On a recent trip home to England, I reconnected with an old school friend I haven’t seen in 25 years. It was so much fun to reminisce. I remembered her cat, Othello, long gone, and the trip we took on a canal barge; she remembered that I made her run with me on Sunday mornings and that my bedroom was always a mess. It was also fun to catch up on our lives since then and to see what’s changed and what we have in common. For instance: she’s been married to her high school sweetheart for 19 years, has worked in the same job for 21, and lives about four houses away from where she grew up. I’m on my second (and final) husband, have had more careers than hot suppers, and live 6,000 away from where I grew up. But we have lots of things in common, too: we both love to travel, we’re both close to our mothers, and neither of us has children.
The latter topic did not come up in conversation.
Our mothers know one another and so I’ve heard that, “she’s had some problems” and I’m sure she’s heard some variation of that about me. And yet, we didn’t talk about it. Here is a woman who actually gets what it’s like to not have children, a woman with whom I once shared all my secrets, and yet neither of us brought it up.
Maybe it was our heightened sensitivity to the subject that stopped us from asking personal questions, or maybe our newly rediscovered friendship was just not ready to risk stepping into potentially dangerous territory.
Have you had this experience of finding an ally and then being unable to talk about your shared issues?