Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Unraveling of a friendship that never was.

I’ve been battling whether or not I should post this. Battling, because the majority of the time I believe it best to let sleeping dogs lie. But this continuously comes back to my view and strikes me as something that I must document – as a reminder to myself that I did the right thing.

About six months ago, I broke up with a friend. And it was a big deal. I had gone back and forth if I should break up for over a year. She and I had been best of friends for 10 years. For the last two years of our friendship, and with the introduction of my infertility, we couldn’t find a balance. She did not understand and got sick of listening to me. It only caused problems, because this topic consumes me at a time. And more often than not, she would “poke the monkey” and antagonize me – not in a playful way, but in a mean spirited manner.

This friendship truly turned into the furthest thing possible. What broke the camel’s back was an email trail that she ultimately stated that all she had for me was pity. It triggered my empathy post. And instead of her addressing my feelings, instead of her understanding my point of view, she retaliated with this comment:

This post saddens me immensely. I wish you could be so eloquent when communicating with your actual friends and not just in your blog.
I wish you knew how I have been trying for over a year to understand your point of view as an "infertile" as you call yourself(s). As a "fertile" (or so you like to call me) I am hurt by this post and frankly I am exhausted from trying my very best to avoid certain topics or words when talking to you. And since I have come to the realization that I have nothing but pity for you...not pity for your "condition", but pity for how you are now reacting to the world around you.
I don't know why you expect me to be able to put myself in your shoes, when you can't seem to put yourself in mine. You don't seem to want to even try to see my constant struggle to communicate with you and to gain the necessary understanding of your life now in order for us to remain friends.
I have read this post many times and I wish you could realize that although it seems some other "infertiles" agree with you - 2 Wrongs don't necessarily make a Right.


This comment made me realize that I had to cut my ties, I had to sever a relationship. And I had never done anything like that before. Sure, I had lost touch with people, but never had to say to someone “I can’t be friends with you.” Essentially, this was where I found myself. At this exact point of our lives, we could not be friends and it wasn’t to say we couldn’t be friends later. Because I was going thru something that was so immense and she had no ability to understand why this effected me so. After several hours, I wrote her this:

It really saddens me that we have gotten to this point.

You stated, “I don't know why you expect me to be able to put myself in your shoes, when you can't seem to put yourself in mine. You don't seem to want to even try to see my constant struggle to communicate with you and to gain the necessary understanding of your life now in order for us to remain friends.”

This statement says it all. You don’t think that it has been equally as hard to talk to you, to be friends with you?

Yes, Amy I recognize that you have tried. And I give you credit for trying. But, I am exhausted in how much I have tried as well and the fact that you don’t recognize it is bothersome.

Every time you made a comment or made a statement that was hurtful, I explained it to you. I told you what was going on, because I could put myself in your shoes and knew that you didn’t understand where I was coming from. But, at that point you also welcomed my comments or statements. As long as you could try to understand, I tried.

The “pity” comment. You didn’t even see how that could be hurtful, you ignored my feelings. You didn’t try at all to understand, you gave up. So I took your cue. You obviously did not want to be bothered to try any more. You didn’t mention it to me, you didn’t acknowledge it until today. Then how did you choose to reply, by a comment in my blog.

(Well, if you remember correctly, you told me a while ago that your blog was for you and only you. Any comments I wanted to make in defense should not be inserted in your blog. I only ask that you do the same for me. I blogged about it because I wanted all pity to stop not just yours. I don’t need your pity or anyone else’s.)

It is clear that we have both been trying to make a friendship work that is failing.

It deeply saddens me to come to the realization that we can’t be friends at this point in our lives. You cannot see my point of view or want to and in my opinion that is the basic point of being a friend.

Maybe in a year or two, we can be friends again when our circumstances change. But, now, it is just too hard. Friendships shouldn’t have to be hard.

Good luck with everything, I truly hope you get everything you want out of life.

She responded to me:

You are completely right.
We can't be friends right now.
I don't know how to be friends with you anymore.
Every time I try to talk to you, I upset you.

I have kept a lot of things to myself over the last year and I won't bother to bring them all up now, but please know that although you may think you tried....you did not try as hard as I did to be understanding of your every changing moods and I often felt poorly treated and underappreciated by you and I opted to bit my tongue to save the friendship.

