Subtitled “Make new friends, but keep the old.” Ha!
My greatest fear when I was younger was being forgotten.
I think this stems from moving around while growing up and always being the new girl, without a place to really, truly belong outside of my family. I was great at jumping in the conversation and making friends, but I always worried that once I moved on, people would forget me since I was never there that long to begin with. And if they forgot about me, that would mean that it was as if I didn’t exist. If I didn’t exist, then I didn’t matter.
I have grown past most of those issues, mostly due to the geographical stability that I’ve enjoyed for the past 8 years and having the chance to form lasting meaningful relationships, but I’ve realized that this is a continuous lesson I’ll have to face throughout my life. Because its not always geography that changes our identities.
I was reminded of this as I talked to a close single friend recently. Although we’re looking from two different angles, I realized how similar our perspectives are. To her, it seems that everyone is changing their identity from “friend” to “wife/husband” and moving on, where from my view they’re all going from “married couple friends” to “parents”. And that’s a new identity, complete with drastic life changes. Though dear, I find it harder to find things in common and make conversation with these friends. “Oh yeah, morning sickness? I’ve heard its bad…” “Kids keeping you up late? Tell me about it.” So after a lifetime of me moving on, its my turn to be left in the dust.
I’m sure this is the same way she feels when I talk about my husband. Yet from my perspective, my relationship with my single friends doesn’t feel as different as she described. Was I being realistic?
Short answer, no. I remember this happening once before, in 8th grade, when for the first time a close friend moved away before I did. I came to the realization that maybe I’d had it easy all along, being the one to move on. At least that way I could enjoy new experiences and meet new people without the constant reminder of the past. There I was for the first time, missing my friend with evidence of an obvious hole where she had been amidst the same, familiar surroundings. You have less time to mourn what you’re missing when you’re busy with new activities. I know that when I would move, while I missed my old-location friends and loved to catch up when we could, the reality of how our relationship changed never hit me as strongly and I was not forced to deal with it in the same way as the one left behind. I always saw my moves as inevitable (thank you, military) and thought our friendship was continuing in the only way possible. I never really thought about the reality of what it would be like to deal with that obvious change on a daily basis.
This “moving-on” effect feels much more pronounced now that my personal ability to “move on” is stunted by the simple fact that God’s will is not my own and I am unable to change my circumstances (as I’m sure my single friend feels). I literally can’t move on and its not as simple as moving to the same location as my friends. I can deal and I can find joy in different things, but I can’t move on to where they are. It really amazes me how similar I imagine this “waiting patiently for parenthood” phase is to Purgatory. Literally, I feel that I’m tasting a glimpse of what it must be like, watching other souls ascend without looking back (and why would you, you’re now in the light of God!) while we remain, with knowledge of the promise of what’s to come but still forced to bear this cross until its enough.
I often wonder how I will react if/when we get pregnant. I’m almost ashamed to admit that those two silly months where I thought we were (my first month – of many – with a 17 day luteal phase and that silly month I misread a pregnancy test only to get my period an hour later) that of the first few extremely happy thoughts I thought, one of the happiest ones was Thank GOD I’m leaving that awful, awful place!
How quick I was to leave those others behind, so quick to forget their pain and so grateful to be moving on. But the joke was on me! I’m still here, forgotten as those others happily ascend onto bigger and better things. But how can I blame them.
A couple I met the other week said it the best: The infertility club is the only club you want to get out of as fast as possible!
I don’t want children in order to play “catch-up” with my friends. That’s not my point. I’m just realizing that being left out of relationships is another unfortunate consequence. That I am slowly losing relevance with friends that were once close. I just hope we’re patient with each other as we take on these new identities and are able to remember our similarities, in spite of our differences. I hope I never become numbed to their challenges and unable to discuss them, though they may involve the very thing I long for. And I hope that at the same time my sometimes sullenness and thoughts on this subject don’t make them uncomfortable, drag them down and make them want to forget about me!
I’m forever grateful for the friends I still have things in common with and the new friends I’m making, even if we all want out of this club :)