Friday, October 8, 2010

Telling BFB

After my ultrasound on Tuesday, I shared the news with BFB. (That's Best Friend with Baby, my sometimes very sweet, sometimes totally insensitive best friend. For a good picture of our relationship, you could read my interview with her.) E-mail might seem a little cold for a best friend, but it's a totally normal medium of communication for us. Except...after she moved to California, I requested that we not speak for a while. Every e-mail from her just reminded me of what she had that I didn't, and I thought maybe if she just left me alone, I'd actually get some benefit from her absence. She was totally cool about it. In fact, I didn't even get the impression that she particularly minded. As a result, this was the first she'd heard from me in about two months. She was very excited, and we planned to have a phone conversation last night. So we did. Most of the conversation was fine. I got to tell her about every last detail of my adventures and she was enthusiastic. But two things were not fine.

1. I still found it painful to hear about her baby's antics. Jane is seven months now, and doing all sorts of remarkable things. It still hurt my heart to hear about them. This should not have surprised me. First, although I might be looking at my golden ticket off IF island, I might not. There's a long way to go before I find out. So it's not like my journey is over. And I spent a long year being tormented by the sight of her all pregnant and then having a cooing, gurgling infant. There's no reason why the pain would evaporate without a trace. Everyone says that IF leaves scars; even if I had my baby in my arms right now, I'd still be a changed person as a result of my experience.

2. After a perfectly reasonable conversation, BFB revealed that my asking her for some space left her feeling like shit. I can totally see how this would be the case. I bet that's how I'd feel! And she's had to do a certain about of bending over backwards to accommodate my precious feelings during the past year, much of which has probably been painful for her (as bending over backwards tends to be). Still, I wish she hadn't hit me with that at the end. It blindsided me and made me feel like the whole conversation had been false. That she'd just been putting on a pretense of interest and happiness while actually seething with resentment.

I'm so tired of negotiating things in this friendship, of apologizing for not being able to put my own feelings aside, of feeling guilty for whatever dampening effect I have on her experience of motherhood, of not being a good enough friend. I found myself wondering whether a friendship that requires this much delicate handling is really worth it. The thought of just giving up on it felt wonderfully restful.

I expect that I'll cool off and feel ready to work this kink out soon enough. The anger is probably mainly a reaction to learning that I hurt someone without really knowing it. And maybe I should have renewed contact with her before telling her about this development, so that we could have had a conversation about the period of non-communication before we talked about babies. I don't know. I just feel like shit.


  1. I think these things take time. It seems nearly impossible that things will just go back to "normal" the second after you announce your pregnancy (even though I wish that was true). I hope you two can continue to keep talking and keep your communication open so that you can move past this, whatever that means.
    I have a large group of girlfriends from college (10 of us including me). One of them (not me) struggled with IF for yrs and as a consequence pulled away from the group. After the birth of her daughter she came back and it took some time to smooth out the edges left over from her absence. I would not say things are exactly the same, but she was able to preserve the friendships.
    I hope the same thing for you.

  2. I'm sorry that the conversation with BFB left you feeling crappy. I understand how you wanted the space and then wanted things to go swimmingly when you chose to re-engage, and I'm sorry that the conversation missed expectations and made you feel worse, not better. I think that it will just take some time to smooth this patch over and get back to whatever the new normal looks like, because despite the fact that I think that BFB was insensitive and that you were perfectly deserving of your space, there are 2 people in that relationship and it does take a bit of time to smooth out. But my view is to stick with it -- you two have a long and probably very positive history and you obviously both care about each other, otherwise you both wouldn't be upset, and so give it some time and open communication to let things sort out. (Note, I did this with my own BFB about 3 months ago, and while things are not exactly like they used to be, they are pretty good. Almost exactly parallel situations, actually, to include the BFB moving away....) Good luck.

  3. You shouldn't feel like shit. I consider your request perfectly reasonable, and I also think that if I were in BFB's shoes - while I might feel an eentsy-weentsy bit hurt - I would still understand it. But that may be because once you go through this, you're better equipped with that sensitivity. Someone who hasn't dealt with it...well, they see the world in a different way. That simple.

    My take? It wasn't fair for her to hit you with that at this point and during that conversation. That's the type of thing that should be discussed face to face, and ages and ages hence. I can't help but think that it's also one of those things that an evolved person is able to keep to herself. Not saying that BFB isn't evolved, just that her putting that on you may have a lot more to do with herself (and her own uncertainties) than with you.

