My people are the down and out people
Today a good friend called – she got a job. This in and of itself was cause for celebration, but her story is harder than most, and so I was brought to tears by this good news. She’s recently widowed and was struggling with a part-time job last year to cover the bills for herself and her daughter, when the news came that she was being let go right before Christmas. What was really crushing about this is that she was actually beloved at work – I know because I used to work with her. She was one of those people who made you happy to be there, who always had a fresh and genuine happiness about her that she gladly shared with you. I was pretty upset that she was laid off, both because of her situation and also selfishly, because I don’t like work as much without her there.
Since then, she’s had a hard time – she and her daughter have struggled to keep it together and stay in their home, but there have been a lot of sacrifices and many nights of worrying. A few times, I’ve taken her out for lunch, just to take her mind off this situation, and I’ve contributed whatever I could to her, including money a few times. I can’t give her much, but I try to give her some, because I know she’d do the same if she were in my shoes. It isn’t about pity for me – it is really about solidarity. I could easily end up in the same situation and if I did, I’d like to think someone would look after me a bit as well. And she’s just a great person – even with all this going on, she’s comforted me and given me encouragement when so many other people just couldn’t be bothered.
But now she’s got a job and I am so hopeful that the tide is turning for her. I suppose my thinking goes like this – if the tide can turn for her, maybe it can turn for me, too. Maybe a little good news attracts more good news. It isn’t logical, but it is what I want to believe today.
At the same time, I had to write an email to a former friend, informing her that I just wouldn’t be putting up with her crap any longer. This friend has mostly abandoned me since I started having infertility problems and she got pregnant, and while I’m sure she’s got a long list of reasons why she’s just been too busy to see me, we both know the reason: I’m having hard times, and she doesn’t want to be around it. You’d think that going through a miscarriage after a year of infertility would arouse the compassion of your friends, but you know what? Sometimes, the opposite happens. Sometimes people leave you at the moment you need them the most. This is the hardest truth, the one that we don’t want to talk about very often, but it is happening to me, and I find being silent about it is just no longer an option.
I’ve also had this problem with family – both my and my husband’s family wanted to just pretend the miscarriage hasn’t happened, and they wanted us to stop talking about it a few days later, and go on like everything was the same. And we just couldn’t do that. After a year of trying to slowly get them to understand how serious this was to us, I just lost my patience for their avoidance and their lack of support. My husband was devastated by it – he’s never been through anything like this before, and to find that his family had nothing to say to him was just crushing. But we can’t really live as if everything is the same as it was before – we’re in a new place now, and people who can’t handle that really can’t be around us right now. People who can’t find compassion, who can’t understand our sense of loss and what it is going to take to rebuild our lives again – we have to let go of these people, maybe not permanently, but at least for now. We need a support system that actually provides support, not one that drains us and makes us feel even worse. And the hard truth – the one that it is almost taboo to say out loud – is that your family is sometimes not composed of people who will help you in times of trouble.
Of course, there are people out there who have wonderful families, full of loving and supportive people. There are people out there who have children easily, who find the right person to marry at a young age, or have an easy, fluid employment history and no nasty breakups in their past. But these are not my people – I have not much to say to them and very little about them is comprehensible to me. Dare I say it – I don’t even really like people like this. I find them boring. My people are the down and out people, the people for whom shit has blown up in their faces, the people whose wedding days were rained out or who found themselves screaming in the street at an old lover. I’d like to declare my allegiance to those people right now, and tell them all that I’m rooting for them. And when the tide turns for them, as it hopefully will, I’m going to enjoy the relief they feel as if it might rub off a little on me, too. Because I could sure use a break myself, but I’ll vicariously take one if it comes that way.