It’s not you It’s me

I have been sitting on this post for a few weeks with me working through depression and the anxiety of my upcoming appointment but a conversation came up that made me get back to it.  A recent post I wrote about a few weeks ago about friendships impacted by infertility led me to getting together with that group of friends two weeks ago.  I felt I needed to not let my infertility get in the way of great friendships that have meant a lot to me.

Going into the weekend I thought I could handle being in the presence of my two friends that are dad’s, my friend who will become a dad in the next few months and his pregnant wife.  I thought I could handle them bringing up topics concerning their kids and getting ready to become a parent.  But I was wrong.  I’m not that strong at least not at this point if I’ll ever be.
There were only 2-3 points that weekend when these topics came up.  Yet each time it came up it got me thinking how I will never be able to have their experiences because of my body.  I felt I had nothing to contribute to those conversations because of my body.  All the deep dark feelings I’ve been feeling came up as I sat there in silence or playing with my phone.
In case one of those friend’s reads this, please don’t apologize for anything you said.  You don’t have anything to apologize for and neither do our two other friends.  The reality is this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the shitty hand I was dealt and how it’s brought up feelings of having little self worth.
I don’t think it’s fair for any of these friends to avoid these topics around me as it is a big part of their lives.  I feel like I would be denying them their happiness and sharing of their life.  I feel like they’d be walking on egg shells around me.  I would feel like I am a burden being around them.
As much as it sucks unless my situation changes I don’t think I can hang out with them much anymore.  Our lives are very different today and we have very little in common.  That’s not anyone’s fault either it’s just what has happened in our lives.
I know there are those who feel people with children should be more sensitive and empathetic.  I agree they can be but at the same time there is only so much they can do.  They can be empathetic (my friends definitely are empathetic) but at the same time they can’t pretend they or their wives aren’t pregnant.  They can’t pretend that their children make up almost their whole life.  Asking them to avoid talking about these topics around us is unfair to them.

This is one of those situations where I don’t know if there is an easy answer and its different for each person.  For me the answer is to communicate how I feel without lashing out at others recognizing my hurt has nothing to do with them.  I also recognize that for me I just don’t fit in with people who have children.  It’s too tough for me and I don’t want it to all be about me.  That’s not a friendship to me.  It’s best for me to distance myself from those social situations.  I know it sucks but it is what it is.  And it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me.

22 thoughts on “It’s not you It’s me

  1. My Perfect Breakdown

    We’ve been there, and we lost some friends through it. But, here’s the thing, the good friends understood and gave us the space we needed and loved us in a way that actually helped us. Today, these friends mean the world to us, and we are just so appreciative of the time and space they gave us when we needed it.

      1. My Perfect Breakdown

        I am so very grateful for those who have offered us support in the way we’ve needed it, including giving us space. But, to be fair, we did lose some friends along the way. In fact, I still struggle that one of my best friends has chosen never to speak with me again after I told her of our first 3 losses. I’m actually amazed sometimes about how much that still stings after a few years.

  2. sewingbutterfly

    Depression is hard. I have been there! But you have things going for you. You aren’t giving up, you are seeking second opinions, making plans. You and K sound like amazing people and I hope ypu become parents, but if not, I am sure you guys will be the most magnificent, coolest aunties and uncles ever. I have my fingers crossed for your appointment on the 22nd! Sending good vibes your way!!

      1. sewingbutterfly

        Totally understand! It isn’t the same. I love my nieces and nephews but it isn’t the same as having my own. Fingers and toes crossed for both of us!!!

  3. A Calm Persistence

    We’ve been there too. It’s just the way it seems to be. I can’t relate to them, nor can they relate to me. You’re right, it’s no ones fault, it’s just the way it seems to be. Hugs.. It’s so important to also recognize what you need.

      1. A Calm Persistence

        I agree with you there.. T got into a talk about this with a friend that had 2 babies in the time we’ve lost 4 and he had to explain this very thing to his friend. It’s not fair, but it’s not anyone’s fault.

  4. Justine Froelker

    Relationships obviously change, especially through this process. Relationships will either flourish or wither in hard times. For me, I have to always be doing the work that I do being, because I’m worthy of love and belonging, even when I don’t feel like I fit in. Sending you having and love, J

  5. Mali

    I had a really close friendship change completely – though it was more their reaction to my situation, and their total absorption in others with children, than my reaction.

    I think part of this process is recognising when things are going to be hard for us, and taking steps to protect ourselves at that time. I’m really sorry this was hard for you, but it is not surprising, given how you’re feeling at the moment, especially with an impending appointment on which you’re hanging a lot of hope. Give yourself a mental hug – it was strong of you to try, and you should pat yourself on the back for being prepared to try. But you should also pat yourself on the back, and give yourself a mental hug, for recognising that right now, you need to protect yourself.

