Monday, June 26, 2006

A Slight Dilemma

This is a post that I've been toying with, for a while now. I was unsure about putting it here, because it means dragging up a lot of past shit regarding this person. Suffice it to say, it's gonna be a long one.

Here's the question of the day-how do you deal with Fertiles that don't "get it"-especially when they're a close friend or family member?

My best friend, M, have always told people that we've known each other "since fetus"-our parents knew each other socially even before we were born. We went to part of grammar school together, lived down the street with each other, were in Brownies and Girl Scouts together, talked every day....you get the picture. We were like sisters-she was an only child, I had an annoying little brother (who we both unmercifully teased).

So, when I moved away, at age 14, to rural NJ, it was like seperating conjoined twins. She stayed in the urban area where we grew up, went to Catholic high school, listened to club music and became a guidette (if you don't know what that is, watch any episode of "The Sopranos", and you'll get a perfect visual example)-and I can say that because we're both Italian. My teenage years were the total opposite-I went to public high school in a rural area, where most people wore LL Bean, JCrew and Outback Red clothing-really, it was kind of like being in a John Hughes movie-there were the burnouts, punks, preppies, and tramps-all mixing together. We listened to REM and The Cure, hung out at house parties at the weekend, or partied in open fields with bonfires (and that's when we weren't out cow-tipping....yeah, I tried it). In other words, we were total opposites once we moved our seperate ways, yet we still were best friends.

So, how did we do it? Beats the hell out of me, really. We hung out more in college, since it was closer to her (she didn't go to school right away, and lived at home), were in each other's weddings, and I'm the godmother to her daughter. We've been through it all together-car accidents (when we were 17-she was driving), summers at the Shore, my infertility treatments (where she, being a nurse, did my PIO shots), her marriage and subsequent divorce. But, it seems that, within the past year, there's been a slight growing apart-perhaps I shouldn't call it that. It's more like a situation of not truly understanding.

M got pregnant in October of 2000-in fact, she thinks that she conceived the night of my wedding after being off birth control for a month (well, at least SOMEBODY did, right?). Her daughter was born in July of 2001. We decided to start trying in June of 2002.......and, well, you know the result of that. Throughout this journey of mine, M has tried to be supportive of what I'm going through, but I really think that her status as an already-mother slightly skewed her perception. She couldn't understand why I'd be reluctant to go to her daughter's birthday parties (filled with our friends and their children) or why I wasn't jumping for joy that so-and-so was pregnant for the first, second, or third time.

Now, she was having problems of her own at the time, problems that even her family or I (being her best friend) had no idea of-a husband who was verbally abusive, emotionally uninvolved with both her and her child, irresponsible and lazy. In fact, it wasn't until two years ago that she confessed that they were having big problems and was at her wits end. They tried therapy, but he didn't want to go. They did seperate (in fact, he packed up and left-in front of their daughter-the night they returned from a trip to Disney World....nice guy, huh?) and eventually divorced. Now, that is something that I've never, and hope to never, go through. She went through hell-disentangling their marriage-the new house they bought three months before, child support, who'd get the dog, etc. Unfortunately, she's still has to have contact with him, because of their child, and he can be, well, a self-centered prick-he cares more about working and seeing his girlfriend than when his daughter will be with him. Which doesn't surprise me, really-if it's not about him, it doesn't matter, at least in his eyes.

But, I digress-the point is that M did go through a rough time, and this all ran concurrent with IVF attempt #1, failed FET #1 and part of IVF#2. She would call me and have hour long rants about what a dickhead her ex was, go through every detail of who said what, what the lawyers said, what he's doing/not doing with their daughter. And then, perhaps to seem like she's interested in what's going on with me, she'd ask me what's going on in the infertility front, and I'd tell her. Of course, she wasn't really listening, because the next conversation we'd have, she'd ask the same questions, and some of them are those typical IF questions that we've all heard before.

I now realize that she couldn't emotionally deal with anything at the time, given that she was going through such a messy divorce, and was being self-centered because of that. However, it seems to me as if that self-centerdness is still going on. It's as if I don't rate on the scale because I don't have kids, or that I don't understand because I haven't been through what she's been through. She's also a bit of a control freak, and has had some medical issues due to stress.

Lately, she's been through some gyno issues-she's tested positive for HPV, has had to have some biopsies and a LEEP done. Her twato (who I also go to) told her that if she wanted to have more children, she should try within the next year or so. So now she's obsessed with whether or not she should have more kids, or that she's going through early menopause, because the twato took her off the Pill almost three months ago and her cycles are wacky-she's on day 32 without a period yet. And, she when she calls me she talks constantly about these things, which is starting to really piss me off. In fact, yesterday's conversation about this made me say to her, "look, I think that you're talking to the wrong person about this, because you've got one child already", which shut her up for about one minute, then went on about how she looked up things on Dr. Google and she thinks that she's going through early menopause, because she has hot flashes. And this is from a person who is a registered nurse, people.

