You've assured me my standards are fine, but I think I still have a fault and it's this: my expectations are crazy. As a consequence I'm caught in an ever-dwindling spiral. You see, I place far too much importance on my own ability to read people - I expect them to respond as I think they'll respond. I choose the one or two friends I "know" won't let me down, place all my emotional eggs in their basket, and fall to pieces when that basket goes crashing all over the floor, sending the contents flying. Then I become even more guarded and selective, and the spiral continues. Because sadly, and as many of you confirmed, it's often the people from whom we expect the most that we gain the least.

But many of you also said this: sometimes it's the people from whom we expect the least that we gain the most. And where are those people in my life? Locked out - that's where. Locked outside in Good Friend Hurt Me So I'm Certainly Not Risking It With You Land, figuring they might as well trudge slowly away. What a warm, trusting, and optimistic soul I am.

The other thing you've confirmed to me is this: Category One friends are hard to come by. But this is also true: Category Two friends are still fine. Maybe they're not gold, but you can buy a lot with silver if you get enough of it together, and whilst I agree with Karen O that you can't substitute endlessly (no amount of Category Eight friends can make up for someone special) perhaps four or six Category Two friends is enough to be getting on with for practical purposes.

Whatever way you like to think of it, the conclusion is this: instinct says withdraw, but logic says open up.

The wisdom of the internets:
Full text available in the comments. All the responses were so thoughtful and helpful, but I wanted to pick out these parts.

Baby Blues: "Opening up about infertility... puts our heart out there, vulnerable and easily hurt. And when you don't get the reaction that you're expecting, it hurts the most!"

My Reality: "I have no regrets about telling people that we are infertile. [...] I have found that most people have been great in supporting me."

Carrie: " I feel like I know what her friendship limitations are, and that's great, because I know not to rely on her too much. [...] Some people...are so afraid of saying the wrong thing that they just disappear."

Mary Ellen and Steve: "True friends are hard to find."

Karen O: "If having high standards mean fewer friends, it also means there wouldn't be a lot of drop-out friends..."

Megan: "I had a surprising experience last friday with a friend i know through my profession. [...] He said all of the right things at all of the right times. [...] Having just experienced a loss, i'm finding that i'm telling all of my friends about it. it's almost like a weeding process."

Karaoke Diva: "I have yet to find a real true friend who can handle everything I have to give."

Mel: "...a true friend [...] asks how you are even when you tell them you are sick of people asking how you are(they know you don't really mean it)."

Ultimatejourney: "I've been VERY guarded about who I share our story with. I've probably missed the opportunity to gain closeness with some people, but I've also avoided a lot of the pain."

Aurelia: "...Some of the most awful ones I later discovered were people who had their own fertility problems, which they had never resolved or dealt with emotionally."

Melissa: "I do think when people know (and they say they're our friend), they owe us to be there in bad times as well as good."

Sarah: "It's weird what i've found about my friends."

Samantha: "I forgave her, but our friendship was never the same."

Serenity: "...over the years I've found that people are mostly self-absorbed. And they rarely realize that other people's problems are bigger than themselves."

Beagle: "...when life is running along smoothly, we never find out who [true friends] are [...] It's not you. It's just one of life's harder facts that not all relationships can weather a storm."

Somewhat Ordinary: "The one friendship that I've actually dissovled is a very self-absorbed person... It is her total lack of caring to even remember what I tell her that has forced me to stop returning her calls and e-mails."

Caro: "I'm beginning to put myself out there and the friends I have told are getting better at checking on me every so often."

Vee: "I think every one is at a different stage of their life whether they are still partying, or married or have families etc. So our interest are at different levels, but in the end I think they will be friends but we will just reach that point at a different time...."

(Apparently those weren't my final thoughts after all. Lots of new thoughts being mulled over. Post/s coming. Discussion going on elsewhere in the meantime.)


Vee said...

Well I am just going to say thank you.
I have learnt a lot from all these wisdoms.

TeamWinks said...

I think infertility forces us to take a look not only at our friendships but ourselves. I can't believe how it has made me grow and how much it has changed my life.

Samantha said...

Your final sentence sums up my issue so well!

Beagle said...

Your analogy about all eggs in one basket has me thinking. Maybe if we divide our needs more evenly among people who can handle it at varying levels; then we can, in the end, get what we need from our friendships.

(That may have been the most poorly punctuated comment ever!)

Mary Ellen and Steve said...

There are so many wise women out here in blogland. Thanks for posting this.

Bea said...

Beagle - that was one of my thoughts. I guess that's where I was going with the 4-6 cat2 friends instead of looking for those golden people who are everything you need and more all the time. Thought was inspired by Karaoke Diva's comment.


ultimatejourney said...

Thanks for sharing everyone's wisdom on this topic.

serenity said...

"What a warm, trusting, and optimistic soul I am."

Be gentle with yourself, Bea. You've had a lot of shit handed to you over the years. Being hurt that much - well, it's hard to knowingly make yourself vulnerable, when so much of your emotional reserves are spent.

I like the idea that you might be able to spread the pain over a number of Category 2 friends - in fact, I think this is my current strategy. (mostly because I don't want to be "that friend" - the one who's always the downer. There's only so much understanding and empathy a friend can offer me.)

Thanks for sharing.

Nica said...

I was going to mention before, on your last post...

My husband lit a candle for you at our local Church. I'd shared with him a little of what was going on, and he, the former altar boy, was moved enough to take a knee. For you.

For you.

blondie said...

Bea, "you cannot be everything to everyone all of the time". That was something my mum always says to me when the going gets tough. I think you are right about dividing up your needs with your friends is ideal. Then everyone gets the best bits of us with only a small element of snark/tears/pain, etc

Pamela Jeanne said...

I'm only now at a point where I can begin to forgive those who haven't been there to offer the support I needed. In some cases the friendship went awry because I was unable -- until today -- to convey fully where I've been and what I've gone through. As I've grown and matured so too have those who were once incapable of helping me. Some friendships have proven worth salvaging, others have not. Thanks for raising a subject that has created so many great comments and insights.

megan said...

it's definitely not an easy topic to work through. every scenario changes my outlook a little bit. while i had a great friend moment last week, a former "category one" let me down hard this week. thanks for these posts. you've really got me thinking.

steph said...

My shower was sad to one friend hosting because there were so few people there. I explained to her that it isn't sad for me because I know I can count on each person there for damn near anything.

I am comfortable having my 3-4 really close friends, each with their own strengths. I may not tell all of them everything, but am able to know who can support me for different things.

I had a girl's weekend several years ago and decided to write each person a letter telling them why I cherished them.
Too often we wait to long to tell people how wonderful they are and the impact they have on our lives. I didn't want to let the moment pass.....

On the other side of this, I know there will not be many people at my happy hour when I leave my job later and that might be a bit sad after 7 years there. But oh well. I already have at least 3 of those friends coming and we'll proceed to get wasted with out anyone else (0:

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