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Infertility Secrets and Privacy

a blog by Lisa Rosenthal, June 5, 2013

Privacy and secrecy.

That was the topic of conversation on Facebook yesterday. At least in my circle of “friends”.

It permeates a lot of conversations these days.

In Ladies Night In and Fertile Yoga, we talk about it at length. Infertility is a secret that weighs heavily.

Is it no longer a secret if one other person knows?

A secret can be a burden, feeling as heavy as a load of large stones on our backs. Carrying around that load is exhausting; resisting the temptation to put it down is almost overwhelming. Is that when we tell someone, when it becomes too much? Who do we tell? What do we say? Do we say it all? Do we just hint at it? Do we blurt it all out, flinging our words wildly?

Can a secret also be a hope or a dream? Too fragile to just share with everyone? We entrust our secrets to those that we believe will hold them lovingly and carefully, with thought and care. Sometimes we are over careful, perhaps; where we are most vulnerable. Afraid that we will be hurt. When we are not careful enough, a reaction can pierce us to the heart.

Privacy and secrecy have a few things in common; walls are created, feelings can be hurt, equilibrium can be found and reestablished.

The closeness that we enjoy with our dearest friends is something that most of us cherish and work hard to maintain.

When infertility comes along and we make the choice not to share what we are experiencing, it causes an imbalance in our relationships. There is something huge, life changing that we are in the middle of that the other person has no idea about. They share their lives, secrets and hopes with us. And we don’t. We share pieces of our lives, but there’s this life altering part that we don’t share. And they don’t know it.

Secrets alter relationships. There is a sense of shock, almost betrayal when we find out that something important was kept secret. That the relationship we were having was actually only on one side. Hurt and disappointment and a feeling that we weren’t trusted strikes deeply. It hurts when a friend turns away.

Aren’t we entitled to our privacy?

Yes, of course.

And privacy is not the same as secrecy. Privacy almost always differs from secrecy because at least one other person knows the truth. Whether it’s the entire truth or bits and pieces that are hinted at; privacy is still shared.

Privacy is choosing what we share and what we don’t, and with whom, is a way of creating healthy boundaries. And we are more than entitled to that; it makes us healthy and whole. It’s necessary. Completely and utterly necessary. Privacy is a second skin.

And it can also build walls. And it can also make us feel alone and isolated.

Just like secrets.


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