Friday, August 13, 2010

Friends and Losses

It seems as though I've been neglecting my blog. My family has needed my attention and I haven't had a lot of time to write. Recently Jay's grandmother passed away. She lived out of state so we could not make it to the funeral. I don't think Jay could have tolerated the experience even if we could have gone. But, it wore at him terribly that he wasn't able to be with his family to say goodbye.

Also, last week, a young man from Jay's therapy group killed himself. This was devastating to his small group. I will not go into this much now because I am so filled with rage that I only have nasty things to say. Not towards this poor boy, but to the people who let him down. I feel that the Army drops the ball quite a bit when it comes to caring for its soldiers. But, THIS...well, sometimes when you drop the ball, you can't just pick it back up again.

I have so many negative feelings for the Army right now that I think I should shift gears for a little bit.

I have been thinking a lot about friends. While I do not have a lot of friends, I do have three that I intend to keep for the rest of my life. One from high school, one from my days working at a nursing home, and one from my days packing bottles at a plastic bottle factory. They do not know each other and each of them represent a different stage in my life. I have felt that these women are sisters to me. That's why it was particularly hurtful that when Jay came home from Afghanistan and went into the hospital these friends disappeared. It's not as though I was being Debbie Downer. I never got the chance to be. After the first phone call updating them about what was going on they all high-tailed it out of my life. I have known these women for YEARS. I have been with them thru so many of their life experiences that I was crushed that I was left to fend for myself. Not one of them has called me back.

But, I recently read in a PTSD relationship book, in a chapter about friendships, something I found so valuable, "Do not be angry with your friends for leaving you. They are just not in a place in their own journey to be there for you." I believe that my friends are not horrible people. My family is in a dark place right now and maybe my friends do not know how to deal with that. Maybe it's easier to just turn away and hope that someone else is going to handle it.

I know that this is a rational thought because I have been that horrible friend myself. Many years ago when I was a new mom I met a girl at work who was exactly my age. We got along so well even though we lived very different lives. I was a wild child/single mom and Tara was the classic devoted wife; married to her high school sweetheart. Though she was still quite young and only a newlywed, she prayed and prayed for a baby. When she got pregnant everyone knew she was going to be the greatest mom ever. After the baby came we would go to lunch and share stories about our baby boys. I was in awe of her devotion to God and to her family. But at times I would resent her for all that she had. I was alone, struggling because of poor choices I had made as a teenager, and there she was--lit from within by a light that I had no idea how to find and wrapped up in the cozy cocoon of a family she had created for herself.

One night after work, when her son was five months old, my friend lost control of her car. Her precious baby was killed instantly. After the funeral I did not know how to talk to her. I knew she had friends and family so I thought, "What can I possibly do for her that other people aren't already doing?" A complete cop-out. She never returned to work so I just faded away from her life. I abandoned my friend because her loss was so great and her grief was so big that I did not know how to face her. She did everything right. She followed all the rules. She had the perfect life. And she faced the ultimate loss. There I was, a mess of a girl with no future, no faith, no prospects and my baby boy was safe in my arms. My guilt was so overwhelming that I did not speak to her for ten years. Am I a bad friend? I certainly was to her. Am I a bad person? Absolutely not.

Some time ago, thanks to My Space, we were able to reconnect. I was again in complete awe of her. She was (and still is) married to that same high school sweetheart and they went on to have three more children together. And though my guilt still prevents me from getting too close to her, she welcomed me back without so much as a single word about my abandonment. If she could be that generous with her grace then surely I can show my friends some slack. I am in no way comparing my situation to the tragic loss of a child. We are at opposite ends of the pain-spectrum. But, if SHE can show so much loveliness and warmth, I really have no excuse.

I have chosen not to call my friends again so that they can have an easy way out. I do not want them to be uncomfortable. Should my friends ever call me again I will behave as if I just spoke to them last week. I will not let on how wounded I have been that they have left me alone. I will understand that my friends are not at a place in their own journeys to be there for me. I will show them the grace that Tara showed me.