Dianne, I was mostly trying to maintain the friendship because I feel like someday you will have found peace, but until then...I don't know how to be any nicer to you and I am constantly upset that you are always angry at things I say. I was hoping that by you being friends with me, you would be able to learn how other people may view things you say or things you do, but you don't care. Please be careful with yourself and your other friends. I hope you don't find that you push too many more people away like this. It would be very sad for you to lose more friends over this.

Good luck to you and I hope that you can find peace in what your life
brings you.


Her reply solidified to me that we could not be friends. I always knew she had it in her - I'd been friends with her long enough to know she had a snarky side. I just didn't think she would react to me in that way. Crap I was only saying that we weren't good for each other for RIGHT now. And she completely shut the door on me forever.

Ironically, every time that I question my actions, I find something that validates me. A few months ago, you may remember this post on how lonely I feel at times. I just found out she responded to it on her own blog by saying:

Being single together and going dancing. I was in her wedding and we thought of each other as family...sisters. 12 years will do that. Then our lives changed. Her life became focused on becoming a mother. Not, BEING a mother, because she has not found herself "blessed" that way, yet. One of my very best friends (EB) is the mother of 2 children and I have not found it difficult to stay friends with her, at all. I love her 2 kids as if they were my own niece and nephew. Having a mom as a friend, is not the issue. Having someone who WANTS to be a mom...IS apparently an issue. That friend (D) has focused her entire life and everything and everyone around her on her wanting to have a child. It has enveloped her. And maybe it has changed her. She prefers to avoid going in certain public places...for fear of seeing babies or pregnant women...those upset her to see. It became increasingly tough to talk to her and to see her point of view on her new life perspective. D posted about being lonely and I ache to reach out to her. Part of me wants to tell her she deserves her loneliness, for pushing me away and out of her life. Eventually, our relationship became somewhat hateful and manipulating. She would take things out on me and use me to vent her frustration and anger. And I would "Poke the Monkey". I would provoke her or ask a leading question, hoping that it would make her think and recall old feelings in herself that would make her think twice about what she would respond or how she would treat me. Sometimes I just needed to get my feelings heard and though, I tried to hold back (a lot) things would eventually come out and I had a secret hope that she would sometimes revert to her old self and see things from her old perspective. It never happened. She would just end up mad at me and I was constantly apologizing to her.

I will not be linking it, since my whole point is to chronicle the events and not berate her. This entry solidifies that she didn’t understand. She will never understand. And my judgment was correct. We cannot be friends, and we can never be friends.

You may be asking why post this, well because I know I am not alone in having "friends" who don't get it. And sometimes it is OK to quit a friend; especially when they are more of a fiend. Infertility has been a blessing at times, because it has helped me realize who my true friends are and also to unravel the truth of other situations.

A, if you are reading this, I will never read your blog again and I would greatly appreciate it if you provide me the same courtesy.

19 comments:

MLO said...

Chronic illness - of certain sorts - make people lose friends. I spoke about it in regards to food allergy on my blog a while back. (http://www.mloknitting.com/?p=60).

Any chronic or severe illness causes us to find out who are stormy weather friends are vs. our fair weather friends. And there are things that some people just won't deal with - no matter what.

I'm sorry you are experiencing this - the most painful part of illness.

Pax,

MLO
(Part of Commentathon, but I would have posted anyway, because I know this pain all too well.)

mandolyn said...

Just...wow.

I am amazed at how you've handled this. I realize that I probably should have done the same thing at least once or twice. Making a definitive choice to stop being friends with someone is certainly a difficult thing to do, but it seems so much more eloquent than letting something fade away. Unhealthy relationships don't simply fade away...they draw themselves out, leaving ugly scars and lasting emotional bruises.

You had the courage to stop all that and do what needs to be done. I can't imagine that it has been an easy road. I have immense respect for that. And you.

M said...

I applaud you for doing what you think is right. Sometimes people have to stop being friends for a variety of reasons. I have broken up with a few friends over the years. ONe was just so negative she dragged me down. One is such a spoiled brat who brags about her $$ & got pregnant 3 months before me, with no problems at all. Then, bitched about her pregnancy the entire time-- while I was still struggling to get pregnant.
When someone is more of a negative aspect of your life than a positive, it's time to say goodbye

Somewhat Ordinary said...

