Author's Note: Alison wrote about the "Friend that Got Away." This is kind of different, in that this is a friend that I let go. Or at least tried to. She keeps coming back. This is my attempt to truly let go. It's a long one.
Whenever I meet a person who has struggled with infertility in real life, when I read blogs, or when I look at e-mails from my on-line pregnancy loss support group, I find a common theme. There is usually one person or event that stands out among the rest. What I mean by that, is there is the coworker, sister-in-law, or friend that has been the least understanding, the most irritating, and generally the bane of our infertile existance. Perhaps it's not a person, but an event, like a baby shower, wedding, or family reunion. Either way, we all have our Waterloo.
For me, I have one such person in my life. I'll call her A. She was a coworker and someone that I would have called a "friend" at one point, actually even a close friend.
To be fair, she suffered more than her fair share at the hands of the infertility gods. When I miscarried the first time, she was going through her first (failed) IVF cycle. This was kind of bonding in a way, because we now had both experienced loss. Whereas I had no known reasons for my struggles with recurrent miscarriage, A and her husband were dealt the double blow of significant male and female factor infertility. In many ways, we got along well. We talked multiple times on the phone each day, with only parts of our conversation being about work. We talked about a lot of personal things and encouraged each other through our different ups and downs with fertility.
But as coworkers, we worked in an extremely competitive environment. Promotions are handed out rarely in our area, so getting one is like winning the lottery, even if you are good at your job. Both A and I are competitive and were interesting in being promoted, so it added a sort of underlying tension to our relationship.
In late 2005, while working a conference together, A overheard me talking to another coworker and thought that we were talking about her. We honestly were not. Rather than talk to me about it, she stopped talking to me and gave me the silent treatment. When I tried to get her to tell me what was wrong, she shut me down and told me that if I didn't know what was wrong, then she wasn't going to tell me. A then proceeded to bring up things that I had done over the past two years that showed that I wasn't a good friend, some of which hadn't even been me. Then she walked away. I was in tears and felt awful about the confrontation. At my heart of heart, I am a people pleaser, and it devastated me to no end that I had obviously hurt her, but I honestly had no idea what I had done to set her off (and in truth, I hadn't done anything, it was a misunderstanding). We didn't speak for days after that.
A few weeks later, she dropped a Christmas gift by my house. It was unexpected and I think her way of making peace. I didn't want to keep fighting and we were coworkers, so I let it go and we started to tentatively be "friends" again. But it was really never the same, especially after she finally admitted to me why she had been mad in the first place. I explained who and what we had been talking about and she laughed, but it was harder for me to shrug off all of the other things she had said during the confrontation - horrible, mean, cut-to-the-bone things.
In 2006, she ended up trying two more IVF cycles and taking a significant amount of time off of work (about six months total). I was responsible for covering our sales territory by myself. During this time, our manager quit, as did several teammates, further increasing my workload and stress level. I was incredibly supportive of A's need to take time off. I never once discouraged her, despite the extra work that it put on my plate and the fact that I was going through my own infertility struggles. I wanted to her to get pregnant, prayed for it every day.
When she came back after a three month hiatus, it was just in time for a regional sales meeting, where I got accolades for our territory's performance. Her name was listed right next to mine, but it was me that got the majority of the recognition. To be completely honest, I know that I would have been irritated if the tables had been turned. I tried to talk up her contributions, both in front of our manager and other coworkers, but it wasn't enough. I could see her looking at me during that meeting with resentment. I think it was this meeting that was the beginning of the end of our already tenuous friendship.
We continued to work together after that and have what I thought were deep, meaningful conversations. We went to a mutual friend and coworker's baby shower, which was three hours one way, so we had plenty of time to talk. During that time, I felt as if we really opened up to each other. Our friendship almost felt as it hadn't for a long time - genuine. One day, about two weeks later, she called me crying, telling me how frustrated she was about having to work so hard and try to have a baby at the same time. I encouraged her to take it easy and told her that we could work it out. Our job is a sales job and although it is demanding, it also has a certain flexibility to it. I told her that she could do what she needed to do to alleviate the stress. We talked for two hours about how we needed to support each other through our attempts at pregnancy. She thanked me for my support and I felt better for the first time in months about the state of our friendship.
