Our enthusiasm makes us believe in the “happily ever after” of friendships. But it is usually not the case, and our hearts can ache badly.
It might be the whole craziness of Galentine’s/ Valentine’s around us, but a recent call from an old friend made me think about this in a deep way.
Here’s what happened: Just last Sunday, I got a call from an old friend who lives on the other side of the country.
We have known each other since high school, celebrated accomplishments and cried failures for years now. We have loved each other for a long time.
However, her call made me feel uneasy and upset. For a couple of years now, I am noticing a pattern of her calling me only when she needs something. She rarely shows honest interest in my life, nor she shares any deep insight into her own life with me either.
I hardly see her in person anymore. Even when she comes to my city, she “forgets” to tell me. And I can’t go see her where she lives in my current circumstances. We don’t chat much anymore, usually because she wouldn’t answer my texts and I get tired of being ignored.
On the phone, she sounds as polite as someone who is trying to get as much specific-for-her-needs information as possible in the least possible amount of time.
I am getting the hint of this relationship not working as a friendship anymore.
But it is not the first time I have felt this way…
Since I was a child, I had to move from one city to another with my family. It made it hard for me to keep up with friends (no internet at that time, in case you were wondering…). But I loved to write letters and get back written responses. And funny enough, that helped me cultivate long-lasting friendships. Many of them have been continued to this day via social media and email.
Now, I am a thirty-something woman, with a tween daughter and a husband from a second marriage. Also, I live thousands of miles from where any of my old friends live. If it was not for chatting apps and, I would feel severely depressed and isolated. Mainly because it is not the first time I had experienced heartache from being cut out of friends’ lives.
I mean, being raised Catholic I would take by heart this quote from the Bible:
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Since age 13 or so, just when I discovered how empathetic I could be with people, I decided to become the best friend someone could ask for. I also took an oath of not letting people in my life if they didn’t show legitimate interest in being good friends to me too.
But life happens, and it throws you curve balls to make you adjust your growth…
When I got divorced, I was extremely hurt by some people who I called my friends. I would interpret their decision of not taking sides as a sign of betrayal. And I value loyalty high.
Frankly, ending my marriage with the father of my child was hard and painful, but I never expected to feel like I had to break up with my social circle too. That was devastating.
As time came by, I learned to adjust my judgment to evaluate each person’s individual reasons to act the way they did. I guess time and age has taught me to look for different perspectives when it comes to interpreting behaviors. Now I don’t go for straight-rational black-or-white answers. I am willing to evaluate their circumstances, their personality traits and even how they treated me after a while. In a word, I have become more compassionate with people I have called a friend.
However, don’t get me wrong: My decision of stepping away from a friendship might stand even after doing this more compassionate evaluation. What has changed is the way I feel about doing it. It has changed from feeling offended and deeply hurt to a state of understanding.
Now, I understand that people, like plants, can grow together from the same roots. But eventually, they will grow apart and even cut off most of the other branches surrounding them.
I want to respect her drift away from how we were. I still love her dearly and I am grateful for the time we had grown together. However, I am already doing internal work to help my mind and heart deal with the loss of our friendship.
I have been thinking of how she can still be in my life but in a place where she won’t hurt me and I won’t feel resentful with her. Neither of us deserves that.
We might drift from each other more consciously from now on. Maybe, if things get to a point of no return, we might have to take different and incompatible paths. It might be necessary to apply some KondoMari method to our relationship too.
Because if a friendship doesn’t spark joy, it is time to say a heartful “thank you” and let each other go.
How would you manage a situation like this?