Monday, October 20, 2008

Is this a giveth or taketh away moment?

Today's post is manifestation of my previous post: a real-life example of not knowing if I should be giving compassion or asking for it (or in my case how to ask for it). Mostly I am trying not to blow up with anger at her. But after the initial(and secondary and tertiary) instinct to mutter swear words under my breath passes I am left with how to handle the situation. I'll try to be brief with the background.

She's the kind of friend who's really hard to be friends with. The kind of friend that all your other friends, husband, co-workers ask why you are friends with her. She's demanding, self-centered, insensitive. But she's also super fun and always there when you need someone. She's high maintenance but will be there for you when you need some maintenance yourself. I rarely need maintenance but the one time I did need it she was sooo there and everyone I knew was like, "OK, we see why you are friends with her. She's awesome ". But that was once 5 years ago. And while she really came through for me in a time of need the demands of being her friend can be exhausting and frustrating.

She's the kind of friend who's parents have money and pay for her lifestyle but she plays it off like she has earned everything herself. She had never had to work hard or pay for anything not her house, her breast implants, her IVF's (which she never had to do becasue she got pregnant on her own...twice...but she did not have to stress over how she was going to pay for it of she had to do IVF).

She's the kind of friend who thinks she understands infertility but does not which is even worse than someone who is simply clueless. For a long time she always said she did not want children or that she did but she never wanted to be pregnant AND she wanted to have an egg donor becasue she wants petite-blond children (she's a tall, dark-haired woman). As soon as I started TTC she started TTC only she told everyone that she had been trying for months and months. I had to stop talking to her about infertility because she says really stupid, awful things to me "I have my perfect family now." "I only had sex once that month." "You better hurry up and get pregnant again. Last time I was 4 months ahead of you now I'm way ahead of you" (I think that was intended to be encouraging but wrong).

She's the kind of friend who always throws herself a birthday party. These celebrations used to be a girls-out-of-town weekend. Wild, drunken, boy chasing weekends. At 33 years old I was way beyond that stage (I'm not sure I was ever at the stage but I'm petty sure at 33 it's a little...pathetic) Of course we had to cough-up hotel, dinner, drinks, and a gift. Now that we are all married she does a dinner out. And of course, we cough up for dinner (plus pay for her and her DH) and bring a gift. But she's the first one in line to celebrate your birthday or attend any type of function (baptism, birthday, shower ect) with a gift, a card and balloons!

Back when we were both engaged to be married we went looking for wedding venues. I took her to the place I thought was beautiful and prefaced it with, "I have always wanted to get married here". Of course, I could not afford such an extravagant place. As we were standing in the hall she proclaimed it to be "perfect" for her, called her parents and booked it. When a mutual friend said to her, "Isn't that where Peevme wanted to get married" she said "She could never afford it so why should it go to waste?"

About getting engaged: She was not even talking about marriage with her boyfriend. Mr. Peeveme and I were planning a marriage but not officially engaged because he needed to save money for a ring. She suddenly, out of nowhere, got engaged. Guess what? Her parents paid for the ring.

I'm career. She's a stay at home (subsidized by her parents). My Dh travels for work. The step-mom gig takes up so much energy and adds so much stress. Since April I have been through 2 failed IVFs. I have an upcoming Donor cycle. The financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual stress of which can't be comprehended by anyone not going through it. Mr. Peeveme lost his job. He stops getting paid this month. He has had ONE interview after sending out 2 dozen resumes. If he does get this job he will be on the road much more than he is now.

On the weekends I am cleaning my house (no housekeeper), trimming the yard (no gardener), trying to spend some time with the only child I will ever have from my genetics, trying to give equal time to two sets of grandparents who do not live close by.

In a word I am overwhelmed. I'm barely treading water here and I'm worried this is the calm before the storm (I'm either going to get pregnant or not...both scenarios offer their challenges). I don't have the time for her. I don't have the energy for her. I can't stomach it.

Yes, her baby is 3 moths old and I have never seen her. I find taking care of myself more important than sucking it up and visiting. I just can't do it. Don't want to and can't. Equal parts.

Now that I have one-sidedly trashed her that brings us to today's exchange. This interchange has been building up for a few weeks. She called me 3 times over the past two weeks and I did not return them. I should have returned at least one but just can't stomach it. They were going on their twice-a year- vacation to Disneyland. No big deal. So you are going on a vacay. You are always going on a vacay. So last week I get a VM the gist of which is:

Her on VM:
Haven't heard from you in a while. I've been leaving messages. Are you breaking up with me because I have been trying to talk to you for weeks. You haven't even met "Daughter".

Trying to be evasive, I left a message on her Facebook wall. I don't want to talk to her and I don't want talk to her about why I don't want to talk to her.

Me on facebook:


Sorry I've been MIA. Can't tell you how busy I am. Not breaking-up. I promise. You must be exhausted from your trip. Love the pics. At least I get to see you on the Facebook.

