Sunday, 14 December 2008

Every day struggle

7 months pregnant with her second, she leans over the pew, and retells a conversation with a mutual friend, equally pregnant. "It's not fair"the friend had commented to her "that some households have two great cooks in them and ours has none." The friend was refering to us, she said, laughing. "It's not fair" I said to my husband as she walked away "that some households have two kids, and ours has none". Bitterness and shame rise equally in the aftermath of that exchange.

And here I am, wondering again, how is friendship possible?

I have been engaged in a serious building project, the aim is to construct a significant internal fortress, that will provide the protection and support needed to be with these women - my sisters and my friends. Sometimes it works, sometimes we can all avoid the obvious. We can chat about movies and food, good wine and plans for the New Year.

But there are some things I cannot do. I don't tell these women how it is. I don't want to sit and cry in front of them. I certainly don't want to recieve a hug from them, feeling their swollen tummy press into me. They don't tell me certain things either - quite a few don't even tell me that they're pregnant. I figure it our when it is too obvious to avoid. They don't tell me anything about their pregnancy, or even their problems, because, on the whole, they don't really compare to what I am going through. In short, we have gone from being friends to being acquaintances.

I can see them hovering around sometimes, trying to find a way in, to offer support. But I don't really let them. I am closed. I change the topic. I don't want to receive. I don't believe that they have anything to offer, because they will never ever understand what I feel. Truthfully, I don't even want to see them. It gives me panic attacks thinking about it and trying to prepare myself for those occasions when I know it is unavoidable. Simultaneously, I am sure that I have nothing to offer them except my bitterness and jealousy, which makes at least one of them angry. Fair enough I guess. Afterall, why should they feel guilty just because they can have kids that live. All the same, i feel so incredibly distant. Alone.

Add to this my anger at not being understood, at people's clumsiness around me, my scorn for the inaneness of conversations I overhear or partake in. And yes, I am fully aware of the irony in this and my participation but am I interested in changing it?

What can I give? What can I receive?

I feel so broken that I cannot do either, at least not in the way I used to.

So, what is left?

What can I give and receive?

I gave and received a hug to a women - who after three years of trying has become pregnant.

I cried into the arms of an older woman simply because she was not afraid of my grief.

I put thought and care into the Christmas present I bought for one of my neices (yes, the one born before Maya died, I struggle being with the others).

That is all I can think of. Not much, in this season of giving and receiving. Drops of water in a desert.

But it is not nothing.


Niki said...

You are a strong woman, much stronger than me, to do all that you've done. I salute you for doing for others when you are in so much pain. I personally just can't do it most days. This week there's a baby shower for a good friend who's due to have her little boy around Myles's birthday and I just can't bear to go. I've been distant from her ever since I learned she was having a boy. It's too difficult to face her joy around the same time I'm remembering my little boy who should be with me.

I think we need to give a little to ourselves this year and those around us must understand and not expect to receive so much. (((HUGS))) and strength to you my friend!

MrsSpock said...

You can only give what there is to give. When your cup runneth over, then you will have something to offer again. There is no need to feel guilty. None of us are millionaires, so we don't feel guilty when we can't buy someone a house, so why do we feel guilty when we have no mental, emotional, or spiritual riches to share with others?

Save those emotional pennies, and hopefully they will add up in time to a woman who has something to give again.


luna said...

B, I think you must be my long lost sister around the world. I have those same interactions, those same feelings, that same dread, and that same wall.

I think we give what we can when we have it. and we take what we can when we are able.

sometimes I'm happy buying gifts for my nieces and nephews. still have a hard time with my friends' kids. still hate going to the store and dealing with the world there. and sometimes I allow myself to take it in, to receive, but most times I keep it closed off because I don't have the energy or willingness to open up anymore for so little in return...

just keep taking care of yourself. you know best what you're capable of, and what you need and when.

Anonymous said...

I wish I knew what to say.
I too have a friend who is expecting a baby girl on my EDD, I cant bear to think her or even hear about her, it makes me too sad.
I think for those of us who are so committed to giving to others, it is difficult to know what do when you just cant give anymore.
I agree that we should take time to give to ourselves, and those around us shouldnt expect much more from us.
You are a strong and inspirational woman, take care of yourself.

Lori said...

I certainly understand.

Another question is WHOM can you give to and receive from.

We get it. We give you. We know.

Pamela Jeanne said...

I had the tallest walls in my fortress and held angry, bitter thoughts about each and everyone who made careless, insensitive comments --even those I overhead from strangers. I wanted nothing more than for my intense hatred to envelope and poison them.

The wall has been slowly coming down. It's taken me an incredibly long time to forgive and to even consider engaging with some of them in my life again...and for those acquaintances and strangers who still make those careless comments -- my barbs are still as pointy as ever.

Michele said...

they dont talk to me, most avoid me. sometimes that hurts worse, sometimes i just dont care because i dont want to talk to them either...

mrsmuelly said...

It is not nothing. It is definitely a struggle - every single day. I find it amazing how your words explain what I have been feeling as well. There are so many well wishers, friends, family. But, they don't get it...never will...and I don't wish them to. They have nothing to offer because they will never understand. That leaves me feeling both bitter and jealous, and mad at myself for feeling that way. I'm sorry.

Lori said...

I came back to say "Happy Birthday," kindred spirit.


Polly Gamwich said...

I just wanted to send you hugs. This time of year is so rough and these kinds of questions are so painful. For me they just linger and dig deep and it's hard.

I'm sorry.

Kami said...

I was in a very similar place - still am, in fact. I don't want to participate in people's lives when it involves kids.

I wish I could help more, but my coping techniques seem to be in line with yours. I did find a wonderful therapist who I paid - sometimes weekly - to let me cry on her shoulder. We are now friends.

As far as giving . . . you have given me more than you know with the beautiful and thoughtful comments you have left me.

Me said...

I wish I had something, anything useful to say. But the grief you've experienced surpasses my own and I don't even know how to deal with my own. So basically I got Nada. Except a very sincere hug.

Emily (Apron Strings) said...

Beautiful post. Absolutely beautiful. And one that I can 100% relate to. Thanks for posting this.

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