3. No We Don’t “Get Over It”

May 7, 2024

Being told to “just get over it” can be incredibly painful and minimizes our grief and pain. Unfortunately, this phrase is frequently directed towards women experiencing involuntary childlessness. Statements like this not only fail to provide support but also invalidate one’s feelings and impede the healing process.

In this episode, I discuss several factors that make moving past childlessness challenging, if not impossible, including societal pressure, lack of closure and triggers. Additionally, I conclude with advice for women navigating this challenge, offering suggestions on how to handle dismissive attitudes and manage emotional responses effectively.

Learn more or book a free, no-obligation call to talk about what a coaching experience could look like for you HERE.

Childless not by choice
Key Episode Takeaways:
  • If you resist emotions, they tend to grow and cause more stress.
  • Involuntary childlessness is a loss, and the pain from that is valid.
  • There is not a clear sense of closure when it comes to involuntary childlessness.
  • It is ok to grieve the loss of the future you had planned.
Listen to the Full Episode:
Full Episode Transcript:

3. No, We Don't "Get Over It"

Hi, you're listening to Childless and Moving Onward. This is the place where we talk about thriving in life when you're a woman who is childless, not by choice, regardless of the road that brought you to childlessness. Hi, this is Gail Miller with Childless and Moving Onward. And today's episode is about being told, "get over it." Okay, there are different ways that that can be said. And one way is said, you know, get over it already with annoyance and anger, and that's clearly not okay. Then there's the the tone, the kind tone. It's said with good intentions. It sounds innocent and caring, right? But the intention may be good, the outcome isn't. So what I'm referring to specifically is being told to get over it when you're feeling all the feelings that you have that are resulting from being childless not by choice. Whether it's because there's a specific trigger or your feelings are just there for whatever reason, they just popped up and you have no idea what triggered them this time? So for me, the first time that I heard it, it was from someone who I love dearly and who I know loves me back. Um, I was having a bad day. I had been triggered by something. I mean, I don't even remember what it was now because what happened afterward is what had such an impact on me. So in all honesty the person who told me to get over it when I was struggling with the pain I was feeling thought they were helping because to them this was the answer. Just be happy by just moving on and forget about it, but instead, it crushed me. I didn't have the words to explain why this hurt or why it felt so wrong. In fact, I didn't even realize that what was said to me at the time was wrong, because I had been so convinced I was in the wrong for feeling these negative feelings, that I was being weak, that there was something wrong with me. Because I wasn't getting over it. And that's the point! Even though it can be said with good intentions, it's meant to help, it actually makes it worse. Telling someone to get over it is telling someone to ignore their feelings. That their feelings are wrong. They don't matter. The reason I was feeling like I was this weak person when I was first told to get over it is because someone saying that is truly saying you're not in control of your feelings. You are weak. Your feelings aren't valid. You're being told to get control of your feelings already. To feel positive, look at the positive, right? It's always about look at the positive and there just should be no negatives in life, no negative feelings. But being told to get over it, in reality, it doesn't matter what the intention, how good the intention is, is actually condescending and disrespectful. And when you're being told this when you're dealing with the pain of childlessness, unwanted childlessness, it adds another layer of hurt because of the lack of understanding of the grief. But it's often often people don't view it as a loss, as something to grieve because It's not a real person, someone you could touch and feel who is lost. Telling someone to get over it doesn't work. And if you've been told this and you've left, been left feeling like there's something wrong with you, there's not. Okay? Telling someone to get over it doesn't work. And here's why. Suppressing emotions, any emotions and pain isn't healthy. There's a quote, what you resist persists, and it's true. If you resist feelings, they don't go away. Instead, they fester, they grow. That leads to physical stress, and illness, both physically and emotionally, and inevitably it shows up somewhere else in a negative way in your life. What one person thinks isn't a big deal is significant to someone else, and everyone's experience in life is different, and to minimize that is simply wrong. My life experience, my views of life, and how I feel through the lens I've looked through. Um, so when someone gives you that superficial advice to get over it, and you're thinking there's something wrong with you because you aren't getting over it. No, there's nothing wrong with you. That phrase, get over it, implies, uh, that there should be a sense of finality or resolution, that you should just be able to move past a difficult situation. The reality is it's so much more complex, especially when it comes to deeply personal and challenging circumstances like unwanted childlessness. And here's, it's not just wrong, but because most don't get over it. Now, there are some women who get to the point in their life where they are like, you know what? I wouldn't have this life if I had children and I love this life and sometimes they do change their minds and do get over it and decide, you