I never thought that I would find much meaning on a simple baby play such as peek-a-boo, but lately I do… That it is entertaining to the little ones, there is no questions about it, but when I reflected on the emotions the simple act of hiding and showing me could trigger, I found it quite telling.
Would folks react the same way as babies do when I do my own “emotional” peek-a-boo game? Would they laugh, would they cry or would they just glaze over me? Well, yes, they will do all of that… They would react with compassion, anger or indifference, or a mix of the three. But the key of this game is not necessary others’ reactions, but instead how do I respond to such reactions…
For example, I believe that it is a tendency ingrained in our human condition, or at least on the ones belonging to the same social, cultural and economical environment I am a part off, to compare one to others. And such comparison, in my view, could revolve mainly over two “themes”: material things or behaviors. Comparison over material things is something easy to comprehend, but I find that comparing behaviors is in fact a reaction to an emotion expressed on a peek-a-boo moment. This feeling become specifically strong when dealing with health afflictions, when I find it common to see folks using other people’s behaviors towards their suffering as means to compare and “rate” their own pain. After all, if I compare myself to others I might find me feeling “better then” or “worse off” someone, powering an emotion that could not be truly mine, but instead be a simple hide between the hands depending how I would “rate” myself … I have seen others do it and I for sure have hidden myself, having incurred on a serious risk of becoming invisible every time I did it.
Take our infertility journey for example. I could compare our journey to others and feel either overjoyed with hope as our experience may not be nearly as painful as the couple sitting right beside me on the waiting room, or I can be devastated on how relatively easy it was for that couple a friend told me about. And this is dangerous, as I feel I could find myself on a tricky position, constantly second-guessing the treatment, the clinic, the Doctor and ultimately, myself.
As I wrote before, couples dealing with infertility – or with any medical condition – are treated primarily according to statistic outcomes of successful treatments, hoping to be falling on the right side of the charts. But we are all unique. And such uniqueness becomes extremely relevant when we were plotted on the wrong side of it. If I would “rate” myself by comparing to the ones on the right side of the stats, I could feel discouraged, sad and even unequal. And what good would that bring me? What possible action I could take if I would just take that empirical sentiment to guide my own emotions? The answer is simple: none.
Therefore, I choose to embrace the fact that I am unique. And, by being unique, I am really not suitable for behavior comparison, as no scale would apply to me. Consequently, comparative reactions from my peek-a-boo moments would not act as drivers to my emotions! Yes, this logic is soothing as it does suit well my male brain…
So I choose to think that our condition is particular to us and that there is no better or worse, just the reality of our single circumstances. Naïve? Perhaps. Optimistic? You bet. Challenging? Not a doubt. But by choosing not to compare myself to others, I believe that I have made myself visible. By opting to embrace our journey as a result of my wife’s and mine unique combination, I made myself relevant. By wanting to be my own scale of comparison, I took control of my emotions. And that was my true peek-a-boo moment!
Suddenly, I was the owner of my own scale, using the experiences of others as tales of similar difficulties, helping me understand what this condition is and why it happened, but never leaning on them to determine how I feel or behave towards my own fate.