Monday, June 18, 2007

I need some advice

I have a real life friend, Maddie, who has been with me through thick and thin. We met in prenatal class for Kaz, and we have been pregnant together and breastfed together, and raised kids and every other thing you can imagine. She was with me through every pregnancy, every miscarriage, every infertility diagnosis, every BFP, and every BFN. I told her about my pregnancies before I told Mr.Cotta. We shopped together, laughed together, argued and bitched about our husbands and got drunk together. We spent hours on the phone, and finished each others' sentences.

Until about a year ago. She had been having a very difficult time living at her new house, out in the far reaches of suburbia. She didn't drive and because her kids went to public school instead of private school, she had to stay in the house waiting for them to walk back and forth for the bizarre extended lunch hours in our system. Instead of being able to go out with me and do her grocery shopping or just get a coffee...she was sitting at home, trapped, watching a clock, scared her kids would be left unsupervised in a schoolyard if she was 3 minutes late.

She's had them at a private school before that, and of course, like my private school, they had slightly more flexible hours, aftercare, extracurriculars, heck, they even keep the kids for lunch and supervise them. So, you know, if your volunteer commitment/paid job keeps you 20 minutes late it's no biggie, or if you get stuck on the highway coming back from a doctor's appointment downtown, you're okay. They could afford private, but decided to try public because of a philosophical belief that it was a more ethical choice. I like public schools, but like most of my fellow parents, we are curriculum refugees; basically as long as the current hideous Ontario curriculum exists, we're not going to inflict it on our children.

Especially my learning disabled children---and hers, who also have some LD. And a year ago, we finally blew up over our differences. Because of my political activities I knew a whole lot about the background of the education system, and if she wanted to go for public school fine, but I wasn't going to follow her blindly. So she took it as a personal insult about her choices that I had decided to stay with the private system.

And it really wasn't. I also wonder if there were some violent hormonal outbursts mixed in on both sides. I was struggling with undiagnosed hyperthyroid, and everytime she blew up with me in the previous year was precisely four weeks apart. (I had emails in my archive that would burn a whole in your hand.) She's a year or two perimenopause, perhaps? Some things were said, nasty, sad things. Some true, and some truths better left unspoken.

Anyway, she emailed me Saturday after a year of not talking and now she wants to be friends again, and she's bending over backwards. I spoke to her on the phone today for 2.5 hours, and I really want to be her friend again too. I really really miss her....but I'm a tiny bit nervous. There is still an elephant in the room.

A great big pink elephant labelled "The Mommy Wars".

I don't think I can go back to where we were, but I don't know where to go now. My life without Maddie would be sad, but what if she blows her stack at me again? It hurt so much the first time to get dumped....avoiding rejection seems like the safer choice. But the risk might be worth it....

So what do I do?

Not speak to her?
Keep her at arms length? Polite in public?
Be friends, but not quite as close...maybe just tell her a few things?
Or try to leap right back in to being a friends version of an old married couple who bitch all day and night, but never go to bed angry?

Gahhhh, the irony? That my first thought is, "I wonder what Maddie would say about all this?" Except it's about I can't call her!


  1. Finding a friend who knows you well enough to have lived through great and tragic times is priceless. Being able to understand and have compassion for yourself and her and trusting that the friendship can overcome this is probably one of the best gifts you can give to both of you. The fact that she reached out says a lot. You owe it to both of you to be honest about your fears and I'd say as long as you respect each other's perspectives, you're good as gold. Good luck!

  2. Maybe give it a go but have a proper talk about that elephant so you can clear the air.

  3. I'd definitely clear the air about your feelings of a year ago when you were "dumped". Friends can and do bitch and laugh, but at the end of the day, they stay friends. I'd want to know what was so "black & white" a year ago that she felt she had to end your relationship. That would be a talk I'd have in person with lots of time...and probably a few tears. I think she needs to know how you feel/felt about that...and I also think you have a need to tell her. Also before jumping back in, I think defining friendship would be it is out in the open.

    If you can do that and if I know anything about you, I think you will forgive and begin anew cuz I think with you - friends are forever :)

  4. I had this problem once, not long after losing Gabrielle and my therapist suggested I give my friend a chance, and I did and I don't regret it. I lost a bit of respect for her, but we always had a good laugh so I just forget the bad and enjoy the good. Otherwise it just eats away at you and how that better?

    Where are your pics on the Picture Pages??????

  5. I'd say give her a chance. I hope it works out.

  6. Ahh Artblog, I forgot about picture pages...crap. I'll go post something after I'm back from the RE this morning. Unless I'm completely gloomy after that...of course, he may have good advice...hmmm, trying to keep positive, right?

  7. Surprise, I'm in the minority here. For me, I would say "Keep her at arms length? Polite in public?"

    I just wouldn't be able to stretch to look for a reason for hideous behavior. I'm very conscious about looking at character. If the character is something that I have issue with, then I have to move on, because it's just a matter of time, before I get zapped again. It's a survival mechanism. I suppose that you have some of those built in too.

  8. The fact that you think the risk might be worth it tells me that you really want to give it a go but you're afraid. To that I say...really? I think someone wise once told me that you can't let fear run your life (I wonder who that was). What do you get from having a friendship with this woman? What do you get from NOT having a friendship with this woman?

