One thing I never counted on, it never even crossed my naive little mind, was that having a baby would lose you friends.
That sounds a bit dramatic and playground-like, but bear with me…
I was excited to return to work, to re-join and re-connect with a group of friends I had known for five years. But upon doing so I realised that things had changed.
It’s no one’s fault. These things happen.
I have said before about my fears about returning to work and how my job would change, but what didn’t dawn on me was that my friendships and the dynamic within the team I work would have changed so monumentally as well.
I’ve been back since the beginning of January and it’s hit me over the last few weeks how incredibly lonely I am at work.
My life is so different now. My priorities have changed. Who I am has changed.
I am the only parent in my department (for now!), and it is abundantly clear.
Those people who I once laughed with, shared stories and gossiped with, moaned with, went for dinner and Christmas drinks with, we’re not the same people anymore.
I feel like an outsider looking in. Looking back on my old life.
I feel lost.
It’s not their fault, not at all. It was bound to happen.
I left, albeit not permanently, but I left. Dynamics change, that’s normal. The rational side of my brain gets that. And I know one day they will have families and I’m sure there will be common ground again.
But right now I feel uncomfortable. I don’t know how to talk to them. I (selfishly) don’t have the head-space to listen and partake in idle gossip and office politics.
Maybe I am just a shit friend?
I know I’m not being maliciously excluded. I’m probably unintentionally withdrawing myself whilst I try and deal with my own mushed up thoughts.
It’s hard enough walking through the door everyday knowing that I have left my son behind so I can (again, selfishly) still have a career.
No one talks about the loneliness of sitting at your desk, day in, day out. The pain of ‘working mum guilt’ building inside you constantly. The fear that you’ve made the wrong decision being full time – hell, enough people insinuate it! – but that selfish part of you wants more. Hiding the tears that sit in your eyes sometimes, stinging, desperate to leak out, when you think of your child playing, learning, developing with someone else. The jealously you’ll feel towards other people who still get to live a selfish life.
I’m not alone, I know that really. Those people are still there for me, it’s just different now. Those similarities we once had are gone. Those things that made us relatable are, for now at least, a distant memory.
It doesn’t stop the feeling of awkwardness, isolation and overpowering loneliness, but it goes some way to comfort me and encourage me to keep going.
Hopefully one day things will change.
Phewf – writing this during my lunch break was an error.
* Cue pathetic guilty mum tears rolling down cheek, and scurrying to the toilet to fix make-up before anyone realises you’re not actually doing as well as you’re trying to let on *
Reading back through this post in the comfort of my own home, relaxed as I watch my son sleep peacefully on the monitor, my husband laying next to me chuckling at something he’s watching, the cats curled up on the sofa snoring gently, I realise that so much, if not all, of this uncertainty is just in my head. It’s me trying to deal with my own insecurities, me trying to find my own way, how and where I fit back in. Wondering if I ever will? If I will ever let myself?
Sure, things have undeniably changed at work, and that’s OK. That really is no one’s fault. And I usually embrace change; change is gooooood.
But maybe I am unfairly pinning ‘blame’ of this on other’s when actually it’s all in my head?
Meh, that’s deep and I should probably be in bed. Sorry.
I wonder whether others feel like this? I’d love to know!