I have a friend M, that I’ve known since second grade. Growing up, we lived around the corner from each other and took the same bus to school. Through elementary school we were good friends, but in junior high we became best friends. Every Friday we’d go to the mall, browse through records and cassettes at Sam Goody (remember .99 cent single cassette tapes?), play with makeup at the department store counters and peruse through books at the book store. We remained fairly close through high school even though we went to different schools and through college, even though M went away to school upstate and I stayed in the city. We stayed friends during our twenties. We went out together, got drunk together and had late night burgers at the diner together. Weeks would pass between phone calls or emails but when we talked we’d pick up right where we left off. Then something happened in our early thirties. We just lost touch. We were each going through some rough times and I think we didn’t know how to support each other. We took our friendship for granted and took for granted that things would always be the same. But we were changing, our lives had changed, and we made the mistake of thinking our friendship should remain the same. A little over three years ago when M got engaged she reached out to me. It had probably been 4 years since we last spoke. We got together for drinks and caught up on what we’d missed in each others lives. She seemed so happy in her relationship and I had just started dating the hubby. We slowly started building a friendship again through emails, phone calls and dinner and drinks here and there. We not only reminisced about our childhoods and resumed our girlfriend trash talking but we learned how to be there for each other and support each other. I can confide anything in her without getting any shock or judgement. And through this infertility journey, she has been one of the few people I can talk to about all our choices freely. Not only does she not judge, but she actually talks to me and asks me about our decisions and how I’m feeling about them. She was one of the first people I told about our DQa match. Infertility treatments has meant endless doctors appointments, research, drugs, needles, shots, physical exhaustion, emotional distress and major weight gain for me. She is interested in hearing about all of this and more importantly, how I feel about it all. She is both encouraging and consoling when needed. It seems like such a little thing but I have found in this whole infertility journey out of those who know what we’re going through, very few actually text or email to see how we’re doing. How difficult is that exactly? I text/email pregnant friends all the time to see how they’re feeling, why can’t friends send a simple text saying, “Hey I know you’re going through a lot but just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you?” That would make a world of difference. On the contrary, when people want something, the hubby and I are the first people they reach out to. The one way street friendships have really caused the resentment to build up with these friends. And I’m finding people can be downright self centered and insensitive.
I’ve had one friend S ask me continuously about our home renovation and why it is taking so long but she almost never asks about our infertility treatments, even though she knows we are undergoing IVF. We have been renovating our house for quite a while now. But it obviously takes a back burner time wise and financially to our fertility treatments. She knows we have gone through multiple rounds of IVF over the past two years yet she is always commenting on how this is the longest home renovation ever. Who cares? That is hardly my number one priority at this moment. How about calling me after my egg retrieval and asking how I’m feeling? Or after another failed transfer to commiserate and say how much this sucks?
I have another friend L who manages to ask about our last failed transfer for about a minute in between telling me about her latest relationship. Her only comment was, “Oh, and you tried so hard this time.” Really that’s all you have to say?
My friend T, who has 3 kids, and whose last home birth I patiently and enthusiastically watched on video would ask in the beginning about what we were doing but eventually she just stopped. I actually went over her house for a visit a few weeks ago and she asked nothing about our infertility treatments. Has she just gotten sick of asking? Is she tired of hearing me vent? Is she tired of hearing the disappointment in my voice as I recount all our procedures? Is this just friendship fatigue?
I get it, it’s exhausting listening to this stuff, but I’ve sat and listened patiently to friends go on about boyfriends, parents, bosses, spouses, in-laws, jobs, professors, illnesses, etc. I’ve attended weddings, showers, visited homes, sent flowers, sent cards and just been there. Isn’t that what a friend does? Are there just limits to how much a person can give? Are my expectations too high? I don’t think so. This is what I give to friends and this is what I expect in return. Or maybe they have something going on in their lives that they don’t want to share with me or the hubby because of what we’re going through. Perhaps I should be more understanding because we’re not always privy to what’s going on in the lives of others.
But you know what, the lack of interest or caring right now from other friends has really made me appreciate M’s friendship. I think God brought us each into each others lives again for a reason. M and I both really need true friends right now. The same way she is there for me, I’m there for her in what she has going on in her life. Her friendship has been a true blessing and I’m truly thankful for it.
Last week M and I got together for dinner and had the best time just talking. As we were leaving, a woman outside the restaurant pointed out that I had toilet paper hanging out of my pants. OMG mortifying is not the word. But M just grabbed it and threw it in the garbage can and we just looked at each other and started cracking up. That is a true friend. Someone who understands that you can be a hot mess sometimes, but is there for you anyway.