Melancholy, Friendship and the Avoidance Tactic

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Lately, I’ve been stuck in a fog of my own thoughts, unable to gather enough motivation to do more than the basic necessities. When I am feeling this way, having a sense of ennui (<— that is my favourite word as of late), I tend to avoid. I have emails to return, phone calls to make, errands to run, a house to keep, and I just don’t feel like it.

Besides these minor things, I have larger avoidance issues, like with work. I am generally very prompt in my work life; in showing up for work, getting back to people, other such follow-up. Lately, I have been screeching in the door mere minutes before I am to start work, I delay returning emails, and calling clients, for no discernible reason. My work is getting done, but at a slower pace than I am known for, and for no good reason.

Another pretty significant avoidance that I finally tackled came in the form of having a discussion with my best friend. She recently had her second child, and her first was born when I was in the early days of TTC. Her children are living reminders of our ongoing failure to produce offspring. And I won’t lie, that hurts. It hurts my self-confidence, but mostly it has hurt our friendship. I used to always discuss with her what was going on with our conception efforts, when we were still trying au natural, and after we were labelled “officially infertile” and sent off to Ye Olde Fertility clinic. Right around the time of our last IUI that stopped. She found out she was pregnant with her newest addition sometime between my first and second IUIs. It put us in an awkward position, but I tried to push past it. As her belly became more prominent, I withdrew from her.

After our final IUI, I told her it didn’t work, and that we had an appointment in April at the fertility clinic to discuss next steps. After that, not a word was uttered. It was like there was a silent agreement between us not to discuss it. She didn’t ask, and I didn’t offer. We saw each other very few times in her second trimester, and not at all in the third. I made the obligatory visit (that sounds terrible, considering she’s my dear friend) when the baby was born, and it was very awkward. You could cut the tension in the air with a knife. I brought hubby along to try to defuse the situation but it probably only made it weirder, not to mention then both of us felt shitty after we left.

Even in times when my friend and I haven’t seen each other often, we generally keep in touch, with a text here and there, or through Facebook. Even that had started to wane. Finally a couple of weeks ago, she reached out, and we made tentative plans to get together. Those plans fell through because I procrastinated getting in touch with her until it was too late. I sent her a text a couple of days after, apologizing for missing our date, and earnestly offered to try for another day. We settled on a time and a place, and rescheduled our date. 

I should also mention, that her older son turned 2 earlier in August (actually the day after our missed meet up) and I didn’t remember the date. I knew his birthday was in early August, but by the time I looked up the date, it had already passed. I apologized and sent him belated birthday wishes, but I know she was hurt. Although, apparently I was not the only friend who didn’t remember (not a good excuse though).

We met up on a Sunday afternoon at my place and walked to a nearby restaurant that we used to frequent together, for margaritas and nachos. Our conversation was superficial and stunted, as I asked about life with two littles, and she asked about my life (with not a whole lot going on). We both knew we were side stepping the issue at hand, and I had every intention of discussing it, but she beat me to the point, and asked what was going on. She knew we had had our appointment in April, and she hadn’t heard anything from me about it. I let out a sigh, and an apology for not keeping her posted (not that I owe her that, but I knew she would be wondering).

I dove right in, and told her basically we were half way through IVF. I knew she had no concept of how IVF really worked, so I gave her the quickest run down of what transpired without bogging her down with too much information. I know she doesn’t understand the emotional toll of it all, and she seemed hopeful for me when I told her we had 5 embryos on ice. I told her more than once that it doesn’t always work on the first try, or at all, but I think she wanted to be the positive angel on my shoulder. Obviously if someone is telling you they are about to do something that may not work, you’re not going to agree and tell them it’s a shit idea. So, I can understand her somewhat misguided reassurances.

I told her I was sorry for being a bad friend, but that it was really difficult when she was pregnant, and that she has what I have been struggling for. She sort of just let that part slide, we didn’t really get into it. I know there’s nothing she can do about it, and it’s probably hard for her that I feel that way. Despite my avoiding her, it is harder and harder for her and I to find time to see each other, and when we do it’s just not the same. We live such different lives, and sometimes it’s hard to find common ground anymore. Why do I need to be part of the mommy club just to relate to my best friend?

But in the end, I know I need to make a better effort. Just because we’re in very different stages in our lives, doesn’t mean we have to cease being friends. As I was telling J how I feel like I don’t relate to her anymore, he told me I can’t expect to live a mirror of her life. I was gobsmacked by his wise words, he’s not really the type to bestow sage words of wisdom (love the guy, but just not his style usually). And then I felt shame, because of course he’s right. I have friends of all different types, and stages of life. They are my friends because I like them as people, not because they are a reflection of my life.

This past weekend I had a short burst of motivation, enough to clean the house thoroughly (partly motivation, partly due to the fact that we had company for dinner yesterday). Today I had a day off, with no pressing errands to deal with, but I didn’t want to spend the day inside laying on the couch. I made myself go out, got some sushi for lunch (because I can, little win for the infertile girl!), walked to my favourite tea shop and pick up some of the new seasonal teas, and got some banking done. When I came home I finally made some mint ice cream custard (to be churned tomorrow) that I have been procrastinating for weeks (and J has been reminding me of, he really wants some), then since I was on a roll, I made some chocolate protein balls, and some homemade peanut butter (all you do is put peanuts in a food processor and let them go, can you believe it’s that easy?).