    But we also need to recognise that we won’t always feel that way, and that we will be strong enough to enjoy their company again, and even participate in their conversations. It gets better.

  6. kiftsgate

    I really think the most important thing is to protect ourselves, to realise what we can and cannot handle and not to push too much to try to do things that will get us upset. I do understand it’s hard to stay far from people we love and that sometimes you even feel guilty about it.. but the thing is there’s nothing to feel guilty about it taking space for yourself when you need it, and friends should understand that..
    On thing that helped me was to see friends separately. I knew I couldn’t handle being in a big group of mums and being the only one without children. I just tried to avoid such situations. I found seeing people individually was easier as you can listen what they have to say about their children/pregnancy/life but not necessarily feel excluded from a whole world.
    Big hug!

  7. the misfit

    I have a lot of contradictory thoughts about these sorts of experiences. First of all I want to second what everyone else said about needing to protect yourself first. You do, because the truth is that nobody else will if you don’t. And I emphasize that extra because it is so obvious to me that I need to say that to someone else, but I STILL feel selfish and mean when I’m protecting MYself first. As if everyone else had a right to do this but me. I’m guessing you may feel the same.

    And I’ll also say – there are people who decide that they don’t want to be friends with us because something bad happened to us (as some people have mentioned above). Those people are rotten, and no way around it. There are also people who would like to keep being friends with us, but not if our suffering makes feel awkward – if, for example, they have to change how they talk around us. You have the same reaction to that that I have had – well, why should they change for my sake? Why should they be censored? I’ll just avoid them; that will be better for everyone. Of course parenting is the most important thing going on in their lives. So then, I spend a lot of time either avoiding them (for their sakes), or suppressing my genuine feelings (for their sakes). After a few years of our entire interaction being sacrifices that I made for them (that they don’t know or want to know about) and nothing meaningful that they did for my sake, like magic, there is no friendship left! I believe that this is what most infertiles mean when they talk about friendships “changing” as a result of infertility.

    I’ve caught a few glimpses of another perspective over the years, and I just wanted to share them for what they may be worth. I have a VERY few friends who are NOT hoping I will pretend that discussion of children doesn’t bother me so that they can pretend that, too, and have the same conversation with me that they would have had if someone else were involved instead of me (not much of a conversation, right?). Not only will they try NOT to bring up topics that will hurt me (whether they succeed or not, they try), they say things like, “Would you like to go shopping? I’m planning to invite X – I can’t really get out of it at this point, but she’s pregnant. WILL THAT BE HARD FOR YOU? If so, you and I can do something the next day.” Or they might say, “A lot of our friends have had kids recently. HOW IS THAT FOR YOU?” Or they ask whether it’s challenging for me to be friends with THEM, and not in that “you have to say it’s OK right now or I will freak out” way – so, if I say that it is hard, they say, “I’m sorry,” not, “It’s not my fault I’m fertile!” You know – OUR friendship includes them acknowledging MY life. Again – these friends are quite rare. These are people about whose children I am much happier to hear (on my good days) – because WE are sharing OUR lives. I am not just the AUDIENCE for their parenting stories. (Many, many parents seem to feel that the world is wanting to be their audience. I don’t know why.)

    I also think about the number of friends I have who are single and want to be married. I got married very young, so I “won” that life category. (Of course, that’s a gross oversimplification.) Whether because of the blessings or challenges, my marriage is the single biggest “thing” in my life. But when I am around single friends who are having a hard time being single (especially on the days I know they are having the hardest time being single), I DO NOT TELL STORIES ABOUT HOW AWESOME MY HUSBAND IS. I don’t say anything about marriage AT ALL that isn’t aimed at talking about them, and their experiences, and trying to relate to them. Because, as a friend, I feel like relating to (and, if I can, alleviating) my friends’ sufferings is my number one job. More important than using them as an audience for my random stories (or being an audience for their random stories), which is fun, but OPTIONAL. Even though I can’t see this when it’s the other way around, when I’m in the “strong” position, I can easily see that not-talking about my husband or marriage doesn’t require me to be “censored” around my friends, or make my life worse. It gives me an OPPORTUNITY to communicate with them in a meaningful way, maybe improve the life of someone I care about, and explore topics and interests I have that are outside my identity as a wife – maybe talk about politics, or fashion, or the working world. I am an educated adult. I have a LOT of things to talk about.

    I am not saying I do this well all the time, or even most of the time. I bet I am actually way worse at it than I think I am. But, I do try. And some of my friends similarly try with me – but, again, they are the exception. Maybe infertility (like other serious challenges) gives us a chance to figure out who our REAL friends are – and who is just good company, but worthless for really sharing your life with. Now, if I only had the conviction to restrict my emotional energy to the friends who have really earned it.

    Sorry I go on endlessly in your com-box. You have a lot of thought-provoking posts :).


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