One Of My Closest Friendships Ended, And It Still Hurts Like Hell

Around this time two years ago, I was facing an emotional crisis. I started to drift from one of the greatest loves of my life. And it hurt more than anything I’d ever experienced with any boyfriend in the past.

The falling out was spontaneous and I was accused of being neglectful and irritable during pregnancy. There was a time when I saw my moodiness as the cause of the falling out but, truthfully, it was just an excuse. We’d started drifting apart long before, and I didn’t have the heart to let go.

That lost love was the end of my relationship with my best friend. As a result, I began sulking and having nightmares a few times a year. But even though the relationship was over, that wasn’t the end of this person in my life. Whenever she needed someone to increase her confidence or reassure her that [insert name of current boyfriend] was the problem and not her, she’d reappear — only to vanish from my life when I’d seek closure or grow accustomed to her presence.

Each disappearance hurt a thousand times worse than the last. It didn’t take long to see that I was being used. I started catching her telling me pointless lies. And it was clear she didn’t want to commit to my friendship as much as she did her other relationships.

Then one day, she just stopped responding to my messages altogether. And it hurt like hell. 

Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ll ever completely heal from that pain. But I know I have to learn to move on if I ever hope to be okay. I know I’m one of many girls who was left high and dry by their best friends after some huge life event. If I had the chance, here’s what I’d like to say to my former friend:

How are you? I hope all is well.

I spend a lot of time thinking about you. A lot more than I should. Especially for someone who decided they didn’t want to be a part of my life anymore.

Sometimes you’re in my dreams. Often it’s me sitting there. You appear and we’re in conflict, but it always gets better. We always reconcile and start the process of rebuilding what we had.

In the world in my head, it doesn’t take long for things to return to normal. We laugh like we used to. We smile like we used to. And we stay out until the wee hours of the morning, laughing at dumb shit like we used to.

The seven to eight hours in dreamland feel like months or years. It’s so convincing that I return to the times you were the first person I would call when anything happened. Certainly long enough for me to expect to see your name attached to the notification on my phone when I wake up.

But a return to consciousness means a return on pain. Each blink of my eyes erodes the world of hope for reconciliation and returns me to a contemporary land of abandonment and lies. More often than not, I cry.

I miss the way we could find something funny about a blank sheet of paper.

We’ve seen each other naked, without awkwardness, more times than I could count. We had a level of intimacy that knew no bounds. I would sit in the bathroom and talk with you while you showered or talk with you through the door while you used the toilet. 

You were more than my friend. You were my sister. We were Thema and Lousie.

I’ve wiped the tears from your eyes with my hand. In the past, you have given me the literal shirt off your back.

Our book of history had more stories than one could imagine. But now all I have are the pictures.

The pictures of my biggest successes that all have one thing in common — you are there. Until one day, you weren’t anymore.

Now I’m left with these pictures that I am afraid to delete because I would hate for you to come back one day and I’d have not saved them.  

We’ve fought before, but never for this long. We’re different people now.

I don’t know why, but I can feel it. I have little faith we will be together again, and it’s been painful.  

But then something changed. You found something that you always wanted, and we didn’t fit anymore.

It hurts that you went from self-proclaimed godmother to not acknowledging the birth of my first child.

But there’s something that I want you to know. Hearing your name might be like a punch to the gut, but I wish still you success in life. I check on you through social media to be sure you’re okay. I ask mutual friends how you’re doing. And I always will.

I do not regret a single late night rush to be at your side. I would not take back a single dollar spent to see you smile. I will never try to replace the hole that you left in my heart when you decided you didn’t want to be my friend anymore.

But I cannot hold on and obsess any longer. You have made it very clear where you stand. And I am now letting go.

What To Say (And What NOT To Say) When A Woman Miscarries

It's a heartbreak only the women who have experienced it can truly understand.

It’s a heartbreak only the women who have experienced it can truly understand.

Lauren started OnFecundThought.com just four days after she learned she was going to miscarry her first pregnancy. It chronicles the trauma and aftermath of miscarriage: the physical pain; the bewildering grief of losing a much-longed-for and already loved baby; the feelings of being betrayed by one’s body; the battles with the envy gremlins that come out around other pregnant women; and then the tentative steps into trying all over again. Here she shares her wisdom with those who are walking through this difficult journey with a friend or loved one.

