For those of you that don’t know, I do PR and marketing for a living so that involves at times attending networking events, black tie dinners and entertaining clients. In the past I’ve always excelled at making small talk and creating conversation with new people, finding it easy to get a rapport quickly. However now I find myself dreading strangers asking me questions that are usually quite normal to ask when someone is getting to know you. Questions such as “do you have any children?” or “do you have a family”.
I then have a choice do I lie and say “oh no I don’t” then the conversation can continue to move along in a light hearted cheerful way or do I tell the truth that I have had two children but unfortunately both have died. This honest approach is the one I usually use, as I don’t believe in lying to people especially when my job is formed on the strong foundations of trust and honesty and about building relationships.
The more I practice the easier it gets for me to deliver my “Yes I did have two children but unfortunately they died. I had a little girl who died a year last September at 15 months old and a little boy who only made it to 22 weeks of pregnancy, who died last September because of an incurable brain abnormality.” And “no we don’t know why my little girl died. The coroner opened an inquest into it and we finally have an inquest date of 17th May.” The first few times someone asked me I ended up in tears during the inevitable questioning that ensued afterwards and made my guests feel awkward that they had upset me but now I have it down to a tee and can deliver explanations, answer questions in the same matter of fact way I tell people about where Randall & Aubin source their fish!
It’s almost becoming natural now for me to talk about it openly at work if I’m ever asked but I worry that people may think I’m cold or detached as I now rarely get upset at all in a work environment and find myself able to talk about my children in almost a matter of fact way.
Afterwards once I get home is a different story as I find I have to have a little cry to let the emotion I bottled up out and if I find myself having to tell several different people my sad news at a larger networking event or dinner then it can sometimes can drain me emotionally for days.
People assume because I can put on a brave face for work and social situations that deep inside I’m strong, tough and can cope with anything, so sometimes they feel the need to share their problems, dilemmas and trials with me thinking if I can handle losing my children then I can maybe help them too. They don’t realise the tidal wave style flood I’m often holding back under the surface. A volcano more often than not looks just like a still stationary mountain from the outside but inside there’s a great deal bubbling under the surface that no one sees until the big outpouring or eruption and that’s how I feel most days.
So yes I may seem strong, calm and together on the outside but you’ve no idea the effort that that can take, in order for me to put my “game face” on (I mean that in the together psychological sense rather than a make up one!). Yes I do care about my friends and other people, so do feel you can speak to me but please remember there’s a limit sometimes to what extra stress I can take on board, especially if your stress in the grand scheme of things isn’t exactly that life threatening.
Please forgive me also if I make arrangements to see you and then cancel at the last minute sometimes I get so emotionally drained that I can’t face having to make conversation with anyone.
Thanks for reading,
Love Sarah x