Sunday, October 9, 2011

Side Effects

I've been talking recently about how I/we are starting to feel sort of like the most acute mourning phase of Jackson having a CF diagnosis seems to be behind us. It's definitely refreshing to feel that way, but I'm also beginning to see how areas of our lives we never expected to be affected have kind of died of neglect while we were busy regrouping.

When you have a baby- any baby, your social life changes drastically. Having had a child already, we thought we were pretty prepared for that aspect of things. But the CF diagnosis came into play there in big ways, too. When we told our friends that our new baby had been diagnosed with a life threatening condition, we couldn't imagine the outpouring of love and emotion that would follow. And we also couldn't imagine that some of the people who ached with us so deeply on those dark days might fade so quickly from our lives. Maintaining friendships since then has been HARD. I don't want J's CF to be the only thing I ever talk about to my friends. I don't want to be the person nobody wants to hang out with because it's aways about me or my issues. I still get uncomfortable at parties when people ask how J is doing in an overly empathetic way. I also don't know whether that makes me a jerk for spurning the genuine good wishes of a friend or someone who just doesn't care for pity. Maybe I'm both.

I started seeing a therapist so that my interactions with friends wouldn't always end up with me gushing out all the things I never get to talk to other adults about because I'm always at home with the kids. I highly recommend anyone and everyone who can get some therapy to do it, for just that reason. When talking to friends and loved ones about our struggles, we tend to alter our feelings to avoid stressing them out or eliciting judgement. When you have a therapist, you can REALLY let go of some of the bottled up things & be more free to enjoy the life you have at the moment. That's my PSA for the day.

Back to my point. Maintaining friendships as adults with small children is hard enough. Throw in some acute grief , financial hardship, repeatedly cancelled plans and changed viewpoints, and voila! Alienation. I have to say, almost all of my friendships have changed drastically since March 2010. I also don't think it's ever a bad thing to really know who your friends are. But as with anything, it has never ceased to surprise me who comes through that I would never expect, and who's not there that I thought always would be. People we would have considered acquaintances have gone above & beyond. And of course, we have lost touch with people we really hoped to stay close with. The tough part is never knowing if the alienation was reciprocal, or just in my head. I feel like I've been under a rock for a long time and it has made me AWKWARD in so many new ways. I don't know how or why some part of me thought that we would come out of this (much as one can) the same people we went in. Life is strange, and never ceases to surprise me.

Having said that, I generally LIKE who I am these days. I can totally understand if some of the changes in me catch old friends off guard. I'm...softer, I guess. Not quite as determined to be tough all the time, hopefully kinder, and much less destructive. That's honesty for you, folks. But I'm not the same, my husband is not the same, Emily is not the same. Partially because we have simply grown and changed and partially because our growth and change has been deeply impacted by this aspect of our lives. Deep sigh. It is what it is, right? It's just a part of life, and learning about ourselves- which surprisingly- is an unending process.


As for the day to day...I won't say that things are getting crazier still, but I won't say that they're not! This time of year is wild. Jackson isn't improving quite as much as he should with his antibiotics, so tomorrow we'll most likely add some steroids to the mix and try to kick this junk out. As for now, it appears I have to go because the keyboard is no match for the cuddle war a small person is trying to wage with me.

3 comments:

  1. Its always bittersweet to find out who your real friends are. Even though I don't have children, I think I went through very similar feelings to what you have.

    I've had old friends come up to me and say, "We don't talk anymore" and I've tried to explain to them I don't want to talk about CF all the time!! Its such a big part of my life, I like to forget about it sometimes. Some people don't get it, and feel like you are shutting them out.

    I thankfully have a small group of friends that are there to talk CF when I need to and there to make me forget everything too!

    I hope you have or find some people who do the same for you. If all else fails, you have me online! I'll talk about whatever but dogs, tv, and music are my specialty! :)

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  2. Maintaining relationships with other adults when you have small children IS very tough. There were years, literally years, of my adult life where I had no friendships outside of the computer. And now, I STILL feel awkward trying to be a friend, spending time around anyone outside of my family or the one friend I really have left from my childhood. I worry that I talk too much or not enough, that I'm not a very good conversation starter, that I'm too blunt with my opinion or not opinionated enough. It's exhausting. And for the years I was in Ft. Worth, I really did feel like I made some friends, but I made a bunch of single friends without children because I was living in a situation where I could go out all the time, and when I came back down to earth, returned to normal life as a full-time mom, those friendships very quickly became strained and awkward. Right at this very moment I feel awkward for sharing my own thoughts about my own life on YOUR blog instead of just speaking to what you wrote about, but I believe it's just in an attempt to relate and that's all I know how to do. There should be classes for adults on how to make and keep friends- I would take them.

    I'm glad you write all of this down.

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  3. Jess & Glory, thank you both so much for your comments. I'm so glad I have people like you who can read this and relate to it. Glory- I know it's hard for you to share sometimes & I love you so much for putting it out there- What you said is just how I feel and hearing someone else say it HELPS!

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