Today is my best friend’s birthday. She really is one of my best friends, she is godmother to my two girls, she is there for me to talk to whenever I need her to be and she is completely non-judgemental. She has no kids herself and has embraced mine as if they are her own (she would say they were hers!!). She has been there through the bad and the good, she was my bridesmaid and she also supported me through my miscarriage when she had no idea what I was going through. She was just there.
Well today is her birthday and I won’t be joining her in the pub to celebrate with the rest of her friends and family because it will be too awkward, because we have a couple of mutual friends who are now my ex-friends. Don’t worry, we celebrated her birthday together last week and I saw her this morning, and I would happily (well not happily) go out tonight but I think she would prefer it if I didn’t. Because the last time the mutual/ex-friends and I got together in a room it wasn’t exactly pretty. It was awkward, my friend felt torn and I got upset.
The split happened following the miscarriage in 2009. It hit me hard. I had been pregnant at our wedding and on our honeymoon, I was nearly at 12 weeks, I wasn’t expecting to lose the baby. And then I did. As the first of my friends to have children, they didn’t know what I was going through. One of the ex-friends came over for coffee when I was recovering. She was lovely, but I think she expected me just to get over it and move on. And yes, I did try to get over it. I didn’t want to wallow in grief, but at the same time I did need to grieve. I needed to be able to talk about it, and I needed my friends not to pretend that everything was ok.
I tried to do as much socially as I always had. I put up the decorations at Christmas, I put on a happy face. But two friends didn’t come to see me as often, they made excuses when we tried to arrange evenings out, and when I wanted a quiet night out to ‘celebrate’ our birthdays (all three in the same month) (bearing in mind that I should have been pregnant then so it wasn’t how I had imagined it) they invited other friends and family for themselves, turned it into a massive event that I just couldn’t bear to go to. You would have thought that they would understand….
Bean was turning three. I remember looking at birthday cards thinking that I should also be writing ‘from the baby in mummy’s tummy’ in her card and crying in the aisle in Tescos. But she had her birthday, we got on, we celebrated. Luckily I didn’t invite these two particular friends to her party. I didn’t because it was the first year she had school friends and there were lots of people coming. I only invited her friends, I didn’t invite mine – thats how it goes when they get older. Good job I made that decision because one of the girls was planning on showcasing her new ‘bump’ to me on that day. Of all the ways and manner’s to tell a friend who has just lost a baby that you are expecting one. My lovely friend warned me. She knew that the news would upset me and wanted me to be prepared. Not that I wouldn’t have been happy for my other friend, just that it would have been very sad for me, and much too emotional a time to tell me at my daughter’s birthday party.
It turns out the two ex-friends had been in cahoots all this time. Nursing her through her morning sickness, not wanting to go near me in case my sadness rubbed off on them. They had been upsetting me by being so distant, so cold, so absent, and it was because one of them was having a baby.
I know, you might think that they were avoiding me so as not to upset me. Really it was not for that. They didn’t understand why I was upset, they didn’t understand why it would take longer than a month to get over a miscarriage. They didn’t know that the pain lasts forever, that I would have given my life for my baby to have lived. They just cared about why I didn’t want a big party, and instead of giving me time to grieve, they cut me out. I even got a call from one saying that she was calling her new kitten Bella, the name we had chosen for a girl. Insensitive just doesn’t cut it. It still makes me feel sick to think about it.
So, I decided to call it a day. Their ‘friendship’ was upsetting me. They were upsetting me, and the miscarriage had already upset me enough. I ended it, and never looked back. I was much happier without the stress of thinking whether I was upsetting them. I could focus on myself and not worrying about whether I should show my face out. My best friend, my husband and I toasted the date our baby should have been born with a glass of wine in the garden on a balmy summer’s night and soon after that I fell pregnant with Jelly Baby. Followed several months of stress, as those of you who have miscarried will understand. Would the baby survive, could I go through it all again? It was a god-send that I didn’t have to worry about the politics of friendships which were never truly that.
Earlier this year, 3 years later, one of these ex-friends found ourselves at the same function. I dreaded going, but I went, in support of my lovely friend. The ex-friend however sat across the room, cursing me to everyone she could find and refusing to acknowledge my presence. At the end of the night my husband and I offered lifts to the club to those who were staying out – her included – but the response we had was her stomping off.
I got upset. I was a little tipsy, I never wanted to be her friend again, I just failed to understand what I had done wrong. Surely she had wronged me? Surely I should behave like that with her? A couple of days afterwards she sent me a message telling me that we should be civil to each other. Civil? I think I was more than civil, and she was now telling ME how to behave when it was her that had behaved like a child?! The kindest thing I could do, to her and to myself was to ignore the message.
So that is why I am not celebrating my friend’s birthday tonight and I am sad. I am sad for her and for me. I am sorry that I cannot overcome my problem with these ex-friends, and I am sorry that they never had it in them to be true friends to me.
What I am definitely not sorry about however is knowing which friends to stick with and which to ditch. I am definitely much happier, no one should be able to drag you down especially when you are at your most vulnerable.