Woman Seeks Advice About How To Open Up To New Friends About Her Tragic Past
Life ain't easy and we ALL have a past. Sometimes we do all we can to runaway from and hide the life that once was and the person we used to be. Problem is that person... existed and they'll never not be a tangible presence. Admitting who we once were is an essential part of growth. Case in point...
Redditor wannacomeclean wanted to discuss... Want some advice on how I [29F] can "come clean" to some new friends [32F, 34F, 34M, 38F) I've gotten close to over the last 6 months to whom I've been lying by omission.
I know what I'm going to do, I just want to talk out the best way with some objective parties, I hope that's ok. I will change all names and fudge some irrelevant details just in case...not that I'm super scared anyone will recognize me, just like my anonymity.
I've been through some s***. There is no way to sugar coat it. 3 years ago I was married to the love of my life (Ben) with the most perfect human child that ever existed (Veronica) and I was 5 months pregnant with a boy. We were hit by a drunk driver at 5pm in the afternoon, my husband and daughter died on the scene, and I miscarried my son in the hospital later that night. I was otherwise physically "fine". It has not been an easy road. There were times when I'd have killed myself, except after losing my daughter, I'd never do that to my mom. I took time off work, I spent time with friends and family, I went to therapy almost every day, I grieved. I tried to go back to my old job, but it just didn't work. I don't blame my coworkers at all, but no one really treated me normally. With everything they did there was just this...pity. Every idea of mine is the greatest, every joke I tell is the best. When I walk into rooms people stop talking and focus on me, everyone wants to share my workload and help me out. They are doing what you'd think any wonderful people would do but it felt terrible. I wanted to move on with my life and feel normal.
6 months ago, at 29, for the first time in my life I moved out on my own, to a new state, I got a new job using no connections who knew me.
I moved to this new far away city and tried to recreate myself. I had always wanted to salsa dance so I started going to a salsa night at a bar and ended up seeing 4 people there frequently. 3 women and a man, Brenda, Donna, Kelly and Luke. Brenda, Donna and Luke were a few years older than me. Donna and Luke are divorced with no kids (not divorced from each other) and Kelly is the oldest and is married with 2 kids. I started seeing them at the bar every Thursday night and spending time there, but after a few weeks we exchanged numbers and got together for dinner. The rest is "history", we were fast friends and hung out about once a week, sometimes Donna and I would see each other more often because she was also single.
The last 6 months have been the best and and worst I could have imagined. I needed for people to treat me as a human. I needed to not see pity in their eyes when they looked at me. I needed them to be honest with me and not just tell me everything I did and said was the best ever because I've suffered enough. It felt great for a while. They called me out on my s***, they aggressively loved me, I felt so normal.
One weekend we went to the beach together. Kelly saw me in my bikini and exclaimed "ugh you bitch, you're so thin, that is the body of a woman who has never had a baby!" and laughed. She was complimenting me, I wanted to scream that my body grew the most perfect human that ever existed and that my breasts fed her for 13 months. I suddenly cursed my body for not having stretch marks when before it'd seemed to be a blessing.
Now Brenda has been dating someone seriously and they just got engaged, and is leaning heavily on Kelly and Donna since they've both been married and want advice. Sure she wants my advice too, as a good friend, but she doesn't want to hear about my wedding that I had poured my heart and soul into because she doesn't know it happened. But I guess I didn't think I'd become such great friends with these new people and want them to know more about me, and now I am looking for the best way to tell these people that I am a widow who lost a child and a pregnancy along with her husband. I've known them for 6 months and we've gotten so close in so many ways.
I don't say this to sound bitchy, but I also know that I'll get a pass. No one will be mad that I haven't told them yet, everyone will understand, I just want to tell them in the least dramatic way, and to make sure they fully understand my reasons and that my intentions for lying by omission were selfish, but good.
How To ProceedGiphy
I think tell them some of what you have told us here.
Tell them that you moved somewhere new to get a new start, to be treated normally. Tell them that their friendships have been so valuable and wonderful, and has helped you heal.
Then tell them that as you have become closer, you have wanted to share some of the positive aspects of your past. That you feel compelled to speak up about the wedding you planned, the marriage you built, the child you carried and nurtured. And so you know you need to tell them what happened.
Pity Party Perspective
The impression I got was OP did not want to be treated differently because of the tragic losses she suffered. If she confides this to her friends they will treat her differently. The solution of "just tell them" seems the obvious simple solution, but she may not like the results. Remember, OP moved away and recreated her life to get away from the pity party everyone was constantly throwing for her. It kept her grief alive. If she confides in her friends she may very well end up in the same situation.
