May 10th, 2012
Before you think, wow, this is going to be filled with all kinds of Sturm und Drang about my life, fear ye not.
My life is actually pretty damn good.
It’s OTHER people that I’m worried about. And me worrying about them is getting to…well, to me.
I don’t know if it’s me, or it’s just freaky timing, or the Mayan calendar with the world ending in December or what, but so many people I know are just so terribly unhappy. And it’s bringing me down. Not in a “gee-this-is-bringing-me-down-and-i’m-pissed-because-it’s-all-about-me” kind of way, but in an “all-these-people-are-so-unhappy-and-I-wish-there-was-something-I-could-do-about-it” kind of way.
One person, my dearest sister/friend (although I have to tell you I normally HATE that term because most Black people say it with that kind of ethnic sass that I just can’t fucking stomach when it comes to being friends with people – I mean, attitude when you’re about to beat someone’s ass I can get, but the sass of the GIRLFREN routine is just so not me)…jeez, as usual, where the fuck was I? Ok. Seriously.
One of my dearest friends who is like a SISTER to me, if that makes it any clearer, has just discovered that she is pretty much…infertile. She is not married. She is not in a relationship. She has been trying for a while to make something happen via friends who wouldn’t mind being daddy donors, but nothing has come out of it. Finally, after discussing this with a fertility doctor and getting some tests done, she was told that…there are no eggs…or whatever eggs there are are too old to be viable, hence…the no pregnancies, weird hot flashes, and other shit she’s been going through.
This has rocked her world. She REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to be a mom. REALLY. So much so that when she found out, the first thing she said to me was “I don’t know what to do with my life.” Mind you, this was via text – she had just gotten off with the doctor and was literally unable to speak, she was so upset, but I could practically hear the pain in her voice.
Chalk it up to my (hopefully growing) maturity that rather than being thoroughly disgusted with her saying that – I mean, it’s not like life is OVER – I felt compassion for her. In my old days, I would have been annoyed that she was taking such a world-ending view over something that is not actually life-ending. It’s not cancer, right?
That would have been me.
But now…I understand.
Of course, I have children. And the irony of it is that as much as I love my children to FUCKING DEATH AND BEYOND, I think…I think…I would have been okay not having children.
I don’t know. There was a point very early in my adulthood where I wanted to have them. Then there were some points in adulthood, where I didn’t want to, primarily because I was afraid and didn’t want to bring any more life into this miserable world. Then I sort of made peace with whatever would come to be. And then, when I got married and we discussed having children, I got preggers on the first try. So…I’ve never HAD the experience of trying desperately to have children and finding it out of my reach. Perhaps if I had tried and NOT had it happen so quickly, I would have found the goal that much more life-consuming. That certainly sounds like me, because I hate being told I CAN’T do something. Not wanting to have kids is not the same as being told you CAN’T. There’s no choice there, and I hate being deprived of choice.
But also, I realized that since this had been such a front-of-mind goal for her over the past year – one on which she’d spent money, time and heartfelt emotion – having this dream wrenched away from her must be awful. Life may not be over, but the life SHE wanted for herself is not going to happen. Of course, being a mother is not a complete impossibility. There are donor eggs, there’s adoption…but right now, in the throes of dealing with her body’s inability to provide her with a biological child of her own, she’s not ready to hear that. And for some people, that’s…just not what they want. So I don’t know if it will EVER be an option and if it’s not…I respect that.
I just feel terrible. I feel terrible for her pain. I feel terrible for my complete inability to do anything, to fix anything, to come up with either an answer or a salve of words that will somehow make everything better. I feel terrible that even in my attempts to be there with her as much as possible, to help as much as I could, even to the extent of setting her up with a friend of mine whom I thought would be a terrific donor, that there’s always that…thing between us, that line drawn, the one where she’s on one side with no kids looking wistfully at me and I’m on the other side waving back at her with 2. I can sympathize with her pain until the cows come home – and I do – but I can’t empathize with her because I’ve never been there. Her pain is one for which I can offer my shoulders, my ears, my love, my support, but I can’t offer any real words of comfort as I sit here with the sounds of two children playing and screaming in the background. Their very existence, and the ease with which they got here, robs me of any empathy I could possibly have. And so I feel inadequate to deal with this, bumbling along in the dark trying to be the best friend I can but knowing that even as she loves me back, I may be a painful reminder of what she can’t have.
