Still Grappling with Grief

As always, I’ll start with a thank you for your kind and concerned words. I want to assure everyone that I am currently taking medication, though perhaps I need to look into tweaking the dosage. It is the fifth thing I’ve tried in my life and the only one that has ever done anything positive for me so I don’t think I’ll stop taking it to try something else. It really is the most effective medication for managing my symptoms.

Honestly, the hurt and sadness you are hearing is still rooted in the linger effects of that lost friendship. I imagine a chorus of, Just get over it already!, every time I return to this subject but I don’t think I can accurately relate how devastating the whole thing has been for me. I am still sad. I am still grieving. I’m still cycling through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, sometimes on a daily basis. I’m still raw and hurting. I’m still wondering why. I’m still unsure how to proceed in the face of so much confusion and uncertainty.

There were a lot of triggers to remind me of this friendship in past month and especially in the past couple of weeks. Each one dredged up more pain and deeper sorrow. I eventually returned to my daily crying jags and the emotional exhaustion they entail. While I was doing better for a while there, the past two weeks have been really difficult.

Then on Friday I faced another friend issue that had me spiraling once again. I really struggle with how to process friendships when someone I love does something I can’t understand, even if I recognize that they have completely different motivations and their actions could mean completely different things than they would if I were to do the same. That is something I definitely need to work on.

In the end it comes down to a loss of faith and trust, in both myself and others. I’m still grappling with how and why my other friendship imploded, and in the aftermath I don’t trust the friendships I still have to withstand any kind of turmoil.

The idea of losing another friendship is simply more than I can bear.

So that is where I am right now and I truly believe grief is sitting at the core of this depressive episode. I am still grieving, even though very few people in my real life acknowledge or validate my loss, even though the expectation is that I dusted myself off and moved on months ago. I am still managing this grief and it’s still really hard.

You’d think that after suffering a miscarriage I’d be pretty good at mourning a loss no one else recognizes, but I’m finding it just as difficult this time around. With my miscarriage I found a community of women who had been through something similar and who knew all the right things to say. I found empathy, understanding and support and it was easy to feel like I belonged. There is no community like that for this kind of loss. There is nowhere to find other women writing about these same feelings. That makes it hard. It also makes me intensely grateful for the support I did eventually receive after my miscarriage, when I finally found the ALI community. I’d hate to think where I’d be if I’d had to walk that lonely, heartbreaking path alone.

I just wish there were a community like that for the path I’m walking now.

13 Comments

  1. I am not at all wondering why you’re not over this already. Rather, I’m wondering how your friend could do this to you. Sure, people’s lives change, and someone you’re close to at one age might not be as good a friend for you at a different stage. But there’s no need to cruel about it, to confront someone with why you don’t want to be friends anymore. It’s hard to understand.

    Also, you talk a lot about how you have few close friends. I just want to point out that your blog readers ARE your real friends. I totally understand the need to have local friends to hang our with in person, but don’t overlook what you DO have.

    1. I absolutely don’t overlook what I do have. The friends I’ve made in this space are absolutely getting me through this really hard time. I have reached out to many people I’ve met through this blog (as you know) and it has been truly life saving. I’m sorry if my post makes it seem like I look past that, because I don’t.

  2. I think the emotions you’re feeling post-loss of this long-term friendship are quite normal. I know you’ve said it but I can’t recall right now – how long were y’all friends? 17 years? Imagine this – let’s say you were in a romantic relationship for 17 years and then your partner, against your wishes and perhaps for reasons you didn’t completely understand, abruptly left you. I think EVERYONE would understand if for YEARS later you were cycling through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I don’t think it should be any different just because your friend was of the same gender. Are you actually hearing anyone say “Just get over it already!” or are you just imagining that’s what others are thinking? Because that’s certainly not what I am thinking…

    1. I have definitely heard it, from both my husband and my therapist! My therapist has actually really disappointed me in how she’s handled this with me. She doesn’t seem to know how to deal with it or how to help me deal with it. It’s been upsetting. At one point, after we came to the conclusion that my friend had just changed and that is why she dissolved our friendship, she said that now that I understood the friend I used to love being with wasn’t really there anymore, I shouldn’t be sad about not having her in my life anymore. What is that? If she had died would my therapist say the same thing? It’s just so weird. I have been really flummoxed by it actually.

      With other friends I’ve gotten a lot of long silences after awkward “I’m sorry’s.” I think it’s hard for friends to deal with because they are also friends and it’s hard to know where they stand in this. Am I mourning a friendship that was more important than the friendship I have with them? It’s just complicated and I don’t fault them for not being sure how to deal with it. I certainly would have before I went through it.

  3. I’m going to circle back to what I said yesterday and Karen’s comment (which is excellent). I get you are grieving the loss of this friend. But, I also think that what is at play is this idea that because she has ended your friendship, somehow something is wrong with you. Hence it enforces this self-narrative that you are a lemon.

    Break-ups are hard, be it romantic or platonic. What happens with this end is this inherent rejection of the other person. There are a variety of reasons for this: either trust has been broken or you’ve grown apart or something has happened that the other person isn’t willing to talk about. But what I think you’re grappling with is that there’s rejection and somehow it’s due to you. That if you had just been smarter, funnier, prettier, wittier, less demanding, more empathetic, etc, etc, etc, the friendship would still be intact.

    Yes, we don’t talk about this stuff. We don’t because people are rarely good at exploring feelings. Remember “I’m rubber, you’re glue?” Or “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” The idea of a stiff upper lip or instead turning this around to say the other person is instead defective and crazy, hence it’s not you and they need to be committed. Yet even though these thoughts make us initially feel better, there’s still the loss.

