The older we get, the more precious friendships seem to be—harder to find, harder to hold on to.
Once you have one, you do what you can in between obligations, life, kids, and work to cultivate it. You send text messages, tag someone to a funny article or meme, and occasionally make a phone call. (Rarely, I know.)
Sometimes, days and months can pass before you reach out to or hear from a dear friend. Lucky are we when it seems like no time has passed, and the conversation is natural and flowing.
But what happens when that’s not the case? When it isn’t flowing and natural? Or even still, when a friend ghosts out of your life?
Years ago, I became friends with Diana (not her real name) after running into each other at the same places and finally striking up some conversation. We got to know each other well, and our circle of friends merged into one giant circle. There were many outings to eat, to drink, staying in as a group to watch The Bachelor, enjoy Fiesta, talk about boys. At one point, most of us found ourselves in relationships, so we all worked hard to keep in touch (thank you, early vestiges of social media!) and our gatherings became less frequent. One reason was because we had less free time due to new jobs, another reason was because more time was spent with significant others.
I’ll add here that seeing your friends less because they or you are enjoying a new relationship is OK. I get it. I went through it myself. But when that relationship becomes all consuming or the partner doesn’t want to get to know your friends, I take issue. (Cue the Spice Girls’ “Wanna Be.”)
Diana began dating someone, and we saw less and less of her. When we did get to spend time with her, she always had to leave to take care of her boyfriend’s needs. (I did think this might have been my own biased memories, so I fact checked with some friends who confirmed.) It was pretty frustrating and irritating to not only be brushed off often, but to see that she would drop everything at a moment’s notice to bend over backward and see to his every need.
We would joke with her about this, to find a way to open dialogue about how we felt and what we saw. She joked right along with us, and would inevitably have to leave to go make him dinner. (How did he ever get along without her? Who fed him? Walked the dog? Entertained his coworkers? All questions we were dying to find the answers to.) Eventually, she would just cancel or flake out on events, not to be heard from for days or weeks.
Life proceeded, as it did, with more new jobs, boyfriends, and engagements, including Diana’s. The girls planned an overnight celebration where we would go out and enjoy drinks, dancing, and each other. And we did! It was great! At least, until the next day when she snapped at one of us in public causing a minor spectacle. It was then when I realized she was no longer the friend I used to have.
Her wedding day arrived, and in a weird series of circumstances and miscommunication in her family, there was no one really in charge of the wedding. So I stepped in, proceeding to help with All The Things—organizing the procession, managing the caterer, helping with all the nitnoid things that come up on a wedding day, making sure everyone got paid. My now husband and I continued celebrating with everyone at another location until the cows came home. And then . . . nothing. Not a word. Not a text. Not an email. Whatever, I had my own wedding to think about.
For the big day, she had planned to help us decorate in advance of the wedding, possibly out of guilt for all I did for hers. Thankfully, we didn’t have much to do so it was no big deal to tell her not to come. She and her husband did, however, leave early after the dinner for some reason or another. Had all the other stuff not happened, I probably would have been bummed. But I wasn’t. In fact, a few of us joked that we should have made a bet on the time they left.
Fast forward to almost a year later, we’re both pregnant and due to birth around the same time. Being at her shower was really awkward. Coming by for a visit after the baby was born was awkwarder still, and not just because I was hugely pregnant myself. I birthed a week or so later and the communication really started to dissipate.
Other girlfriends also shared that it was a bit strained going by to visit her, and trying to get a hold of her was nearly impossible. I didn’t have the energy to purse it, as I was dealing with the newness of my own situation and preparing for Paul to deploy overseas.
A few months into the new year, I received a strange email from her, indicating that I had wronged her by not reaching out to her, not knowing she was struggling, flaking on her for a lunch, and so on. I was pissed. Of all the things . . . . Really? I did this? I had SO MANY WORDS. SO MANY. I bit my tongue so many times about her behavior in the past that I was verbally unleashing a torrent of expletive-laced rage the likes of which I hadn’t done in years. How many times had I stood up for her? Offered assistance and received no reply? I had my hands FULL with baby and the military and work and mastitis and ear aches and THE NERVE!
My girlfriends who knew her talked me down from the crazy ledge, and I chose not to respond. Still haven’t. Sometimes, broken stuff needs to stay that way.
It’s been years since this happened. I run into people who know her and ask about her, to which I respond with an “I don’t know.” She still flakes on people when trying to meet up with friends. It hurts to have lost a friendship, especially when we both needed it the most. I miss her, and I wish her well, but ain’t nobody got time for nonsense.