are to each other, there is sometimes a sense of "I've been through more than you. You don't understand my battle." There can be a bit of an underlying hierarchy. And it is true - I haven't been through treatment. I've never had surgery. I've never shot myself in the butt with needles trying to grow multiple eggs. I've never been through egg retreival or transfer. I've never suffered a loss, as many, many ladies have. I've been very fortunate in my non-IF health, too, and in my family. My happily married parents and beautiful sister are alive. I have a home, a car, a job, two healthy pups, and a loving husband. It's true that I don't understand a lot about what some others go through.
However, where does lack of understanding and shared experience turn into absence of compassion? I know we all have moods and bad days when we think "I'm dealing with this mountain, and you're being a sissy la la over a mole hill." But maybe that mole hill IS a mountain to them. Unfortunately, life experience sometimes makes us jaded to the struggles of others. While it can serve to give us compassion and an ability to comfort someone who's trying to tame their mountain, sometimes all we can think about how much bigger and more daunting our own is.
I'm not saying I'm not guilty of it. I have my days for sure when the struggles of others seem trivial. But I'm working to remember that I don't know what else that person has dealt with. I don't know that they didn't suffer a loss or that their family life or marriage is struggling or they have an illness that is striking fear into them. I don't know if they're drowning in debt or worried about how they'll put food on the table. People don't always share all their struggles, and sometimes that last little "mole hill" is just the tip of their mountain, the last straw that makes them crack and pushes them to no longer keep it to themselves, but to hint that they need some love.
Moral of the story (I suppose): be kind to everyone, for we're all fighting a battle.