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Losing Support From a Circle of Friends

September 29, 2020 | By | 2 Replies Continue Reading

A young woman feels excluded from a circle of friends, a second loss after a molar pregnancy and seeks advice.

QUESTION

Dear Friendship Doctor,

I was part of a close-knit circle of friends from 2003-2017. In 2017 three of us, myself included, were pregnant at the same time and due within a month of each other. Unfortunately I suffered a partial molar pregnancy, which led to not only the loss of the pregnancy but also a tumor developing in me. I endured months of follow up to ensure I did not need chemotherapy. It was devastating and terrifying.

One of my friends who continued her pregnancy grew really distant from me during this time. I called her one day to ask what was going on and learned she was on bed rest as her pregnancy neared its end. I debated wrapping up the call given her condition but made the decision to go forward with telling her how I had been feeling the past months. Continuing the call then was not a good decision and I take responsibility for that. At the same point my friend became very defensive and mean. She told me she had nothing to talk about other than her own pregnancy so she didn’t know what to say to me. She said she didn’t understand why I was so upset still because “wasn’t it over by now?”

I asked her not to tell our other friends as I didn’t want them to be put in the middle. I was certain this was something that would blow over. She and I have been friends since we were twelve and our friendship predates the larger friend circle. She stayed friendly with me for about a year after. I got pregnant very quickly once I was finally allowed to start trying to conceive again. This friend came to my shower and would text periodically. In addition one of our mutual friends was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after my son was born. The ex friend and I were on a mutual text chain with our friend who had gotten sick and went over to her house to support her at the same time. I thought for sure we’d start mending things then. I mean supporting a friend who has cancer is so much more important than our differences. But three months later, she stopped talking to me altogether.

I’ve learned she has had a terrible couple of years herself. She has gotten a divorce and lost one of her parents to suicide. I felt so much grief on her behalf when I learned this and I sent a card but I don’t even think she wants to hear from me.

I remain very close with my friend who had breast cancer. She is unfortunately going through her second bout of cancer as I write this. The other two women who were in the circle still reach out to me but I haven’t seen them in awhile. But I learned recently that sometimes they all get together and no one invites me. I thought for sure if the whole group was hanging out someone would extend an invitation to me. I feel so petty being upset about this when others are going through cancer and losing marriages and parents. At the same time, I felt so alone and different when I went through a partial molar pregnancy and whenever I hear of them all hanging out together, I feel so alone and different all over again. I have a lot of unprocessed trauma and grief from that point of time in my life. I still really need my friends’ support. But much like that baby I never got to have, that huge source of support has just vanished from my life.

Given all that has happened for my friends, including my ex-friend, I feel like I have no right to complain. I feel like my suffering is less than theirs so I can’t bring up how much pain I’m still in or how their exclusion of me really hurts . But sometimes it’s all I can think about, even when I’m trying to support my friend as she goes through cancer – AGAIN. All I can think is ‘you picked her over me’ and I feel like the worst, most petty friend but I also feel so deeply hurt and sad.

How do I navigate this?

Signed, Pia

ANSWER

Hi Pia,

It sounds like you and your ex-friend were both going through some very rough patches at the same time. 

Molar pregnancies are somewhat rare and you probably didn’t receive the same support that you might have—if people around you were more familiar with the condition. Even after you miscarried, it had to be difficult to recover from the trauma. I’m so glad to hear that you were able to conceive quickly and give birth to a healthy, baby son. Although that doesn’t erase the past, it is a happy ending.

Your friend was also having an extraordinarily hard time given her impending divorce and the death of a parent by suicide. Under such stress, some people retreat and aren’t able to deal with other people, even very good friends. Your ex-friend may simply not have had any energy left to extend to you. She may have been embarrassed about her divorce or felt stigmatized after the suicide. 

It’s hard for you or I to guess when we really don’t know what your ex-friend was thinking. But the point I’m trying to make is that her retreating from your friendship may have had more to do with her than with you. You did your best to extend yourself to her and you probably need to step back from the friendship at this point unless she reaches out to you.

It is understandable that you are upset; you have every right to feel hurt and abandoned. You had a lot of history with this circle of friends: You’ve known several of them since childhood and were pregnant at the same time as two of them which tends to bring women close to each other.

It is very rare for a circle of friends to stay intact over time because people and life circumstances change. The dynamic between you and your ex-friend may have also stressed the closeness of the group.

My suggestion would be to try to remain close with those individuals in the group who reciprocate your feelings, including your friend with cancer. She really needs your support. Having a young son should also provide opportunities for you to form new mom-friendships with people who have much in common with you right now. 

Since you feel like you haven’t gotten over the grief of the miscarriage and, perhaps, are feeling depressed, it could be helpful to speak with a mental health professional to help you process your loss.

I hope this helps a little in a difficult and complicated situation.

My best, Irene

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Category: Dealing with threesomes and groups of friends, HANDLING BREAKUPS

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  1. Nancy says:

    A note to Pia. Friendships evolve all the time as I’ve told my children. You may be friends one year, then the next you’re not. Try to open yourself up to making new friends too. It seems that true friends can be counted on one hand IF you have that many. I had a friend for 55 years, she was out of state for many years, moved back and asked to borrow money temporarily to help pad her bank account to look better to buy a house and for me to sign a paper stating I was also responsible for the mortgage (I wasn’t & didn’t do either). Long story short she no longer talks to me. I am a good friend to others so the loss is hers.

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