We’ve all gone through it, that awkward silence that suddenly descends when talking to someone.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling and the natural tendency is to say something, anything, just to get the conversation moving again.
Most of these conversation fillers don’t even mean much to us, but we could be unwittingly hurting the person we’re talking to.
Writer Nadirah Angail posted a thought-provoking entry in her blog about how easy it is to hurt other people but still be unaware of it. She hopes people learn to become more attentive and sensitive.
She uses three cases to illustrate just what she means.
The first is that of a 30-year-old woman with no children. People may ask her, “Still no kids?” And while her reply varies, forced smiles and restraint is part of it. She would likely reply with, “Nope, not yet.” To which the refrain would be, “Well, don’t wait forever. That clock is ticking, ya know.”
While the other party leaves, the woman cries alone, remember the four times she became pregnant and miscarried every one. And she cries because her husband had children with his ex-wife. She wants to try in-vitro but can’t afford it, or has done it multiple times but still has no children.
Another case is a 34-year-old woman with 5 children. People may comment, “5? Good lord, I hope you’re done!” And they laugh at how funny the comment is. The woman may laugh but quickly changes the topic, as she always does when the subject comes up.
But when alone, she cries. Cries because she’s pregnant again but feels she can’t share the joy. Or because she always wanted a big family but others just don’t understand. Maybe she didn’t have siblings and felt lonely as a child. Or perhaps her grandmother had 12 children and she wants to be just like her.
And then there’s another woman, 40-years-old with one child. People may say, “Only one? You never wanted any more?” And she’s forced to reply, “I’m happy with my one.” It’s a rehearsed reply that she’s used countless times.
But alone, she cries. Cries because perhaps her one pregnancy was a miracle. And perhaps her son keeps asking for a younger brother or sister. And perhaps she cries because her doctor says that any subsequent pregnancy would be “high risk.”
While the women in these cases are not necessarily real, women like they are everywhere. They may be our neighbors, our friends, co-workers, cousins, perhaps even our sisters. In a way, it’s worse if it’s someone close to you because you should have known better.
Either way, Nadirah says that their wombs are their own and we should all respect that.
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