know what, this worked out well. This actually, I didn't have, I wanted children, I didn't have them, but I'm okay with it. But that's not the majority of women who are childless, not by choice. And here's why it's often difficult, if not impossible, to get over it. Involuntary childlessness isn't just a fleeting, upsetting thing. It is a profound, and deep loss that triggers not just complex, but enduring emotions. Sadness, anger, frustration, grief, and that can linger, especially because there are always reminders of that unfulfilled desire. The second reason why one of the other factors and why we don't get over it, it is a, a loss. It's often one that's not recognized in society, something that's considered disenfranchised grief instead of grief over a real loss. Um, but it is a loss regardless of what others view it as. Um, and the grief over it doesn't have a timeline or a deadline and it's also the process of dealing with it isn't a straight path. It's back, it's forwards, backwards, left, right, up, down. It's all over the place. The emotions are all over the place and there isn't a way to rush it. Because there's no deadline and everyone processes it differently and gets to each place differently. Where I am at this point in my life where I can recognize that and that I can honor my pain, the grief of my loss and enjoy a fulfilling life for someone else that may take them longer than it took me, or it may take them far less time than it took me to get to this place. But there's no deadline. There's no right or wrong length of time. The third factor that affects mostly usual inability to get over it is that our identity as parents, or wanting that to be part of our identity, is often you know, intertwined with our self worth. And not being able to become a parent when you so wanted to can, can shake you, can shake your foundations, your view of yourself and your view of your worth. Now being childless shouldn't define your worth, but it often does and it can leave you questioning, what's your purpose in life? And that requires work to rebuild a sense of self. So Um, when you can't have a family that it, the family that you had imagined, there are other ways to define family besides the traditional ways of having a child. Um, but when what you've imagined when you can't build that, it leads to self doubt, it leads to feeling less than and feeling as if you're a failure and then being told to get over it. Again, you're being told you're weak, you can't control your emotions. And so it amplifies that sense of inadequacy. That sense of failure is here again, I can't do anything right. I can't even control my emotions. The fourth factor in, you know, getting over it are expectations from our communities, from our individual communities, from community and society as a whole. There is a lot of pressure placed on women to become moms. That is that pronatalist view that women should become moms. And that, that is a woman's primary role in life. And there's, you hear all over, all the time from moms, what's the most important job in my life? And, and from others who aren't, you know, from men telling women, that's the most important thing you can be. Well, if you can't be what society views the most important role, if you can't partake in that role, what does that say about you? What does that mean? You feel like you're less than, and it leaves a particularly strong sense of isolation and alienation, like, you can be in a full room and feel so, so, so alone. Um, the fifth factor it's the lack of closure, though, is there truly ever closure for a profound grief, deep loss? There are some life challenges that do have a resolution or a solution for it. Let's say you've grieved the loss of a job that you love. You can have closure if you then find another job that you love equally. But for many of life's, um, losses, there's not a clear sense of closure. And that is especially true of involuntary childlessness, , because there's always that lingering sense of what could have been. There's always that replaying in your mind, the dream that you had. Of what your life would be like as a parent and the dream of you know what you planned for your child, that you know you you planned you imagine them through pregnancy, you know elementary school high school graduation all of those things and those dreams don't go away. They're unfulfilled. The sixth factor affecting the getting over it is that there are always triggers. There is no way to live life avoiding all triggers. I mean, the only way is you, you isolate yourself physically, emotionally in every possible way. And that's not healthy, you know, move to a deserted Island. Okay. Um, but otherwise the triggers are ongoing and often unexpected. You know, you, you know, the holidays are coming up, let's say, and you know that going to Aunt Libby's house is, you know, for whatever holiday celebration, you know there's going to be triggers there. So, you know, many triggers you, you are aware are going to happen, but oftentimes they pop up on social media when you're outside, you're in the store, you're at work, you're, and things that people say and do that you would never, you never expected to happen and it's a trigger and those change over time as well. Um, I at one point unexpectedly was triggered by, um, one of the morning shows, one of the hosts, they were announcing that she was off because she had just adopted a daughter. And wow, that triggered me and I never expected it. And I realized as I sat with the pain, like why, where is this coming from? She adopted her daughter around the same age I was when I wanted to adopt, but my husband didn't. I had fertility issues and he didn't want to have any more children and, um, a way around the fertility issues at least was, you know, I thought, let's look into adoption and he didn't want to. And so, yeah, out of the blue, I never