Her on facebook:

Listen here, Miss "I just joined FB and already have 173 friends", your dearest friend misses you terribly and would love to see you in person. I understand you are swamped and all, but I'm honestly sad that you haven't even met Daughter yet...she is over 3 months old...can we get something on the calendar please?

I get it that she is hurt but COME ON! Hurt becasue I'm not being there for you in your time of ....happiness? Time of ...perfection? I'm treading water here. Don't see anything getting better for a long time. So I haven't met your daughter. You haven't met my loan for 30K for a donor cycle. I did the shower, I got the gift, I crocheted the blanket.

In her defense I have not spoken to her at length about anything I am going through. Just some vagueness about being overwhelmed and not doing well but that I don't really want to talk about it. It's somewhat useless becasue she doesn't get it. How can someone who's life is comparatively easy "get it" that I'm splitting a the seams?

I'm fragile. I'm going to be ok. I know I will be ok no matter how this ends up but right not I'm fragile. I'm agitated. You exacerbate my ill being. You are clueless and incautious. I don't have the patience to explain it to you. I barely have the patience to get through a normal day.

I'm an open wound. You are salt.

How do it say that without being know....strident?

I haven't even given her the chance to be there for me but I don't want her to be there for me. I want her to understand why I can't be there for her without me having to explain it all the time. I'm indignant that she's indignant that I have not met her daughter. And yet, I feel like I'm being a bad friend for not doing this one little thing for her. I'm so raw I can't even calmly, rationally explain why I am MIA.

So while I feel like she should be giving me compassion how can she if I can't even tell her what's up with me? But shouldn't she know? Or do I need to explain it? Is it easier to just cave in? Carve out some non-existent free time to ooo and ahh over her daughter, home, vacation photos? Preserve some friendship for when I am not so overwhelmed?

The crux of the issue is my friend is hurt by my not visiting her and seeing her new daughter and new home. I don't want to given how life has been kicking me in the gut and the nature of her high maintenance-ness. But I have not explained that to her. Even if I did I'm not sure she'd understand. It's a compassion impasse.

If I were rational I'd dissect my choices:

1) Give compassion. See her, hold baby. Preserve friendship.
2) Ask for it. Find a way to explain what I am going through. Chance she want get it.
3) Break up. Loose a dear, old friend over a temporary situation.
4) Break up. Rid myself of a long-time pain.


Summer said...

I'm just going by what you have posted here and it seems to me you are saying you'd like to give her a chance but are afraid that she will hurt you even more because she may be so caught up in her life that she can't give you the compassion that you need.

My feeling is 2 and if she can't be there for you, then 4. Her self-centeredness doesn't seem like a temporary situation. For me, being a great friend once in five years wouldn't be worth the energy and time.

melbagirl said...

I do agree with Summer.
Also, I wanted to say Hi! I found you on Cyclesista. I am also on the BDP waiting to start my cycle with my egg donor. Good luck to you with this cycle.

bleu said...

Here is my 2 cents.

I don't think you are capable of being a good friend right now to her, for tons of reasons. She may or may not be able to be a friend to you but that is not really the point, you aren't there right now and you need to let her know.

I had a friend I had to let know I couldn't be around for a while because of my IF issues and her new baby. I felt awful but it was better being up front rather than avoiding.

If you are meant to have a lasting friendship you will both weather the separation but you stressing and hiding from her is no good for either of you.

As for meeting her daughter, I can understand he having hurt feelings but maybe tell her it is just too painful for you and brings up too much and you DON"T want to discuss it you just need to try and comfort yourself right now.

Much love hun.

andi said...

Hey there my dear,

I am really hoping your 30k will turn into someone she can meet - given time.

I have a similar friend - and I think I agree with bleu - time out, time away... you will still be friends when this time has passed.

Good luck my dear - My finger's are crossed.

Shelli said...

I have been in this friendship boat a lot lately with many of my friends.

The one thing I am learning is the basic rule my Dad taught me from a young age... "a tiger doesn't change its spots".

It really is true. I don't have the high maintenance BFF anymore. I found I was hurt more of the time and happy with her a lot less of the time, so the cord was cut.

I say give her an opportunity to redeem herself, but if you so much as don't feel she's listening and actively trying to be there for you... run for the hills.

nishkanu said...

It's your friend, your situation, and your emotions - obviously - but I too have a very dear lovely high maintenance friend who makes me insane sometimes and therefore think I have some idea of what you're talking about. Here is what I would be thinking about if I were in your shoes. First is that it sounds from what you've written here like your friend doesn't have enough info for her NOT to be annoying, even if she was a sensitive type - the situation with its ambiguities is set up to bring out the worst in her. Second is that when we are feeling very fragile is probably not the best time to make big emotional decisions like whether you want to kill an old friendship. So I would be inclined in your shoes to find a way to tell my friend "I'm really sorry but I have to be AWOL for a while, I will be back, it's nothing personal" while giving no details that could cause further insertion of foot in mouth. It may be that later you still feel like the friendship ain't worth it and then you don't have to go back, but this at least leaves the door open and hopefully leads to minimal hurt for you.