I have learned there is no way to understand the heartbreak of miscarriage if you have not experienced such a loss first-hand. I have known women who have had miscarriages, and I rather fear that my responses were sub-par.

I’ve received a few responses this week: some people have been fantastic, and others have been slightly disappointing. I have done my best to take these comments in the well-meaning vein in which they were intended.

But if you are trying to support a couple who has just miscarried or lost a child before birth, based on my short experience so far, here’s a list of my suggestions for what not to say and what you can say/do instead.

1. At least you know you can get pregnant.
It is universally agreed by miscarriage survivors and counselors alike that this is not a helpful thing to say and yet is one of the most repeated pieces of “wisdom” given. (I’ve been told this at least ten times in the past 5 days.) It may be true but, damn, it’s a small comfort. See, there are no guarantees: Just because I got pregnant last time doesn’t mean that I will next time, or that it will happen easily. Nor does it mean I will be able to carry a baby to term. Plus, if I am lucky enough to get pregnant again, I imagine I will be so worried All The Time. I’m really trying not to worry about the future, so when people say that to me, it diminishes what I am currently feeling right now.

→ Give me a hug instead.

2. You will just have to try again / You can have another.
Please don’t tell me what I should do months from now. Before I can even think about trying to conceive again, I have to finish my miscarriage (which hasn’t even started yet), which could take 2-3 weeks. Then I have to wait for my period to return, which could take 6.5 weeks. (If it doesn’t come back in that time, I will need more tests, adding to the delay.) All this and only then will I be able to start tracking my Basal Body Temperature every morning in the hopes that I will conceive a couple of weeks later. Right now, all this feels like a very, very long time.

→ It’s okay that you don’t know what to say. You can say that!

3. Saying nothing or next-to-nothing.
Not calling / emailing me has been one of the most upsetting reactions. If I told you about my pregnancy, I emailed you about my loss, so I really hope to get a response from you. I hope I mean enough to you that you can take a few minutes out of your day to show me you are thinking of me. I know people are busy with their lives, but not saying something or dashing off something with no real thought behind it like “Hugs to you x” does not show me you care. It makes me feel like you can’t be bothered or that I have inconvenienced you and/or am selfish for interrupting your day.

→ I don’t expect you to have all the answers. Just tell me how sorry you are.

4. Showing me pictures of your baby / talking about what a handful your kids are / complaining about what hard work parenthood is.
Right now every pregnant belly I pass, every child I see, and every picture you post of your kid (especially when you keep tagging me in them) is a painful reminder of everything I have just lost. I’m not jealous (I don’t want your pregnant belly or your kid), just envious (I wish I had my own). I don’t expect you to understand my envy, but please try to respect it. I already feel like a terrible person for feeling this way. As for complaining about your pregnancy symptoms or misbehaving kid, please remember that I wish I were dealing with those complaints instead.

→ Give me time and space. I want to be happy for you, but I would appreciate your patience on this one.

5. At least you found out at this early stage.
Very true. Actually, one of the things that has been frustrating is that so many books on miscarriage are focused on having a stillborn child or one who dies soon after birth. My god, I cannot imagine the extent of that heartbreak. But you know what? It’s really not helpful to compare me to a woman who has lost a child she was carrying much longer. My loss and disappointment feels very real to me and my heart is broken. Author Stephanie Paige Cole put it well: She wasn’t just expecting a baby. She was expecting the rest of their lives together.

→ Tell me you love me instead.

6. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.
Years ago I read in some magazine like Marie Claire or Real Simple that when someone is going through a tough time (I think the example was breast cancer), this response, though well-meant, is a bit of a cop-out. There’s nothing you can “do”. If only it were that easy, I’d be on the phone in a second. Non-specific offers of kind help won’t get me on the phone: right now, I might not know I need something until you suggest it.

→ Offer to go for a walk or take me out for coffee or dessert. If you live nearby, you could bring over a simple meal, like soup, or offer to do a load of laundry. If you live far away, you could send a card or little care package.

7. Emailing / calling / texting only once.
This is an experience that I will never forget, so please remember that I am grieving and that grief is a process without a timeline. I would appreciate it if you would check in with me every now and then. It doesn’t have to be often, and when you do, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Some of the things that have brightened my dark days this week have been voicemail messages and emails from people letting me know they are thinking of me. It’s lonely out here.

→ Even if I don’t return your calls, your messages are a source of comfort. Please keep sending them.