Wow, I'm so sorry that this happened and what an impersonal way to have an issue arise. You seem to be taking it well. I did have one friend that told others she was tired of tip-toeing around me because I was jealous of her baby. It hurt pretty bad especially since I was so far from jealous. I guess my saddness about IF seemed like something else to her. It is a shame, but I guess it tells us who are true friends are.

Tina said...

I am so sorry you had to leave this friendship behind - but people change because of the circumstances they are in, and sometimes their "friends" either cannot (or, in your case, WILL not) understand how IF has hurt you. IF is not just "searching for motherhood." It is coming to the realization that we are "broken" women. Our bodies just don't produce babies when we think we want them. We have to work for what we can get - and, sometimes, we end with nothing.

I pray she NEVER has to go through this.

Bonnie Raitt had a great song years ago called "I Can't Make You Love Me (If You Don't)". It applies here - I can't make you understand me, if you don't.

I hope you find your other friendships more fulfilling - and more understanding - than this person had been for the past several years.

Piccinigirl said...

OH Dianne first I want to applaud the way you dealt with this, because whether or not you should have ended the friendship is not the issue, it's knowing that your feelings, your way of dealing with IF is valid and doesn't need to be explained to people who trult love you.
I too have given up friendships and been given up on by friends over the years. In these 4 yr of TTC I have lost 2 very close friends because they just can't be there for me & I couldn't make them understand why I needed that most of all. That the bit*chin and moaning was helping me survive.

You are a wonderful, incredible person and just because you have lost one friend doesn't change that at all. Friendships should help us grow and learn and even just be silent when we need that..for however long we need it. I hope you find the HUGS IRL that you need from people who love you.

In the meantime I am sending some via cyberspace. *HUGS*

TeamWinks said...

Some friendships are built to last, while others just don't cut it. I have friends with children, without children, single, married, divorced, separated...it's not people's circumstances that shape a relationship, but their ability to communicate and empathize with each other.

To me, as an outsider who can only bank on what I've read, your ex-friend appears to want to one up you. (I tried harder than you did!), and to pass the buck (It was all your fault!) She didn't say that directly, but it certainly would have fit in there.

I think you did the right thing to part ways. If you can't be friends with someone when the going is tough, would you really want them around when things are good? Not me.

dmarie said...

I have to applaud the way you dealt with this situation and her too. I'm sorry you lost someone in your life you thought was a friend.

Experiences change us. That's life. Maybe she'll learn that one day.

LJ said...

Oh Diane, I am SO sorry you had to go through this - and still have to deal with the after effects.

I broke up with my best friend about 6 years ago. It was actually when we went on vacation together and she just showed me a side of her that I knew existed, but had never been unleashed on me before. I called my parents (I was in ireland, they were in california so you can bet the time difference), and bawled to them about how upset I was.

My folks picked me up from the airport, which had not been the plan, and I stayed with them for a week - literally crying for a week straight. My mom called the doctor, saying "it's like someone killed her best friend" and he said "isn't that what happened in some sense?".

Since that day I have two mantras:
I don't have room for toxic relationships in my life. Some friendships are just there for a period of our life, not our whole lives, and that's okay.

Also, I just am as tolerant as possible of those who do matter. I have a friend going through a VERY difficult time now, one I can appreciate, but not know like she does. All I can do is make sure to follow her lead, since she's given me the same grace.

I wish I could give you a big hug right now, because I know how much it hurts. The step you've taken though, it's a really great one, and shows the true courage and love you actually have for the friendship you did have once.

PCOSMama said...

I agree with TeamWinks who said that it is like your ex-friend was trying to put the blame all on you. Instead of just admitting that she couldn't empathize with you and that the friendship wasn't working, she tried to make you feel bad by saying she tried so hard and you didn't try at all and it was all your fault. just goes to show the kind of person she really is. While you were obviously sad over losing the friendship, she seemed glad. At such a difficult time in your life, this is the last thing you need to be dealing with!

A lot of people (yes, I call them fertiles too) just can't ever seem to understand us. I honestly think it is impossible to know how an infertile feels, unless you are also infertile. While some fertiles may empathize with us and do their best to be understanding, they will never truly know how it feels. That's the most difficult part about being infertile - noone but us understands just how emotionally and physically (and for many financially) draining it is. Like someone else said, it's like we are broken. It really takes a toll on your self esteem and your sense of being a true woman. It truly is a way to define yourself, because it is the center of your life. Whether you are cycling or taking a break or have given up hope, it is still at the front of your mind at all times.

