Beware the Empathisers Club
I have never been the age I am now in the world we live in but every so often I will utter, “The world has changed so much.” As a firsts kind of woman in the world (first time marriage, first baby on the way, first thoughts of evil mortgages…) I can’t speak to the experiences of others but I do know this, the world is different. With or without knowledge, for me, the world is different. I navigate it as best I can, allowing a few trusted people into my thoughts when I am stumped and guessing the rest of the time. The best thing about life is discovering it for yourself. Have you ever asked someone a seemingly simple question such as, “How did you know your husband was the one?” or “What is it like being married?” or even, “Where do you buy your bras?”. They seem easy enough to answer but you can never quite anticipate the heated debate that can arise from these conversations. Personally, I try to answer all questions the same way these days. “I just did/It just is/Some woman in town.” The devil is in the details and by that I mean that once you open up to someone about experiences they are yet to have for themselves, be ready for a fight.
If you ask mothers what it’s like to have a child, they might say that there is nothing in the world like it because it’s phenomenal. You will see her struggling to feed a sleepy child, comfort a sick baby or even just change a diaper in an uncomfortable environment and think to yourself, “Really? Phenomenal? Amazing? I don’t think so.” You will want to argue with her but societal conventions will keep you from doing so. She believes it and you don’t. No one is right here, they’re just in two different places at that moment.
So now, when people find out I am pregnant and wish to dispense advice I politely smile and nod secretly screaming in my head. It feels like an intrusion. Have you ever wondered how someone you used to know is doing? Just get pregnant, they will find you. Somehow, everyone you know that has ever had a child will want to reach out to you and begin inducting you into the secret society of motherhood. I call them the empathisers club. “I know how you feel”. “It was the same for me so I have the exact solution for you”. “Here’s what I did and you should do it to”. Those are their key phrases.
I always want to ask them if they know that I have a mother and that I do in fact already have friends I can talk to. What they don’t tell you about those secret societies of motherhood is that they will make you feel inadequate at every turn. You’ll always be doing something wrong and they will look upon you with pity because you are just a new mother who knows nothing. I can guarantee you, you will go insane.
The same applies for life. No two versions of the same experience are the same because the people processing it are different. If I have experienced loss, I cannot speak of this when I come to comfort you. Your experience is different and I do not know more about it simply because I was there at one point or another. My biggest lesson so far has been in the art of tuning people out. I do not listen to unsolicited advice because I didn’t ask you. I appreciate that you think you’re helping but in reality, you’re probably freaking me out.
I’m not guilt-free by the way. I used to talk for hours whenever people would say the were going through something and proceed to tell them my story. These days, the thumbs up emoji on Whatsapp has been a lifesaver. It’s my automatic response to just about everything.
Do not allow other people to let you think you are doing something wrong. The only truth and path you should live is yours. Everyone will always have an opinion on your new experience. Are you going to listen to every single one of them?
Think about it.