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If you liked reading about hope, you’ll love reading about…

AmyG’s got a quite interesting post about envy going on. (Apologies for the incestuous reciprocal linking. Be careful that you don’t get caught in some kind of infinite mouse clicking loop.) In trying to comment, I lost my shit a bit and was unable to respond rationally to her perfectly great question. The question, you see, is nested in within a description of some utter asswipe psychi.ass.trist’s assvice (not to bias you or anything) about how infertile couples deal with pregnancies in their social circle. Since I’ve got no new sous vide cooker to play with, I thought I’d respond here rather than clogging up her comments. That’s for you guys to do, please!

Is envy a component of my IF emotional package? Yessiree. In my personal case, is it the main component? Not right now, anyway. How I feel about the person involved seems to make a difference, though. (I’m thinking of fertile people–I think it’s a different story with fellow infertiles.)

I feel envy when it’s someone I don’t care about, and the envy passes quickly. When it’s someone I do care about, I feel profound sorrow. The sorrow does not go away and is made vastly worse by seeing the person or thinking about her pregnancy. (At least, that’s how I’d describe the emotional experience. I could do some brain imaging studies to make sure–there do seem to be distinct brain circuits involved in envy as compared to grief–but I don’t do brain imaging. So you’ll have to take my word for it.) Does anyone else have this experience? The more you love the person the harder her pregnancy is?

As for the question of whether there’s anything to be done about envy…I don’t know. My approach is to remind myself of all the ways in which my life is superior. And because I have a nice life, this is semi-effective. While reminding myself about the good things in life has no effect on my sorrow at all, it seems to work for envy. This might be because envy is thought to be on a continuum with regular old admiration, and making oneself feel superior is a cure for admiration.

Side note: Some psychologists think there’s a thing called chronic sorrow. It’s distinct from grief, and applies to situations in which loss is irresolvable (including IF). Chronic sorrow can be assessed using the Chronic Sorrow Questionnaire. Doesn’t that sound like a TOTAL BLAST to fill out?

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. JB #

    I wrote a clinical trial protocol for a study assessing an antidepressant in children (don't get me started…I don't pick my assignments) and there were around 4-5 depression assessments PLUS 2-3 suicidality assessments the kids and/or their parents had to fill out at every weekly visit for up to 12 weeks. Dude. If they weren't thinking about it before, way to give them specific ideas (the questionnaires are REALLY specific). That's fucked.I have had the same experience you describe — envy for pregnant people more distant or peripheral, and sadness (or sorrow) directed toward pregnant people closer to me. I have tended to avoid close friends with small kids, or who are expecting, in the past 6 months or so. And I definitely think there is chronic sorrow with IF. Even though things seem to be swinging in my favor right now (and quite happily so), I wake up and go to bed every day with recurrent fears, concerns, and scenarios that are hard to dispose of because of everything I've been through. So now, the sorrow is over the loss of my joy, that I feel I can never fully get back. It just changes you.Which is why there is (for you) sweet, sweet booze and (for us all) ice cream and chocolate and cake! (Italian family, can you tell?)

    January 28, 2010
  2. Yes, I get over it pretty quickly when a random acquaintance or lady at a party is pregnant. With close friends and relatives, the emotions are so much…sharper? It cuts into your core. I will venture a guess that part of it is that we have a bond with the people we love so much and when they are suddenly "on the other side," it makes our own IF island status that much more poignant and painful.I will say, tho, the venonous feelings of envy overwhelm when it comes to coworkers…the baby showers at work, the convos in the bathroom, the growing belly walking by my cube each day…it's 9 hours a day of staring at what you want but cannot have.Gee, I sound like a total jealous jerkball, huh? Thank you for reminding me I'm not alone, Bunny.

    January 28, 2010
  3. I haven't thought the word "asswipe" in so long. So useful!I keep trying to compare IF to those times in my life when I've been ready and eager to be in a relationship, there were just no good candidates on the horizon, and it seemed like everyone in the world was coupling up. It's hard to be around couples (especially new ones) at times like that. But it's not like I ever thought, "I wish I had HER boyfriend." I don't envy what she has per se; I just want what I want. IF seems like that.And suchagoodegg (SAGE for short?), I cannot imagine being surrounded by such friggin' over-the-top fecundity for 9 hours a day! There was a baby boom at my workplace a few years ago. If it were going on now I'd be holed up at my desk thinking less than gracious thoughts.

    January 28, 2010
  4. JC #

    For me it hurts worse when it's someone close to me. For sure. For sure, for sure.

    January 28, 2010
  5. Wow, I just wrote a comment on her post. I didn't plan to rant like that, but that guy really got me. To comment on your post – I've also found that envy comes into play when it's someone I don't care about as well. Random strangers, coworkers, whatever. I have a little different experience with my sister's pregnancy, b/c she has been dealing with IF for so many years. I felt incredible joy for her, followed by deep, deep, sorrow. As she gets closer to her due date, though, I get more and more excited for her – probably b/c I'm going to meet my niece soon. I haven't been exposed to her pregnant belly for 9 months, so I don't know what I would feel faced with that. And if my sister had no problem at all popping out kids right and left and didn't understand about infertility? I don't know….it might hurt a lot worse then. It's so hard to say.Thanks for all the thought-provoking posts lately :).

    January 29, 2010

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