Now, I'm really trying to be supportive and to listen to what she's saying, but I think that she's being ridiculous about this. Perhaps she thinks that we now have "common ground" because she now has a gyno issue, but really, it is in no way similar to what I'm going through. She also seems to blow me off an awful lot-like this morning. We were originally planning on doing a trip to the Shore, but it's shitty rain outside. She decides that she has some errands to run, so when I talked to her at 10 this morning, I suggested lunch plans. She hesitated, then said that she thought that sounded good, but that she'd call me while she was on her errands to let me know for sure (a dead giveaway that plans would fall through)-and, subsequently, the phone call came about a half hour ago that she "didn't think that she could meet today, but maybe after her manicure/pedicure tomorrow......", like I'm just another slot in her schedule, squeezed inbetween her nail and chiropractor appointments. When she said that, I replied "Yeah, I figured that you wouldn't be able to, you didn't seem like you could when I asked you"; to which I got the "tomorrow, Plan B" line, and where I then lied and said that I had plans tomorrow. Because I just don't want to deal.

So, my problem is multi-layered-I think that she's being an ass (and I'm not the only one-Sean has noticed it too, and he NEVER says anything negative about people) and really self-absorbed, but do I risk a potential blow-out argument over it? Because, given how I feel, it might happen if I tried to broach the subject. Do I ignore it, or is that like letting her get away with it? Am I being oversensitive, given that she has a child and I'm in what seems to be perpetual baby-limbo? Am I expecting too much from her? Is it worth it, or is it really my problem, not hers?

What would you do?

11 comments:

Lut C. said...

I have a similar experience with a friend of mine.
She's not quite as self-absorbed as your friend sounds. She does remember some of the things I tell her. But still, when I talk to her it's very clear that she has enough on her plate. So I've chosen to keep my distance.

The stress of shared custody (even very partial) is continuous, I suppose. So that might still explain part of it.

Perhaps the only common ground between you, is that you're both consumed by fertility related issues. Of course
you're looking at it from vastly different angles.

I can understand that you have a hard time listening to her. Truely, I do.
If she hasn't sensed this by now, will telling her make much of a difference? Or will you just lose a friend? Perhaps she's not the greatest friend to you now, but it might improve again later, when these issues are in the past.

Jessica said...

I have to say if you told her this...
"look, I think that you're talking to the wrong person about this, because you've got one child already",
...and it didn't make her shut up- then she's not really worth talking to. May seem harsh but first of all you shouldn't have to tell her to be sensitive, but when you call her out on it or draw attention and stil she goes on- then either she has some brain disfunction or she's really insensitive. Either way, I know it's not what you want/can handle right now. And that's 100% fine.
I would be someone who would have to get it out, by email, phone or wahtever. But it is a good point that the last poster made.. would it do any good?
Hard choice but do what you feel you need to do- for you.

Shelli said...

if she's your true best friend, then perhaps a real heart to heart may be in order.

if you love her, but she's just got her head up her ass, then it's OK to pull it out.

If she puts up a stink, then give her time.

it's SO freaking hard, S. I had to actually stop talking to my friends who 'werent' in the trenches" with me, because they just didn't get it. they got tired of hearing aobut it, to be honest. So I stopped talking to them. Even thoguh I really needed them.

So all of this to say, if you really need her, then tell her how much her apathy and self centerdness is hurting you; how much you need her right now.

If you don't need her support, then drop the topic entirely, because truly, she'll never get it.

love you,
S

Meg said...

Hi S. Do you want to hear what I *would* do or what I think *should* be done? (hoho)I am reluctant to part with any friend that old or that close, but clearly some space is in order, at least for a while. Re: My own friend-from-hell: my mother told me ought to just let her go for the time being, and perhaps we would come back together later on. I think she's probably right.

cat said...

I would attempt a heart to heart. If it doesn't pan out I would get some space between us, even as much as it might hurt, friends who cannot step outside themselves and give compassion are hard for me to stick with.

That is what I would do. Follow your gut instinct and do what you need to make it ok for you. Sorry this is rearing now, *hugs*

Manuela said...

omigod... sweety... if you were reading this account on someone else's blog??? You'd be all OVER them! This woman is BEYOND self-absorbed... it sounds as though she's treating you as a conveniently disposable talking post.

Sorry... but I think you deserve better!

KIMMER said...

Like M said I think you deserve much better also.
I recently lost a bf of 22 years, why? Because I don't have a family and we have grown apart. That one hurt like a bitch, I don't know what to tell you honey. I hope y'all are able to talk some things out. It's hard for fertile people to understand what we go through... I never really talked to my BF about what happened with us, she won't return my calls, her mother told me this. I just hope you are able save the friendship if that's what you want to do. Friends that you've had for that long are precious gems...

ilyse said...

Oh wow, that is a tough situation. She does not sound like she is being a very good friend to you right now. I guess I would try a serious conversation with her about how you are feeling. If she still doesn't get it, then maybe keep your distance for a while. I hope everything works out ok,

Thalia said...