Having said that, I lost a friend instantly when after I told her my sister-in-law had just died unexpectedly she said "oh." then changed the subject to talk cheerfully about her own life. I knew it was petty but I could never get over that. So this certainly does not come from a place of Being a Perfect Friend!

DCat said...

Oh boy. This is cuch a tough one because I have had friends just like this. I dumped her. It was during an IVF cycle about 4 years ago and she just did something so insensitive to me announcing her pregnancy. It was torture. Anywho- I just stpooed talking to her to preserve my own santity. I do wish though that I had told her what it was that pushed me away. Maybe she could have used it to think about her actions- who knows.
I think you have to weigh your freindship with her against keeping yourself sane.

Ophelia said...

As I was reading this and reading about your friend I kept thinking, "Man, I bet she (the friend) would kill to have your life."

Think about it... She can throw money (or at least her parents can) at just about anything and everything is done for her. Wedding, house, husband, she can even afford to have someone have kids for her if she wants! How fulfilling is that? She flaunts what she has because it's all she has. Really, what else does she have to show for herself and for her life other than things? Things that she never had to work hard to gain... It's very possible that she looks at you and what you have - the bonds you have with others - and she can't understand why she doesn't have that or feel that way with anyone. It's because the only attachment she's ever bothered to establish is the one she has with money. Whatever she can achieve by financial means she's bound to throw in your face, not because she's being vicious, but because it's all she knows how to do.

This friend has her own set of suffering I'm sure she's kept hidden away from the world. Those high maintenance types want everyone to believe they "have-it-all" and life comes so easily to them. If life were easy for rich people, they wouldn't be the ones in the tabloids (like Paris Hilton who is nothing more than an heiress) making headlines for drugs, s*x, and bad behavior. Rich people can have it all, but they pay a price too.

You're hurting and your pain is completely understandable. I can sympathize with your friends pain too. As your friend, I think, at the very least, she deserves the right to know why you aren't ready to meet her baby yet. Her reaction to that is all her own. If she can't understand, then perhaps she's not a very good friend.

I have to admit... sometimes I'm afraid of telling my friends things too in fear that they are going to react a certain way or say something inappropriate that will hurt me... I'm always surprised by their responses... Give her a chance...


Frenchie said...

This is so hard. I can relate to much of this.

My "BFF" cashed in big time when she married a Go.oogle millionaire. She went from living in a tiny studio apt. in SF to living in a mansion in a very exclusive part of the bay area. She had the gigantic extravagant wedding I couldn't have afforded--of course I did all the flowers at cost for them--two months after my miscarriage, no less--and then they were pregnant within 6 months. She chose to give me the news of her pregnancy at a birthday get together--when I was already feeling despondent about turning 35 and still not being pregnant after our miscarriage. (Fortunately we adopted our son a few months later). She has a maid, a gardener, a rich husband, and is a full-time stay at home mom. When I do see her she asks me: 1. Is my son potty trained yet? She's doing "elimination communication" 2. does he know sign language? Hers does,of course. 3. Other annoying questions that point out my lack of time to spend at home with my child, because, you know, I HAVE TO WORK because INFERTILITY and ADOPTION expenses have crippled us. (GRR!!!)

Meanwhile, her son just turned one and they are working on number 2. I don't know, they could be pregnant already but I don't want to know and haven't asked. I avoid her calls. I avoid her emails. I avoid her. I have thought many times of "breaking up" because we are in such different worlds now. And sometimes I just can't handle her.

Sorry to make this comment all about ME--like you need another self-centered friend. It's just to say that I relate, I get it--it's such a hard choice, and bravo to you for looking hard at it. I don't have any assvice, since I'm in the same boat over here.

We should really get together, this is ridiculous.

Chelle said...

I admire you taking so much thought toward the situation. To me that means that the friendship might be worth saving.

(HUGS!) That is a tough boat to be in.

luna said...

ack. an annoying kind of friend. I have one of those too.

first I'll say what kind of person plans her who birthday party then lets everyone else pay for it?

I haven't read the other comments but I don't think you should subject yourself to her. the issue for me is, is her friendship worth trying to salvage maybe some day down the line? not now, but if you were in a different place and could deal with her. because obviously you were friends for a reason.

if you think it is, I might want to just get her off my back right now and say something like you're going through a pretty rough time right now and not really up to seeing her. no need to elaborate, you don't want to talk about it. but it gets you off the hook.

Kate said...

I think we have the same friend. And, I've responded the same way. It's just too hard and they don't get it. They are too egocentric to think about what might actually be going on. I feel your pain.

jodie38 said...

I dumped my "friend". I'd had it up to the eyeballs and beyond with her. We were mainly thrown together because our husbands are(were) good friends. We wouldn't have picked each other. I finally decided I was tired of taking that one for the team, why am I the one having to sacrifice my sanity around here, and walked away. If you're feeling charitable and stable, I'd try to talk to her about it since you guys seem to have been friends a long time. If not, I'd break right the fuck up. Sanity is a fleeting, precious thing and shouldn't be squandered on people with no clue how much they're using up!

Just my opinion....