I’m sorry for being a shitty friend. Not to just one or two or three but lots of friends. It seems there are few that know what to do or say around me and they don’t want to hear me talk about my dead baby… AGAIN. They don’t want to listen when I try to rationalize or process my grief or try finding closure with his death. (BTW, that’s not likely to ever happen.)
I’m sorry you’ve been replaced. I find I’d rather talk to a stranger on the other side of the world who lost their baby, than talk about well, anything else to be honest. Complete strangers that know the trenches that I’m in. Instead of trying to “fix” me or ignore me or move on without me they come and sit next to me. They’re comfortable meeting me in my crazy and they’re patient and unassuming. They don’t tell me what I’m thinking is mad, that I’ll regret what I’m saying and doing and feeling. They don’t treat me like a crazed conspiracy theorist that’s steps away from a mental ward any time I breathe the word “vaccine.” They truly are the definition of a friend; ups AND downs, good times AND bad, sane AND delusional. Sticking it out WITH me, instead of leaving me to suffer alone. It’s true, or at least it is for me, it’s during the worst times of your life that you will see the true colors of the people who say they care for you the most. I know I’m a shitty friend right now but I haven’t always been and certainly not when my friends needed me to be the most open-minded and forgiving and compassionate.
I’m sorry I find most conversations trivial and petty and a complete waste of time. Suddenly, in comparison, things that mattered before just don’t now. I want to pretend that I care about (insert problem that I’d love to have other than my own) but I can’t. I literally want to scream at how privileged and naive and lucky people are and they still complain. “My baby was up all night crying.” “Can you believe my kid did this at school?!” “My husband is being such a jerk.” “I feel fat.” “Such and such broke on my car.” “This lady at work is so irritating!” “I don’t have money to do that (while drinking a $20 bottle of beer.)” (BTW #2- these are all things I’VE said before you get all Judgy McJudgerson or offended on me.) Suddenly everything seems superficial or trite. I don’t choose to feel that way, it’s not something I decided, it’s just a reality that I’ve come to be more aware of. It’s not that I’m the only one with problems or that yours don’t matter it’s just that right now I’m a selfish, self-consumed, shitty friend and I don’t give a damn about your not so problematic problems especially if you do absolutely nothing to change the scenario.
I’m sorry that I have no desire to stop being a shitty friend, at least any time soon. I mean, I’ve taken everyone’s crap, I’ve been walked on, insulted, abandoned and treated as if I’m the only one to blame. I’ve been snubbed, I’ve been looked down upon, I’ve been accused and abused and judged. So why would I try to not be a shitty friend to those who are shitty friends to me? It’s a horrible way to think, I know it’s not all about me. I just don’t have a desire to try for people who don’t try for me.
I’m sorry that I’m not the friend who fixes everything anymore. I used to be the one to help everyone with everything. I’d spend hours dishing out advice and suggestions. I literally sit back and think of all the times I was “there” for everyone else. One of my favorite quotes is “Sometimes we expect more from other because we would be willing to do that much for them.” I feel like I expect people to be here for me now since I’ve been there for them. I recognize that that’s just not how the world works but it still hurts. It’s hard to fix someone else when you’re so broken yourself. I don’t think people understand that. They think after a certain amount of time you should just stop being so selfish in your grief and go back to being the fixer. They want the old “you” back. The pain of losing a baby doesn’t go away overnight. I mean that seems like a logical thought, that death might take more than a few weeks to recover from but as a society we’re encouraged to grieve and then “move on.” I won’t ever move on and that realization in itself makes me a royally shitty friend. But for that, I’m not sorry. I can’t be. I didn’t ask for this any more than you did. And I won’t be sorry for loving and grieving my baby. And expecting me to be makes you just as shitty, if not more so.
I’m sorry I don’t call or text or come over or initiate anything anymore. Some days it’s because I just don’t want to, other days it’s because I’m not capable and sometimes I just don’t know where to begin. Who to call, what to say, where to go. Little in my life has changed, not too much that’s new or interesting or not sad or crazy to discuss so I just keep to myself. But when I do initiate something, anything, you should know how much effort went into it, even if it seems like nothing to you. If I make plans and you cancel, even if it’s not your fault, I probably won’t try again or at least for quite a while. It may seem like no big deal to you but it is to me. Mentally preparing myself for plans and them being canceled makes me feel insignificant or invaluable to you. When I see you make effort with someone else I do feel jealous but mostly hurt. Seeing you invest and try with someone else while you ignore me, again even if unintentional, still makes me feel like you’ve abandoned or betrayed me. More than that, when I see people I considered friends leave my child out or mistreat him in any way, I don’t just get hurt, I get angry. I was fiercely protective before but do it now and we’re done. No, like for real. I make no exceptions for being an asshole to my kid. He’s a little boy who’s entire world has been shaken and you want to be a jerk to him? I don’t think so. Call me a shitty friend or ungrateful for the times you were there before, somethings are just cruel and not only will I not apologize, I won’t feel sorry.
I had heard it early on when Mason died from another loss parent, “Right away everyone wants to be by your side, wants to help because they want to do something to make themselves feel better.” Yes, some truly do it out of kindness and to a certain extent everyone thinks they’re doing it out of the generosity of their hearts but I’ve come to notice that several of those people where only there when it was fresh and new and people could give them credit or kudos, even if it was just a mental high-five to one another. They can say, “I was there” like your life is a bathroom stall just waiting to be tagged. But where are they now? In the nearly 6 months that have passed how many of those “saints” have tried at all. I can count it on one hand if that’s any indication.
