Friendship through infertility.
Friendships through infertility. They can feel hard. I'm sure this is true on both ends.
There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, and I am going to try to elaborate on some of them. Let me start by saying: I am not here to lay blame at anyones feet and my hope is that this is not perceived that way.
For me, my friendships remind me of a time of naivety. I miss my ignorance, my inexperience, my unconsciousness; back when I was full of hope, and laughter, and anticipation. Before I knew we would have to fight so hard to grow our family. Now my days are filled with doctor appointments, medications and supplements and injections, therapy and acupuncture appointments, timelines and protocols. Waiting, lots of waiting; for phone calls, procedures and surgeries. My life feels full of "work," but I mostly just feel empty, swallowed up by something I can't control. I lack the want to do the things I used to enjoy; like sit around on my friends couches drinking wine, chatting and watching nonsense tv, laughing about the silly things their kids are doing and saying, or something stupid we did years ago. Though I do miss it, very much.
Before we started "trying," I had no idea of what was going on inside my body throughout my cycle. Now I know the ins and outs, the phases, the hormonal shifts, and more. I am very educated on fertility now - I know so much I feel confident I could skate through medical school and receive my OB/GYN certification with a 4.0 GPA. Exaggerating, of course, but you get the point. Infertility is consuming.
In part, my friendships remind me of that time, the time before infertility. It makes me sad to think about how much has changed. How much time has passed. How different things are. And while I am being brutally honest, I can be very negative. I am in a dark, heavy season and that can be a lot to ask others to carry or hold. I don't want to brush my unhappiness off on anyone else (any more than I already have.) Though it is within this darkness that I have found solace in allowing myself to sit in my feelings, and really feel them. Accepting them and not hurrying them away. I have learned that when I brush my feelings off they bury themselves inside me, festering and multiplying, until one day I explode. I have gathered this from experience. In the past when I have disregarded my own feelings not allowing myself to feel or cry or talk, on my hurried rush back to "happiness," down the road something minimal and insignificant happens and I am hysterical. I am the girl who couldn't cry when she found out her grandmother passed away but bawled her eyes out over a popped balloon. Learning to feel and accept, to understand that happiness isn't the only acceptable emotion, knowing that there is bravery and growth in anger, and sadness, and frustration, too. And if not for these other emotions, would there really, truly be joy? We take happiness for granted, expecting our lives to be filled with it, leaving room for nothing else. This is what society has set at our feet, expecting of us, day in and day out. (Insert: toxic positivity.) It is important to make space for and feel every one of your emotions, letting each of them move through your body at its own pace, letting each emotion stay as long as it needs to, really leaning into it. This is what I try to practice as I work through all of this. I have learned the only way out is through, or you will end up with a big, nasty knot tethered to the center of your core that can take years of conscious effort unravel and work through.
Another piece of this puzzle is that I am at that age where a lot of my friends are having babies. This is great and wonderful, it really is! I mean that very authentically. And in a normal head space, I would be elated for them - dropping off presents, baked goods, and planning a bad ass baby shower. However, (this is where the jealous, frustrated parts of me hop in) I ask you to understand that with everything going on I am having to dig deep down into my soul to find and remember the woman I used to be, who could be genuinely happy for someone who gets something you really, really want and has been gifted something I so desperately yearn for. To be clear, it is not that I am not happy for my friends; it is more that. It is just another yet reminder, of what could have been, and has me again wondering, "when will it be our turn?" More to the point, and this is a recent development, I have found it excruciating to be in a room full of mothers and women with glowing, growing bellies chatting about anticipation, milestones, baby smells and snuggles while my own uterus sits empty, despite our relentless effort and time. It is all very selfish, I know.
As our infertility journey has drug on, I have felt myself pulling away from the people I love most. Not because they have done anything wrong, not because they haven't loved and supported me endlessly. Not because they don't deserve to be happy. And certainly not because I do not love and appreciate them. But because I find it difficult to enjoy the things that used to fill me up. Because I am having a hard time sharing other peoples joy with them, because I am unable to find my own. Because I am grieving, month after month, failed cycle after failed cycle. Each cycle is a new one to mourn, to grieve the loss of what could have been. It is hard to find space for anything else. It is difficult not to lose yourself in this journey. I have truly lost sight of myself. In all of this I am also trying not to forget who I am. I am a loving, supportive friend. I need to remember that I am still whole. That infertility does not define me or have to rule my life. I can still be a good friend.
How can I expect anyone to eventually be happy for me, if I cannot find it in myself to do the same for them, despite the challenges we are facing? A friend said to me: "remember to show your friends love." A simple concept really, but it took me back. Have I really allowed myself to lose sight of such an important thing that is to show my friends love? Have I lost my ability to love my friends, despite my own broken heart? No. And I never want to be that person; the person that can not be authentically happy for someone else, the person who can't celebrate her friends happiness and successes. I do not want to be someone who is so broken that I cannot extend and show love, excitement and gratitude to people, especially the people who offer me unwavering love and support no matter my season of life. I know I am capable of being a better friend.
I am not saying this isn't hard work. There is still a long road ahead, of healing and growth.
As I sit here, I attempt to remember what it means to be a good friend.
Someone you can hope and dream with. To support, to listen to. To learn about them; their strengths, weaknesses and insecurities. To show them love, appreciation, and respect, even when, correction: especially when it isn't convenient or easy. To allow them to show up as they are, and hold space for them, too.
I will leave you with this:
"Being grateful doesn't mean you have to love every part of your life. It's okay to feel hurt when something doesn't turn out the way you thought it to be, especially things you have given so much of your heart. What gratefulness means is that no matter what happens or what you go through, you are able to appreciate the journey, the greater purpose of those struggling moments and have faith in your heart that you are already enough and what you deserve will somehow find its way." - Dhiman
I wish you healing and contentment. You are whole. You are enough. And you are so loved.
Sending you love, light and appreciation.