Perhaps it is a part of life that at some point, the most important people in our lives, whether a spouse or a relative or a best-friend, leaves. Their departure is not a result of an accident or death, but the direct result of a choice, a personal choice to no longer be a part of your life. They simply choose to exit. They no longer want to be in touch, they don’t want to text or call or write an email to you. What was once the person who you turned to most, that you shared everything with—a new job, a new apartment, a new pair of boots—one day, that person chooses to disappear. They simply no longer want to be that person in your life. You can resist, you can fight, you can say fuck off, start a fight, beg, cry, say you’re sorry, ask why. But you truly only have three options:
- Accept that there is nothing you can do,
- Accept that you will never know why, and
- Move on.
Aside from family estrangements, I have had two best friends in my forty-eight years. The first friend and I became besties in fourth grade. All through high school and college we remained very close, continuing our alliance. I was maid of honor at her wedding and am God mother to her daughter. But somewhere during the course of our friendship, things fell a part. She seemed to be disappearing from me, and the more she was gone the more I fought against what was happening. The more unavailable she seemed the more I tried to be available. Yet every time we had plans it seemed she would cancel last minute. My bitterness festered. The effort was fruitless. It almost destroyed our friendship. Recently, we have reconnected, but part of me feels as if it will never be the same. I keep her at an arm’s length at best, weary, unable to forget and partially unable to forgive. I feel as if I have to forgive her for things, at least try to—want to—forgive… yet sometimes I can’t get beyond feeling manipulated. Perhaps this is not a bad thing, perhaps this is all natural, perhaps this is the evolution of human relations.
The second best friend was standing by my side only recently in celebration of my graduation from grad school. But ever since she boarded the plane and headed home, she has seemed distant. I have no idea why. Her replies to my text msg.’s seem canned, sometimes flip, her mind frame exacerbated by my amplified reaching out. It felt as if I could sense an eye roll any time a text msg. from me rolled across her screen. After repeatedly pressing her for a reason why she seemed so angry with me, she responded with an email list of 10 items. Without copying and pasting the list, the following is a sampling: She regrets sharing so much of her life with me, that I seem untrustworthy. She resents that I backed out of a trip where it would have been me and her and her boyfriend. She’s annoyed that it seems like when JC is home, I am unavailable and not chatty. She feels unimportant and without value when I send her a photo and then ten minutes later it appears on FB. She is tired of being a closet Republican, meaning, she does not feel like she can trust me with her political views. She misses my empathy. Net: she’s tired of fighting with me.
I agree, we’ve been fighting a lot lately. Electronically. I thought a lot about her email, I appreciate her sending it to me.
Why is it so difficult to apologize to those we love most?
This is the person that would laugh and joke with me about parking our wheel chairs side by side in the nursing home so we could drink wine and laugh together till the very end.
I wrote a long empathetic reply to my friend, apologizing for my words and actions that hurt her. But, I must accept that I will never truly know why she is unhappy with me. Or just unhappy. (Can we not all relate?) I see truths, but to destroy a friendship because you did not like that a friend posted a photo to FB that was also recently shared with you?
The regretting of trusting me with stories from her life? That is legit. I regret being so selfish, so close-minded, so… judgemental.
Regarding politics: I have no issue with political party affiliation, only candidates. Something I feel like I could never explain clearly.
In the end, maybe it’s best we step away from one another. Maybe we are simply too close. Maybe we have reached a point where we drag each other down? I can’t help but to feel like I have no idea what’s really going on with her. No idea. Some things are not for us to know.
I never married, never had kids, so my requests over the years for people to show up for a life-celebration have been, well, none. I have always been the one that shows up to celebrate the milestone in someone else’s life: weddings, baby showers, engagements, subsequent 2nd marriages. I have always been so, available. Until now. I have finally found someone. Finally. At the age of forty-eight. I finally had a life-event. Graduating from grad school. At the age of forty-eight.
I have stood in many a procession wearing a matching outfit and smiling for a camera.
The problem is, before you realize it, the damage has already been done to a relationship. By me, by her. By you, by him/her. It’s unfortunate. The more I try the worse it seems to get. My only recourse is to walk away and let my friend be. As I did with my 1st BFF.
I’m reticent to let go because I care so much about BFF No. 2 because she was my partner in crime. Together we hiked the back country in Wyoming and jumped from waterfalls in Maui. We rode the bobsled at the Olympic park in Lake Placid and ran our first ever half-marathon together. We were partners, the strongest supporters, sisters.
In her email she said she was pulling back from everyone in her life. But we know these are excuse-ionary words. Akin to, “It’s not you it’s me.”
I explained that she is my lifeline, especially now given everything I once knew having been stripped away; job, home, family, community.
But maybe my needing her more than ever is simply too much pressure for one person. Too much responsibility. I strive to accept this. And so, the final shoe has dropped. I have officially lost every piece of who I once was only a few short months ago. The stripping away started in September: I was laid off from my job; then I moved out of my home; then I left the supports and healthy focus of my gym; then my health insurance expired; then what little savings I had managed to accumulate dwindled to next-to-zero. The stripping away is complete. But maybe it’s not. Maybe there’s more. In which case I need to buckle-the-fuck-up.
My parents have been dead for over fifteen years: there is no home for me to go home to. What once was—is long ago, gone. JC gave me a roof and a warm room in which to set up my desk and comfy chair, and a place for my infirmed German Shepherd to lie in the afternoon sun; he gave me a place to finish the last of my school work with my furry compatriot by my side.
The day that I completed my thesis for submission, my beloved dog died. It’s as if he was waiting for me to finish. It’s as if he knew.
And now, my best friend is fading into the distance too. Truth: this is the second time, third maybe, she has done this disappearing thing before. But why?
Perhaps my need is too heavy.
In the end, I am no longer who I was. I have no idea who I am now. I am no one. I am nothing. I am a dusting of snow on the ground and the single track of animal prints out the window. I am empty. I am…