Losing friendships to motherhood – why I’m sorry not sorry.
Has being a mum ever lost you a friendship? I lost a friendship that was over 10 years old to the many politics and tensions of pregnancy and motherhood. I’ve come to realise though that a friendship is like any relationship. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out and becomes bad for your heart and your head, and you need to walk away.
Like many of my friends, this person was there for me when we were going through the pregnancy, the loss, and the NICU days with Eva. Amazing, heartfelt support that she’d always shown me in the many years we’ve been friends. When she turned pregnant, I tried my best to be able to be there in return, but there were some things I just couldn’t see or hear yet. Being sent pictures of scans, hearing about ante natal classes, pram shopping, browsing for maternity wear, planning when to start maternity leave. For her, these were matter-of-fact updates. For me, scans translated to trauma and loss, antenatal classes reminded painfully of the time me and Adam went to one especially for twins, full of hope. Shopping and preparing in any way again reminded me of either things I was too deep in despair and worry to think about, or had started doing only to have the rug pulled from under me whenever we got bad news.
I couldn’t keep being polite and brave, it was hurting too much. I sent (true to form) an overly long, overly emotional message explaining that whilst I knew the world and her pregnancy did not revolve around my feelings, that I just couldn’t be there for her in the way she had been for me. I wasn’t accusing her of hurting me deliberately, but not enough time had passed for me to process other people’s pregnancies in a rational way. For me, they were contaminated with pain, grief and trauma (and a tad of jealousy if I’m being honest). But whilst she took this personally, it wasn’t the good bits of her pregnancy I couldn’t hear about, it was anyone’s.
I tried to rectify things, riddled with guilt and self-loathing that I had ruined things. After a week of her radio silence, we were back on relatively ok speaking terms, but it was tense, and awkward, and she clearly hated me. I sent a ‘mum-to-be’ gift box to try and reassure her that I did care a lot about her and the baby despite what had been said. I told here that I was always thinking about her and baby, that I hoped things were ok, and that I hoped she knew that. The response? ‘Thank you.’ Ouch.
I arranged for us to meet before the baby arrived to try and save the friendship one last time. She said things like ‘you can’t take it back, its been said now’ and ‘I wish you no ill’ – statements of finality if ever I heard them. No emotion, no sadness that the friendship was on its arse. It was my fault, I had done this to us. I later saw that she had been thrown a surprise baby shower on Instagram. I cried that night, with thoughts of ‘it should be me arranging this’, even though I wouldn’t be strong enough to have hosted one yet. Was it really a surprise, or had I just not been invited? Was she even sad about it like I was? It didn’t seem so.
There was one occasion after meeting where she complimented an Instagram post saying I was ‘cute’ and ‘adorable’….I quickly messaged another friend to say how surprised I was that she was being nice to me and it felt like we were back in the past! Except I did the classic Mean Girls fail and sent it to her by accident. I explained to her that in a way I was glad this had happened, because for so long, I had felt that she didn’t even like me that much anymore. I’d cried over it worrying and agonizing over how to get her friendship back. Her response? Nothing. She didn’t reply to an old friend asking if she still loved her and wanted her friendship. Her silence was deafening.
After the birth (which I found out about through one of her relative’s Instagram posts – nice), I sent a message and a card of congratulations, and we’ve not spoken since. In the beginning, I was so obsessed with fixing it, groveling for forgiveness, beating myself up for not just hiding my own pain and being there for her. Then I had a lightbulb moment and I stopped groveling and I stopped crying. I was still healing. I was still grieving. I had my limitations and vulnerabilities, and I had been honest about them, and tried to reassure her that it was not personal by sending gifts, arranging to meet her, and being nice in messages. The response was a brick wall. It was clear she just couldn’t see the place I was in at the time, or had tried to understand why I had said it. It was also clear that she could not forgive me for what I said. But here’s a turn up for the books : I can’t forgive her. I can’t forgive that she made me feel so shitty for the one slip up I have made in over 10 years, whilst in the darkest time in my life. I deserve more than that. So I would like to thank this person, for reminding me that I will not change for anyone, or question whether I am worthy of people’s love and understanding. Thank you for reminding me that I do not need to apologise for my grief. Thank you, and goodbye.