Just over a year after getting married, my husband and I decided to try to get pregnant. A few months later, I was in the emergency room with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. After emergency surgery, the removal of my fallopian tube, and four blood transfusions, I was left to heal – both physically and emotionally.
The emotional side of the situation didn’t kick in until a few days after leaving the hospital. It was as though the shock wore off, and now that my body was slowly healing, the rest of me could focus on the other painful parts of the experience.
My husband doesn’t generally like to talk about painful things, which makes sense with his ISFP personality type. He processes events, then doesn’t want to ever talk about them again. It’s his coping mechanism.
As an INFJ personality type, I’m much different. I replayed all the events in the hospital in my mind seemingly thousands of times a day. I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t shut my brain off. I relived the pain. I relived the fear. I relived it all, trying to find some sort of understanding for such a traumatic event.
To cope, I started blogging about my feelings and what happened to me. I didn’t hold back. I was unfiltered and unapologetic. I didn’t need people to comment or tell me it was going to be okay. I needed more room in my heart and head to better process it all, and the only way to do that was to let the thoughts violently thrashing in there out, to thrash around on my blog instead.
Soon, some comments from friends came in. They were trying to be nice and reassuring, but I felt that they weren’t listening to me; they weren’t understanding. I didn’t want to be told to cheer up. I wanted to be told that it sucked. I wanted to be told I had every right to be mad and to question the universe. Or, I wanted to be told nothing at all, but instead wanted people to understand what was eating me up inside.
After comments about how I should get over these negative feelings, I stopped blogging. As an INFJ, I once again felt completely misunderstood. It felt as though others thought I was complaining to complain. In my mind, I was processing and giving space to my soul-crushing thoughts.
Months later, we were told that I would never be able to have children without some medical help. My remaining fallopian tube was blocked, probably that way since birth. The pain and emotional trauma rolled over me again.
As a planner, this shattered everything. I had no more plans for life. I felt as though I was just floating around, nothing to hold onto. I had no direction. I had no hope.
After countless fights about what other ways we should try to bring children into our lives, and after countless attempts that failed, my husband convinced me to see a fertility doctor. That same appointment, we decided to have the necessary surgery on my misshapen uterus, then start the process of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
Because I’m an INFJ, I wanted privacy. I wanted it to be just between the two of us. But my husband didn’t see why we shouldn’t involve family from the beginning.
Instead, we agreed that we could each tell one person for now, and the rest would follow later when we were further into the process. My husband chose one person, and within days, that entire side of the family knew and wouldn’t stop asking questions or wanting to talk about it.
Because of my past experiences with infertility and pregnancy loss, I craved privacy. Soon, my husband’s other side of his family knew, too. And then it extended past family to mutual friends and random strangers.
It was all too much for me. At that point, I had only told maybe three people who were close to me. With so many people knowing and sharing our news – even after we asked them to keep it private – I felt vulnerable, violated, and bitter.
Thankfully, the IVF took on the first round, and we were pregnant with twins. I was cautiously happy, too afraid to open myself up to true joy because of what could still happen. I could lose everything – again.
I couldn’t quite understand the level of happiness from those around me. After all, it was my journey, my story, my personal information. In my mind, no one had a right to my personal information or the sharing of it unless I gave it to them – and I didn’t.
I shut down.
I shut them out, which wasn’t fair to them.
INFJs take longer to warm up to people. We prefer the more natural approach of relationship-building. So, it was hard for me to stomach acquaintances asking me questions. Actually, it was even hard when friends and loved ones asked me questions. I wanted to be able to give information and updates on my own schedule, not theirs.
Even so, I remained cordial and kind. I kept my true feelings to myself, all bottled up inside. I constantly wondered why I plastered a fake smile on my face and refused to hurt their feelings with a response when I was squirming on the inside from their comments and questions.
The truth is I was in a constant battle between my need for privacy and not wanting to cause discord or hurt people’s feelings. If I could do it over again, I wish I would’ve been honest with people about my feelings and expectations. Because I wasn’t, I only caused more frustration and emotional turmoil for myself.
Here are three lessons I learned from my experience that I hope will help you, too, if you find yourself in a similar situation.
1. Be honest. Don’t let your bitterness or anger eat away at your insides. Perhaps more honesty on my end would’ve helped them be more empathetic and respectful of my needs.
INFJs prefer to protect the deepest parts of their inner selves, and I was no different. But what I found the most frustrating was that no one seemed to understand why I wanted to keep it private. The hardest lesson I learned was that I had no control over what and when people shared my personal information. However, I learned more about others and myself in the process.
2. Keep in mind that if someone hasn’t gone through the same experience, it can be difficult for them to fully understand. Instead of closing off because you’re misunderstood, take some time to try to understand their side. That’s how empathy grows. That’s how people soften and become better, more loving people. And we could use more of that in the world.
Now that I’m on the other side and have four-month-old twin daughters, I can clearly see how harsh and unbending I was and how happy my loved ones were for me. I spent so much time feeling misunderstood and disrespected that I didn’t realize I was doing the same thing to everyone else.
3. Don’t get completely caught up in your own thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Even though you may feel alone sometimes, you’re not. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more alone you feel, the more you cut people out. And if you shut them out long enough, you’ll have no one left to stand beside you when you need them the most. Remember that there are others who want to go on the journey with you — but first, you must allow them to join in.