I think I was born with a perspective that has often been referred to as my “gift.” As I get older, I have learned that this so-called gift has also been a gigantic curse — a curse that has taken me years of therapy to wrap my head around.
You see, like many people, I have always had the ability to see the positive in any situation. Beyond seeing the positive, I would always manage to see that there was someone out there who was struggling more than me. On those rainy days and stormy moments, I was quite good at steamrolling myself through the chaos until I forced myself into the sunny side of life. If I felt sad, I could always see that someone was more sad, and, consequently, I could see how lucky I was not to be so sad. If I felt freaky because I had to wear a rust-colored, hand-made sweat suit, which was fashioned out of fabric my mom purchased at the clearance table, I could always see that there was the kid who wore the same pair of red Toughskins every single day of the week. If I felt mad at my dad for not wanting me, I would always say, “well, at least I know who my father is.” When I felt fat and ugly, I would say, “at least I have plenty of yummy food to eat.” When unexpected things happened, like our power being shut off (yet again), I would take a deep breath and think to myself about the millions of people in the world who do not have power to shut off! How lucky I was!
When my parents fought or my sister went all crazy on drugs or when I was made fun of for not only being a Mormon, but being the Mormon whose parents were divorced (this was the 1970’s: blended families were less common then), I was grateful that I had two new sisters, a new dad and a brand new church. (I started out Catholic.)
Slowly as I dismissed my own sorrow, I detached from the inadequate feelings I was burying inside my soul. When life became uncomfortable, I became a master of my positive attitude. When my positive attitude failed me, I learned how to make people laugh. When laughing wasn’t cutting it, I let just enough truth bubble up through my wickedly real sarcasm. My quick and biting tongue would allow me to blow off just enough steam to make it through another day.
Let’s be honest, I wasn’t a sincerely positive person as much as I was a master stuffer. My stuffing method of choice: Seeing the glass half full.
The only problem was when I was a young teen, I think I had stuffed as many feelings as my young body could hold. Not only had I experienced a ton of first-hand pain, I had watched my entire family suffer from some pretty horrific stuff. At times, when I was about to burst, I would try to articulate the painful truth, and then I would fear embarrassing or drawing unneeded attention to my family. Often I could not find the right words and often my truth was put on hold by one of my sisters, who most definitely had more pain to bare than myself (or that is what I told myseld).
Recently I was talking on the phone to one of my step-sisters. When she was a girl, among other very traumatic things, she suffered from terrible asthma. Asthma which was so bad that it would often make her bedridden and eventually she would have to be hospitalized. We were on the phone talking about my milk and dairy allergies when she said, “Well, it is too bad you developed allergies as an adult.” I told her that actually, I also had allergies as a kid, but mine weren’t that bad, because they didn’t hospitalize me. I wanted to be empathetic and let her know that I understood how much she suffered. (PS My allergies were horrific. I just didn’t have asthma back then).
When we hung up and I did some thinking, I remembered that my sister and I went for two years together and then I went for another year after she moved out, for weekly allergy shots. She got one shot and I got two. Of course, I was disappointed that she didn’t remember that. But you know what, I had forgotten too. Because her struggles seemed so grand to me, her younger sister, I think it didn’t occur to me to share with her back then that every single day from March through October my eyes swelled shut, and both my eyes and nose ran like a faucet. The worst and most embarrassing part for me was sitting in class. I would take a few kleenexes into class with me. Once they were completely saturated, I would try with all my might to keep the snot in my head. I would hold my breath in hopes of stopping those awful drips. When I couldn’t see a thing and my face was soaked, I finally asked the teacher if I could get more tissue and because I wasn’t better prepared, she would make me wait until the end of class. As an adult, I wonder why I had to suffer so long before getting treatment. Was it because we were poorish? Perhaps. Was it because there were so many bigger fires to put out? Probably. Was it because I didn’t speak up? Kind of. I tried. My step-sister didn’t have any idea that I had allergies, because her own life was so uncomfortable and it was not her responsibility to know. She, like me, was just a kid. That I understand. As an adult, however, I finally realize that even if her pain and suffering was worse, I should have been helped too.
