This Is Not What Friends Are For

11 Jun

In stark contrast to one of my recent posts, I thought it prudent to share that I also have a friend who is absolutely effing clueless as to how to best support me. Allow to me to count the ways in which she demonstrated that this past weekend:

1. When we arrived to their house, their absolutely adorable 7 month old boy was wearing the same exact outfit that I recently purchased for my yet-to-be-confirmed child. I mentioned this to her (without really thinking) and she pretty much guffawed at the ridiculousness that is me buying clothing for a child that I might never have.

2. We walked from her house to the main part of their town where a festival was being held. Live music, food, beer, the whole nine yards. The walk took about 10 minutes each way, we stayed at the festival for about 1.5 hours, and we were at their house for about an hour prior to walking to the festival. So, for approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes she talked about absolutely NOTHING but giving birth, breastfeeding, her son (he eats table food! he poops every other day! he finally naps in his crib!), and OMG! she has so many new babies that she has plans to meet over the next month.

3. But here’s the real kicker…she outlined for me her plans to get pregnant with her second child just as soon as her current one is a year old. But of course she has to wait until she stops breastfeeding because everyone knows you don’t ovulate when breastfeeding, so how could she possibly get pregnant before then. AND THEN she went on and on to me about the wonders of not ovulating and therefore not having your period for almost a year and a half now. Seriously?!?! Her exact words were: Not ovulating is so wonderful!

Now I have been known to put people in their place when they say something that offends me, especially when it comes to my husband or my infertility. But I was so awestruck by her blatant disregard for my feelings that not a single word came to mind. There was absolutely nothing I could say that would ever convey to her how much she had hurt me in those moments. So I said nothing. Instead, I blinked back the tears (of bitterness, anger, embarrassment, envy, betrayal, and sadness) that were welling up behind my sunglasses and hoped they wouldn’t overflow.

The thing is that I know she wasn’t doing it intentionally to be mean. She is just so self-involved at this time in her life that she is absolutely clueless to the needs of those around her. In fact, I am starting to forget the person she was before she became a mom. If it’s that easy for me to forget the woman inside the mom, then I can only imagine how hard it is for her to see that she is slowly disappearing.

I am contemplating emailing her to let her know how she has made me feel. Part of feels like I should because I deserve to have my feelings validated and hopefully spared in the future. The other part of me figures, what’s the point? She’ll either continue to behave that way or she’ll just distance herself from me. Perhaps that’s what would be best for my fragile heart anyway.

It seems that for every supportive friend, there is an equal and opposite unsupportive friend. Most everyone else will fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum and yet these are the friends that end up standing out and touching the places (good and bad) in my heart that I have since turned off–hope and despair.

What would you do in this situation? Keep in mind that she is a part of my regular social circle and I do have to see her often enough. I don’t want to start any unnecessary drama or sink to her level by making her feel as bad as I do. But I do want to say something. I want to let her know that it isn’t okay for her to talk to me about nothing but her baby or to belittle any kind of infertility in my presence. How to get that across without getting defensive or mean?

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19 Responses to “This Is Not What Friends Are For”

  1. Arwen Rose June 25, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Hey from ICLW. I am so sorry your friend was sooo rude and insensitive. Like another commenter above I think it is so unfair that we IFers have to suffer all the fertiles constant moans, or their bumps of joy, but as soon as we get upset and get too ‘real’ about how hard this is noone wants to know. If the next time I saw a bump picture on FB and I changed my status to something like: “Crying over the fact she will never carry her own baby.” I wonder what reaction that would get!? I think you should talk to your friend face to face, they just don’t get it but if they’re a good person, they will do all they can to try. πŸ™‚

  2. Jenn June 13, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Thanks so much for your advice!! It was exactly what I needed. I ended up drafting an email to her but not sending it. Just writing it helped me to feel a little better. Besides with the news I just got today about not being pregnant AGAIN, I’m not sure I have the emotional capacity to deal with this situation as well. This girl is one of my best friends and has been for more than 9 years. She always been a little socially inept so for now I will just chalk it up to that. Next time it happens (and I am sure there will be a next time) I plan to just say something in the moment so that I don’t hem and haw over it. My brain can be my own worst enemy. Thanks again ladies! What would I do without you? xoxo

