Sunday, February 20, 2011

Point of no return

There is no corner of my life that my experience with recurrent pregnancy loss hasn't touched. My experiences have affected my relationship with my husband, my interactions with my coworkers. It has impacted what I read, how I spend my time, and how I relate to strangers. My experiences have affected my body and my relationship to it. My friendships have been affected. I've lost friends; I've gained new ones. I'm grateful for the new ones. I mourn the lost ones.

I know that I have pushed people away. My friendships with women who haven't had my experience have suffered, in part, to my unwillingness to let them in. I felt I was a burden to them because they were having healthy children. I assumed they didn't want to hear about my pain. Some of these women contributed in their own way to the demise of our relationship, which is something I have never and will probably never share with them. There was the friend who was struggling with infertility. After my second miscarriage, she told me she'd rather be dealing with what she was dealing with than with what I was dealing with. That was 6 years ago, and it still hurts. My relationship with her never recovered from that. Perhaps if I had talked to her about how that comment hurt, about how her lack of compassion affected me, that relationship could have been saved. Perhaps not. I know I didn't do anything about it by choice. I chose to not forgive her.

I wonder if I should go back to this friend and to others to explain to them how I was feeling at the time. To tell them "you said this" or "you didn't say this" to let them know that I was hurt and to give them a chance to explain. But, I don't. I assume they don't care anymore.

The yardstick with which I measure the people in my life changed after my first baby died. The expectations I demanded in a friend were already pretty high. After my first loss, I measured people by the amount of compassion they demonstrated towards me. If they didn't show any or, worse, didn't show enough, then I let them go. I didn't have the energy to sustain those relationships, not when I was changing so much. I no longer felt like the person I was when I entered the relationship. To stay with them meant I had to set new expectations, verbalize my feelings, and be patient. I did little of that. I think people who haven't spent time mourning a deep loss can't fully understand the amount of energy it requires to go about with your life. When your life profoundly changes it takes every amount of strength you can summon to get out of bed and function. Thankfully, routine allows you to operate on autopilot. The amount of energy it takes to sustain a relationship that isn't feeding your soul in the new way you need, is excruciatingly hard to maintain.

I never wanted this experience to define me. It has, however, changed me in ways that I can never return to.

5 comments:

Joanna said...

Hi Cynthia,
That is so true! I also find that my relationships changed drastically through our loss. My family relationships are not the same, and the relationships I have with friends are also different. I also find that they don't understand where I am right now or where I'm going. I feel hurt by the people in my life who I thought would be able to support/understand me, and then didn't. It hurts.

Anonymous said...

I too have friendships lost and left behind me and I choose to let that be. I try to be understanding but I can't face being knocked down again by a friend who does or says the wrong thing or perhaps worse, nothing at all, so the silence continues. So many losses but so much silence. It screams at me that they don't care, that my losses aren't important. And whatever the reality may be, I'm too fragile to risk asking. I'm so exhausted. Does it really have to be me that has to find the energy to make contact, to make everything more comfortable and less awkward for them?

But that leaves room and love for new friends. Friendship shouldn't be measured by the number of years you have known someone. I have received more support from some people I have just met than others I have known very much longer. That's special. Finding that connection, that understanding that no amount of time might bring to an older friendship.

I read your blog often Cynthia and whilst I have only felt brave enough to post a comment once before, I do want you to know that your words give me a lot of comfort and support - just what a true friend does.

Thinking of you and all your little ones, Sally x

Raquel said...

Hi Cynthia- I found your blog on the blog hop. I know exactly how you feel loss has changed me in so many ways I wish I could find the "old me". I look forward to reading more about your journey since I am your newest follower.

wifey said...

I could have written this. I've been working a lot in therapy to let go of those relationships and not to blame myself for their failure. If my husband died, or my five year old child (if I had one), surely those friends wouldn't have walked out of my life. But pregnancy loss is ugly and sad and NO ONE wants to talk about it.

Anyway, thanks for posting this.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

Beautifully written. I've changed as well. Change can be such an amazing thing though. The friends I have now are ones I feel like I'll keep forever. If old friends come back, I'll welcome them with open arms, but some things they will never understand. I've crossed a bridge I hope they'll never have to find.

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