This month, Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope, has a writing challenge. They asked, “As Halloween approaches and you start thinking about costumes, are there (figurative) “masks” you sometimes put on?”
Wow, what a great question.
I think the mask I hate to wear is the half-hearted smile when people talk about pregnancy and babies, especially the people that are blissfully unaware of the pain and heartache that many others have. I wear the awkward smile if I’m lucky, the other mask I wear more often is the “please-God-hold-it-together-and-don’t-break-down” mask. Like a regular mask, it’s uncomfortable. I’m not a good actress, so my mask isn’t very good. There have been many times when I thought, “Oh no, can this person see through me?”
There are so many conversations that can turn into an emotional landmine for me. I recently had a conversation with a friend, where she was innocently talking about a story related to pregnancy, but some of the things she said reminded me of things that had happened to me and brought back painful memories. But, she could have never known, and I didn’t want to bring the conversation down or make it about me, so I just silently suffered and put on my mask.
Now, I’m trying to let people really see me. Most people don’t understand infertility and loss, so I try to let them see it through my eyes and my heart. It wasn’t possible for me to be open about everything earlier in the journey because I could not talk about it without breaking down. But, after years of dealing with this, I’ve grown to accept it. I don’t like it, but it’s not new any more and I’ve gotten used to being this new person after almost five years. That’s why I really support Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. It personalizes this heartache, but on a much larger level and to a larger audience.
Even though I’m pretty open about my struggle, there’s a time and a place for everything. I just can’t get into an involved and emotional conversation all the time, so I whip out my stoic, sad-looking, watery-eyed mask and keep silent instead.
I hope one day that I will be able to look over my shoulder and happily wave goodbye to the masks and not need them any more.
On a happier note, I do have a fun Halloween costume planned. It won’t have a mask exactly, but it should be fun.