Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up.
It seems to me that this world is full of competition. Competition to beat other countries, to be the smartest, the prettiest, the fastest, the best, the <fill in the blank>. Competition comes in many forms, but I think the worst is when I see competition for “who has it worse?” Lately, I’ve been seeing it in the infertility and mommy world. It’s definitely in the military spouse world, too. I know it’s always been there, but either I’m seeing more and more of it, or I’m noticing it more and more.
When have we suffered enough to warrant compassion—and perhaps sympathy—from others?
Is it when our spouses are gone? Or only when they’ve been deployed for a certain amount of time? Or is it only when they are in a combat zone? Or only when they reached a certain number of deployments over their career?
Is it when someone first starts struggling with having a child? Or when they are diagnosed with infertility? Or only when they’ve gone through medicated cycles? Or only when they’ve had IUIs? Or maybe not until they’ve gone through IVF… more than once? Or is it only when they realize they will never have biological kids?
Does someone deserve compassion and sympathy when their child is in the hospital for a day? Or perhaps not until one has been in for a week? Or is it only when the child has a life-threatening condition? Is it warranted for the parents of a preemie? Or only if the preemie is a certain number of weeks premature?
Is compassion warranted for those who nearly lose their children, or only to those who have lost their children? Is it only for those whose spouses have been injured on duty but recover? Or only those who have been permanently injured? Or only those who become widows or widowers?
No matter what, there is always someone who is worse off than we are. Those of us struggling with infertility have a tougher road (in this respect) than those who get pregnant easily. And those who get pregnant through medication only, have it a bit easier than those who need more invasive procedures to get pregnant. And those who DO get pregnant eventually, no matter what way… well, those who can’t would love to go through whatever they needed to in order to have children.
Those who have spouses go TDY/TAD to a school would much rather have their spouses home. And those who have their spouses deployed would prefer to have their husbands CONUS in a school. And those Gold Star spouses? They’d give anything to have their spouses anywhere on this earth–even deployed to a war zone–as long as they were living.
I sometimes struggle around other people who are dealing with infertility. Sometimes I feel as though I haven’t “earned” the right to complain because I haven’t done anything more than IUI. I haven’t had to inject myself with a million different drugs, so I feel as though I can’t ask for compassion from those who have. Some people on some boards (not here) I frequent will tell someone they have no right to complain because they haven’t gone through <insert the level>.
What about a MilSpouse who is dealing with a TDY to a school across the country? Does she not have the right to complain? What about my civilian cousin whose husband is gone 6 months out of the year to work several hours away (she gets to see him once a month)? Does she not have the right to receive compassion from those who “have it worse?”
Where does it end? Where is the line that you have to cross in order to receive compassion? I think we need more compassion in our lives. We need less one-upping and more comforting. I know there are times when I definitely could be more compassionate… what about you?