The girlfriend thing
I was going to write this as a pregnancy-based post, but when I really thought about it I realised that it goes way beyond this period of my life. Last night, out of nowhere, I had a really heartbreaking realisation – I am not a part of a single friendship group. I have had this realisation a few times. I have a handful of girlfriends from different parts and periods of my life, but I am not a part of a group. At the moment, I don’t even really feel like a part of my own family. I am not writing any of this for pity or with agenda, but more so that I can make sense of it and hopefully, so I can make peace with it too. I am writing this because I have no doubt in my mind that I am not the only person who feels this way sometimes, and even more so do I think that I am the only woman who is pregnant who has moments of feeling completely isolated. To those of you out there feeling like this, I’m here.
Friends have always been a bit of a sore spot for me. I am outgoing and have many acquaintances and people that I know, but when it comes to honest-to-god true friends who I can call and who I actually see, I have never really had that. Since leaving high school I haven’t managed to find my place when it comes to friendships – especially female friendships. I feel like I was never given the tools, or maybe I never learnt them, to navigate my way into a close female friendship. People say that they experience imposter syndrome when it comes to their career – I experience imposter syndrome when it comes to other people. Every time someone comes into my life and displays any kind of interest in me and my life, I assume that they are just being polite. After all, what do I even have to offer to a friendship?
Girls from my high school all still see each other, all still go to lunches and brunches and dinners and drinks. They are all a part of each other’s wedding parties. They are all still very much involved in one another’s worlds. At the moment I have three friends that I would consider close to me, and one of them lives overseas and I haven’t seen her in almost ten years. I have always yearned for the kind of friend that you don’t ever need to make plans with because they know your schedule as if it were their own. I have had snippets of that in the past, but then life happened and pretty soon it was just me again.
It all got a bit too much for me last night because, like many other women, I had a certain idea of what my pregnancy was going to look like. I now realise how completely naive that is, as this is one journey that you cannot predict at all. Having said that, I always thought that I would be surrounded by people that celebrate this journey alongside me, that check-in with me, that would just simply be with me.
I don’t have that.
I have had really lonely moments during this pregnancy and sure, some of that is due to my own expectations that I held of what this whole period of time would look like, but I also know that I do have a lot to offer a friendship. I can’t help but wonder, what am I doing so wrong? I don’t judge, I like to surprise people with handmade things, I am always up for a burger and I will always check in. I have some truly exceptional people in my life, I really do, but what I have realised is that to get through this time, at least for me, I need friends around me. I need support and I need people to talk to and eat food with and every now and then I need someone to sincerely ask, “How are you?”
I feel honoured and so very lucky to have a partner like Pete who is not only a beautiful and loving boyfriend, but has also been the most patient and understanding best friend to me through all of this. He cops my entire inner monologue, he is privy to all of those obscure worries that creep into my pregnant and very tired brain, he has held me through physical changes that he cannot even begin to understand. I am incredibly lucky and so grateful to have him in my world, as my partner through this and as my best friend. I have a beautiful grandmother who calls me every day and asks how I am doing. I have two gorgeous sisters-in-law. I have a mother who is more and more proud of her growing grandchild with every day that passes. And I have the most generous and loving in-laws who surprise me every week in their support.
I am surrounded by people and I do not take them for granted and not a day goes past that I don’t reach out and make contact with them. There has just always been this fragment that feels missing to me, and because I am so sensitive and feeling things so deeply at the moment, it feels more like a chasm. There are things that have transpired in my own life that have led to the demise of some friendships, all of which I have taken responsibility for the role I played in that – but there is a part of me that wonders, surely in a strong, honest friendship there is no judgement from either party. I desire a friendship where I am safe; where my flaws, my mistakes and my frayed edges are nurtured and heard and loved through even the hardest times. Surely everyone wants to feel that?
I will admit that in the past, and in snippets of my present, I find myself wondering whether I am incapable of being someone’s friend. Is it me? And if it is, will that ever change? After all, in all of the friendships I have had that haven’t lasted I am the common denominator. So what else could I be doing? Throughout my early twenties I remember a period of time where I compromised who I was just so I could fit in and not feel so alone for once. I was working in a place where everyone seemed to be friends outside of the hours of nine ’til five and for a while, I was a part of that crowd. In the end, it just made me miserable. And when I finally admitted to myself that I hated the actual job and the only thing that was keeping me there was the people, I convinced myself that I would remain friends with them even if I moved on from the role. It lasted one week – I had breakfast with two of the girls. And that was it. And it wasn’t from a lack of trying, it just was what it was. The more I tried to meet up with them, the more rejections I got and the further into myself I went.
I just haven’t found my tribe yet.
Maybe this pregnancy will gift me with friends when I least expect it – everything else so far has been such a gift throughout this, who’s to say that that won’t happen to? Maybe a mother’s group (even though I hate that term)? Maybe someone I cross paths with at the hospital? I even joined this app Peanut which aims to connect mothers and mothers-to-be in a Tinder-esque kind of way. Even there I felt completely out of my depth because let’s face it, making friends as an adult is as weird and hard and confusing as finding a romantic connection with someone.
I realise that this may come across as really whingey and like I am a victim, but I really never speak on this topic with that intention. Just like the absence of my dad, and the relationship with one of my brother’s that has completely broken down, this is something that I need to make peace with in a way that suits me. And quite simply, I am not there yet. Stupid things like wanting to have photos of me and bump and a really excited friend by my side. Or having someone come over with take away so that I don’t have to cook. Or having a friend to go to early breakfasts with when I have trouble sleeping in (always). I want someone that I can call with the most mundane observations right through to the most painful emotions that I feel.
This morning I woke up feeling more optimistic than I did last night but I do feel that this is going to be something that I will constantly be working through, and something that I will need to find a way to make peace with. I may not know how to do that just yet, but I am hopeful.