I have always hated that expression. It sounds so mean-spirited… like we would prefer others to be unhappy around us if we’re unhappy, that we cannot celebrate others if we are suffering.
And I suppose at times, this might be true.
But I’ve been hearing the refrain in my head lately. Misery loves company, misery loves company… and wondering about it. Wanting to explore it. Wondering if it’s not so much that we want others to be miserable, but that we just don’t want to be alone in our pain.
I don’t want to be alone in my pain.
I googled “infertility blog” a few weeks ago and found this incredible woman’s story. As I read her post called “surviving infertility” I wept and wept at the resonance of it all. It was as if she was putting words to so much of my insides. I felt less alone.
Misery loves company.
There is a lot of ugliness in this infertility business. There are pregnant women that pass you by on the street, and on good days you feel a wistful hope, and on bad days you want to tip them over. I think I have even given these women (totally against my will) dirty looks on occasion. Or I just can’t look at all. These feelings are hard to be with. Not only is there sadness, but then you have to deal with the shame of feeling this way about such a beautiful innocent person.
There are baby showers and blankets to knit and announcements and you want SO badly to celebrate with that still good part of your heart, the part that wants the best for everyone, the part that wants to hear every detail about every kick and heartbeat. And most of the time you can manage it. You can muster up a smile and maybe even show up for the party.
And there are the times when you can’t. When that other part of you takes over and you just can’t imagine the humiliation of going somewhere and feeling sad and afraid and how are you going to leave the party without anyone knowing? and what if just by being there people feel awkward? And what if I am like a sad little infection hanging in the room?
Sometimes I don’t trust myself to be okay, to hold it together. I don’t expect others to understand. And so I hide out.
An amazing woman named Denise emailed me some months ago, telling me that we were going through the same thing and if I wanted a pal in this she was there. She has been a great gift to me in this process, someone who gets it in a way that others just don’t, and it is endlessly comforting to me. Our bond is sacred.
A friend of mine said to me once, “We are all in the waiting room together. We are all waiting for something.” I think that room has been so dark for so long, I didn’t know there was anyone else in there. I didn’t feel connected. I felt completely alone.
And then someone reached out their hand.
And I had some company.