My knowledge of the 12 Steps of Recovery from AA is limited, but I do know (and love) the serenity prayer and I am familiar with (probably because I’ve seen it in movies?) the idea of making amends. I always liked that idea, and thought it was important; receiving a sincere apology can go a long way for me personally.
I posted here, not long ago, a response I wrote to a friend who reached out to me with her own apology. It felt so good to read her words, and even better to respond with my own, that I decided I was going to make a list of friends with whom my relationship suffered during our struggles with infertility and loss. And then I was going to write them all, apologizing for my part in creating, or maintaing, that distance (or, in some cases, destructions).
I consider myself very, very lucky that not many of my close friends or relatives were having babies when we were trying, and failing to ourselves. I KNOW I would have handled that VERY POORLY. I know this because I did handle my relationships with the few that were having babies very poorly. I’m not proud of how I pushed people away. I understand what I did, and I don’t let myself feel too guilty about it–I consider it another shitty, but unavoidable result of a shitty, but unavoidable, time. Still, I try to learn from it, and I let myself sit with the fact that now, on the other side, I wish I had handled things differently. Again, I don’t fault myself for not being able to handle them differently at the time–I was doing what I needed to survive. I guess I just hope that if I’m in a similar situation again, I can better see past the searing pain of the present moment and consider the long term ramifications of my actions.
I lost some good friendships during our journey through loss and infertility. The strange thing is, not all those friends were even having babies at the time. Many STILL don’t have babies. It wasn’t always jealousy that drove a wedge between me and my friends; sometimes I was protecting myself not from other people’s joy, but from their inability to support me in the way that I needed. Except, as I’ve written about before, I wasn’t always sure what I needed, and I ended up holding my friends to shifting, and ultimately, impossible standards. In the months since Monito was born, I’ve witnessed my own failings as a friend, when I wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it, and I realize how unfair it was of me to judge my friends so harshly when I was going through a trauma they didn’t know how to recognize or acknowledge.
There were even friends and relatives who were having kids, but who WERE really sensitive to our struggles and sadness–and I pushed them away too. All of this was in the name of self-preservation and I admit that I just didn’t know better at the time. I guess I just hope that I can learn from this, and maybe the next time I’m in a situation that makes me feel exposed and vulnerable, I can remember that I might not know yet how to handle it with the grace that will later seem possible. Maybe I will be able to lend myself some grace, knowing that in the future, I’ll have it to spare.
As I look back on the last five years and count the fallen friendships, I want very much to make amends. I so appreciated my friend reaching out to me, unbidden, to explain where she was coming from during those hard years–and it healed something in me that I didn’t even know what still hurting. So I’m taking her lead and making amends of my own. I’ve sent out three emails so far and I’ve gotten really kind, compassionate, FORGIVING emails in return. In some cases people didn’t even realize that my struggles were what came between us–they attributed the distance to growing older and, inevitably, apart. Some knew what was going on, but weren’t sure how to make it better. In both instances, they are grateful that I reached out and want to renew what we can of our friendship.
I hope I can renew some of these friendships that I lost along the way. I’ve taken personal responsibility for my part in their demise (while recognizing that some friends played their own parts too) and I am making amends for what I did to destroy, or simply neglect, precious friendships. As a mother, I know how hard it is to meet people who mean something to you, people you want to hang out with, who bring joy to your life. Those people are too few and far between. And once you have them, it’s a tragedy to lose them.
Now, on the other side of infertility, as I try to reclaim my life, I’m ready to fight for these lost treasures. I’m sure some are damaged beyond repair, and some will never be restored to their former glory, but at this point, I’ll take whatever I can get.
Have you lost any important friendships to infertility and/or loss? Do you think you’ll try to reclaim them some day?