Our friendship had endured for many years. But I’ll never forget the phone call she and I had. I was six months into my life as a bereaved mother. I had become a recluse due to the anxiety attacks I suffered when I encountered a crying baby in public. And I hadn’t slept well since my son’s birth in November, having been plagued by nightmares.
It was now July. She said we needed to talk. She was five weeks post-partum. I listened as she laid it out for me. I was a bad friend because she had experienced many changes, and I hadn’t been there for her. She had moved back home, bought a house, and started a family. Why wasn’t I there to help her through pregnancy? To assist in the birth? I had left her alone. I agreed I hadn’t been there for her. How could I possibly absorb her complaints about breastfeeding when I was so bitter and jealous about my lack thereof? My baby was dead. I was unable to support her because I was barely surviving. I didn’t know how to explain that to her at the time. We had undergone changes in opposite directions.
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When she’d happily announced they were pregnant, I thanked the phone for hiding my face. When she sat on my couch at 14 weeks pregnant and confessed how relieved she was to have made it “into the safe zone,” I glanced up at my baby’s box of ashes. Safe zone? I was eight and a half months pregnant when a cord accident ended his life. We’d had a brief talk where she proclaimed a baby wasn’t a baby until it reached viability. That difference in mindset caused the first shift in our friendship. Still, I continued to fringe her life, selling her most of our newborn baby items. The last time I saw her, she was eight months pregnant. We were in town to celebrate the donation of our CuddleCot. She had come to get our second car seat base because I wouldn’t mail it to her.
The door to our friendship was already closed by the time I sought Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to address my PTSD. After a great deal of healing, I requested a phone conversation with her. I was shaking as I talked to her, explaining the depth of my mental disorders, hopefully shedding light on why I hadn’t been there for her as she stepped into motherhood. I knew it wasn’t likely we would repair our friendship, but I just needed closure. And I needed her to know what happened to me when my son died. She admitted that she had been asking too much of me in her post-partum state.
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Letting Our Friendship Go
After that conversation, I kept her number, leaving the door to friendship open. I felt guilty about calling it quits even though she wasn’t really involved in my life. Then one night, something shifted and I felt empowered. It was time to release her. Our paths in parenthood had diverged too much. I erased her number and her email. I let go. Accepting the end of our friendship soothed my guilt. She didn’t get it, and it wasn’t my job to teach her. I was already surrounded by people who acknowledged my loss of Reece and accepted me where I was. And their gift of friendship gave me the freedom to let go of who wasn’t good for me.
Photo credit to Burst from Unsplash.
Arica Carlson is married and mothering three little boys, two on Earth, one in Heaven. When she isn’t writing or working, she can be found outside with her family.