Wednesday, August 25, 2004
They just don't get it
I've read a lot of posts by other bloggers recently about how people just don't get it and I thought myself extremely lucky. While I'm sure the people that I know don't necessarily understand exactly what I'm going through, they know that I'm in pain. One friend and I have stopped doing things together, partly because she doesn't know what to say, partly because, to borrow from Tertia, I've been in my cave. [As a side note, that is the best description of how I've been that I have ever heard] I knew she and I would likely grow apart a bit from the minute I got my first BFP. This is the same woman who only two weeks prior had taken another friend to get an abortion. She's single, she's a 30something teacher, and lives with her parents. Her money is completely disposable and she's got the designer gear to prove it (imagine--$50,000 a year that you only have to shop with...no bills...wow!). Now before I got pregnant, my husband and I were living that life. I shopped (maybe too much, but it was fun!), I did whatever I wanted, just not quite to the extreme of my friend. And I knew when I got my first positive that my life was now different. It wasn't about me anymore. I knew that she and I were in such different places in our lives that we wouldn't spend as much time together. So I'm not especially upset that she doesn't call as often as she used to.
And then I got an email from a different friend that by all rights should upset me. Because I'm terrible at the whole made-up names and initials thing, I won't attempt to hide this. My friend Jen and I met in college in 1996 when she was a freshman and I was a sophomore living down the hall. We were inseperable that year, and then she transferred. For various reasons (she started dating seriously a guy that I had well, a couple of drunken sexual encounters with one weekend [non-sex, if you use Clinton's definitions...and I totally do...in this case, because quite frankly the guy was not even worth that]) we lost touch. Until I heard she was engaged to someone else and could not let that pass without acknowledgement. And then about six months before her wedding, I got engaged. So I saw her for the first time in three years at her wedding. It was like no time had passed. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding, though I thought her husband was an ass. She flew from Chicago to New York once to visit me, and they had a horrific fight over the phone. Then I didn't hear from her for a long time. When I did, she said that she had left him, was in the process of a divorce and that it would be finalized within that month. I listened and tried to be there for her even though I have no clue what that must be like. I'm a child of divorced parents, so I know that aspect of divorce, and while there were no children involved, I know it still had to be hard. I saw my mom go through this. Do I understand? Do I fully get it? No. Because I have an incredible husband -- For God's sake, this man will go SHOE SHOPPING with me and will still, after several hours, find really cute shoes and insist that I buy them even though I have nothing to go with them and will have to build an entire outfit around them.
I told Jen about my first miscarriage. I don't remember any specific responses, but I know that she responded in as appropriate a manner as anyone could be expected to. I didn't tell anyone about my second pregnancy. I was waiting for a heartbeat to convince myself that it was really happening. When that heart didn't beat, it took me quite a while to let anyone know. A lot of people never found out. But I did email Jen. And a few weeks later she sent me this:
I'm really not ignoring you... Things here are nuts-
work has been wretched for the last few months and it keeps getting worse. I
haven't been consistantly at my desk for over a month and a half with all kinds
of running around. Anyway, since I haven't had the time to really respond, I
didn't want to give a half assed hi because you deserve a real response, but as
more time goes by, I feel worse for not saying hi... and bad that I can't sit
down and write a real response.... You know the cycle.
So, abbreviated version of me-
In a show,
auditioning for a few more next month, work sucks, Scott is great, family is
fine, Scully's adorable, looking for a new job.
I really hope that things are
getting better for you. I can't even begin to imagine what all is going on and
I'm sure it's awful. If it helps at all, think of all the stupid stuff we used
to do at TU. We were pretty big dorks... your study razor and duct tape
Anyway, I have to run. I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, though
that may be a nice vacation for awhile.
This was about three weeks after I had written to her, explaining how sad I was, how the pain got so bad one day that I thought about just walking away from my marriage so I didn't have to see the face of the man I love and couldn't give a child to every day.
Then, Monday, I got this email from her:
I promised a "real" e-mail and life has been so nutty, here
I am a month later sitting down to finally write and catch up. I hope this finds
you doing well. You certainly have been through a lot. I know what it's like to
be going through hell and feeling like no one out there understands what is
going on. Granted, mine wasn't with trying to get pregnant, mine was my
divorce... but still,the feeling of being alone wading through a lot of shit is
the same, no matter what the situation.
Holy. Shit. If this weren't still in my inbox, I would be sure that this woman who has been one of my best friends for years did not just compare the death of my two precious babies to her divorce from a man that, by her own admission, was abusive and whom she does not have any love for. Yes, it is exactly the same type of feeling alone--filing for divorce and feeling alone, as she put it in one of our many conversations then, because "I hate to admit when I fail and everyone now knows I made a huge mistake" feels exactly like the excruciating, gut-wrenching feeling of aloneness one has when their baby dies in utero.
I can honestly say that this is perhaps the stupidest thing anyone has ever said to me. I suppose we do both feel a sense of failure. But I'm going to be selfish on this one and say that my sense of failure is much greater. The failure of her marriage is something caused by the two of them. My failure was a failure of the most basic kind. My body failed me, and I, in turn, failed to protect my children from my body. Now in my head I know that I couldn't have done anything that would have changed the outcome of my pregnancies, but the heart doesn't always feel things in the way the understanding of the brain indicates it should. And so, on a regular basis, I find myself questioning, "If I can't protect them before they reach the dangers of the world, how can I do it then?"
And I wish I could be angry at Jen. But I'm not. I actually, to some extent pity her. Because she doesn't get it. The same thing that angers me in most cases, incites deep pity in me when it comes to Jen. She doesn't understand the intense love of a mother for her child, beginning well before she can hold her baby in her arms and has to be content with holding her baby in her heart. While I don't wish my particular pain on her, I do wish that she could feel this kind of love. Then, I feel certain, she would get it.
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