But what happened to my friends without kids?
I am writing this post in case it helps anyone else that may be facing this issue.
In particular, I had two extremely close friends without kids: two women that I had been friends with for over ten years. One was married but didn't want kids. The other was single and not trying for kids. They both knew, from the time we had met, that having children was my lifelong dream.
During my darkest years, they were nowhere to be found.
I felt so lonely and, honestly, sorry for myself.
So, what happened? Why?
I kept asking myself these questions over and over. In retrospect, it's easy to think, well why didn't I ask THEM? But you all know, when you are deep in the throes of grief and trauma, you are not exactly in the best place to
- think clearly
- advocate for yourself
- confront issues
- have difficult conversations.
So, over time, I have become more compassionate with myself. Instead of questioning myself and thinking "I could have done this, I could have done that," I remind myself that I did the best I could at the time.
But damn it sucked to lose my closest friendships at the same time my lifelong dream of parenting was slipping away...
Now that I have a couple of years between those dark times and now, I have a better idea of what happened. I don't know if they are correct or not, but I came up with a few theories:
- As women who had never unsuccessfully tried to get pregnant, they could not relate to my pain at all. Maybe they thought I was whiny? Or depressed without reason? Selfish for wanting kids in the first place? Maybe they honestly could not understand why I just "couldn't get over it?"
- It is possible that jealousy played a factor. Maybe my single friend thought I should just appreciate what I did have- a loving marriage, and maybe my married friend thought the same- that I should just appreciate that I had a stable roof over my head.
- Maybe it had nothing to do with infertility at all. Maybe both friendships had run their course and our lives were moving in different directions anyway. (Still sucks though, that two of my closest, longtime friends weren't/couldn't be there for me during the worst time of my life.)
But what I really and truly think was at the root of it all was that I had changed. Dramatically. A person cannot go through that level of loss and trauma without changing. I was no longer the woman that they had known. Instead of giving all of my energy to them (which I did, which was not their fault, those were choices that I had made), I had to reserve most of it for myself. Instead of driving to where they lived (thirty minutes for one, over an hour for the other), I stopped. I hoped they would come see me, but neither one of them ever did. Overall, I had completely changed the patterns in our friendship, so of course the relationships didn't work anymore. I thought the friendships were strong enough to survive these changes, but, unfortunately, they were not.
I wasn't the same person anymore and that, apparently, changed everything.
I have often hinted on this blog that infertility taught me the boundaries I desperately needed in my life. For that, I am grateful. But, at times, it was almost too much loss at once for me to handle.
I continue to deal with loneliness on a regular basis, but blogging and "meeting" all of you has really helped. I try to socialize once a week. That is not always possible, but going back to school has helped. (Although I enjoy my classmates in their early 20s, I also really miss my peer group.) I am eating regularly, sleeping well, and exercising several times a week. In other words, I am doing the best I can. I have never really been good at letting old friendships go, but I am dealing with it. I miss them and I wish them well.
And that is what happened between me and my friends without kids.