I’m not only a shitty friend, I’m a shitty family member too because all of a sudden all these people who were my “family” before have disappeared or worse betrayed or intentionally hurt me. I had a pretty loose definition of family before. Maybe it was blood, maybe it was just someone who called me family, maybe it was family I had chosen. The friends and family that I’ve really come to appreciate are the ones that still write a thoughtful message, call just to see how I’m doing today, make plans because they want to be with me not because the feel like they have to be. The ones who were there then and still are now that no one is looking. The not looking part is what means the most to me. When someone comes humbly without any hope that someone will see and recognize their actions. Those are people I want to be around, people with humanity and compassion. Not people who feel obligated or just want the limelight or to pat themselves on the back for being such a stellar person.
Even the simplest of things like liking a facebook post really is a big deal because it meant that I was able to scroll through my news feed long enough to see your post. Triggers are everywhere, especially on facebook and sometimes I don’t even know what that trigger will be. Facebook is literally Russian Roulette for a grieving mom. If I wish you a happy birthday, I mean it so much more because I know how valuable birthdays are. If I call or text please know that the amount of energy it took to push the buttons is more than you’ll every understand. And that’s a big part of it. You don’t understand and I don’t want you to because if you really, really do it’s because you’ve known massive hurt. And even if I’m a shitty friend, I still don’t want you to hurt like this.
I’m sorry that I don’t want to be around groups of people. Hello anxiety overload. My chest tightens, my breathing speeds and I can feel the weight crashing on top of me. Chitter chatter! Ugh! If I do want to talk it’s seriously not going to be about the weather or the fight you had with your spouse or work or the typical things people talk about at get-togethers. It’s not that I don’t care but in comparison, I’d trade places to have those things be on my mind.
I’m sorry I’m not the friend that wants to go shopping with you. I loathe shopping, especially stores with babies sections, which is every department or grocery store in case you were wondering. I’ve literally had to talk to another loss-mom the entire time I grocery shopped once because it had to be done but I didn’t want or think I could do it. I then got in my car and cried for 20 minutes. At the store, I hate being the friend that loses it when I see a baby or has to look away so I don’t see the cute “Baby’s 1st Christmas” bib. I hate that the first thought I have is that I won’t have that. Ever. I also hate that my second thought is that I want to have it so much that I often buy said bib and leave it at the cemetery.
I’m sorry that most days I’d rather stay at home, in bed, than brave the harsh world. People say such stupid things. Again, because they’ve not known that hurt. I could try harder but it’s easier to keep to myself and I know that makes me a shitty friend.
I’m sorry I’m not fun any more. As much as I don’t want to be around people, I know that they likely don’t want to be around me. Who wants to be around a Debbie Downer? I know I wouldn’t. I know the things I think about are dark and twisty. I know my research about vaccines is not socially accepted. I know finding answers isn’t fun. It’s not fun for me either. I don’t read about gene mutations and adverse reactions or study autopsy results or look at the intricacies of brain CT scans because I enjoy it. I don’t go around spreading awareness and trying to save other babies and children because I like looking insane. I know what people say, I’ve seen the eye rolls, hell, I even know that 99% of those I care most about don’t agree and think I should just accept that he magically died for no reason at all. It’s not fun but I do it because Mason deserves the dignity of the truth and not a cause of death listed as “probable.” If he was 20 years older no medical examiner would say he probably or maybe died from something. They wouldn’t essentially say that they were guessing and don’t know. They wouldn’t leave you without answers but he’s a baby and so long as I didn’t murder him they dont care what caused his death. Does that seem right to you? So I am sorry that I’m the shitty friend who’s not going to pretend it was an accident when I know with everything in my heart what caused his death. I’m sorry that I want justice. I’m sorry loving him means that I won’t stop fighting for him, even if our friendship suffers for it.
I’m sorry that when I am around groups, it’s support groups. Your world has continued to turn while mine came to a crashing halt. It’s refreshing to be in a room full of women who know the ache in your heart, where you don’t have to apologize for or wipe away tears, who really want to hear about the problems you’ve had that day or offer to be your “phone-a-friend” for the holidays in case it’s just too overwhelming. They not only remember dates on a calendar that only matter to me but send a thoughtful text letting me know that today they’re grieving WITH me. They know that if it’s the first of the month or the 25th I’m likely bunkered in my house surrounded by his things. They know that a song on the radio can take me from fine to gone in 3 seconds flat. Their hugs are warm, their smiles kind and understanding. They take away your hurt if they could. I’ve come to really appreciate that in a friend, someone who you genuinely feel would take on your pain so you wouldn’t have to hurt. They know they can’t, I know they can’t but still there’s this bond of knowing that you would if you could. But these friends haven’t just come from support groups and I love and hate that. I love that friends I’ve not talked to in years have stepped up and I hate that I want that from other people but know they can’t or won’t be that person I want them to be.
I’m sorry that simple things like going to the movies or watching TV now have to be done with caution. I rarely channel surf and I now look for channels that aren’t going to play diaper commercials or have a baby in the sitcom. In one of my groups a mom said she prefers to watch tattoo shows now because they are safe. I prefer movies like Divergent and Edge of Tomorrow. Not really horrible war and gore but enough that I won’t start feeling warm and fuzzy inside. I’m sorry death does that to people. I’m sorry it’s done it to me. That naiveté that I once possessed has just been completely demolished. I’m sorry I’ve become cynical. I’m sorry the optimistic me is gone.
I’m sorry that I’m always bitchy or sad or tired or all three combined. It’s exhausting thinking about my life and even more exhausting trying not to think of my life. My days are constantly spent second guessing or regretting every decision I ever made. You become calloused. I think after losing a child your life goes in one of two directions; you either become mean and bitter or you see how valuable life is and want to make a difference. I’m not sure I’ve decided which path I’ll take.
But mostly, I’m just sorry for being a shitty friend. I wish life wasn’t this way, I wish MY life wasn’t this way. I wish I could go back to my happy, naive life and being a not-shitty friend.