The Pregnancy Break-Up
I’ve debated writing this question to you, because I don’t even know if its worth it. I mean, I think it is? I don’t know.
My college roommate and I had a big falling out – that we never speak about. I was her maid of honor, yet I did not have her in my wedding. I’m sure a lot of this unspoken tension could have been solved by better handling on my part to let her know that I wasn’t going to ask her to be in my wedding, but what’s done is done and the reasoning I gave her was the truth and I moved on.
But she never has.
My husband and I moved to a different state and not long after, she also moved to the same state, about 90 minutes away. We would occasionally get together and semi-frequently chat on the phone. But during one of our visits to see her and her husband, I overheard her telling one of the other guests who I was, in relation to who was in whose wedding (as in “Yea, that’s the one whose wedding I wasn’t in.”) It definitely hurt my feelings that she was still bothered by it, but seeing as we were about to have a fun weekend, I didn’t bring it up to her.
Fast forward a few years and I got pregnant with my first child, who is now about 15 months old. My husband and I waited to tell all of our friends and family and I was so exited to call my friend and tell her. She didn’t seem genuinely excited for us when I told her the news – I could definitely tell she was faking it.
At this point, our friendship quickly turned for the worse. I stopped hearing from her, she would cancel plans to meet up, she refused to RSVP to any of the showers (and even outright ignoring my straight up questions to ask if she was coming). I made it clear to her that I just wanted to see her. I didn’t want a gift, I just wanted to get together. She used a couple of excuses and I was too busy about ready to have a baby to try and sit and figure this out with her. I figured I could drive up with the baby and see her.
As soon as I had the baby, all communication stopped. I never heard from her. She never congratulated us on our new son, never a quick note, email, text or phone call to see how anybody was doing – NOTHING! I was so hurt!
Now, my friend as always been…a little…vain? She always wants to appear a different way than she is. I must admit, most of my family and friends (and maybe even including my husband), aren’t that big fans of her, but she’s my college roommate, we had so much fun together and I do love her dearly. She tends to get jealous (as girls can), when somebody has something that she wants. And in this case, without trying to sound vain myself, I was able to accomplish a few life goals, ahead of when she did – whether or not she was trying to attain them at the same time. She was still in school, while I had a job, my husband and I got a house before she did, we had a baby first, etc.
I finally gave up and decided that I should cut ties with her. I mean, I was practically stalking her on Facebook to see what she was up to, because I never heard from her, but was too hurt to try to contact her. I figured I was dwelling on this and that the only way to get over being hurt, was to just kind of…forget about our former friendship. That clearly didn’t work.
I found out a few months ago that she is pregnant – and I’m truly excited for her. But, given our history, I didn’t plan on doing anything for her (after all, she’s still harboring some pretty high resentment towards me).
And I wish this is where it ended, but its not…because my husband has changed jobs and now we are moving to the same town.
What the heck do I do? Do I try to reach out to her? Do I just let the friendship be gone? I care about her, I really do, but I’m SO hurt that she’s just become this person – that she refuses to acknowledge my growing family and that she’s still so upset about all of this.
Well, the very first thought that jumped into my head while reading about her going completely AWOL during and after your pregnancy was: Infertility. And/or pregnancy loss.
I really, really wonder if your pregnancy news hit her at one of those bad, vulnerable times when she just couldn’t, you know? Couldn’t feel happy for anyone — even close friends — and couldn’t deal with faking it through (multiple!!) baby showers and getting together while you sipped water and rubbed a growing belly and talked about nursery plans. And for some reason, also couldn’t confide in you that she was trying and failing at conceiving and/or making it out of the first trimester. I really wonder this because…well, unfortunately, her reaction sounds kind of personally familiar.
I don’t think I ever took it to such a Friendship Killing level, but I did absolutely withdraw from my pregnant friends, or faked a smile only to run back to my office to cry, or gave lame excuses about baby showers. And since (at the time) I was in contact with a lot of other fellow infertiles on the Internet, I know I’m not the only one who felt completely blindsided by the news of a friend’s pregnancy and left unable to process the terrible, seething jealousy. Here I am now, with a happy, full family — including one baby conceived completely effortlessly! — and have officially No Business speaking for the infertile…but oh, I still remember those frustrating days of “why her, and why not me?”
Obviously, I could be projecting a completely fictional backstory on your friend here. She clearly likes to carry a grudge and nurse petty slights for an extended time. But I just can’t shake the feeling that the fact your friendship went completely off the rails a second time during your pregnancy is because there was something else going on, beyond the bridesmaid thing. (Which: EYEROLL.) The fact that she’s pregnant now, just over a year later, suggests it wasn’t just a “different life stages” reaction from someone who wasn’t interested in having Friends With Kids yet, but maybe it was. Maybe she just preemptively disengaged before you no longer had time for her. YOU’D HAVE TO ASK HER.
As I re-read your letter, your friendship with this woman sounds less like a dear, loving, supportive friendship and more like a competition. Who got married first, who bought a house first, jobs, babies, etc. Maybe she’s massively insecure; maybe she’s just tired of hearing about how awesome your life is. Maybe she’s too proud to confide in you when her life isn’t cruising along in perfect life-goal-accomplishing pace, or just doesn’t view you as “that” kind of friend. Whatever the reason, she wasn’t invested in your friendship enough, and very clearly dumped you.
You have every right to be hurt, by the way. Or angry, or at least STUPENDOUSLY annoyed. Even if my suspicions are correct and she was struggling with infertility, that’s not an excuse to treat your close friends like crap and go MIA on them while they beg for contact and are left wondering what they did wrong. Sack up and be straight with them and explain why baby showers are something akin to torture for you right now. Beg for space and understanding. And then come to grips on your own with the fact that you live in a world where other people are going to have babies and you need to not take your own pain out on them. It’s not their fault. Not even the Smug Pregnants (from Isabel: sorry, i had to link to this video– i couldn’t resist the opportunity).
So what now? She’s pregnant; you’re moving to the same town. Decide what you want: Do you want to give this woman another chance? Do you just want an answer from her about WHY? An apology? An excuse? A confrontation? You guys have now had two pretty major falling outs. You don’t “talk” about the first one, and the second one also featured some pretty major Silent Treatment. This is not a friendship built on healthy communication, methinks, so I wonder if any reconciliation would be anything but superficial. “Oh HEEEEY!! It’s been AGES! Yeah, life’s been crazy, no? You got your hair cut!”
But I know what it’s like to have a damaged friendship just hanging “out there,” wondering if you should make the first move, wondering if the other person forgives you or if you forgive them, etc. So it might not hurt at all to send her One Last Message informing her of your move to her area — maybe with a vague mention that you still think of her often and wish things hadn’t gotten so weird — and then LEAVE THE BALL ENTIRELY IN HER COURT.
Maybe she’s appalled at her own behavior and will leap at the chance to arrange a get-together. If that happens, by all means meet her for coffee or whatever and see if you guys still have stuff in common and/or are grown-up enough to Talk About Your Feelings And The Unpleasant Unpleasantness With Each Other. Maybe she’s still just a ball of jealous bitterness over real or imaginary slights and never write. If that happens, you’ve got your answer, and it’s officially time to Move The Heck On.
Photo source: iStockphoto/ ThinkstockPublished April 13, 2012. Last updated April 13, 2012.