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Stop Punishing Yourself for Your Infertility

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Forgiveness a blog by Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW, June 9, 2010

We've all had the experience of being angry at someone and believing that something that person has done is unforgettable and unforgivable. Sometimes we remain fixed in that position, certain over time that the transgression cannot possibly be forgiven. Then there are other times when forgiveness takes a different course: We find ourselves softening over time and surprisingly able to forgive and move on. When this happens, it often brings with it a sense of satisfaction and relief. We feel unburdened by being able to forgive.

What does this have to do with infertility? Whom might we forgive? What good might it do?

I've known people who were burdened by anger towards physicians, who told them “you're young, don’t worry” or who didn’t take them seriously when they felt there was something wrong with their pregnancy. I've also known people who were overwhelmed with feelings of anger towards their partners, who may have made them postpone parenthood or efforts to have a second child. However, what I want to focus on here is the person that some people struggle most with forgiving: themselves.

As if infertility is not bad enough already, so many people blame themselves, live with regret, beat themselves up for not trying sooner, for staying with the “wrong” doctor, for transgressions real and imagined that might or might not have contributed to their struggles. Most of these people would quickly say, “Of course I can forgive others, but there is no way I can forgive myself.”

When I hear this I feel so sad for those who are suffering — regret and self-blame are the most painful of emotions.

There is little someone else can say or do that will release someone from the grip of profound and unrelenting regret. What I try to do when I'm working with such sufferers is to gently encourage them to treat themselves with kindness and compassion. I remind them that all of us make the best decisions we can at the time we make them. No one ever makes a decision or acts or does not act and thinks to themselves, “I hope I will regret this in the future.”

If you are one of the legions of people struggling with infertility and burdened by the curse of self blame and regret, try to reverse the old maxim, “Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.” Think of how good it would feel to forgive someone else.

Think of what a relief it might be to forgive yourself.

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