I have to take advantage of my momentary burst of energy when they come. I am working on pushing through the fog, taking care of my life, surviving until I can start focusing on what I need to do for the transfer, but it’s hard. The littlest things get put of and put of, and everything just seems like too much effort. How do you survive periods of limbo without sleepwalking through life?

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22 thoughts on “Melancholy, Friendship and the Avoidance Tactic

  1. I can so relate to this most. I established a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy with my BFF. It’s best that way, and I also acknowledge that I’m not a good friend to her in that I don’t ask her about her experience with motherhood. Any slight expression of frustration from her makes me cringe.

  2. I totally get this post. One of my best friends just had her second. We started trying before there first was born and we were miscarriages while they were passing various pregnancy milestones. It became very hard for us to talk about much because our situations were just so different. It was so hard for me. I sent a baby gift, but I know I need to go meet the actual child at some point bit I’ve been putting it off and whenever we’ve tried to meet up it hasn’t worked for whatever reason (and I’ve secretly been grateful for that). It is just so hard now that our lives are so incredibly different. But I love her so I know I need to sucked it up and deal. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

    • Yes, exactly, it’s hard but I try and think do I want to let IF take one more thing from me? And if I lose my best friend it’s sort of my own fault. It’s unfair because others don’t understand, and we have to put in the effort even though it is hard on us. One more injustice we have to take.

  3. julieann081

    I can definitely relate to the part about how your relationship changed with your friend. Hugs! Your recipes sound good! I’m glad you’re having some energy now. I am kind of used to having up times and down (or less up) times. I generally just give myself permission to get through them or try little steps to get back into the swing of things. Hang in there! ❤

  4. Well done for how you handled it. I have several friends that I have deliberate “let slip” once their pregnancies came along. My best friend has gone – I just couldn’t cope especially when I heard about her second pregnancy. It’s just such a hard conversation to have. And who knew about peanut butter?! Totally inspired me!

  5. I related to so much in this post I could have written it myself. As I write I should be making an important work call that i have been avoiding for ages. Also, I have finally smoothed things over with my best friend, kmowing things hsve been off between us since april! She has two beautiful children, one of whom is my godson. She was very hurt because I also messed up plans and she has felt my distance and been hurt by it…. it’s so hard and I find myself with fewer friends now than before this whole infertility journey…. I totally understand where you are coming from!

  6. Fertiles will never understand how hard this is on us and how sometimes it’s just too painful to have them in our lives. And really, how draining this is of our energy and how hard it is to maintain all of our relationships because of it.

  7. Elizabeth

    I’m going to join in and say that I, too, relate so deeply. It’s so nice to read these comments too, knowing that we are not alone in our struggle. I have really been working on giving myself permission to let go of my friend who consistently hurts my feelings and I’m not sure it’s in her DNA to be sensitive to the situation. I keep telling myself I don’t need to feel guilty and it’s ok to take care of my sanity this way- especially lately as I have had more set backs. Maybe some day I’ll really believe it. Thanks for the courage to speak to what we all feel.

    • Yes, as much as you don’t want to let IF ruin friendships, sometimes it truly is for the best if the friend isn’t willing to bend and at least attempt to consider your feelings.

  8. Totally relatable. Friendships have gone a stray fire this very reason. I was also in a funk for a long time until i also decided that i couldn’t allow IF to control me. Some days are easier than others.

  9. I can relate to this friend situation as well. My bf and I shared due dates before I ended up miscarrying, and things have never been the same since then. She’s just too uncomfortable around me now, and obviously it’s super painful for me to be around her now 6 month old baby(!) IF is hard enough to deal with, and losing friends on top is so painful. I hope you’re able to reconnect and rebuild your friendship again!

  10. I’ve become a horrible friend. I have no interest in any of my friends in real life. Even now that I’m pregnant, you’d think that I could somehow reintegrate into fertile society, but I just don’t have it in me. I don’t know if I will ever remotely resemble the person I used to be.

    • I’m beginning to come to this realization about myself as well. Though I’ll be ecstatic (and terrified) if/when I become pregnant, I am already a different version of myself. It’s too late to go back, my DNA has been altered, my neurons rerouted. I’ve traded in pieces of myself for the chance to have a child.

  11. This is really tough. My best friend had her two children before I had my losses or dealt with infertility. Our friendship changed because we changed – going in two very different directions. We’re still friends but no longer best friends. Other friends with children were different, maintained their sense of self, and our friendships strengthened – even the one who was pregnant at the same time as I was (with my second ectopic). So friendships can survive, but it takes an effort by both sides.

    • My best friend is no longer the person I think of first when I have good or bad news, which I think is indicative of the way our friendship has gone, unfortunately. Perhaps it will survive, but I fear the only way that will happen is if I have success with having a child. And is that really the right reason?

  12. This was a great post. I applaud your honesty and your ability to just get it out with your friend- it sounds like you could have just sat through a superficial lunch and that could be the end of it- you had the courage to put it on the table and in the long run that will probably save the friendship. Thinking of you!

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