And so I feel terrible about not being able to help her the way I want to. I love her across the chasm but now…she’s retreated into a cave of silent despair and I…I just don’t know what to do. I ache for her. I want to leave her the time she needs to grieve, and I know that will take a long time. At the same time, I don’t want to disappear into the shadows as so many people do when they don’t know what to say or how to handle your pain.
So…I send her a text occasionally to let her know I am thinking of her. To let her know I love her. I try to repress my instinct to say it will be okay because…it is just too early for that. I just want her to know that I am here, that I love her, that…I don’t have ANY fucking answers but…I’m still here, for whatever the hell that’s worth.
I don’t hear back.
And that’s okay. This is not about her reaching out to me to let me know I’ve been heard. This is about me reaching out to her to let her know that…I am here. Whenever she’s ready, IF ever she’s ready…I am here, and I am hurting for her, maybe not the same way she’s hurting, but hurting nonetheless because I love her and when you love someone, you want them to be happy and to reach their dreams.
That…that is just ONE story of a friend going through troubles. I have another friend who was in a relationship. Broke up with boyfriend. Soon after the breakup, she realized she was actually in LOVE with boyfriend, but…he is seeing someone else now. She feels that he is her soul mate. He…has moved on. And although it’s an entirely different situation, I hear her echoing the same sentiment: what am I going to do with my life? I feel so…useless. And hopeless.
To her, I said the same thing that I desperately want my first friend to realize: your worth does not depend on anyone else being in your life, boyfriend, parent, baby… There is NOTHING wrong with WANTING those people, but NOT having them does not make you USELESS, HOPELESS, or WORTHLESS. In this, of course, I DO speak from experience, as I well understand how the rejection of another can make you feel completely lost at sea. But hopefully, after the pain subsides somewhat, you start to realize several things: that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. That maybe something better is in store for you. And that whether you find someone else to fill that hole or not, your worth is what YOU make it out to be, period.
My sister – she is a wonderful person. Sweet, kind, funny…and she will be those things even if she never becomes a mother. Of course she wants someone to share that maternal love with, someone to nurture and grow, but she is no less of a beauty for lack of being a mother.
My friend – she is a creative, feisty, spirited person. Maybe her soulmate wasn’t really her soulmate. Maybe she just wanted him to be. Maybe he didn’t recognize the unique individual gifts she has. Maybe he’s just moved on after being pushed aside and doesn’t want to come back and yes, that happens; some mistakes are irreversible. Whatever the case may be, all of the things that make up her unique spirit do not depend on his being by her side. Perhaps, as I’ve experienced myself, she will actually grow from the pain and become even stronger than she would have been had things gone according to her plan. This can happen…if she pushes herself to make the best of what she perceives to be a bad situation, and turns it to her advantage. Even pain is based on perception, especially emotional pain.
Both of these dear women live on the West Coast, which makes it even harder for me to be of any real consolation to them. I can’t shoot over to spend the night snuggling on the couch watching silly movies and getting drunk as we laugh and cry. I can call. I can text. And if they really really need me to, yes, I can fly. But distance prevents me from being the instant and spontaneous comfort I would like to be, and in an odd way it makes ME feel their pain all the more for being able to do so very little about it.
And of course, there’s my old boss, whom I wrote about in my last post. I feel so utterly sad for her and that sadness has stayed with me long after hearing about it. Of course I keep thinking…should I have called? And I know that is utter rot and complete hubris, because her unhappiness was deep and long and I’m sure she forgot about me a long time ago. But, knowing that I was yet one more person who found her brilliant and yet completely unapproachable, I wonder…if I had stepped over that line, would it have helped at all…it’s silly, of course, because I don’t think that she and I could ever have been real friends. And my reaching out to her would have been more for my own closure and to erase any last vestiges of negativity, but would it have done anything for her?
Of course, now I’ll never know. So I do what I do for all those in whom I sense despair, loss, grief, anger, sadness…I pray. For their lives here, and beyond.
I sit here in my house. I have 2 happy healthy offspring. I have a husband who is overworked and in need of a vacation but who is strong, supportive, and simply fabulous. We are not rich but we are quite comfortable and in this house alone there is a love that surrounds us and keeps us warm, content, laughing and happy. And I AM happy, but…the unhappiness of those whom I love – and even some whom I don’t – moves me deeply, and disturbs me. So much of the unhappiness that people spread to others is because they themselves are unhappy with their OWN lives. And it ripples out, infecting others with bad days at work, arguments at home, unnecessary impatience…
I hope for happiness, and for peace.
And for some light in the darkness.