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When Good People Have “Bad” Thoughts


a blog by Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW, June 25, 2010

    “I feel like a terrible person. I get so angry when I hear that a friend is pregnant.”

    “What’s wrong with me—I can’t even be happy for my sister?”

    “I’m ashamed of the jealous person I’ve become.”

It’s o.k. It’s normal. You are not a bad person. Or at least having negative or envious feelings when a friend or family member is pregnant -- and you're not -- does not make you a bad person. Let’s face it, it's hard to remain generous in mind and spirit when you feel helpless. It's hard — no impossible — not to resent others for whom pregnancy seems to come so easily.

Before you say, “but I want my baby, not her baby, so why am I so envious of her?,” let me acknowledge that you are right — you don’t want her baby. What you do want, and what she seems to have, is the ability to have a baby more or less when she wants and without the collosal effort and anxiety that accompany infertility.

She’s “doin what comes naturally” and you're jumping through hoops, pumping yourself with shots, turning yourself into a pretzel in order to get to your morning blood test or ultrasound and then to work on time.

Nothing is fair or easy about infertility, so how can you expect yourself to be supportive and accepting when your friend or worse yet, your family member, becomes pregnan?

So what are you to do when you have angry and resentful feelings? Or worse still, “mean and hostile thoughts?”

My advice is to have them, accept them and know that thoughts and feelings do not cause injury. I remind my clients that it is not that they wish a friend or family member harm—they are simply wishing they could be spared yet another reminder of what others have and they do not have.

Although many people would find this unthinkable, I believe that there are many times when a loved one actually wishes that her sister or cousin or dear friend would miscarry.

I remember the relief I saw on one infertile sister’s face when I said this to her and added, “It’s not that you wish her suffering—you just wish the pregnancy would vanish.” When I said this, my client began to weep and said, “Thank you so much. I was so afraid to acknowledge those dark thoughts. They made me feel so bad about myself.”

Lest I sound like I am suggesting that you wallow in your upset and angry feelings, I am not. From my perspective, your goal is to live with and accept the feelings, but also do as much as you can to tend to your relationships. This doesn’t mean attending baby showers or shopping at Babies 'R Us, but it does meam maintaining connections with your pregnant person in whatever way you can.

In general, it's easier to be with her one-on-one than in a group. Perhaps you can get together for lunch or for a movie? When it comes time to buy her a baby present, why not go to a bookstore and pick out some terrific children’s books for her?

If these suggestions sound too difficult, it may be because you need to be very upset or very resentful for some time longer. Or it may mean that there are other issues in the relationship.

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Comments (1)

Not only is it hard trying to make sense of these confusing and unkind feelings ... it's usually followed by feeling guilty about having them in the first place! It's so important to recognize and understand what motivates the emotions in the first place. Thanks for your honest and constructive piece.

Silent Sorority

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