I hit a wall this past weekend. There have just been little things that have been adding up along the way. It came to a head when I was mapquesting directions on how to get to my godson's first birthday party.
It started with a short conversation that came up at dinner with a few of my unmarried girlfriends. One of the girls asked if she would need to be getting any new friends soon if we were going to leave her and all have kids. She has had a bunch of married friends that have recently become pregnant and one couple adopted. I don't think she is planning on having a family, but I think she still feels the pressure of feeling left behind as some people take a different path in their life. Children change lives and relationships. There are plenty of people who can feel sad by the changes in life as friends grow families, even if they haven't experienced IF. The conversation turned to us all having friends who have gotten pregnant and even lapped more than once. What hit me was thinking about the handful of friends of mine who are done growing their families. Not only have I been lapped, but I have friends who I try to support as they confront how their children are growing and will never be babies again and there will be no more babies to follow. That is sad. And life is not without sadness, babies or not.
Then at a party a guy happened to ask, "Dude is it normal to have pictures of other people's babies on your fridge?" Wake up man, we are not getting any younger and we are getting to that point in our lives that there are a lot of married people and they have their share of children. I felt sad for one of the ladies in the room who had a look of hurt. It seemed that maybe she, like me, hopes to have one of her own on some one's fridge someday.
And I wonder if anyone judges me in that I had been married once and "had my chance." It is a double edge sword to be divorced. I wonder if those who have not been married judge me in that "at least I got to be married." But I have a feeling that anyone who has known someone who has gone through divorce, has some insight on the pain and the vast reach of its destruction. But I try to be sensitive of those who are my age who have not been married and would very much like to share that with someone special.
Then New Guy and I went to a gathering for an out of town friend of his. I was not sure what all I was in for, but told myself, relax and no expectations--meaning no negative expectations. His friend is pregnant with twins and handling it with strength, gratefulness and grace. I was thankful for the evening not to include pregnant people complaining about being pregnant. And even though her parent's house was full of babies and small, energetic children, I handled it pretty well. It was nice to feel kind of normal, no impulses to go running through a wall--Kool-Aid Man style. Had I known New Guy's friends a little better, I would have asked one of the couples if I could have held their two-month old. But I know new parents can sometimes be a little weird, let alone with me being a stranger, so I didn't ask.
Then Sunday rolled around. I was originally going to go to Cleveland on Saturday, but I was just kept prolonging on when I would go on the trip. I wasn't sure why. But it hit me once I finished mapquesting the directions from my parent's house. My closest friends in Cleveland are married and have kids. I feel so left behind. I feel left behind from those friends with whom I have had the longest relationships in my life. As I was gathering my stuff to go, I welled up with tears. My dad asked what was wrong and took a few guesses--boyfriend, school or my move. The answer was clearly no on all of those and I told him that sometimes it is just really hard to be around babies or small children. My dad was sad with me and hugged me. He sighed. Then he said, that I would need to pull it together and be happy for my friend. I knew that and told him so. I just needed to let myself feel sad so that I could regather my composure and be in a place to be happy for my friend and my godson. And I felt incredibly guilty for this to be the moment to crumble. I am very happy for my friend and honored to be his godmother.
Sometimes I can be fine and sometimes I just fall apart. And while I have many more times in which I am fine verses the times that I am not, I just can't predict when those bad times will be. I guess in one way I have gotten to a healthier place in that I don't worry so much about my reaction around children or feel like I have to be on guard in regards to my reaction if I am around children. I try to take one moment at a time and deal with my emotions as they come. I think I was on a bit of baby-over-load/feeling left behind. It just all added up to be too much. And I realize there are still triggers out there for me. But I also feel that once I come across those triggers and understand why they cause the stir of pain within me, I am able to let those triggers go more easily or in time.
For example, the sight of a baby carrier that can be used as a car seat used to make me cry. But once I realized how that was connected to my loss of my future identity as a mother (shortly after everything fell apart with my ex), I was able to move beyond it. I had once been in a place where my identity was driven in the direction of motherhood. And when my relationship with my ex fell apart, I had to let go that I was not going to be a mother. I had to reform my identity and once I accepted the changes in my life, the car seat no longer had the same effect on me. Granted, I may one day still have the chance to be a mother, but that possibility is so far off the map for me right now. I have a lot more I have yet to do in my life before that could even begin to be a possibility again. I accept that, but it doesn't make it is easy sometimes.
Also, on a side note, I have had a recent rash of grandparents telling me all about their grandkids. It has been a bunch of random strangers in small talk and somehow grandchildren seem to come up. I don't know why this has been happening lately. And they tend to be the ones that are the happy complainers--we finally have grandchildren or those grandkids just wear me out. Thanks for sharing, I just feel like I've been sucker punched in the gut. They don't know me or my past, so I can't really be upset with them. But it still hurts.
Yep, I think grandparents are my new trigger. But I have been thinking about that one and I think it is related to feeling sad for my parents. My mom and dad had always been supportive when it came to the decision to have children when I was with my ex. It was not something they pushed and they respected the decision to have children is an important decision for the couple. They also said that if we wanted children, there was no pressure to rush and we should enjoy our time together--that children would come when they are supposed to come. When my ex and I shared that we were going to start trying, I just remember how happy they both were for us. I could see the excitement and twinkle in their eyes. Then with my divorce, I felt like my parents were teased with the prospect of having grandchildren. It was a loss for them, too--to be so close and to have it disappear. And my parents have never made me feel badly for it. I just feel sad when I think about it.