This week I celebrated two anniversaries. On 1st May it was three months since the publication of my book and six months since my first ever blog. It’s been an incredible time and I finally feel like I might be coming up for air.
Coming out about my infertility was one of the biggest decisions I’ve made in my life. I was so ashamed of it and for a while I seriously contemplated publishing anonymously. At one point I was Jessica Harper (my grandmother’s maiden name) but then my editor did a google search and told me that a Jessica Harper had just been convicted of defrauding Lloyds Bank of £2.5m and it wasn’t worth a mix up. So, unlike George Eliot, Belle de Jour and Robert Galbraith, I can confirm I am Jessica Hepburn.
It’s sad that there is still so much shame around the subject of infertility but it’s also understandable. Who wants a label that you desperately hope isn’t true? Who wants to admit to not being able to do what so many other women find so easy to do? But the thing about shame is that even if you keep it hidden it comes out in silent and subtle ways. The less you talk about it, the more you have it and the more you have it, the more it hurts.
Last week, I went where over fifteen million people have been before me and listened to Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability. She says that through years of research she has found that the people who have the courage to embrace their shame and vulnerability are, ultimately, the happiest. It made me think about the last few months – everything I was and now am – and I can honestly say on the anniversary of my book and my blog that coming out about my infertility, as me, has healed the hurt and made me happier than I ever imagined it could. So I may not be anybody’s mother but I am Jessica Hepburn and, do you know what, it feels ok.
So for this week’s question: is Anonymous a name you know or are you fully embracing your vulnerability and shame?
It’s a little of both for me. I still keep my blog anonymous in order to have a space to vent openly about what’s happening and sometimes about other people. My twitter account is connected to the blog but private and I’m not totally anonymous there. And during NIAW I publicly declared myself infertile on Facebook and told a lot of my story, which was a huge step for me. That week a lot of people told me I was brave. I don’t feel brave for finally admitting a part of myself that I kept hidden for so long. I just feel like I have more integrity now.
I totally know what you mean about the word ‘brave’. Lots of people have said that to me too and it’s not a word that fully makes sense to me yet either. In the end, for me, it just became something that had to be done. Necessary almost. Integrity is a really good way of describing how it feels. Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. Jessica x
My blog is anonymous and so is my twitter account. I really wouldn’t want it otherwise. I don’t want to mix up work with infertility, since work is generally a safe place where I can be just me, without the pain. Many people (friends, colleagues, even my boss) know what is going on. But not many have the blog. I’m afraid they would think I’m nuts or that I exaggerate at times..
You are never nuts! Infertility has got to be one of the hardest things anyone can go through and I love your posts/tweets. I think you have to do what’s right for you. I admire everyone that blogs (anonymously or otherwise) but I have surprised myself that being me was actually ok for me, maybe even a good thing. Jessica x
Thanks for sharing Brene’s Ted talk. My partner and I recently started blogging & tweeting anonymously about our infertility. At the same time I’m trying to be more open and authentic with friends and family about the situation and my feelings – mentioning to some of them that I’ve started blogging, but not giving them the blog name!! I’m building up to expressing vulnerability in both camps (anon in cyber world & friends+family) with the goal of merging the two – when I feel secure enough. I do worry about colleagues – and random work connections like LinkedIn contacts – reading my dark thoughts and seeing my shame & vulnerability and that distracting them from knowing me as being good at my job.
Thanks for commenting. I really understand your fears about it impacting on your work and professional persona. It was something that was a huge issue for me too. Whilst I do sometimes wonder what gets said over a pint in the pub, the truth is things get said anyway and saying it myself has made me stronger, and in many ways even more confident in the job I do. Only you’ll know when the time is right though but I think I can go as far as promising you that it will definitely be ok. Jessica x
Hi Jessica, you’ve done amazing and your book is something to be proud of and recommend anybody who has been through fertility treatments… Read your book! As I said before that could be me! Keep on blogging, I need to do some more.
See you Saturday. Xx
I really appreciate all your support. You must keep on blogging. Looking forward to meeting on Saturday and setting the world to rights. Jessica x
Infertility was not an issue that brought me here, but it’s been trial and error to figure out how much to open up to the world about various other issues that have cropped up along the way. I like having spaces, like work, where I can be productively, cheerfully anonymous — but I’ve also generally been rewarded when I’ve chosen to confide in fellow travellers.
Fellow travellers are most certainly one of the joys of life! Jessica x
I’ve had a long think about this topic. I’m going to keep my blog anonymous – atleast for the time being.
You must definitely do what feels right to you but it’s also really nice for me to know that I’ve made people think. Thank you so much for commenting. Jessica x
So pleased my post inspired you to write yours…thank you. Jessica x