So, I lost a friend

So, I lost a friend

Admittedly, it wasn’t much of a friendship for the last little while.

I saw her less and less, and when I did, she was snippy to me.

It’s very likely I did something to make her that way … but I’ll never know. She didn’t tell me.

After years and years of friendship that included holiday meals, out-of-town trips, and for-your-ears-only admissions, it all ended with less than a bang, less than a whimper … just a ghosting.

I had another major friendship end this way. In that case I was her bridesmaid — yes, we were that close. Except … maybe we weren’t. Because as the wedding date approached, I hardly saw her, and when I did she was “stressed.” I heard that word a lot — stressed over addressing the invitations, stressed over putting together the table centerpieces. Until one day it hit me — Wait, I’m her bridesmaid. Shouldn’t I be helping with those things? Shouldn’t I be helping to alleviate all this stress?

It was a lightbulb moment — she obviously had a better friend, or confidante, she was turning to for all this. Or she was doing it alone. Either way, she wasn’t turning to me.

The Honest Talk — friends weeding

We got through the wedding, but after that I decided to see what would happen if I stopped reaching out. Stopped making an effort. Stopped calling. The answer was, the friendship died.

But that was back when our lives were going in different directions anyway. She would have both her children before I was even married. Chances are we would have drifted apart regardless.

This more recent time was unexpected. In fact, I had thought of this “grown-up” friendship as the antidote to ones that ended when I was younger. Back then, I thought, we were easily distracted.

We were pulled in different directions. We didn’t accept the good with the bad. We didn’t know how to talk about hard things.

I was wrong, though. It was just the same.

Less and less contact. “Stress” and snappishness when I saw her. Me deciding to reach out a couple of final times — “Hope all is well.” or “Happy birthday!” — then take a step back. The end.

I try to see things from these ex-friend’s viewpoints. I know I wasn’t the ideal bridesmaid. I had returned to school to study journalism out of province. Sometimes I was far away. Always, I had very little money.

The recent friend was going through a lot. She genuinely was stressed. Nothing I could have done would ever have relieved her of that.

Both of them might say it was me who ghosted them. Me who stopped reaching out. But, as much as it might sting, the truth is, if I stopped calling and messaging and they didn’t feel compelled to contact me again, it was never the friendship I thought it was.

Sometimes friendships end because of circumstance. People move jobs, or homes, or cities. We might wish our ties were strong enough to hold up the friendship, but it’s also OK if they’re not.

Sometimes they end with a bang. You betrayed me. I broke a promise to you. We went into the pandemic in sync on most things and came out fundamentally disagreeing on any number of matters.

This ghosting, though, is awkwardly terrible. For me, anyway, it leaves me wanting to self-analyze — What could I have done differently? — but with no input to help me.

And, yes, I guess it takes two to ghost in that I still have my former friend’s contact info. I could confront her. I could turn our whimper into a bang — closure, I guess that would be.

But I’m already bruised and I don’t feel like being broken, so I won’t do it.

Maybe that tells me how much the friendship was truly ever worth from my side.

Before you feel too sorry for me, there’s good news! I do have true friends who see my imperfections and show me theirs, and we stick by each other. In a few weeks, I’m meeting a friend in person who I’ve known virtually for years, and who’s gotten me through some really tough times. And, over the last couple of years, I’ve developed a couple of new friends who I value more because of better understanding the value of friendship.

Also, I’m a writer, and it always feels better to write these things out, so thanks for reading — it helped, and was very friendly of you.


The honest talk