I know it isn’t just me, although there are times when I wonder, noticing how time changes things…behaviors, physicality, beliefs, ideas, what seems important….etc.
A friend texted me today. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard from this friend. I contacted her a year and three months ago regarding the death of a mutual friend’s husband. She said they had grown apart and she felt no need to attend the service since they were no longer close. That made me sad. I wondered then how people can just let another person slide away from them. I wondered once or twice if she’d felt compelled to send a sympathy card or if that too, had slipped far enough away to seem irrelevant.
Today she contacted me, I’m not really sure why. She wrote that her life has been a whirlwind (which she imagined I was aware of via Facebook). That made it very clear to me that she no longer (if ever) follows me because I am so rarely on Facebook a follower/friend would have missed my online presence it would seem. Are we so caught up in banality and the constant stream of information that we are no longer aware when someone goes missing?
If you are expecting me to be aware of what is going on in your life because you’ve posted it on Facebook, be aware that I am highly unlikely to see anything posted on Facebook unless you text me immediately to inform me to check it. So, two things immediately came to mind…1) who posts personal stuff on Facebook? and 2) if you have time to post on Facebook, why wouldn’t you have time to call a friend or text a friend on a regular basis? I texted none of this to her, and I debated doing so, I also debated asking if she had time for a phone call…but I was busy and was rather resenting the intrusion into my day, much the way I do when the telemarketers get fired up at their phones.
She briefly brought me up to date with a major event in her life and I found myself wondering why bother? If it isn’t worth a phone call, the contact with a human voice with nuance and tone, if it only merits a brief text message, why bother? And if it was really worth the telling, I would still have to ask, “Why now?” Nearly two years have passed since we saw each other last. After six months of my phone calls going unanswered and unreturned, I finally gave up.
Everything has a season and a reason for being. With the pain of heartache and grief, I relinquished the friendship I had treasured and moved on. Is there a pre-approved time limit for moving on? The friend who lost her husband over a year ago, is moving on slowly, I have moved on a bit more quickly, but then, it wasn’t a “death” but an “ignoring”. What is the acceptable time limit for that? Is there one? Did I not give it enough time? Do I owe her more than an obligatory and polite, “Hi, how’ve you been?” if we meet in public?
As I answered her texts as briefly as was polite, I felt more-and-more miffed at the intrusion. I was trying to work and every few minutes I had to stop, pick up my phone again, read the newest text and try to respond in a kindly manner. Out of respect for the deep friendship we’d shared years ago, I didn’t want to offer anything she could pick up and take as offense, so I tried to be careful and noncommittal. I told her I was happy she was happy. There’s nothing more I can add to that other than, enjoy your life, good day.
For years I have said that if anything happens to my marriage I would never get married again and probably would never even have a “boyfriend”. I don’t want to spend countless hours memorizing someone else’s family and dramas or having to help someone learn mine. Years of, “No, honey, that was Robert, this is Anthony, Robin’s middle child, no nooo, Robin is the one who worked at the drug store, remember? Anthony married the bookkeepers, ex’s daughters, friend’s daughter. I know it’s confusing, you’ll get the hang of it.” It makes me shudder! (And btw, those are all made up names and instances…but you get my drift.)
Well, after limited contact the last three years culminating in no contact for the last 15 months, this relationship feels much the same as that. I know there has been a tremendous lot that has gone on in my life and I imagine the same for her and I really don’t want to try to catch up now. It doesn’t matter enough, and yet, it’s too much to just pick up and move forward from here because the gaps are just too big. That’s where the sad came into play…I realized that if you don’t use it, you do lose it. I fought to keep the friendship alive, but with only me trying, it died. I mourned it, buried it, and now I’ve moved on.
I was on the verge of feeling angry about her contacting me after all this time. And I thought about calling a mutual friend of ours and realized, wow! I hadn’t talked to her in almost a year, either. I know, I know, at this point you’re thinking its me….and you might be right, but I don’t think so, other than I tend to pick the same kind of people for friends and this is where it’s gotten me.
Anyway, I picked up my phone to call her and ask for a reality check to see if it was just me being bitchy or if I really was justified in feeling what I was feeling when I realized, wait a minute! She did the same thing to me! She was the one who told me to stop calling the text-er because she clearly wasn’t interested in keeping the friendship alive. That people come and go in our lives for a reason and we need to be able to let them go when they have served their purpose. That is the way Spirit (not my term) has things set up so that we can get the help we need when we need it most, but we have to let go too.
Then she got busy with men in her life and no longer had time to talk to me and never called back and then never called. Never made any effort whatsoever. When she was coming to visit the old homestead I arranged a lunch date with her and a mutual friend. I kept at it and made it work. No talk before or after, just during the lunch where she said, “I don’t know why we don’t talk anymore, we need to.” And I just looked at her and thought, “I know why”. But we are getting older and I was a little worried that maybe she’s starting to have memory problems… . So, I let it go then, I let it go today, and then I started thinking wait, this is a good lesson, a good warning to others…friendships are important and they are necessary. They are also living organisms so if you don’t take care of them, they die.
I have two people who used to be very dear, beloved and intimate friends who are now strangers to me. I tried. Repeatedly. I don’t give up easily. But today, I realized I am a bit angry with both of these women who probably have no idea how long it’s been and who are so wrapped up in their own lives that they couldn’t bother with me, not a phone call, not a text, nothing. And yet, clearly at least one of them feels certain they can just pick up like it’s the next day. It’s not the next day. It’s been over a year. I’m not willing to “be there” for you anymore. If I mattered, you should have taken better care of our friendship while it was alive and flourishing.
So….here’s the lesson…I feel like Mr. Peabody at this moment…
If you value someone as a friend, make it a point to keep that friendship alive. It takes two people to keep it active. If you can’t be bothered today because you are busy or tired, that’s fine, but don’t be surprised when you finally contact them in a year or two to find out they’ve moved on and the friendship is done. Over. Buried.
I have learned to be self-sufficient and entertain myself quite nicely. I like who I am, and I think I am too valuable to be put on a shelf until someone has time for me. Either I matter enough to be a part of your life everyday or I don’t, but I won’t sit on hold for months on end. I don’t think anyone should. I don’t know how many years I have left, maybe ten, twelve…who knows, but I have found a multitude of things to do and my time is precious. I won’t waste it on those who didn’t want anything to do with me until they were bored…or whatever.
So…go out and feed your friendships and any other relationships that matter to you.