The very next morning, we had a meeting with our manager, where A proceeded to announce that she had just taken another job offer and was giving her two weeks notice. She never gave me any heads up and told me in front of our manager. I was shocked and felt betrayed, especially after our conversation only the day before. If I had ever thought that she was my "friend," it was made crystal clear to me in that moment that she was not. A had known for weeks that she was leaving the company (she had gotten the offer the day before we went on our six hour car trip together). Yet, she gave me no warning. My manager was shocked by the way that A handled it, saying that in all of her time, she had never heard of a workmate leaving and not giving the coworker(s) a heads up. My boss felt awful for the way that things worked out, but she had been taken by surprise as well.
After A's notice was up, I decided that there was no reason for us to keep in contact. I was deeply wounded and felt "used," for all of the times I had covered for her and had been willing to do it still. She called me a couple of times after that, but I let it go to voicemail. I realized that our so-called friendship was irretrievably broken. While I might not have been blameless in this scenario, I at least feel that I approached the relationship honestly. I did not hide things from her and tried to accommodate her needs while she was trying to have a baby. She did not return to the favor.
This was about the time that I found out that I was pregnant with Gummy Bear. Between work and my pregnancy, I didn't have time to really worry too much about her. About a week after I lost the baby, she called me from her new cell number. Not knowing that it was her, I answered and we ended up talking. Again, we had a long "heart to heart," with me telling her about my miscarriage. She told me that she and her husband had "given up" having biological children and were going to adopt and had started the process. I still wasn't interested in being a close friend with her, I had been burned too many times, but I was genuinely pleased that they were moving forward with adoption (previously, her husband had not been open to the idea).
Two weeks later, a close friend of mine called. She also worked for our company and knew both of us, although she and I were much closer. She said that something was weighing on her mind and that she had to tell me. Turns out that A was pregnant - ten weeks - and had been pregnant when we had our last "heart to heart." Once again, I felt betrayed. She had once again lied to me about her situation and then went out of her way to tell one of my friends about it. A then asked my friend not to tell me about it, even though she knew how close we were. My friend told her that she had a limited amount of time to tell me or she would do it, as she didn't want to keep a secret from me. To make matters even worse, she had also told many customers in our old territory, so it seemed as if everyone had known but me. Everywhere I went, people were saying how great it was about A's pregnancy, and the hurt continued.
I'm sure that it didn't help that I was still deeply grieving for Gummy Bear at the time. It was extra salt in my wounds. I was happy for A, but so sad for me, and of course, I wondered why my baby had died and hers didn't. Not that I wanted her baby to die, of course, but then again. . . just a few months before that, she had said that she would be okay with a miscarriage, just to know that her body could get pregnant. I was pretty irritated when she said it. So what if you can get pregnant, if all of your babies die!?! Despite my grief, I decided to send her a congratulations card and then be done with it. She responded to my card with an e-mail, expressing surprise that I knew about the pregnancy, then saying that she was praying for me every day and wanted to get together if I ever needed to talk. I deleted the e-mail and never responded.
We have a number of mutual friends and I kind of became "the bad guy" in the equation. See, when we were working together, I was loyal. I kept quiet about some of the things that happened between us because I wanted to preserve our friendship and working relationship. When she left the company, I didn't see the need to make a big deal about my reasons for not wanting to be friends. Now that A was pregnant, people thought that was why I wouldn't be her friend and they thought that was selfish, especially considering all that she had been through to get pregnant. I didn't want to rehash old history, but it was really irritating that people took her side.
To be clear, she never called me to tell me about her pregnancy herself. She never called me again. This summer, she sent me a random, out of the blue e-mail, which I responded to. We ended up e-mailing back and forth several times, and I was the last to write, but then I think her life got busy with the birth of her son.
She sent out birth announcements about a month after he was born. I know this, because I was at a mutual friend's house and it was on the refridgerator. I got it that she didn't sent one to me, in fact was kind of glad. It meant that we were both moving on.
Until a few weeks ago.
Eight months later, A sends me a birth announcement. It is the same exact announcement that was on my friend's refridgerator. On the outside envelope, it said, "Sorry it's a bit late."
For some reason, it hurt me all over again.
I just want to let this - her - go. I wish that I could, but just when I think I have, there she is again. Mutual friends say that she still asks about me (and I don't bring it up) tell me that she is praying for me and wishes that I would call. I have no desire to talk to her. As far as I am concerned, I am happy for her and her husband. I know that they wanted to be parents very badly and they have a lot to offer a baby. Jealous? Yes, but I would never wish ill on her or her family.
So, I am trying to let go here, in this post. Let go and move on. It's time.