Do you have a best friend? Of all your “Facebook Friends”, neighbors, colleagues, acquaintances and even family members, how many of them are you truly close with? How about yourself – do you treat yourself the way a true friend would? I think about these things from time to time, especially around the holidays and this month that’s traditionally dedicated to gratitude.
I had this friend. She was one of the most kind and generous people I had ever encountered. We talked or got together at least once a week, and during some of my darkest times of illness and infertility, she was there for me. Aside from my sister and husband, I considered her to be my closest friend. “Had” and “was” are the operative words here. At one point, a few months after I had my baby, she just stopped talking to me. I reached out many times to schedule an outing, and I received curt but polite responses about not being able to get together. At first, reasons were given… but eventually it was just, “I can’t. I hope all is well.” I even sent her a message saying that I missed her and wondered what it was that I had done/said. She never responded.
Almost a year after we last corresponded I recently ran into her, and she really went out of her way to ignore me. I’ve gone over and over in my head the last time I remember being together, wondering what it was that prompted this change. We had a fairly raw conversation about life direction, having children, and money… could the answer lie there? And if it does, was she really as good of a friend as I thought if she can’t have a conversation about real issues without getting offended to the point that she cuts off all ties? If she truly cared about me, why would she not just tell me what bothered her in order to preserve our friendship?
This situation gave me flashbacks to high school: micro-dramas with classmates, cliques, and that horrible feeling I would get when I knew someone “didn’t like me”. But processing it in writing like this is helping me to move on. There was a lot more detail in the paragraphs above that I’ve therapeutically distilled. Instead of focusing on scarcity or loss, I’m thinking now of the friendships I do have. I’m thankful for the many long-time friends that I still see fairly regularly, where we conduct a surface “catch up” on our life events. I have so much support from my husband and my wonderful sister, who lives in a different state but is always willing to connect for serious conversations when needed. We have an open and loving relationship with all of our parents. My dog still gives me unconditional love and friendship, even if I tend to focus more on the baby nowadays.
While the types of friendships with significant others and family obviously stay constant through time, it’s also natural that we might have shifts in our friend groups as we go through different phases of life. The particular friend I recently lost was one made through climbing, and now that I am climbing less and “mom-ing” more, I’ve sparked some new friendships with other moms. After all, maintaining friendships of any type requires effort and hard work! With the newest addition to our family (who is now almost 2!), I’m still learning to juggle all the things I want to do in the realms of Work, Home, Community, and Self, without adding too many new responsibilities. And being a good friend to myself is always a high priority.