And as someone else pointed out, her friends may end up feeling like s*** for the things they said to her in ignorance, like the bikini incident. This will only exacerbate the situation OP wanted to get away from, people feeling guilty and pity for her.
No matter how nice your friends are, most are not equipped to deal with the reality of OP's issues. I don't have any real answers for OP besides do not drop the bomb. Maybe trickle truth OP's past, mention she was married but she doesn't like to talk about it. If one of her friends reaches out to her for more info, OP can share more as the friend is indicating they want to hear what happened, but to keep it to themselves for the time being.
I'm going to tell you something that might sound counter-intuitive given that you're looking to be honest, but: framing is important. If you start your revelation by telling them that you've been lying to them (even by omission), they're going to receive it as a story about how you lied to them.
You have done nothing wrong here. You have done nothing dishonest. You have held back nothing that anyone was entitled to, or needed to know. You did what you needed to, at the cost of no harm to any living person. That's not a lie in my books.
So maybe sit down and tell them "There's a part of my life I haven't been ready to talk about until now, but now we're so close I can't imagine not sharing it with you." And work on thinking about it in those terms yourself. There's nothing to beat yourself up over here.
The Original Poster Had An Update For How It WentGiphy
So I really want to first take a moment to talk about how awesome my experience in this sub has been. I knew that I wanted to tell my friends the story of my past, and I knew they would react pretty well, and I knew they'd be supportive and we'd remain close friends. I really just didn't know how to bring it up after SIX months. I don't know if I expressed it in my first post, but 6 months is kind of a long time, I feel so close to these people in so many ways, so mostly it was just weird to me to not be able to casually mention my family. I absolutely still have days where it's hard to get out of bed and I just want to be left alone to cry in the dark, but so many times I think of happy memories with my family, and adorable things Veronica did that I'm reminded of and I want to be able to pepper those into my conversations. I struggled with HOW to tell people. One on one? Big group dinner? Email? So I actually emailed them all the day after my first post here and invited them over for dinner the next night if they could make it on short notice. I said to please bring their SOs, but told Kelly I'd explain later why I think she shouldn't bring her kids this time. Honestly I was just afraid she'd get really upset and wouldn't want her kids to see her like that. She couldn't get a sitter, so her husband stayed home with the kids, but Brenda and Luke brought their SOs, and I made a huge pot of chili and some cornbread. I feel like they sensed something was up, because honestly I thought the odds of them all being able to come with one day's notice was unusual.
They showed up early evening, we sat in my living room (tight quarters!) and had some wine, and then I started. I'm an awkward person, so I basically said "I have some big information about my past that I really want to share with you. It's not something that I share with everyone I meet and it's hard to bring up, but now so much time has gone by and I feel so close to you all, and I really want you to know this part of my life. I think it'll be emotional for you all to hear about, and I think it'll slightly change our dynamic for a while, but I'm also really excited to share this with you." A couple of the girls were already teary. I didn't know if they'd googled me and already knew what I was going to say, or if they could just sense the emotion in my voice. I wanted the next part to be really blunt and not beat around the bush and first set it up so they wouldn't see where I was going. I said, 3 years ago my husband, 2 year old daughter and I were in a car accident when I was 5 months pregnant. My husband and daughter were killed instantly, and I lost the son I was carrying, but was otherwise physically okay.
Everyone was silently sobbing at this point, including me. I told them why I moved away, why I wanted to start fresh, and why now I needed them to know my story. Kelly got up and came over and sat on the floor by my feet and cried into my lap for a while. I stroked her hair and told her it was okay, and that her kids are the first kids I had contact with since Veronica and it genuinely gave me so much joy to be around them, and that the only thing I would change is that I'd like to share stories about our kids, talk about what Veronica liked to play with or the "words" she would say, diaper rash. We were all still crying, but there was a lot of smiling and joking too. I tried to break the ice a little bit with Kelly and said "you know what this means right? I have had a baby and still look hot in a bikini!" We giggled, she said OMG I can't believe I said that, I said I take it as a compliment and assured them all I would not hold anything against them they said previously that in the light of this new information could now be seen as offensive.