Lately, I have been in a state of no-feeling. Life is not bad. It is not great either. I have been definitely checking out. Sometimes its just easier that way. Yet today, I feel a little guilty about all of my fertility issues. So many people have struggled way more than I have. A few weeks ago, on our last attempt to try naturally, Dave and I had sex like eight billion times. We even had a big talk before I ovulated and like the trooper he is, he was totally on-board for our baby-making-sex-a-thon. There were days when he would leave work early, just to make sure we could fit sex in just in case. My favorite day was when my mom was over and I asked her if she could watch the kids so Dave and I could have sex before we took the boys to soccer practice. “Mom, I am ovulating.” She understood, but wished I could have left the sex part out.
We have given it our all. Next month, we try I.U.I. and then I think we are done. It has been very hard for me not to slip back into a glass-half-full-stuffing-my-feelings-way-down-deep mode, especially today when I am getting cramps. I am guessing that once again, I am not pregnant. I see that I have these two awesome kids, but today I am also trying to allow myself to feel how sad I am.
20 thoughts on “The Problem with being a Glass-Half-Full person:”
You are brave. Your comments and tone remind me of the statement… “The pain you feel is the wound that you will heal”. It is heartwarming and painful at the same time–to see how you recognize your own suffering but can also look beyond yourself and recognize the pain of others. As always, sharing your feelings has an incredible effect on all those who are blessed to read your words. Peace and blessings to you and yours during this struggle.
Your honesty will be your salvation, ya know? Altho I’m someone who has never ever wanted kids (and have not dated some pretty awesome guys cause they DID want kids) I really truly hope you get pregnant. The women that want kids as badly as you do really deserve to have them…it’s almost like good karma just waiting to happen.
Best of luck to you, Beth!
“Let’s be honest here, I wasn’t a sincerely positive person as much as I was a master stuffer. My stuffing method of choice: Seeing the glass half full.”
THIS is why i love you (well, among many of the reasons i love you). insight, lady.
i hear you on the checking out. i wish i were less of a pessimist, less of a ‘glass half empty’ person, but i’ve never had problems feeling what i’m feeling, i guess.
you are wonderful and your boys are wonderful and dave is wonderful. you have so much, and i know you know that. it doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to feel sad.
Sweet Sweetney. I totally agree with you. It is hard to let myself feel sad sometimes.
Sadly [no pun intended] I think it goes beyond allowing myself to feel sad. Honestly, I just think I don’t like to feel pain at all. In fact, I am terrified of pain. I think my fear is what leads me to behave the way I do. If I actually allow myself to feel the pain, then I have to face how much things suck. Seeing it all half full is what protects me (not that the behavior is necessarily good). If I am always positive about my fertility then I don’t have to face that I may never ever have a baby again. [then add all the feelings that come along with allowing myself to feel like greed, selfishness, reality . . .]
Does that make any sense? Great words.
This was such an eye-opening and interesting post for me to read. I grew up with a horribly pessimistic (world is out to get me) type of parent and a parent who was optimistic to a fault. So, I tend to have extremes, and I try to be the optimist, but I’d describe myself as pessimistic more often. It is not something I like in myself and I’ve recently found my son taking on these tendencies of mine which upsets me a lot.
But, I had never thought about how being a glass-half-full person can also have its share of problems.
Don’t ever let yourself not fully feel the disappointment or sadness over this infertility, Beth. Because while you have two kids and there are people who have none, your loss or an inability to have another is still a loss and your heart is still aching. Love yourself enough to let yourself feel fully and maybe you’ll have more of an opportunity to heal or deal with it in the present instead of it weighing on you long term.
I am thinking positive thoughts for you and your treatment. My husband and I tried for two unsucessful years to have our second and finally got lucky and did just about when I thought all hope was lost, so I do understand how frustrating it can be. Hang in there…
*Smooch* I’ll be thinking about you!!