    I don't think it's a write off of a friendship. Just a kink that will, hopefully, work its way out. But I do think your irritation is fair.

  4. Ugghh....sorry it did not go as hoped. I think there are many ways to interpert her telling you that you asking for space made her feel like poop. I wish she had waited for another time to talk about it and let you have your moment in the sun but it does suggest that she feels like your relationship is an open one where it's safe for her to be honest about her feelings. I hope this is just a kink.

  5. i don't understand how your request wasn't perfectly reasonable. again, no one gets this unless they've been through IF themselves, no matter how much they say or pretend that they *do* get it. poopoo on her for making you feel bad. in hindsite, the last B in BFB was obvious, but i thought it stood for b*tch. hahahahahahaha ... shows you how i think :o)

  6. Perhaps this will sound a bit like encouragement for just giving up on your friendship, but I promise that's not the point I'm driving...

    I have found that there indeed comes a point in a friendship where its trajectory changes, and I think it's smart to honor that. (Not that I'm super experienced in having lots of friendships--I'm more of a-few-tight-knit-friends kind of girl, one who's actually kind of exhausted by lots of know, an introvert through and through.) ANYWAY, I have found that in a few of my older/long-term friendships that they were really glued by circumstance, and when the circumstances shifted, so did the friendship. I tried to fight that by forcing more phone calls or plans, and that's where all the stress came in. When things started to feel obligatory, that's when I should have realized that it was the wrong approach. And I should have just gone with the flow, let things evolve and let things be different. It doesn't mean that the friendship is less meaningful, really...just...different. It was helpful for me to let go of the old vision of that particular friendship and just enjoy what it had become. I guess my point is to just ride this out, take your foot off the gas, and DON'T give yourself a hard time for whatever she's perceiving you've done to her. Your circumstances are changing/have changed, and your friendship will as well.

    Creating a little distance with BFB was you taking care of yourself, managing your own stressors effectively. Yeah, maybe it hurt her feelings--but it wasn't something you did maliciously. A good friend with some perspective (which is where she is lacking--not in the "good" part, but in the "perspective" part) will understand and support your efforts to take care of yourself. I say it's her burden to get past this, not your burden to re-fluff her self-esteem.

    Bunny, this is your long-awaited pregnancy--it's thrilling, monumental, and fucking awesome. You deserve to revel in this, girl, without it being colored by someone else's shitty baggage. Don't give her power in how you enjoy this time.

  7. I hadn't read the interview, so I read your post and then read the interview, and then read your post again. My feelings about this post changed from reading the interview. I could see in the transcript the level of closeness between the two of you, which was really neat. You talk in similar ways, something that happens in close friendships.

    But of course, I'm on Bunny's side of things, not that this is a snowball fight and I have to pick my team. I just know you and care about you, but not her. I'm sorry that you feel hurt and feel like shit about the phone convo. And I suspect that won't last forever.

    I find that with 2 of my good friends, it was worth it to work things out. There was one in particular where I thought the friendship wouldn't survive at all, but it did. I wrote her a letter; she wrote one back. We awkwardly found our way back to our friendship, both grateful that this thing (IF-based) hadn't crushed it. I was mad and hurt and all of that. In the end thought, it was worth the effort to work things out. Maybe it will be like that with BFB or maybe it won't. You'll only know with time, I guess.

    Have a good weekend, Bunny.

  8. I think Trinity's comment hits the nail on the head (at least from my experience with my friends). Friendships are formed based on certain circumstances, and while most can make it through lifes changes (normal ones - marriage, etc), some just can't handle IF. Mine couldn't. I mean, we still communicate, but I don't see either of my girlfriends as someone I can call and cry to anymore or lean on when family stuff stresses me out. So those friendships have moved on to just regular updates about life in general. Nothing too deep. And maybe that's inevitable for you and your BFB. Or maybe not. Give it a few days and you might feel completely different.
    Either way, friends with babies + our IF baggage = difficult relationship

  9. Oh Bunny, in regards to point #1 I don't know if you've read this post by AMB before but I feel like she hit the nail on the head. Basically, just because you are pregnant now doesn't erase all the pain and feelings you had before hand. See her post below for her eloqently worded post to her friends/family.