  3. Lindsay June 12, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    Just found your blog…our paths seem so similar. We started trying in December 2010 and saw our RE January 2011. My blog is landpbabyjourney.blogspot.com. We are currently preparing for our first IVF next month. Nothing like dealing with stupid people that don’t get it, as if this wasn’t hard enough on its own. Hoping this cycle ends/ended with something positive!!!

  4. Sunny June 12, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    Ugh…this post hit close to home. I think all of us have a “friend” like this…I’ve written about “Fertile Franny” before. It’s a tricky thing, because they’re usually completely wrapped up in talking about their kids, and when you mention how painful it is to be unable to conceive, they glaze over, get really uncomfortable, or give you the “just relax and have a few drinks” advice. At least, this is what Franny said to me. I’ve unfortunately had to distance myself from her, but she wasn’t a great friend to begin with, and I don’t have any friends in common with her, so it was easier. In your case, if you truly value the friendship, and you feel like she has a lot to offer your life in other ways (besides yapping away about her kid), I would have a heart to heart. I’m assuming she knows about your situation already, which makes her insensitivity pretty appalling, although I’m not sure how much she knows. It’s not a bad idea to make her very aware of some of the deeper issues of infertility. The pain, the loss, the things it does to marriages, sex, your feelings that something is flawed in your body, the loss of control…these are very very hard emotions. I wouldn’t tell her in an email…I’d do it face to face. If you have to read her a letter to get it all out, I would do that over sending an email. Too much can get misconstrued in an email, and words can come off sounding harsher than you may want them to. It’s harder to do a face to face, but it also may open you up to sharing some real emotion with this person, and letting her see how hurtful it is to you when she says stuff like this. Again, this is only if you value her as a long term friend! This stuff can be very painful, and you need to know she can be trusted. I would also be sure to start the conversation with her in a way that does not leave room for her to give you unsolicited “advice” on how to magically get you to conceive or “fix” your problem. You are educating her on behalf of a lot of other women out there. I’m so sorry you’re going through this….keep us posted!

  5. Roxxroxx June 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Hmm, this is a tough one. I have been in a similar situation here in Bkk and it has definitely to distancing between me and my baby mad friends. I don’t bare them any bad feeling though. I truly believe that noone (not even our husbands /partners) really understands the feelings of infertility /failed cycles etc unless they have been there. They understand that it’s not nice or easy, but that’s about all. They don’t see other babies as painful reminders of what we can’t /couldn’t have; they just don’t get any of it. My non-preg /non-ttc friends are all drinkers and partiers, and I don’t fit in there either. My good friends back in th UK have been really supportive but obviously there is a physical distance between us. I don’t feel angry about the friends here at all, just a little sad. Noone meant any harm; their new families were all they could think about. I agree with other commenters who say not to confront this and to put a little distance between you. The friendships that are worth it will weather the storm eventually, and later on when you are having a heart to heart, you can say how difficult you found it. Doubtless she’ll feel terrible that she was so insensitive. I am now pregnant and those friends are all happy for me, but we haven’t regained any of that distance yet. I think with some of them, we might do, but it will take time. You need to put your energy into staying strong for now and try not to channel it negatively. We all know how hard it is, but your time will come, sooner or later. Once you are pregnant and blogging here you’ll find yourself in a fix; wondering over and over if every post is offending you friends still ttc. My perspective is that we can’t be too harsh in those who take their fertility for granted. But we should avoid those with babies who have no sensor on anything they say while we are suffering!! πŸ™‚

    • jo June 12, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

      perfectly said

    • jell jell @ I'll Sleep When They're Grown June 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

      Agreed. I promise your friend was only taking about the world she now knows. And you will be the same way when you get pregnant (and I fully believe you will!). Our worlds are either fully focused on trying, being pregnant, or having the kid. Once babies are on the mind, it’s next to impossible to turn that switch off until they’re like 2.

