I can count all of my true friends (no blood relatives included) on 1 hand. I’m guessing by the time people are in their 30’s, they have a hard time identifying even a handful of true friends, so I consider myself blessed.
When I was a teenager, I had a lot of “friends.” I would bounce from one group of friends in the morning to another group of friends at night. And it wasn’t like I was “leaving” one group to join another group, because I wasn’t. Don’t misunderstand. I was simply friends with all of the groups. In other words, I had at least 1 friend in each group–the cheerleaders, the football players, the drinkers, the nerds, the tokers, the preps, the party girls, the ghetto crowd, you name it, I was friends with someone in it. My phone was always ringing. There was never a night I didn’t have something to do. And whatever I did with any of these “friends,” I always had a blast. I actually couldn’t have imagined my life without them back then if you would have asked me to.
But then something suddenly changed. Those of you reading this who are in my family or on my “1 hand” know that I experienced something traumatic when I was 20. When that happened, I looked around and all of these “friends” I had were nowhere to be found. I was heartbroken. These people I spent every waking moment with could turn their backs so easily on me. How? Pretty simple, they were never my “friends” to begin with.
I think most can agree that when you are a teenager, you foolishly think everyone is your friend for life. Well, that traumatic time proved that wasn’t the case and it changed my outlook on friendship completely. It was a tough lesson for a 20 year old to swallow, but I am glad I learned it when I did.
I hadn’t thought much about the lesson I learned back then until the past few years when we began battling IF really hard. The friends that stuck by me then are still with me now, over 10 years later. They are part of my “1 hand.” And when I say with me now, I mean they know me, my dreams, my fears, my family, and likewise, I know the same about them. So, has anything changed in the past few years between my 1 hand and I? The short answer would be yes.
What has changed? Well, I am the one who has changed. The diseases I have have changed me, and therefore they have changed my friendships too. When we lost our pregnancies, my 1 hand did everything they could to be there for us. There was nothing they could have done differently, in fact they went above and beyond. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
Yet, still for some reason, I no longer reach out to them like I used to. I have distanced myself. At times, I don’t know what to say and I think they might feel the same way too. Or maybe they are simply afraid they might say the wrong thing to me because of how fragile I have now become. If so, I don’t blame them for this; I know myself how easily I get hurt nowadays.
It kills me, but I don’t think we can relate like we used to, considering most of them have children now and I don’t. I can’t participate in maternity talk, baby talk, toddler talk, school talk, proud mom talk, frustrated mom talk, sports mom talk, etc. And for the most part, they can’t participate in IF, IVF, and RPL talk (or should I say jargon). It doesn’t consume their time and life like it does mine–their busy family life does.
Of course, we make small talk about these things, but I am noticing that we no longer go to each other for advice and relating like we used to. I can’t help but feel awful inside because I know I am missing out on some of the best times of their lives by choice. So why not choose to be different then? Why not reach out more? I don’t know. All I know is I am doing the best I can each day. I also know I love my 1 hand. And above all else, I miss them.
Every traumatic life event brings with it a lesson. When I was 20, I learned that tough times reveal true friends. At 32, I have learned that infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss can affect even the truest of friendships. Sure, you can beat IF and RPL, and choose to move past them. But sometimes you can’t change the reality of the baggage they bring with them.