    As for Point #2 well I think you asking for space was the extremely mature and grown up thing to do. Hell, it must have take SO MUCH guts to have that particular conversation with her. It tells me that you value her friendship and didnt want to destroy it. Instead you requested space so you could stay mentally healthy whilst also not ruining your friendship. It's hard because of course I'm sure I would be a little bit offended too if one of my friends told me to back off. But Bunny, I'm on your side here. BFB needs to understand that you asking for space was not about her personally. It was about you and your needs and your pain. It wasn't because she was a bad friend or because you didnt like her or value her friendship. It may take her some time to see that but I don't think you should write this friendship off just yet. If you walk away now you will hold resentment towards her forever. You don't deserve to carry that bagage around with you, you've done nothing wrong.
    And there is always the theory that friendships change over time. You may not ever have the same friendship you used to have with BFB but you'll find a way that works for you both i'm sure.
    I'm sorry your happy announcement was bittered by her offloading her pain on you. It doesn't seem fair that she did that.

  10. I don't think I can really add anything to what everyone else has already said. I agree with Adele and Trinity. I am sorry you feel like you unkowingly hurt BFB - but at the time you needed to protect yourself. She could have discussed it with you then. However I think BFB has shown that she doesn't really understand what you have been going through. It seems to me that she wanted to hurt you in return by not keeping her feelings about the space issue until another conversation. This conversation should have been about sharing your excitement at having made it to the other side. I'm thinking of you - sending a hug.

  11. I totally agree with Trinity's comment. A better friend would have the perspective to realize that you taking space from her was to protect yourself and should have respected you, not taken it as she did and then unloading it on you.

    None of us are perfect friends. Don't be so hard on yourself. You did the right thing for you and that's what you needed to do at the time.

    I know you and BFB have been through a lot together and this isn't a friendship that either of you take lightly. Things will sort themselves out somehow - but please don't feel bad about asking for some space for a while.


  12. Oh dear, sweet Bunny. As I read the interview, I was impressed at how very self-aware and honest you and BFB were with each other. Like, mature and shit.

    Perhaps the timing wasn't good, but if this was your first contact in months, it stands to reason that the natural rhythm of your friend has been disrupted and the first few conversations would be a little, well, off. Coupled with the fact that you both apparently had Real Big Shit to say to each other, I think it's only natural that some part of it was awkward. Don't get me wrong, it sucks hardcore that it ended that way.

    In short, it sounds like she respected your wishes for space but now that you're coming back around, she wants to continue in the same uber-honest way (if your interview is anything like IRL conversations, at least).

    The thing is, there's a time and a place for the tough conversations, and this time, you needed this particular conversation to be about Happy Things Happen To Bunny and nothing else. It was supposed to be a celebration with someone who understands more than the average bear what you've been through. And you were kinda-really stripped of that. Which is unfortunate.

  13. I think I'd like to listen to Trinity's radio show, when she gets one. Because, that's some good insight.

    First, I may be way off base here and you can smack me later if I am. But, hear me out. Relationships are a lot about the give and get. Back when you both had equal grounds, you really understood each other and what it meant to be good friends to each other. These relationships ebb and flow between being selfish and needy to being selfless and giving. Sometimes you get stuck on the low end of the see-saw for too long, but usually you come back to the middle. You are there for her when she needs you, and vice versa.

    You were wise to step away from the playground for some time. The magnitude of lows and highs between you two were out of balance and IF installed a hinge at the mid-point. While she doesn't see your experience as trivial by any means, I can imagine that without experiencing this, she can't understand it. She's hurt because she wants all kinds of support to nurture her new self as a mother, which is the very thing you can't do without destroying your friendship.

    Her being hurt by being told she's hurting you by being close is expected and her problem. Just like you deal with the pain of hearing about her darling daughter, she can suck it up that infertility has you waking up thinking that you live on Elm Street. It's the broken see-saw, you both need each other right now. But, good friendships are one where you can recognize that despite what's in your head and the attention you need, someone needs you more.

    That conversation should have been all about you. All about your hopes and fears. About your expanding waistline, problems with your work, the horrible goth (I vote Draven!) names that you can threaten your family with, and maybe a bit on you BFB. She ought to have been happy you are back and ready to move slowly towards equilibrium. Instead, she hits you with the sucker punch. It's no wonder you feel deflated. Somehow, she made this time off all about her, and that's even more unfair.

    You really are a good enough friend, Bunny. Unless you are wildly different in real life, I've seen you be cheerful, funny, and incredibly supportive both to me and to everyone you've graced with delightful comments. I'd give an arm to have such good friends in my immediate arsenal, and if she can't see this wonderful person (or you aren't this person for her for other reasons) then it is truly her loss. I think you are worth it and absolutely deserve the kind of friendship you are asking for in return.

