Relationship Challenge: Day 16

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So glad Friday is almost here. It feels like it’s been a really long week. I’m still feeling pretty chill, but that’s normal for the few days after the IUI, because at this point it’s not like I would have any inkling what’s happening in my body anyways. Today and yesterday I’ve had a bit of discomfort in my abdomen (mittelshmerz?) that I’ve had previously around ovulation time, so I’m hoping my ovaries are doing their thing. I found out today that Best Friend is having another boy. And now I feel bad for even saying that it would be hard for me if she was having a girl, because her baby has nothing to do with me. But I mean, she’s having a baby, so she’s happy regardless.

J and I have been in a really good place lately. We’re getting along really well, and feeling rather affectionate as well. Not that we are normally all scrappy and pissy with each other, but things just feel good right now. I think we’re both ready for a new chapter, and we’re so close that we’re just enjoying the last moments before we thrust ourselves into the “new”. Sorry, I don’t have a lot to say today, so here is Relationship Challenge: Day 16

Respond to the Spirit of a Gift

Gifts often strike odd chords with us. As Andy Warhol observed, “You can never predict what little things in the way somebody walks or talks or acts will set off particular emotional reactions in other people.”

Someone give you a big plant, and you worry about killing it. Somebody gives you a cookbook, and you feel guilty about the fact that you haven’t been cooking much. 

On this subject, I was struck by something from Story of  a Soul, the memoir of my spiritual master, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. One day in 1897, when she was in her early twenties, and weakened by the tuberculosis that would soon kill her, Thérèse was sitting in her wheelchair in the garden of her convent, and trying unsuccessfully to write:

“When I begin to take up my pen, behold a Sister who passes by, a pitchfork on her shoulder. She believes she will distract me with a little idle chatter: hay, ducks, hens, visits of the doctor. . . . Another hay worker throws flowers on my lap, perhaps believing these will inspire me with poetic thoughts. I am not looking for them at the moment and would prefer to see the flowers remain swaying on their stems. . . .I don’t know if I have been able to write ten lines without being disturbed. . . however, for the love of God and my Sisters (so charitable toward me) I take care to appear happy and especially to be so. ”

Saint Thérèse emphasizes the importance of accepting gifts in the spirit in which they’re offered, instead of responding to the gift itself. She doesn’t want to be distracted with chitchat; she wants to write. She doesn’t want a bouquet in her lap; she wants to see wildflowers growing in the fields. But she takes “care to appear happy and especially to be so.”

I try to remember this every time I get a gift that sets off some kind of internal bad reaction, to make sure that I respond with the enthusiasm that thoughtful gifts should provoke. 

(Of course, reacting to the spirit of a well-intentioned gift is not the same as reacting to a passive-aggressive gift. An electronic calories tracker is probably a gift that should only be given upon request.)

Resolve to “Respond to the spirit of a gift.” It’s a resolution that’s obviously right, but it’s often difficult to do. 

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p>When I first read this one, I thought how can I relate to this, it’s a bit of an odd one. But I got to thinking about all of the well meaning things people can say to an infertile that may be offensive/annoying/ignorant but they are well meaning. I don’t necessarily think it is “our” job to make people feel comfortable, or that what they say/do in regards to infertility is right, but isn’t it better to gently redirect someone that flip out at them and make them think we are a crazy infertile, or that we are being too sensitive/rude/difficult. I don’t discuss my infertility with anyone in real life,  so it’s a little harder for me to put into practice, but people ask me all the time when I am having kids, if I am having kids, and good-naturedly rib me about it, I should try and understand that they think that is something socially acceptable to ask. Tough to do, but might spare me some annoyed feelings in the future.

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One thought on “Relationship Challenge: Day 16

  1. Great post! I like the comparison to receiving a gift and the response we give. I would never be ungrateful for a gift no matter if I like it or not so I shouldn’t be pissed off when someone asks me about potential kids. Giving straight answers like “we are working on it” saves you a lot of awkward further questions. I will keep that in mind 🙂

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