One of the reasons I love reading your introspective blogs is that I find many things we have in common – maybe not in how we were raised, or our particular issues, but in how we deal/cope/view the world around us.
I can only say that the more we know ourselves, the more we see our own feelings and how we manage them, the stronger we become. A friend asked me yesterday, “Are you going to be ok?” and the first thing that came into my mind, and what I replied with was, “I don’t have a choice.” It’s not for lack of feeling my own pain, or that my pain will ever go away; it’s just that I believe there are choices – one into self-destruction, and one that says I’ll be ok. And the path to ok includes pain, anger and all sorts of “bad” emotions. I’m rambling a bit, but I guess the direction I’m going is that whatever happens for you, I believe you, too, will be ok, despite the sadness & pain that life might throw at you. Without sadness, I don’t believe our joy would be as boundless. Wishing you some joy in the upcoming months,
Beth, have you considered adoption as an alternative? I think a child would be very fortunate to join your loving family…
Beth–awesome post. It really got me thinking about a lot of things. In fact, your posting was was the first thing I thought about this morning, and I’ve been back to read it 3 times. Thank you for opening your heart to us.
Our backgrounds are so similar it’s scary. Sometimes it’s hard for me to read, to be honest. Sort of makes me feel dishonest because I’m not as forthcoming with those details. Does that make any sense? But I soldier through because your words move me. You make me think and reflect. And I love you for it.
Hang in, Beth. You know I’m wishing you all the best!
You have every right to feel sad, Beth. I’m wishing the best for you, too.
We’ve been taught it’s best to see the good, to be thankful for what we’ve got… But sooner or later we’ve got to take care of ourselves and deal with whatever it is we feel. Took me a long time to get to my “what about me?!!” moment and acknowledge my feelings – feelings that were buried and had morphed into anger and wtf??? Why am I feeling this way?
I tell you, my moment gushed out in the form of a big ol tantrum, it was private but quite comical. It felt so good to just admit how I felt and own it.
You amaze me. You articulate your thoughts and feelings so well, and I can completely relate to the glass half full syndrome – I guess when you live with the stuff you’ve lived with, you make peace with everyone and everything. You really are amazing Beth. I hope your wish for another child comes true. I’m wishing really hard. But if it doesn’t, you do have alot to be grateful for sweetie. I hope that with all this peace you manage to make, you find it within yourself too. I struggle with that as well.
It’s good for your soul to allow yourself time to feel shitty. Otherwise, you might explode! You obviously have an incredibly wonderful outlook on things, try not to feel bad about feeling bad. For me, when something crappy happens, I give myself an hour (or two, or three) of “woe is me” time, where I can just be a big selfish baby about things. It’s cleansing, and afterwards it’s not so hard to see the silver lining. Usually, that silver lining makes itself quite obvious long before my hour (ro two, or three) is up. We are only human, and we feel. It’s very brave for you to share that with all of us, I wish you nothing but the best!
It’s okay to be bummed out sometimes. I call it a “funk” — maybe I’m scared of the word depression, but “funk” seems to sum it up better for me.
Thinking of you and your family and sending good pregnancy vibes your way!
Poor soul. We are all up and down. Its weather, its hormones, its life. You’ll climb back on that 1/2 glass full train again.
I am glad that you’re recognizing that it’s okay to be sad and it can actually be therapeutic to have a pity party for yourself every now and then.
I think that our 30s are a time to learn a lot of important life lessons. I’m finding that to be true, anyway, and it seems like you are, too.
Wow– my sisters and I are going thru a rough time now, and your post really helped me understand that the way she has dealt with things from childhood til now, with something very stressful, is by trying to rationalize it as “It could be worse” much like you descibed. I’ve never understood before how she could seem not to be affected by things. Now I think she was purposely ignoring the horrific parts so she could go on.
This was insightful. Thanks.
Your honesty and vulnerability is refreshing!
You know I am hoping for the best outcome for you, honey. I think you’re just… just the coolest friggin’ person. So there.
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