  14. Like others, I can see where BFB is coming from. But also like others, I wish she was with-it enough to say she missed you, she's happy to hear your voice, and she's utterly thrilled with your good news, and then left it at that. So, yeah, your IF ended up having a cost to her as well. Big whoop. That's no reason for you to feel bad. I hope you can get back to celebrating forthwith!

  15. I always seem to get here after the wiser and more eloquent people have already said their piece...

    Friendships are so difficult to navigate. It must have been tough for you to take that step and open back up to her--adding vulnerability to vulnerability. She will never really understand, not having been through it, and I admire you for sticking by her through the past months and years while she was pregnant and then a mother. It's so easy to just withdraw instead, and that's what you suggest at the end of your post when you talked about the idea of giving up feeling restful.

    I guess in the end, yes, BFB has been "bending over backwards" to accommodate your feelings, but SO HAVE YOU. Both of you have found it within you to continue supporting each other to the best of your abilities. That sounds like a wonderful friendship to me, and I'm so sorry to hear about how the conversation went. It absolutely should have been all about you and your Big! News!, with the other stuff coming out later, if at all.

  16. I'm sorry, Bunny. That wasn't nice. You might be right on that it would have been easier to have a conversation before all the happy news, but still, she should be happy for you now and not complain about how hard it was for her. I hope with time you'll get back on the same page.

  17. This is tough, I have been through this as well. I think she didn't handle this the best, but I hope things over time sort out as they should. Sometimes, taking a step away from someone who treated me in a similar way helped a lot. Just because you are pregnant doesn't mean that all of this goes away either.

    Thanks for your post on my blog, yours gets the cake as the best reply. It's been a secret joke of my husband and I to whisper "STab stab stab" whenever anything about pregnancy comes up around us. Only an infertile would laugh at it! :)

  18. Man. There's just no easy way around these things. And there never seems to be one correct solution or formula for behavior so that everyone knows what is expected.

    I can see both perspectives. I think it was entirely reasonable for you to request no contact for a while, and I think it was natural for her to be hurt. And it was probably better for the relationship that she kept her hurt to herself so that you wouldn't have the guilt on top of all of your pain.

    You have both worked so hard on keeping lines of communication open, even when you were open about limiting communication. From my perspective, it seems like a pretty special friendship - particularly for having made it this far.

    But I TOTALLY get what you are saying about it requiring too much work. I've definitely let go of friendships that I decided just weren't worth the trouble. My sense is, though, that mom/IF friendships that have to go through the strain of IF will ALL suffer in one way or another.

    She could have waited just a mili-second longer to kill the joy.

  19. Good lord are we lucky to have sweet, brilliant, empathetic, totally tuned in Trinity commenting on our posts in blog-land or what? I honestly learned a lot from reading her and others comments.

    I don't have a BFB in my life, but I have a lot of friendships that have fizzled or changed over the years....and certainly IF has accelerated that process in a few instances. It's stormy waters we navigate as IFers, and many of our friends don't understand how frantically we are hanging on for dear life to our little life-preservers. Your sanity-saving life preserver was putting some distance between you and BFB and she didn't "get it." And that's one thing, but it's quite another to critique you with that reality on the heels of a convo that--for once--was celebrating you and YOUR body and YOUR beautiful miracle.

    I know the friendship means a lot to you, and I believe it's worthy and wonderful. But it is in a tough place right now....and that is NOT your fault.


  20. I am afraid I will say things that are not particularly kind about BFB. It might feel good to read them. You may have healed already and mended the relationship as I am so dreadfully behind your updates. You may still be chewing on it and only later will these words sting a little. I am sure you know we all give our 2 cents with love.


    BFB managed to turn one of the greatest conversations on the planet into a conversation about her.

    Imagine that.

    I am not the least bit surprised. She has a hard time focusing on anything that isnt about her. I am not surprised, but I am angry. I wont go on about how fucking wrong she is as it is already crystal clear.

    I would propose that you relieve yourself of the burden of "making a decision" how to proceed with this relationship. Dont see it as giving up on it, but perhaps consider not making a herculean effort to maintain it the way you have in the past.

    Things may fade naturally. True and deep friendships can survive the ebb and flow of life. Just because this relationship slips into the background doesnt mean it is gone forever.

    ps - she is a fuckerface.