Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Take care of you

There I stood.  Trapped.  In a group of women.  The day before mother's day.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the conversation turned to the next day.

Breakfasts and lunches and dinners in their honor.


What spouses were doing for them.

What kids were doing for them.

Then bitching.  Mainly of the mother in law variety.

All of the pain and grief were at the forefront of my mind. 

I was holding back tears.

There was no way to get out of it. 


Don't run.

These were people I work with, after all.

No escape.

Then it happened.

I felt her take a step closer to me and interlocked her arm in mine.

I don't know what made her do that.  Maybe she saw the pain in my eyes?

She took over the conversation. 

She skillfully put an end to the mother's day conversation with no one realizing what she did and moved on to the next topic.

Except I noticed.

She brought me back down to earth.

She made me feel like I wasn't alone.

Without drawing a single bit of attention to me.

I will be forever grateful.

A little bit later we both happened to be leaving the function.  As we departed ways to head to our respective cars, she gave me a big hug.  She whispered in my ear "take care of you."

This woman is a mother.  But I think she also knows the pain that mother's day can bring.  She left an abusive relationship when her daughter was a toddler and raised her on her own.  She never had a partner to make a big deal out of the day. 

She knows that I don't have any children.  She knows I can't have children because I matter of factly stated as much at a business dinner a few weeks ago.  But she doesn't know the whole story.  She didn't know me during the infertility years.

But she understands.  At least little bit. 

And on that day she saved me.

I'm pretty sure she doesn't know how much it meant to me. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


When in the throes of infertility and in the immediate aftermath I used the "unfollow" and "unfriend" functions of social media quite generously.  I don't think I need to explain my rationale to this community.

I've moved around in my adult life and have a lot of friends from different places and periods of my life.  The unfortunate reality is that I may never see some of these people again in my life, so I very much enjoy keeping up with them and their lives via social media.

Several years ago, I unfollowed a woman who was my roommate during my freshman year of college and lived across the hallway during my sophomore year.  We were pretty good friends during that part of our lives, but our paths diverged after college.  I unfollowed her during her pregnancy for her first child.  While she wasn't one of the bad offenders (like, for example, I don't recall her posting ultrasound pictures), but at that point, I couldn't handle one more pregnancy, so I unapologetically and unceremoniously unfollowed her.

I thought about her from time to time in the following years, but never "checked in" on her.  Over the weekend another friend from college posted a picture of the unfollowed friend and herself, which led me to check out the unfollowed friend's profile.  I wasn't surprised to see that she'd had a second child and then adopted a child through the foster care system.  I wasn't surprised to see happy pictures of her life.  But what I was surprised to see was a post commemorating one-year cancer free.  A little more profile stalking revealed that after experiencing some stomach issues, and a very proactive doctor, a small, but cancerous tumor was found in her stomach.  The tumor was removed and there were clean margins.  They got all of the cancer out.  They also did a course of chemotherapy just to be sure. 

A wave of guilt washed over me as I found out this news.  I felt guilty that I wasn't there to support a friend through a difficult period of her life, or even to let her know that I was thinking about her.

But then I stopped myself.  I unfollowed her for a reason during a very painful period of my life.  It was unfortunate, but it is what I needed to take care of myself.  I do not need to apologize for taking care of myself.  Plus, she is fortunate to have a supportive husband, family, and community that rallied around her during her time of need.

I still feel a little bad that I didn't know until a year after the fact, but the reality is that without social media, it may have been many more years, if at all, for me to find out.  But the guilt is softened somewhat, because I would have needed to endure 3-4 years of really hard posts (about her child and subsequent pregnancy) to find out this news earlier.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes there can be unanticipated consequences related to self-care, and sometimes those unanticipated consequences may make you feel like crap.  But in this case, being selfish and taking care of myself first was necessary for healing.