      While I was trying for #2, it seemed to take forever, too. Both times weren’t exactly easy for me, and I would feel a stab of envy when I heard of several friends getting preg on the FIRST TRY. I hated hearing it, but then they all told me they wished it had taken longer. That it was sooner than they expected.

      Your friend will be a wealth of info and support when you do get preg. Don’t push her away if she’s a good friend otherwise. Just talk to her about the statements like guffawing at you buying baby things now. That’s the one thing that sounded truly hurtful and lacked sensitivity. The rest sounds like stuff that’s hard for you to hear, but not bad for her to say. It’s up to you on how you internalize it.

  6. Theresa June 11, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    This same kind of situation happened to me about a year ago. My advice would be to choose what you want to do based on how important the friendship is to you. If it is a friendship that you want to maintain, say something. If it isn’t, separate yourself. In my case, I ended up wanting to maintain the friendship but didn’t say anything. It made things incredibly weird for awhile and we both ended up hurt. In the end, things turned out ok, but today I wish I had said something because I honestly think it would have helped.

    I’m assuming that your friend is aware of your struggle. Perhaps next time she is complaining, you could say that while you understand that this is so important in her life right now, you just aren’t able to discuss it with her sometimes because you are struggling, that sometimes its incredibly hard for you to hear, and you are saying something because you don’t want to lose your friendship. Maybe there is some analogy she would understand….its a tough call either way.

  7. Lyndell June 11, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    My response would be to cut her out of your social circle as much as possible. She doesn’t sound like she is a friend who is really in tune with being an actual friend to you, or she would be able to put a filter on her conversations with you.
    That being said, ignorance is bliss, she is a happy Mum who is knee deep in baby world bliss. Most people talk about things incessantly because they are trying desperately to figure out what is going on with them and it is all new and exciting to her.
    I have friends like that, I try my best to realise they are just in a different headspace now and that’s ok, I keep our interactions to the basics and hope one day I can join them on the other side πŸ™‚

  8. TheStorkWhisperer June 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    I absolutely dread situations like you had. I think it’s worse in a group though. With one person, you can kind of deter the conversation to something else without someone bringing it back to the subject you are trying to avoid. I always think its strange how women just assume that they are going to have baby number 2 with no trouble. Secondary infertility could be waiting right around the bend.

  9. K.Smitty June 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    I hate mean and insensitive people! My heart breaks for you, especially at the fact that the words didn’t come when they should have.

    Her: hey you should have your baby when I’m going for round 2!
    Me: I’d have to be able to get pregnant first. Besides, I’m on MY time table, and no one else’s

    Her: Not ovulating is awesome
    Me: um, actually it’s not when you’re actually wanting to get pregnant.

    I know that’s probably somewhat what you wanted to say already, but I had to get it out for the sake of my OWN anger! At this point, I’m honestly not sure it’s worth saying anything. To me, letting her know your feelings were hurt is best done in the moment, but that’s my opinion. She sounds like she’s not that good of a friend to begin with so I don’t know if you’re missing much there. If it were me, I’d probably wait until the next time to say anything. But again, that’s just me. I still have yet to understand how, after you have a baby, that’s all you can talk about. YES it’s an amazing and joyous thing, but you’re still you, with your same hobbies and interests. You might not have much time for them anymore but I think the only people who want to hear about your baby’s poops and naps are either doctors, for medical reasons, or your other young mommy friends so you can brag or complain about whose baby is the best or who has the roughest life. Not worth it! It amazes me how some people seriously have nothing else to talk about. Maybe I’ll understand when it’s me, but then again, maybe we all have been on the other side long enough to have too much sense!

  10. robin June 11, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    When I used to tell people i didn’t ovulate so I only got maybe one or two periods a year, they were like, LUCKY! I said, yeah, that also means it will be hard to get pregnant some day. This was when I was in college and people were not thinking about getting pregnant, so they just got silent, because they had no idea what it meant to be thinking about your fertility years and years before you actually were confronted with it.

