Childless Not By Choice and Friendships
Friendships can be difficult when you are childless not by choice. Friends begin to enter into parenthood, and it isn’t uncommon to start to feel left behind. This can happen as a trickle. After each friend gets pregnant the others talk about how she isn’t able to hang out as much. This is understandable with young kids. I understand why friends wouldn’t be able to hang out in the same manner as when they did when they did not have kids. That isn’t the hard part. The hard part is being the one that is left standing alone as the others all start to get pregnant. No no-one is complaining about the ones that can’t hang out as much, because it is just you.
When you’re left alone, looking around and not seeing anyone else like you, childless not by choice, it is harder to ignore the loneliness. There is also the loneliness that occurs when you are socializing and hanging out with your friends that are mothers. They talk about what they know, what their life is, and that is being a parent and a partner if there is one. There are little opportunities to interject in those conversations if you’re childless and single not by choice. If you are partnered but childless listening to others discuss co-parenting can be sad and difficult. It isn’t that the childless woman can’t cope. She cope ALL the time. Very few things in our life are directed toward the childless, therefore, much of what we consume through the media and small talk with strangers can sting depending on where we are in our grief process. You may lose some friends in this process. This hurts and feels unfair. It is.
You also deserve friendships where you feel seen, understood, and valued. There should be a mutuality to the relationship. For many, the grief around childlessness can be difficult to withstand. This is a grief that is often not understood as grief by others. We don’t have rituals to honor a loss like this in our society. We see very little representation of people enjoying their life when childless. We have to really look hard to find role models that show a life of meaning, purpose, and fun when childless not by choice.
Less talked about but also painful is the grief related to the loss of or changing of friendships. That feeling of being left behind and invisible is not easy. It is brutal. There are longer processes to assist with growing friendships that support the childless woman and finding other childless friends. I have a previous blog post on where to friend childless friends you can check out. For this blog post I want to focus on some quick thoughts to keep in mind when negative self talk starts to creep into your thoughts related to your childlessness and friendships. When you notice those negative thoughts, try replacing that though with one below. As you work on this skill consider coming up with some statements unique to your circumstance. This isn’t to gaslight yourself and ignore your feelings. This process is meant to stop the speeding train of negative thoughts that can paralyze us and make us feel like shit about ourselves. When you’re ready, consider journaling about the thoughts you needed to replace at a time you feel supported, and when you have your coping skills around.
Here are 3 thoughts to use when feeling sad about friendships:
1. I am going to bring my thoughts back into the present and focus on what I can control.
2. I am a good friend and worthy of healthy friendships.
3. I will work on expanding my friendship circle to include other women who are childless. Online friends can be great friends too.
And one to grow on.
4. I am more than not a mother.