8. It’s for the best / It wasn’t meant to be / It’s God’s plan.
How do you know any of this? I assume you’re referring to the fact that my little bean had a chromosomal defect that couldn’t sustain life. The way I take this is: why is it for the best that s/he even had such a defect to begin with? If it wasn’t meant to be, why did I get pregnant in the first place? And, as I am not religious, please understand that I do not take comfort in your God and the plans you believe he has for me and my family.

→ Say that you are keeping us in your thoughts. If you are religious, let me know we’re in your prayers. Even if I don’t share your beliefs, I do appreciate your prayers.

9. Forgetting that miscarriage affects dads and partners too.
Some of the most touching responses to our loss have been the ones that included my husband in the message of sympathy. He may not have to go through the experience of delivering the fetus, but he has suffered a shocking loss too.

→ Be sure to include dad or (as in the case of gay & lesbian couples) the other mum or dad in your message of sympathy.

10. If only Eve hadn’t tempted Adam with the apple then women wouldn’t have to put up with the trials of pregnancy and childbirth.
This was written to me by a well-meaning family member — who happens to be an atheist no less — but it probably wasn’t the best response… DH and I didn’t take it too seriously, but when thinking about what to put for #10, I decided to include this one: DO NOT MAKE JOKES.

→ Pick any other item from this list. Even blurting out one of the no-nos is probably better than making a joke.

 

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You Don’t Have to Talk About Your Miscarriage

Listen. I simply didn’t want to talk about it. And that’s OK.

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about why we don’t talk about miscarriages. Miscarriage is a complicated thing full of expectations and shifting perspective. For some it’s not easy to sum up or share with someone else.

I tend to think that most things work out in life. We’ve had plenty of challenging things happen in our lives, but this in particular, I was convinced, would never be OK. I would never be OK with the gap that is in our family. space that was reserved for this little person

I was 11 weeks along. It was 2 weeks before Christmas. We’d all ready bought the cutest little rocking horse to put under the Christmas tree for the new baby and the best present we could give our 3 other children – a little brother or sister.

I had a moment, driving down the street, when I thought to myself “Could I be any happier? I feel like I could burst.” We’d been through several really hard years. The loss of my sister to cancer, a massive car accident and lengthy recovery for my husband, the crash of the economy. Things were starting to look brighter.

Why I didn't talk about my miscarriages.

2 hours later I was cramping. I went to the bathroom and I was bleeding. I knew it was over. I called my husband into the bathroom and we sat there quietly.

The kids were getting the Christmas decorations out to decorate our Christmas tree. I sat in that dark room with the lights of the tree glowing not knowing what to feel, or what was next, but I knew my heart was broken. I absolutely believed there was a little person waiting to join our family.

We’d go through a few more of these moments over the next 18 months before deciding we were done. I couldn’t fathom that I could ever feel OK about any of it. There were suppose to be 4. I had so many reasons to want 4. On top of my own expectations, my children were begging for another little person in our family.

Time passed, and I told myself all of the stories that I needed to in order to come to terms with this whole thing. I have 3 perfectly healthy, perfectly amazing children. 3 is easier to travel. 3 is less expensive. All 3 of my children will be in school now. We don’t need a bigger car. We all sleep through the night. We all go to the bathroom by ourselves. The 4th child probably would have been a jerk. Going back to diapers? Gross.

It’s 3 years later. I’m OK. Really I am. I haven’t really wanted to talk about it because I didn’t know what I had to say. I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t want anyone else’s input on that.

The biggest thing I didn’t want? Other people’s expectations. Are they still trying? How are they doing? What’s next? Here’s the number for my infertility doctor . . .

I didn’t need cookies, I didn’t need lunch, I didn’t need flowers. I needed my baby. I needed the story I’d written for our family.

I think a lot of people feel that way. We can be quiet about the things that are that close to our heart. There are some things we don’t need to announce to the world.

These last 3 years have been filled with the things that have stung the deepest parts of my heart. One at a time we’ve gotten rid of things. The crib. The tiny toys. The baby clothes. The idea of another baby. I couldn’t do it all at once. I think I’m still doing it.

So yes, let’s talk about miscarriage more as a society. This isn’t about taboo. This is about space. If you need it, take it. You are not expected to disclose it all. If you sit quietly figuring this thing out on your own and content to keep your silence, it’s OK (and it will get better).