One of the worst ‘side-effects’ to infertility is lost friends.
Some people change in an instant, such as the chameleon. They used to be where you were and now they are not. I don’t know if it is ‘survivor’s guilt’, or if they feel they are on to the next stage of life and don’t want a reminder of the pain in the past. Maybe they just don’t know what to say, so they disappear. People who used to regularly read my journal entries and commiserate with me have moved on. As happy as I am for them, I do miss them.
Then there are the friends that have never dealt with infertility, and are excited to be there to support you and hold your hand. But they have no idea how long this process can be and, after a while, they grow tired from it. They are starting their families and growing in that way. Soon, it becomes obvious there is nothing left to talk about. The phone calls fade away, then emails, and finally you simply wave hi when you pass by. Your friend has become an associate.
I understand how this happens. When I was younger, I had a friend who struggled with an eating disorder. I did everything I could think of to help her, including ‘pretending’ I had it too, so I could go with her to support groups (she refused to go alone). This went on for a few years. Finally, I couldn’t take it! I felt I couldn’t help her anymore. I was tired of her pain and depression dictating my life too. So, once I was sure she was getting professional help, I faded away. I’ve been there, I understand.
I think back to years ago. I had several friends when I was a newlywed. We were getting married and excited for what life had in store. We would make wedding plans, complain about our apartments, and basically discuss everything that came with that new stage of life.
Then, time moved on, and so did they. I stayed here… in “Newlywed Land” while they jetted off to “Babyville”. They found other people to discuss things with: breast pumps, bottle feeding, potty training. I don’t blame them; it makes sense. I don’t know a thing about any of that and, most of the time, I try not to even go there. But losing them still hurts.
I sometimes wonder about the day I join them, when I finally have a family of my own. Will they re-enter my life as if nothing ever happened? Will I find new friends who are just beginning their families and we will share our experiences together? Will I feel relieved or bitter about the reigniting of a friendship simply because of a change in my circumstances?
Infertility or not, perhaps friends are always fluid. Maybe you are close with certain people during a time in your life you need them, or they need you. Once that need is fulfilled, you grow apart, and new friends emerge.
Then, of course, there are those friends you’ll have forever. They support you now when times are tough, and you return the favor for them. I have so much support around me.
I have friends who I met through this journey, and I will always be your friend, supporting, encouraging, and crying with you. Even if by some miracle I am blessed with motherhood, you will never loose me. I know how it feels to be forgotten.
I have friends who were there at the beginning of this mess, and will still be there at the end, despite the bumpy road between. Words can’t express my gratitude. And when life deals you an ugly hand, as it does to each of us at some point, I will return the favor.
I have friends who dealt with infertility and beaten it, but are not scared to leave me words of encouragement anyway. Those are few, but much appreciated. I hope to be you someday for someone else.
And I have friends who just can’t be friends now, our lives are too different, but will be waiting with open arms when I catch up someday. What a wonderful reunion that will be!