This is why I'm so glad I found the blogs of other infertiles. It is so nice to know that there are others out there who truly do understand. Sometimes there is no where else to go when you need to talk. I'm so sorry that you have lost a friend, but it sounds to me like your life will be better without that difficult relationship. I hope that your other friends are able to do what she couldn't, because friendship is a truly wonderful and important part of life. But it does take work and both parties have to do their part for each other. A true friend is with you through the dark times, supporting you in every way possible.

Samantha said...

You post is very painful read. I don't mean that in a bad way, but I can tell that your emotions are still very raw about how your relationship ended, so I understand why you felt the need to post again about this. I hope it will give you some closure with your relationship.

Like Teamwinks and Pcosmama, I really think your friend exhibited that she was incapable of empathy in her reaction to you. While I'm sure what you said hurt her, she really lashed out at you rather than even being willing to share the burden of a relationship ending. This is particularly unfortunate because it makes you call into question your whole friendship. I'm really sorry sweetie.

Sticky Bun said...

I'm so sorry about the pain your friend put you through. Her comment on her blog, especially the part where she admits needling you about things she knew would hurt your feelings, are so telling. Losing a friendship is so hard and so painful. You always hope that, especially when you are going through something that's difficult, your friends will be there for you.

This post also makes it even clearer to me that most fertiles just can't understand what we're going through. That she could be so dismissive of your struggle, that she dismissed the pain you would feel when surrounded by pregnant women and children, shows how much she can't understand the daily pain we feel. And how hard it is to escape that pain when pregnancies and children are all around us.

Again, I'm so sorry. But, it is obvious that you've handled this situation with grace and dignity, and I truly admire your strength of character.

thinking of you...

Baby Blues said...

Breaking up or falling out of a friendship is difficult. But you are right to say that friendship should never be difficult. I hate that IF has made me cut ties with insensitive people who hurt me. There's no other way to survive but to cut off these people. Bottomline, we are vulnerable because of IF and we should learn to avoid further hurts by holding on to friendships who just doesn't help right now. We need people who "get it" and is willing to just listen. There's a time to stay and a time to move on from friends. You will know it when it comes. I'm sorry you had to go through this.

A.M.S. said...

Dianne -

It's never easy losing a friend, even if you know the break up is the right thing to do.

I'm so sorry.

Trish said...

Oh my gosh. I literally feel sick after reading this. When I read your response to the break-up latter, I flashed red. When I got to the end, I feel sickened.
I know the feeling all too well. I can't remember which blog, but just in this last week I was reading a post somewhere about how people have a limited amount of sympathy. A few weeks- sure. But months? Years? They just don't know how to deal with it. They figure it's part of your life now, you should just learn to live with it.
And we do, but that makes us no less sad.

I'm sorry. It is true that you learned you never had the friend you thought you did, but that doesn't make it suck any less.

I've recently learned the same about a few of mine.

I can only hope she never has to deal with something that isn't all better in a short amount of time. She's lost what could have been a wonderful support system in you.


-- Trish

KarenO said...

INfertility changes us and the people around us. Some will understand, some will try to, some never will. It's sad and unfair that most of the time we have to handle the pain without saying anything about it. Even though your friendship ended, it was GREAT that you communicated. Sometimes it's easier for me just to let a hurtful friendship quietly slip into the past.

sharah said...

I think the most telling point was when she said that she hoped you would "revert to [your] old self." She wanted you to be the person you were in the past, not to accept the person you have become. She was unwilling to change her perception of what she thought you should be to accomodate the changes you have gone through in dealing with infertility. Ultimately, that's her problem, not yours. I'm so sorry that you had to lose a friend over this, but I don't think there's anything you could have else you could have done with someone who wasn't willing to meet you half-way.

Artblog said...

truly WOW! I second everything everyone else said just because they said it so well :)

We all have this problem with at least one friend we know, me included so you have my sympathy because it does hurt however grown up we are, you know!

X Artblog

Sunny said...

I don't even know how to comment. WOW. I am so sad for you. I have broken off friendships before because they were toxic. I can't do toxic. I can barely breathe sometimes.

HUGS to you. You amaze me with your strength!