On a fairly regular basis, I receive emails asking if I accept guest posts on my blogsite. Anyone who follows Not So Mommy… knows that I share either a CNBC Story or a Good Things Story the last Monday of every month. So, when I receive inquiries about guest submissions, I know that it is most likely someone wanting a link back to their site, probably because they are selling a product or service. Because of this, you might think that I ignore these emails. But actually, I do not. In fact, I always take a moment to check out the person’s website, and I always write them back–even if their “I love your website and think my product would be great for your readers” is obviously a form letter and I’m quite certain they’ve never read even one of my blog posts.
Why do I respond?
Why do I take valuable time to respond? Well, because I think it’s an opportunity to educate about both the infertility and the childless not by choice journeys. For example, I received a request to publish a guest post about a product that was clearly not appropriate for childless not by choice. When I responded, I told the sender that I assumed she sent this request to me because my site name includes the keyword “Mommy.” (She obviously ignored the “Not So” and didn’t even bother to read one single post.) Anyway, I requested that she do a bit more research before emailing a form letter…
Surprisingly, she wrote back and was extremely apologetic. She told me that her marketing team had sent this email without her approval. Having suffered with infertility herself, she was appalled that this mistake had been made and assured me she had spoken with her team. I let her know that I was extremely grateful that she took my concerns seriously and reassured her that the email was not too triggering for me.
You can share, but…
In another instance, I agreed to allow the person requesting a guest post to share her Good Things Story. Why? Because I believe that if we are going to have open and honest conversations about infertility, then we must discuss all aspects—including the stories of those who get the little and those who do not. Because Not So Mommy… is an infertility and childless not by choice blog, I informed her that I would need to put a trigger warning with her story. Initially, she said this was absolutely acceptable. After a couple more emails to work out details, however, she changed her mind. She stated that she wanted her story to offer “joy and hope;” therefore, she did not want a trigger warning attached to it. Needless to say, this was non-negotiable, so I didn’t publish her story.
The Need for Trigger Warnings . . .
Her response to the need for a trigger warning rubbed me the wrong way, though. A trigger warning doesn’t diminish the “joy” in her story. And as for hope… Don’t even get me started on that loaded four-letter word! I suppose I just want others to understand that trigger warnings don’t automatically mean “bad.”
Why I post warnings . . .
When I post a trigger warning before one of the blogs I’ve written (or before a story someone has shared), it’s not because I believe the post contains anything that is wrong or bad. It is because I know that the infertility and childless not by choice journeys cause a deep grief that is complex… A grief that never completely goes away. A grief that can cause wobbles at unexpected times. So, I try my best to let people know to raise their guard, put on an extra bit of amour, proceed with caution…
Because we childless can face triggers. But it’s often easier when we have a bit of warning that one is coming. I mean, when the train takes off in Atlanta airport, it warns you to “hang on!” Those who heed the warning only sway slightly as it zooms away. But if there was no warning and it simply took off… Well, many would stumble, and some would even fall. The warning does not mean the train is bad. The warning is simply letting you know to prepare…
And as childless not by choice, prepare we must.
Recently, I was flying home after visiting family in Oklahoma. Though I’m always anxious to get back to Dane and Maddie, I’m also always a bit melancholy about leaving my Oklahoma friends and family behind. And now that my best friend is gone… Well, the sadness stings a bit more. So, I put up my defenses a bit more to help me keep solid footing, avoiding wobbles (at least until I get to the privacy of my own home). And this time, those defenses meant I was actually a bit rude on the plane.
Okay, it’s time for one of those trigger warnings. I’m about to mention a family with littles…
As I got settled into my seat, I saw a family with littles walking down the aisle. Yep. They sat behind me. “I hope they’re quiet,” I thought, as I continued to read my book.
But as the plane took off, quiet was not to be. Crying, crying, crying. And then, an ear-piercing scream. And out from my mouth flew, “Oh my gosh!” And I rolled my eyes.
Then, I grinned ever so slightly and shook my head, thinking how completely clueless the lady without kids must seem.
But you know who was clueless? The other passengers who had no idea that I fought a ten-year infertility battle, pulled myself out of the pit of despair, and embraced a life that I never asked for nor dreamed about. And now, in an effort to maintain balance and joy and focus on all that is good about a childless life, (time for another trigger warning…) I do not allow myself to look longingly at the adorable littles walking down the aisle. I do not allow my heart to soften at their cries. I put my guard up. I get annoyed by the tears. I allow things that should stay in my head to be spoken in exasperated tones.
And then, I forgive myself for making the parents feel like their kid was a nuisance. Because it’s how I’ve learned to cope with my triggers. I was already spent from grieving about my best friend. I just didn’t have it in me to allow my childless grief to sneak up on me, too.
The Truth about Trigger Warnings . . .
So, trigger warnings… They are necessary within our infertility and childless not by choice community. They don’t diminish joy or hope or anything else that is good. They simply allow us to raise our defenses a bit. Or to walk away if it is just too much for us at that moment. Trigger warnings are one way that we show we care about each other and do not want to cause undue pain…
Huh. So, trigger warnings aren’t a bad thing at all. They are actually a very good thing. Like so often, it’s just a matter of perspective…
If anything I wrote resonates with you, please tell us about it in the comments!
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