To what extent do we get the friendships we deserve?

When I think back, I'm amazed HSGF and I were ever so close. During our inseparable phase, we befuddled each other constantly with our mutually alien worldviews. She would say incomprehensible things to me, like, "But you must have a crush on someone," and I would say incomprehensible things to her, like, "If you want to go out with him, ask." I think I was addicted to her drama, or at least fascinated by it, and she? Well, I don't know what she saw in me. She once told me she admired my strength of character. Another time she said she was jealous of my hair.

In hindsight, that lonely day in the toilet seems predictable. It's not that she's an uncaring person - I once saw her cook a large batch of shark-cartilage-laced rumballs for a woman she knew with cancer - but she and I could never relate. In a lot of ways, I guess I got what I came for.

I emailed a friend over the weekend about UF's baby shower. Happily, I did my time as the group's Shower Gift Organiser before we started IVF, so for the time being I am officially off the hook. I thought now would be a good time to hand over some money and forget about the whole thing. "Gosh, I don't know," came the reply. "I'd have to contact T and C to discuss things and sort something out and we're all just trying to hang in there with life at the moment, it's not going to be simple..." and I found myself murmuring, "Fuck, guys, is anything ever?" and succumbing to a familiar thought: "These people are actually insane."

These are the friends who, when I let out a cry of frustration during a study session a few weeks before our final exams, fell over themselves to offer me valium and prozac, when all I really wanted was to rub my temples momentarily and get on with it. A high proportion of the group (nearly half) have taken extended (6-12 months) "stress leave" from their jobs since graduation. If I started telling you about their complicated relationships we'd be here all night, and we'd end up angry. In truth, we don't really understand each other, but they like having me around because I calm them down, and I like having them around because they wind me up. In a lot of ways, I guess I'm getting what I came for.

It comes to the crunch with this: I haven't been the one they've turned to for comfort or solace in times of need. When such-and-such happened to C, she went to M. And when that other thing happened to M, she went to N. And N has gone to T, and T, N, and K and K have done their fair share, but there have been precious few times when anyone's come to Bea, which has been ok up til now, because I've never needed to go to any of them. Anne spoke about not wanting to be a leech, and perhaps there's some of that going on, but in any case it says something about our friendship when I can't ring them and tell them they've fucked up, because I don't feel they owe me any better.

The thing is, I have other friends. Friends from whom I can demand more. So why haven't I chosen to confide in them? Well, here's where it gets tricky. The people I've confided in so far have been my friends. The people I would be (arguably) better off confiding in are our friends. And I can't say anything if Mr Bea doesn't want them to know.


Caro said...

I have the same problem with mr caro and our mutual friends. In the end I decided that I would talk if I wanted but warn those people I told not to talk about it with mr caro unless he brings up the topic.

It's not perfect but he seems to accept that I need to talk about this and if I'm not able to talk to our friends then he will bear the brunt of listening. Something he doesn't want to do.

Patience said...

That is definitely very tricky - is there someone in particular that you know would be 'discreet' if you did confide?

Bea said...

Patience - not that they wouldn't be discrete, but the group doesn't "work" like that. That sort of secret would be all complicated and uncomfortable. Mr Bea would have to know and approve.


Bea said...

Plus, you know, the principle of the thing.


Rachel Inbar said...

Tricky, then again leaving out all the details might work & still get you some of the support you need.

MLO said...

What I have run into is that my DH has people around him that know but I don't know that they know and he doesn't want me saying anything in certain situations but I never know who knows what. That is a convoluted sentence, isn't it?

The hardest part is that I have to keep it secret at work (due to American politics around women, health, pregnancy, and IVF), and this is incredibly stressful as we have ZERO privacy where I work. None, zilch, zero. So, I have to find some unoccupied corner with cellphone coverage to take my calls.

This is incredibly stressful.

It is soooo tiring trying to figure out who you can trust with the information and who you can't trust with the information. This is not an easy place to be, and when both of you aren't on the same page with it, well, it just sucks.



serenity said...

That IS tricky.

Tricky enough that I have no assvice for you, Bea. J knows I need support from our friends (even if they're mutual), and so he knows I've told friends.

Yet at the same time, any mention of IF in mixed company makes J visibly uncomfortable, so I make sure that it's not really a topic for discussion.

It's a compromise that seems to work well for us - not sure it will for you and Mr. Bea though.

The Town Criers said...

Before I get into the rest of it: "a large batch of shark-cartilage-laced rumballs for a woman she knew with cancer." I just had to note that for a moment. I just want it on record that I never want to be served anything with shark cartilage.

That is a really hard place to be. And there isn't a good answer. Mr. Bea should be able to have his limits. In an ideal world, both of your needs could exist and be fulfilled simultaneously. Any chance Mr. Bea will revisit the topic? Or no?

Carol said...

I guess this is one of the reasons why I have so few very close friends - these relationships are so complicated.

None of 'our' friends know much detail. A few know that we have 'struggled' and that we had 'help' getting pregnant. That's about it. J doesn't have any issue talking about it at that level, but getting into more detail would make him uncomfortable. And frankly I don't think we'd get the emotional support we need anyway - because I really believe that people who haven't been through this can never really understand what it feels like.

Sadly - the people I have found most supportive throughout my IF are my 'virtual' friends - the ladies I met via my IVF discussion board. I feel like some of them are some of my best friends in the world lately - and I've never even met most of them in person. But they understand what all this feels like, and none of my 'real life' friends do.

Anonymous said...

You are in a tough situation, Bea.

At least you aren't alone in this - you have all of us to talk to. I know sometimes, it is nice to have someone IRL to talk to. Maybe Mr. B will have a change of heart.

Sarah said...

does mr bea know you feel you might get more support if you could share with that group? not to imply he should change his position, just curious.

that aside, i admire your self-awareness in seeing the ways you got what you came for. i think i have some relationships to reevaluate in those terms...

Jess said...

Friends mostly suck.

I know this because, really, most people mostly suck.

If you have friends who you feel you can get real support from, try to talk to Mr. Bea and see if maybe he understands that you need something from your friends right now. Maybe he will be lenient and you won't have to even worry about the principal of the thing?

Bea said...

Jess, you crack me up. Unfortunately people do suck in many, many ways.


GLouise said...

Wow, it is very complicated.

I have to admit, I was chuckling a bit at the friends who have taken a "stress leave" from work. I have some friends like that as well!

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