    I encourage you to explore why this friendship break-up is leading to this dialogue. Yes, losing a friend is hard, but I think you completely hit the nail on the head with the idea of being a lemon. Karen’s point is so important about validating this. Is it true? Is it founded (which I don’t believe is the case)?

    Thinking of you.

    1. You’re absolutely right that I am using the friendship break-up to “support” my self-talk that I am defective. Why else would someone who supposedly cares about me just leave me in the dust, with pretty much no explanation? It’s really easy to use her choice to exacerbate these negative feelings about myself.

      I am looking into why I have these negative thoughts and I think I’m figuring it out. I’m pretty sure they come from my childhood and my mother’s messages (not specifically to me, but just in general) that showing weakness was not okay, that perfection was expected. It’s not so much that she held me to these standards but I watched her hold herself to those standards. I watched her hold all of society to them, really, but mostly it was herself. And from where I stood, she pretty much succeeded. So that is where I think this self-talk comes from. And while it’s good that I can determine where it originates, it’s a lot harder to turn it off. I’ll definitely be talking to my therapist about this–hopefully she’ll have some strategies for me.

      1. I want to reiterate again that I think this reflection you are doing really is a strength. It takes so much to be open about an issue and be willing to explore it.

        I learned similar things that you learned from your mom. It’s hard to undo what we’ve learned from a young age and I really struggle with it still. Because you’re absolutely right that turning off that inner dialogue is so hard. We’re use to it after all these years.

        Thank you for being brave to admit all of this openly. I hope just getting this out there is helping in some way. Because, as I say before, I know there is a lot about you so many admire and love. That’s worth something.

  4. While the community may not be as cut and clearly defined as the one you found after your miscarriage, I can say with certainty that there are women out there experiencing what you’re dealing with right now. I lost a dear friend between high school and university, and while that loss is almost 10 years old now occasionally pangs of hurt still crop up. The holidays are one of the hardest times of the year for so many reasons, and I really want to urge you to not try and validate your own feelings in the context of others’ perceptions. Just because people don’t understand that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

    My heart hurt reading this entry, because I can so empathise with your plight right now. I don’t write a blog any more, but I know when I did the experience was cathartic. I really hope that this space gives you some of the same relief and release, and know that your readers are standing behind you as well.

    Take care, and be gentle with yourself <3

    1. I know there are women out there who have lost friends, but they aren’t congregating online like women who experience pregnancy loss and infertility. I was lucky (relatively speaking) in that an anthology of essays came out on the subject right when I was dealing with my lost friendship. I really appreciated that book. It was super helpful.

      I agree that I shouldn’t validate my own feelings in the context of others’ perceptions. I’m definitely working on that.

  5. I had a friendship that finished after high school that caused me a lot of grief and then about 7 years later we reformed the friendship. With it though came all the emotional baggage I had shifted to the back of the mind. Then the passive aggressive war fare started and the bitchy and nastiness that sullied what would have been an amazing friendship. In the end it ended again. I just couldn’t deal with it. For her it meant she lost not only me but another one of our close friends too who just couldn’t put up with the innuendo’s, the ongoing drama, the insinuations we weren’t good enough friends because of a,b and c. Not to mention a whole nasty relationship side issue. I mourn this friendship because when it was good it was amazing. I mourn it more than the loss of my one other long term partner. But sometimes relationships end because they have to and even though this dissolution caused me pain I have to remember why it ended and the pain she caused me throughout. I am not saying you need to move on but when confronted with these hurt feelings to remember the other side of the coin and why it ended in the first place.

    You are an amazing, unique individual and the way you deal with situations is only the way you can. Don’t feel bad or wrong for being emotional or looking too deeply into things or for wondering what may have been. Embrace the fact you are who you are and that people you let into your lives need to appreciate the complexities that ultimately make you a wonderful friend, that I am sure you are in real life.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story of friendship loss. I hate to hear that others have suffered this pain, but it also helps to know that I’m not alone and to hear that it does get better. I really appreciate you sharing your story.

      And thank you for your kind words. They do not fall on deaf ears. (Just a little clogged.) 😉

  6. I can understand your husband not understanding this and telling you to get over it. Men do that! They’re usually so uncomfortable with conflict and emotions that they think it is helpful to tell us this. I often quote my husband telling me that if he doesn’t want to think about something, he doesn’t! Men seem to be able to do this. Nice for them – if only we could do that too!

    I am more appalled that your therapist has told you to get over it, rather than exploring with you why you can’t, why it is affecting you so badly. I think you need a new therapist! Or at least, you should raise this with her. Why would she say that and think it would be helpful?

    I definitely agree with you that grief is involved here. I’ve mourned the loss of a friendship – we haven’t lost touch completely, but the friendship undoubtedly changed when I couldn’t have children. We used to be best friends. Now we see each other 3-4 times a year. If that. I have mourned this, and I still find it painful, even when I see the same behaviour that saw us drift apart. The thing is that our friendships are important. Each one fills an important role in our life – they’re not duplicates of each other in decreasing level of importance. When we lose that, it is easy to feel cast adrift and rejected, even if that wasn’t behind the dissolution of the friendship at all.

    Sending hugs.

    1. I was definitely not surprised that my husband wasn’t helpful–I should have mentioned that he was at least cognizant on how unhelpful he was being and has articulated that he doesn’t feel he knows what to say or how to handle it. I appreciated that much.

      I am also appalled by my therapist’s handling of this topic. It’s the first thing I’ve brought to her that she has completely mishandled (in my opinion). I’m going to bring it up when I see her this weekend.

      Thank you for recognizing that each friendship is important and that having other friends, or making new friends, doesn’t erase the grief of losing THIS friend. I really appreciate that.

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