  9. I would say, try the friendship again, but more on your terms this time. You can keep her more at arms length when you need to, and closer when you want to. You be the judge of how things go.

    Honestly, it sounds like your friendship became more than that - it became almost like being sisters. And, we all know how sister relationships can be sometimes. If you look at the friendship that way, maybe you can get a better feel of what to do.

    Hugs to you... It takes A LOT of courage to bring a friend back into your life after getting burned one time. But, if you get burned again, no second chances after that. ;)

  10. Sounds like you want to risk it, and in that case, I say go for it. Because otherwise you will always wonder what if you tried.

    But I agree about the big clear the air talk.

  11. well, I'm blunt... so I would totally expose the elephant in the room and hash it out before resuming your tight-knit ways. But she sounds like a great friend, and probably the reason the blowup was so bad was because she really values your opinions. So... go for it. What have you got to lose, really?

  12. I agree with most of the comments, rapprochement seems possible here. But no elephants! I like that she's reaching out to you, that seems like a good start to healing.

    Arms length, though, if the reconciliation doesn't feel complete.

    I hope your appointment goes/has gone/is going well.

  13. Cracking up over the 22 pages. I've never counted how many blogs I have on the side bar. I just click, click, click. And I am a great multitasker.

    With your friend, I'd let her into your life but rather than jumping into where she was before, let her in to the same degree you would let in someone you knew for one week (when she has been back in your life for one week), etc. You'll get back to that place of closeness, but it will return slowly and you can test the waters. It's really hard to hold someone at arms length that you used to hug close. Maybe it's easier not to think of it as having your arms raised to hold her at bay. Instead think about what you would do for someone you knew for one week and what you would say, and keep adding to that as you navigate the new relationship?

  14. For me a lot would depend on exactly what happened that resulted in your going your separate ways. If, looking back, you can honestly say that you were both being unreasonable and nasty, you might consider apologizing for your part in it, and seeing what she does and says.

  15. I am on the same page as Mel. You definitely have the potential to be as close as you were, but you built that relationship to that point.

    Things have changed, you and she both. And there is the giant elephant. If your relationship is to make it, as you build it back up, build in ways to discuss your disagreements. Hopefully it'll protect you both from getting burned.

    Best of luck on this - it can be so wonderful to reconnect with lost loves - even the platonic ones.

  16. Sounds like it could work to be the old married couple. You'll be careful, because you've been burned, but tell her how you feel and see what happens.

  17. I've been on both sides of this street and am still learning about friendships. The ones worth keeping, it is best to hash it out after everyone simmers down (maybe this takes a year) and after hashing it out, if you both are ok, then maybe it is worth keeping. If the issues are still there and unable to be resolved, then, well, sometimes you have to let it go. Sometimes you don't know until you try. (I recently experienced this only after my loss. Hurtful words were exchanged*she attached my parental philosophies* but we hashed it out after she brought me a mom-din after my loss and I realized that I shouldn't have just written her off months ago). She said "relationships take work" and I guess that stuck. We're not best friends or anything, but at least the elephant has left the room. (we used to be the same type of mommy friends you are talking about)

  18. I've made the mistake in the past to use friends as crutches rather than companions. We often become so dependant on our friends that it's easy to be disappointed. You're much stronger than last year, wiser too. Let her back into your life, on your terms. You clearly miss her, and you meant a lot to each other - just keep your heart safe this time around :) I really do hope it works out for both of you!

  19. Maybe you can call her - 'Hey Maddie, I'd so love to renew our friendship, I've missed you; but, hey there's a great big old elephant in the room! How will we deal with it?'

    Maybe by being up front and honest in a kind of 'upbeat' manner you can get it all out in the open from the beginning?

  20. Oh dear, I sometimes how much irony there is in the world. Yesterday, I posted on a friendship break-up.

    My own relationship is jading my point of view on this topic right now. But, do be careful. Sometimes, people change so much that it is just too difficult to be friends. It is the sad truth which I have to come to my own conclusion.

  21. Hey Aurelia,
    One day after my big manifesto and here I am commenting on your blog! I just had to, though, because I went through a similar situation. Me and my best friend since 2nd grade totally shattered our relationship in college over a guy--her boyfriend who was abusive, to her and almost to me at one point. She couldn't see it at the time, and we parted ways for more than 2 years. It was a sad time, and I believed we would never be friends again. The hole left in my heart was huge.

    One day, I ran into her and reached out really tentatively--I think I just said I missed her and she said the same back. We talked a little bit and then set up a time to get together and talk.

    We were both scared and nervous and awkward, but we ended up talking for hours. We had both changed a lot in that two years, and perhaps most importantly, realized how valuable each other was to us. (Plus, the guy left, which helped!)

    Today, 16 years later, our relationship is closer than it ever has been. She has literally saved my life at times just by being her understanding self. I don't know what I'd do without her. Our relationship transcends "friendship" to the point where I don't really think there's a word to describe it.

    My advice wasn't listed in your options. My advice would be to get together with her without expectations for the relationship and see what happens. You can ease back into it and see what feels comfortable. Maybe it will fizzle out, maybe it will grow and strengthen. It will no doubt be different--but different doesn't have to be bad. It could end up being even better than it was in the past. Good luck...I hope it turns out as well for you as it did for me!