    Anyway, about the friend… I am pretty non-confrontational. I’d probably just avoid one-on-one interactions like this festival. For me it would depend on whether I really felt like she would listen and change, or if she would just be defensive and hurt.

  11. jo June 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    i bet your friend doesn’t know how emotional this journey of ttc truly is for you. my husband and i have only been trying for 3 months and don’t have any kids yet so we are still in la-la land that this could happen anytime for us (hopefully). but two of my best friends both got pregnant and then had miscarriages at the same time (around 10 weeks). and supporting them through this has been difficult as a friend not knowing what to say but more-so it makes me uber sensitive to the things i once found cute (people posting week-by-week baby bump pictures on facebook or talking about how they want the summer off so they are going to get pregnant on a specific month to have a june baby). whenever people flaunt their pregnancies it makes me feel protective of my two friends that had miscarriages because i know that they are both trying again and for one of them it’s a year this summer of trying to have a baby. i honestly don’t know what to tell you to do. i wouldn’t email her if i were you. i would just chalk it up to the fact that your lives are in different places. she needs someone to be super-excited about her baby with her and you need someone to support you through your trying for a pregnancy. sometimes people can’t be the friend to you that you need them to be, and in the same token it’s most likely impossible for you to be the friend that she needs right now. i’d just give it space. maybe later on you will reconnect.

  12. taradawes June 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Also (sorry forgot to add this in my previous comment), I don’t understand what is with all these women who don’t think they can get pregnant while breastfeeding – it’s a complete misnomer.

  13. taradawes June 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Honestly I would just separate myself from her and only be around her if I had to, if she brings up things that make you uncomfortable I would try to find a way to change the topic of conversation. In my experience some people just aren’t gonna get it no matter what. But then I’ve always been a burn my bridges as I go type of gal, I understand that process might not work with everyone. But at the end of the day you have to do what is right for you.

  14. storkchaser June 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    Oh, Jenn, I’m sorry! I would email her because most people are extremely clueless about their insensitivity and maybe include the info from RESOLVE that kind of educates those who haven’t struggled with IF. Lmk if you need the link. And once she’s properly informed, it’s up to her to be more sensitive. If not, I would avoid her for awhile. I’ve had to pretty much cut certain friends out of my life and even though I miss them at times, it had helped my peace if mind

    • storkchaser June 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

      Oops! I posted too soon! I want to explain that the friends I am talking about are in my life still- just in a more superficial way. Like seeing them at large gatherings and stuff. We might be able to be closet again one day, but not now. Good luck!!!

  15. 35life June 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    It always amazes me that we are to sit through listening to the trials and tribulations of fertile people, yet they squirm and hide and don’t know how to listen to the struggles of infertiles. It’s really unfair. I’ve always wanted to turn around when people complain about balancing their lives, work and children (a choice that they made) or if they complain about their fussy child and ask them if they really wanted to trade lives with me. They would have no idea how difficult this is. Maybe then they’d understand. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Unfortunately, most of the time when I’m in a situation like this, I retreat and say very little. I really never feel like it’s worth the effortor if I did say something, then I’m left feeling bad that I spoke up. It’s such a fine line for me.

  16. Belle June 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Oh Jenn, I have a friend just like this. She is one of my nearest and dearest, but ever since she had her child all she does is talk about her. She says insensitive things to me like, “I’m so sorry you lost your baby! You can have mine, she is ruining my marriage anyways.” and so on and so forth. She has also given me the same rant about No. 2 and not ovulating b/c she is breast feeding. I have never actually confronted her about these things because I know it is just her nature. She has NEVER had a sensitivity filter. I can stomach her comments because I know she never means them maliciously. However, after reading your post, I am suddenly aware that maybe I NEED To tell her how hurtful these comments are. That maybe if I don’t speak up she will hurt countless other infertiles. Food for thought. I am interested to see what others have to say! Thanks for sharing your frustrations, and know you are far from alone.

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