It wrapped up so neatly like a goddamn sit com! I mean, they are good people and I knew it would. With all I've been through I'm choosey about who I let into my life and I could tell they were good people who would react well, but they've also all been friends for SO long, it always kind of feels like I'm the new kid and we aren't on equal footing. I am glad I told them all together though, instead of telling them individually. I honestly don't think I could have handled that emotionally, going through it took a lot out of me.
Brenda actually said that when we first met and she was looking up to see if I had Facebook, she came across a headline about my accident but didn't click on it because the headline was so horrific and she assumed it was just someone with the same name. We finally ate chili around 10:30. I do think they'll tread lightly around me for a while, but I also think this is going to bring us closer. And I don't intend to bring my family up often, but I'm glad now I can share stories about my wedding planning, childbirth, breastfeeding, etc. I never wanted someone that I could cry to about missing my family. Honestly....that's mine and mine alone. I still go to therapy, so I'm not keeping it inside, but it just doesn't work for me to express my grief over my loss to others. Thanks for helping me talk this out Reddit.
Thank you to those of you who sent me PMs sharing your own losses or just wishing me well. I could not have had this particular conversation with anyone in my real life. You were really here for me. That means a lot.
Who's having onions?Giphy
Best choice ever. Now excuse me while I go clean my tears.
yup sitting at my computer crying. good thing i live alone.
Find your Tribe!
I am so happy things worked out with your friends! The way you described them and said they were great people, I knew they would be awesome.
I could tell they were good people who would react well, but they've also all been friends for SO long, it always kind of feels like I'm the new kid and we aren't on equal footing.
THIS. Thank you so much for saying this. It is never too late to make friends or "join" an already established group. An addition to such a longtime group of friends just makes it sweeter and more loving than it was before!
I hope you were able to gain some emotional release from crying. I find that often happens to me. I don't think of it as depressing the days that I might spend several hours crying and shunning other people. Maybe it's the spending time thinking about my family that makes a good crying session feel cathartic, but I also think the physical release of the tears helps too.
I didn't sign my permission slip to go on this feels trip. Still, such a happy ending. Good luck to you, OP.
The Lucky Ones..
Yeah this is going to sound weird, and it certainly wasn't intentional, but this is now something that bonds all of us together. I hadn't spend as much time with the SOS of those who have them since they don't come salsa dancing, and I see Donna (god I think Donna, I'm so confused by my fake names, but the other single lady) more often than the rest so we're pretty close, but now this experience itself is something we are going through together. I'm so proud of the way we were all there for each other last night. I know they care about me, and I know how I would hurt for a friend who went through what I did, so I know this is draining on them as well. I've had 3 years to come to terms with this and they are just finding out about a pretty horrible tragedy that happened to someone they care about. I strangely feel like the grief veteran here, and I can help them navigate these sad feelings.
It honestly just feels really great. I can now go to work and to the local store and to the gym and not get constant pity, but I still have those close friends nearby that know about my family and want to be there for me. This is going to sound so freaking cheesy, but I feel like Ben sent me this group of people to take care of me. He was so much better at making friends than I was. I met everyone through him. And who meets a whole new group of friends shortly after moving to a new city. I never again thought I'd feel "lucky" after what I went through...but I just feel so lucky to have met these people.
Thanks for the smiles...Giphy
I don't know what I could say to add to this perfect, perfect update, OP. Just that I'm really stinking happy for you. Reading through this post brought some genuine smiles to my face. Like, I'm ready to weep tears of relief for a complete stranger. I'm just, gaaah...so glad this worked out good for you.
I'm not a religious person at all, but I feel like these people were put in your life on purpose.
You are not alone!Giphy
You may have lost your family in an accident, but you've gained a new family.
Truly caring companions.
And you still have the option to start a new family of your own again.
Bless you, and your courage, girl.
But - you sound like such a genuine person with such great love in your heart. I hope you continue to find new happiness in your life :).
I'm so glad this went well for you and I wish I could give you a hug.
My grandma (not by blood) lost everyone she loved before she eventually passed away...and while she lived like normal, you could tell that underneath it all, she was very happy to go meet up with her family again. Relieved. It wasn't super obvious, but it was just something you know without needing to be told.
I don't know what you can take from that but you'll meet more family that you didn't know you had, maybe you've found that in your new friends :) Good luck in life, and know that your family is watching your story play out and they'll be there for you at the end.
Quitting a job can be a liberating feeling, but it can also be scary as hell... especially if you don't have another job waiting for you on the horizon.
Thanks to Redditor BurningDruid13, we have some answers to the following question: "Have you ever quit a job, without another lined up, for your mental health? How did it turn out?"