  1. Girl, I FEEL this! I am not as graceful as you - when my girlfriends turned their backs on me after my divorce, I tried shamelessly to get them to come back. Eventually, I closed those doors forever, knowing if i didn't it would only continue to hurt me. But you know what? I found that at a time when my lifelong friends ignored me, new wonderful people were popping up all over the place, and they were loving and accepting of me where my girlfriends had been harsh and judgmental.

    Life's funny. Nothing is guaranteed. Appreciate everything, every day. That's all we can do.

  2. I am so sorry that you don't have someone to vent to. I really think that having a friend like that is essential to a woman's well-being.

    As I was reading this, I thought about how all of us are rooting for you. It might be hard to comment on such topics like this, just like it's hard for your friends to know what to say, but everyone who reads your posts is sending their love and prayers in your direction.

    You are not alone! You are loved by so many, including God, and every single person here wants to see you find your happy ending.

    I have a friend who lost her baby at 9 months from a rare (like super rare) genetic disease. We've been friends since high-school but I honestly didn't know what to say to her. I knew she was angry and hurting but I also knew that anything that came out of my mouth might fall flat. So I emailed her and said something like 'I know you're sad and hurting and I know you probably have a million people around you telling you things you probably don't want to hear, so I'll wait to call. If you want to talk now then I'm here... if you need to someone to hate for awhile, then I'm here.'

    I don't know if that helped her, but it felt like the best thing I could say at the time. About a month later we talked until our phones died but at the time I really didn't think there was anything I could actually say to help.

    Maybe you should try emailing your friends and saying something like that--backwards--maybe they don't realize how much you need them.

    Anyway, if that doesn't work... I'll be your friend! :)

  3. Hey PTSD, A Love Story come back and update us on your life, I run PTSD: A Soldier's Perspective and would like to talk.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I have let myself get angry over the friends I lost when my husband was wounded. It seems that the military wives are the ones that backed out and the civilians were the ones that stood through. I am so thankful that you have a forgiving heart. That will take you a long way. Don't forget to sign up for our Wounded Warrior Wives on Operation Homefront. I am sure you can find lots of friends there.

  5. Emme,reading your story makes me feel like I am reading our story. My husband also has PTSD and it is such a difficult thing to deal with. We have been married for a long time and I love him with all my heart. We have been through so many tough times and made it through so I have no doubt that we can make it through this also. I will be following your blog, as it helps me know that we are not the only ones going through this. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family throughout your journey and ours.
    God bless you,.

  6. Natalie--Thank you for sharing that bit about your own experience. I have been divorced too and know that sting of not being the one who keeps the friends. I am glad that you have found new friends. Thank you so much for the encouragement.

    Cannwin--You are too sweet. Thank you for being so uplifting. I am so sorry for your friend's loss. But your perspective as her friend really helped me. I feel so horrible that you while you were so kind to include me in your Best Blog to Follow poll, I had completely skipped town. I am so sorry. While I was whining about my friends ditching me, I had accidentally turned my back on you. If the offer is still there, friend request accepted!!

    Scott--I AM back, for sure. I wish I hadn't been so neglectful of my blog because I missed seeing this link to yours! I just hopped over there for a look-see and I can't wait to get back. I have a feeling I will lose quite a bit of my Saturday reading thru all those posts. Thank you so much for making me aware of your site. I'm very excited to read how other people carry on thru this.

    Cheryl (Wife of a Wounded Soldier)--Thank you for the sweet comment. I did sign up for Wounded Warrior Wives after your recommendation in an email you sent in early August. I was just too shy to jump in. I finally have the nerve now so I hope to connect with others soon. Thank you for directing me there.

    Paula--Thanks for your comment. Since you don't have a blog for me to follow I hope you don't feel that this is one sided. You said you felt less alone after reading my story. I feel less alone also knowing that you are going thru this too. Please keep in touch. Feel free to email me emmemccoy(at)gmail(dot)com.

  7. Emme, I cried when I read this. When I am in PTSD meltdown...when I need my family the most they stay away and then to add insult to injury they say they understand that I just need to decide to get over it and until then I get what I get...

    I wanted to reach out to let you know you are not alone.

  8. Everyone is entitled to running away at least once in life. I'm still here and no offense taken. :)