With my best friend I have scripted several conversations in my head that I'd *like* to say to her, but in the end I've just kept my distance. My reasoning is that if I bring it up, i will get upset and I don't really need any more upsetness. Sorry you're not getting the support you deserve from her

Anonymous said...

I really feel for you. I've decided that as much as they want to understand (and some of them don't even go that far), fertiles are not going to comprehend the excrutiating emotional pain that infertility causes. I'm 41 now. I started actively trying since I was 38. For four years before that we weren't even on birth control. When I was 38 my friend got married - three months later she was preggers. I was stunned and upset. In a weird way I felt betrayed. I've never actually recovered from it (I know...I'm so immature!)and this friend even went on to get pregnant three months after giving birth because as she's said to me, "I'm 34 years old! I can't wait much longer!!"

What is even harder for me is my sister-in-law who had a child at 34 (pregnant the first month off BCP). Then last December she got married and announced she was trying again, "As soon as we say I DO, I'm gonna start trying!" Well, the first fricken month she hit the jackpot again. She's 39, overweight, drinks beer like a fish, and is a daily pot smoker (still does every day even throughout both pregnancies!)

During all these years my husband and I have had two pregnancy losses, several new infertility diagnoses, infertility treatments, and surgery. So far, nothing.

I used to be very happy for people who got pregnant. I thought it was a good sign that, "If it happened to them, it's gonna happen to me." Now, I feel differently and I guess there's a part of me that embraces the immature side of myself that can't deal. At least I'm nuturing this vulnerable side of myself that doesn't need logic, but needs love.

Both these women feel PITY for me, (which I can't stand!!!!!), but they don't know what to say and invariably end up saying totally the wrong thing. I completely put on a normal face, because I don't want them to know how much pain I'm in. I don't feel close enough to them that they deserve to know my level of vulnerability.

All I can say is, don't be hard on yourself for having less than noble feelings about your friend's pregnancy past or her current child (hey little kid, it's nothing personal). If you don't want to be all happy for all these pregnant women on their second, third, and fouth babies, DON'T BE. Be honest with yourself. Maybe, don't let them know how you REALLY feel, but don't try and attain some zen-like state of ultimate "love for everyone" bullshit.

And another thing - take a break from this gal if you can. I find it's so refreshing to spend time with my friend who never wanted children (and had a kid at 19 and loves him, but still says she wishes she never had children). It's great because she rarely asks me about my fertility quest and also doesn't base my worth as a fulfulled, complete woman on whether I can have a child or not.

Finally, back to your friend, if she's really worth it and you think you got something to work with, tell her a tactful version of how you feel and lay some boundries.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

I really feel for you. I've decided that as much as they want to understand (and some of them don't even go that far), fertiles are not going to comprehend the excrutiating emotional pain that infertility causes. I'm 41 now. I started actively trying since I was 38. For four years before that we weren't even on birth control. When I was 38 my friend got married - three months later she was preggers. I was stunned and upset. In a weird way I felt betrayed. I've never actually recovered from it (I know...I'm so immature!)and this friend even went on to get pregnant three months after giving birth because as she's said to me, "I'm 34 years old! I can't wait much longer!!"

What is even harder for me is my sister-in-law who had a child at 34 (pregnant the first month off BCP). Then last December she got married and announced she was trying again, "As soon as we say I DO, I'm gonna start trying!" Well, the first fricken month she hit the jackpot again. She's 39, overweight, drinks beer like a fish, and is a daily pot smoker (still does every day even throughout both pregnancies!)

During all these years my husband and I have had two pregnancy losses, several new infertility diagnoses, infertility treatments, and surgery. So far, nothing.

I used to be very happy for people who got pregnant. I thought it was a good sign that, "If it happened to them, it's gonna happen to me." Now, I feel differently and I guess there's a part of me that embraces the immature side of myself that can't deal. At least I'm nuturing this vulnerable side of myself that doesn't need logic, but needs love.

Both these women feel PITY for me, (which I can't stand!!!!!), but they don't know what to say and invariably end up saying totally the wrong thing. I completely put on a normal face, because I don't want them to know how much pain I'm in. I don't feel close enough to them that they deserve to know my level of vulnerability.

All I can say is, don't be hard on yourself for having less than noble feelings about your friend's pregnancy past or her current child (hey little kid, it's nothing personal). If you don't want to be all happy for all these pregnant women on their second, third, and fouth babies, DON'T BE. Be honest with yourself. Maybe, don't let them know how you REALLY feel, but don't try and attain some zen-like state of ultimate "love for everyone" bullshit.

And another thing - take a break from this gal if you can. I find it's so refreshing to spend time with my friend who never wanted children (and had a kid at 19 and loves him, but still says she wishes she never had children). It's great because she rarely asks me about my fertility quest and also doesn't base my worth as a fulfulled, complete woman on whether I can have a child or not.

Finally, back to your friend, if she's really worth it and you think you got something to work with, tell her a tactful version of how you feel and lay some boundries.

Good luck