Written By: Redlynn Kaufmann-Townsend
When I had my first miscarriage, three of my friends were pregnant.
We had been friends since high school, and while our lives had taken divergent paths, we had remained friends through college and boyfriends and broken hearts and nutty professors and new boyfriends and fiancés. We were bridesmaids at each other’s weddings. We were by each other’s sides with wine and chocolate when one of us broke an ankle or had to say goodbye to a beloved pet. We comforted each other when there were deaths in our family or our circle of high school friends. We called ourselves the “four musketeers” and vowed we would be friends until we were old ladies with blue hair.
Then, we all became pregnant one by one over the course of a few months. We texted each other daily and set up a group on Facebook just for us to keep up with each other’s pregnancies. We joked about how “one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage” and decided that was for other people, not us. And then, it was one of us. The joke was on me, but there was no joke in that.
Avoidance and Bitterness
At the time, my friends were so supportive and caring and loving. One of them flew out to visit me the next weekend as a surprise. She was a few months ahead of me, and she had no idea that looking at her cute little round belly would break my heart every time I looked at her.
The weekend ended, she flew home, and I began avoiding each one of my friends. I didn’t look at our Facebook group, and I began to dread their calls and texts. And I felt like the world’s most terrible friend. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I couldn’t understand how I could almost hate the women who had been there for me through so much, but I did.
I hated them. I loved them, but I hated them. And it really wasn’t even their fault…
I would like to be able to write that my story has a happily-ever-after ending, that I soon joined my friends in the motherhood club, but I have since had more miscarriages–five altogether. One of my friends now has two beautiful children. All of my friends have full arms and lives, and my arms and home are still empty.
Communication and Forgiveness
In one way, though, my story does have a happy ending. Despite all of the loss, hurt, tears, and distance between us, we remain friends. Our friendship has changed, though. It hasn’t been an easy road, that’s for sure. We have all worked together to maintain our friendships, even though the threads that connect us are tenuous and fragile at times.
The reasons I have been able to stay friends with them at all are many and varied. One reason is because I came to the realization that they were each so important to me and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. However, the main reason our friendships have survived is that we have all had to learn how to not only be completely honest with each other, but we have had to learn how to really listen to each other as well. I had to learn how to tell them how I really feel, and I had to do it in a non-threatening way. I had to take a step back and realize that my friends were not intentionally trying to hurt me and that they really did want to help, they just didn’t know how. In turn, I had to also learn how to listen to them. When they apologized for accidentally hurting my feelings, I had to accept their apologies and not hold onto the hurt I felt. When they cried and told me they missed me, I had to allow myself to cry, too, and admit I missed them as well.
I have learned more than ever that friendship is a two-way street full of bumps, potholes, and slippery surfaces. And while it is hard sometimes to navigate this treacherous path when we are grieving and our friends have what we so desperately desire for ourselves, it is very worth it in the end if we can remember why we are friends in the first place. It is hard but worth it to let go of hurts and resentments, especially when we know in our hearts that our friends love and care about us. It is worth it to do what it takes to maintain a close friendship at a time when so many things are out of our control. None of it is easy, but in the end, it’s all worth it.
Selection From Sharing Magazine – July/August 2016