“In the time of a flood the wise build bridges, the foolish build walls.”
– Africa Proverb
Last night I had the opportunity to listen to a speech given by Nontombi Naomi Tutu (daughter of Desmond Tutu). She was inspirational, funny, and had my attention throughout the entire hour.
The African proverb she built her speech around was “in the time of a flood, the wise build bridges, the foolish build walls.” I could not help but think about how this proverb can so easily be applied to the lonely feeling that can accompany the experience of infertility.
You see, in times of trouble the wise reach out, they build bridges to connect to others, they know that this is the time when we need one another.
The foolish however think that in a time of trouble they must protect themselves from others. They build a dam to save themselves, forgetting about the others. And they may be be fine for a few days, a few weeks, or even a few years. Eventually however, that dam will break.
The reality is that we all need other people. The walls that we build to keep ourselves safe only serve to cut us off from those who are able to help us.
Infertility can feel like a stigma, something embarrassing that we do not want to admit to the world. We can feel as though it is our burden to carry alone, yet it is not.
We are part of a community. The community of our marriage, the community of our family, the community of our friends, the community of our neighborhoods and workplaces, and the community of our world. When we cut ourselves off from that community we cut ourselves off from the very life that flows through every vein in our body.
So while opening up to those who surround us about our inability to conceive a child can feel downright scary, a bit like the flood waters are about to take us under, when we do, we will often find that those who love us, even those who only distantly know us, will hand us the tools we need to begin building a bridge to the other side of this experience.
When facing infertility build a bridge, not a wall.