had thought about it since, and then, here she is, same age I was, around the same age, and it just, really, that trigger just hit me. Um, so, yeah, you just never get away from them, so it's hard to get over it when there's constant reminders. The seventh factor in the ongoing not getting over it, um, that healing there, it's complex. This is not a simple process. Um, there's a lot to process. These are difficult emotions to integrate. And again, it's, it's not a straight path. Um, and so setbacks happen because of things like triggers. So, um. healing is difficult, and it's, there again is with everything else, like grief, there's no timeline, there's no deadline. Um, so, the bottom line is saying get over it, the pain of being childless by circumstances, childless not by choice, really oversimplifies the impact that it has on lives. Um, eighth factor is that when you say this to someone, it actually deepens the pain because you are invalidating struggles. You're invalidating the pain. As I said before, you're saying, you're telling someone they're weak because they can't control their emotions and that just makes this even more complicated and more painful. The ninth factor is that well, there's a lot of stigma that surrounds fertility status in general for women, fertility status, marital status. Being childless is, there is a significant stigma and misunderstanding associated with it. And so, you're telling someone, again, that you don't understand their pain. And it adds to feeling marginalized. It reinforces the harmful stereotypes about women without children. It brings to light that stigma and highlights it even more. Um, another factor is that it, it ignores the fact that healing isn't as simple, just get over it. There are so many facets of, of your life that are affected by this and that affect it. And so, um, again, telling someone to get over it disregards the pain. And really shows a lack of understanding of that pain. And then the final factor that you know, affects getting over it, is you're telling someone that pushing away, getting rid of their emotions, is a good coping mechanism. And it absolutely isn't. Repressing emotions, as I brought up earlier, that, um, you know, when you don't address the pain it just festers. It does. When you pretend you're over it, that you're not feeling the pain, because we're not supposed to feel anything negative. When you deny this pain, when you push away the sense of grief and loss, it does lead to Um, negative consequences on your well being, physically, psychologically, it leads to anxiety, depression, it can lead to unresolved trauma. So it is vital to promote healthy coping strategies and healthy coping strategies include experiencing the uncomfortable emotions. Not pushing them away, not pretending they're not there. So the bottom line of this is that telling someone whose childless not by choice to get over it, perpetuates harm. It perpetuates stigma. It minimizes their pain and invalidates it, actually. It undermines self worth and it neglects both how complex healing is and it neglects looking at healthy coping mechanisms. So for anyone who's listening, who is listening to help someone who is childless not by choice, the way you can do that is offer validation, support them by acknowledging that their emotions are valid. And show self compassion. Now what can you do as the woman who is childless not by choice, being told to get over it? So here are three things you can do. The first is something that may seem trite or simple, but that is to breathe. I mean, when we're in, when we get upset about things, when there's a stressor, Our brain starts going all over the place and the way to help yourself, help your brain to calm down and encourage your body to relax is slow, deep breaths, slow breaths, deep breaths and slow breath out because that sends a message to your brain to calm down. And it will help to cut down on the stress in your body. The second step is to examine your feelings. Name the emotion you're feeling. Angry, sad, frustrated, numb? You name it. Name what you're feeling. That gives you a chance to reflect and then from a sense of calm after you've taken these deep breaths, you can think through what do you want to do with these emotions? Do you want to walk away? Nothing wrong with that. Walk away from the person telling you that. Do you want to try and educate the person? Is this someone who will hear you if you try to explain why this is wrong and why it's hurtful. Do you, or do you simply just want to say to them, that's not okay, and then you move on? Or do you want to ignore it? There's no right or wrong answer. It's really up to you in that situation with the person doing this, who you know, and what you feel would work and what you need for yourself to take care of yourself. So, you're making the choice now, and deciding on your next step from a place of calm and understanding your own emotions. And the third thing to do is to remind yourself whatever emotions you're feeling are valid. You don't need outside validation. I mean, it would be nice to have it all the time, but you matter, your feelings matter, regardless of what other people think. It's okay to grieve the loss of the future you had planned. The future you planned with children. And it's okay to feel your feelings. They are all valid. Will you get over it? Probably not. But, you can move on with it. Alright, that's it for today's episode. I will be back with you next week. Thanks for tuning in to Childless and Moving Onward. I hope you enjoyed today's episode as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you. If you liked what you heard, don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. You can stay up to date on everything I do by following me on Instagram at Childless Path Onward or on Facebook and YouTube at Path Onward. Until next time, thanks again. Bye..