You’ll Never Know True Love…..

We all know how this wretched sentence ends, either literally or via inference.  Thanks to the World Childless Week team for sharing my piece, The Many Faces of Love:  You’ll never know true love until you’ve had a child, an Involuntary Childless Infertility Survivor’s Rebuttal.  You can find it on their site here, or visit their FB page here.  Today’s theme is Comments That Hurt.

How to participate in World Childless Week?  Well.  On one level it’s easy.  I encourage you to visit their site and/or FB page to read and like posts.  Since World Childless Week is an awareness campaign, sharing posts and especially sharing them with the good ole outside world is important.

This is where, at least for me, it gets challenging.  I realized this when the other day I ran across a commenter on another blog that essentially said she’s put the word out about WCW and heard crickets, and how are we supposed to get the word out when we are basically ignored like lepers?  So of course I burst out laughing.  Her comment rung true and got me back in touch with the risks we take when we share and post on infertility and involuntary childlessness – the usual crickets, perhaps awkward looks or exchanges when we see people in person, or even having to moderate the mainstream dipshittery that can often happen in response to the sharing of our experiences.  I haven’t had any of that this week, thank goodness, and I did get a warm response to my #IAMME picture (which I admittedly hesitated to post).  But the risks are there and can be felt deeply on a visceral level.  On the other hand, we will reach people and make them feel less alone, and we just may be changing the world little by little in ways that are not yet clear.

Many aren’t ready to share or be “out” with this experience and that space needs to be honored.  There are phases of grief where sharing and fielding responses is the last thing someone needs to be doing.  Looking back, I wish I was wiser to this in my own process at the time, however being silent was just too strangulating for me.  Either way, I know you will honor where you are and if you are in a place where you can push through the natural trepidation, do consider sharing one piece via mainstream social media this week.  If my piece doesn’t resonate with you, there are a bunch of spot on, well written and thought-provoking pieces on the WCW site to choose from.

Another thing to consider – the #IAMME campaign.  #IAMMME was created by blogger Cherry Williams.  The general idea is to show we are a diverse group of people who are shaped by other things beyond childlessness.  You can read her post here.

Sarah Chamberlin,




12 thoughts on “You’ll Never Know True Love…..

  • Nice! I missed most of the week as I was travelling, but managed to do an #IAMME before I went, changed my profile on Fbk to include the WorldChildlessWeek frame, and got about three comments. Oddly, I commented that the frame covered my face, but that’s okay because being childless makes me feel invisible a lot of the time too. Crickets! I got three comments, two from former infertility/pregnancy loss friends. So I know what you mean.

    I loved your piece on love, by the way. I posted something with a few similar points.

  • First off, I love your photo! Thank you for sharing.

    I suspect those who are most likely to getting crickets are those who are newly “out” and/or sharing their story with those who haven’t bothered to educate themselves to resolving infertility but aren’t parenting. Which is completely a shameful thing as it’s those initial steps that are often the hardest when opening up (and can quickly cause those sharing to go back into the closet). My hope is all of you feel supported following this week of advocacy. Because sharing your stories is very important and the general public, despite their discomfort, needs to hear them.

    • Yes, to speak and share or not to speak and share, that is the question, right?? I often wonder what the future trajectory of change on this major social issue will be. I share your view on the importance of the public at large hearing our stories. I feel people often assume that my talking and speaking out is selfish, the idea of it benefitting the greater collective still seems to be nonexistent. Fingers crossed for future change…..

  • I just wanted to let you know, a link to “Comments That Hurt” day of WCW (including your excellent piece) was posted to Metafilter…where it started a discussion of over 100 comments. There are a lot of great comments especially by people who are going through fresh and not so fresh grief over childlessness, infertility and pregnancy loss. There are even some supportive child free by choice folks and parents. (There are also a couple of parents who get the snack down when they try to hijack the conversation.) anyway, thought you might enjoy reading some of the discussion your piece provoked elsewhere on the Internet!

    • Thanks so much Amelia!! Some interesting comments and themes emerged, that’s for sure. Your detailing of the factions involved is spot on. Before I read the thread I got a kick out of your descriptions. Thank you again for forwarding this to me, sometimes I feel as though I write to a mysterious vortex!

      • I figured you might not know it had reached/touched so many people over there!

        This is my favorite comment from that thread. This person really gets it: “You’re experiencing alienation and otherness from one of the dominant fundamental narratives of our cultural construction that builds our ideas of family, lineage, heritage, community and genealogy. You are experiencing a very real and valid trauma that is way bigger than just you and your partner, and goes to very deep places in our psyches of who we are and who we are allowed to be in the world. What you are experiencing is real and appropriate given the world we live in.”

      • I know, that comment totally nails it. I don’t recall if it was from someone with direct IF/childlessness experience or not, but it sure shows some insight.

  • I’ve missed out on stuff going on lately as I was away from the 10th for nearly three weeks without wifi and hardly any phone service (bliss!). I’m sorry I missed this week. BTW I just had to google ‘hearing crickets’ – new expression for me there! Like it.
    Yeah, I find nothing much is changing on that front: the empathy levels never seem to improve. I feel it’s a thankless situation: I want there to be more awareness and the only way to get that is to put yourself out there, but I’m reluctant to put myself out there because I’ve only ever received skeptical raised eyebrows in return. I mean, I get zero from parent friends and relatives if I ever comment on being childless: they are so immersed in their daily grind with the kids that I truly believe they would snort in derision if they weren’t nice people. They think I’m lucky. In my bad days I sent angsty texts and hinted I wanted to talk about it and got … crickets. It put me off. So I really do admire the non-anonymous ones among us who put themselves on the line, and I feel like a coward in comparison. But yeah, perhaps we aren’t seeing or don’t understand the full effects in the mainstream world yet, and the thing we should focus on is that “we will reach people and make them feel less alone, and we just may be changing the world little by little in ways that are not yet clear” – I love that: extremely well-out. Thanks for everything you do x

    • Thanks, DS! I hear you on the “lucky” judgement. I may be about to write a whole post on that, we’ll see. I’ve become more conscious recently that, on the rare occasions I actually get to talk about my life, people are typically ingesting my solitude and creative time as “lucky”, whereas in relation to my actual experiences they are in fact necessities. Emotional and spiritual survival.

      Whether we speak out fully or partially, the skepticism and minimizations are not easy to take. I think one thing that needs to change is the blanket perception that anything not involving raising children is automatically easier and less relevant. And I know, good luck with that change, right??

      • There definitely is this perception that EVERYTHING is easier than raising kids and it makes my gall rise (is that an expression??). I get it from every parent I know. If it’s so bloody hard why did they do it – didn’t they hear the rumours? Sorry, I know that’s stupid but honestly, I was so very ambivalent myself about being a parent (I was so afraid of the daily grind), you’d think they stumbled into it with their eyes closed (oh yeah, they did just that …..).

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