Tapati (tapati) wrote,

Death of a Friendship

Haven't we all been there?

A once close friend you spent a lot of time with, shared weddings, important birthdays, every party gradually distances. You begin to notice via social media that there are major birthday parties you weren't invited to. Oh, I guess our little mutual birthday dinner is the excuse for not inviting us to the REAL celebration. You come to realize you have been demoted from the A-list tier of friends to the legacy b, c, or d list. You meet up once or twice a year and when you do, you often talk as much about your shared past as about your present, trying to relive the glory days when your friendship was alive and vibrant rather than breathing its last fumes.

You don't know how to talk about your apparent demotion and sense that it would only be denied if you did. Projection? Maybe.

Increasingly the distancing friend is short with you or disputes your reality. This might be especially true if you have chronic pain and illness because of course it couldn't really be as bad as you say it is and you must be malingering or not fighting it hard enough. If you talk about how the medical profession is interacting with you, you are exaggerating or misunderstanding them. You begin to notice your perceptions and beliefs are constantly being challenged. You learn to avoid certain topics in the hopes of avoiding that condescending tone but the list of topics to avoid gets longer and longer. You feel increasingly unsafe, and start to contribute to the distancing yourself to avoid the pain of being talked down to by somebody who used to respect your point of view.

Finally one day this interaction takes place on social media. It isn't quite as pointed as in person but now you can't just avoid it by not spending time together. Finally you must say something about it. You're shocked because it comes when you are already stressed out by multiple things, a death, a cancer dx in the family and a crisis for your child and grandchildren.

All your anguish and hurt pours out onto the screen and will be labelled unkind and vindictive. (Normally you would have re-written several times but you're too stressed to right now.) You held out hope that your old friend might express that of course I can listen without discounting you and wish you had told me sooner etc...but no, you're told that there's no point in continuing the friendship while taking zero responsibility for its deterioration up to this point. I guess that's a great way to avoid having to say "I'm sorry I hurt you."

The details may differ but friendships end like this all the time because we don't seem to have a repertoire of polite ways to indicate that somehow our lives no longer fit neatly together and our friendship is dying. We don't get a divorce, we drift. Or now that social media reigns, we unfriend. If we want to express our extreme disdain and prevent any response we block.

And we are left with the pictures and the gifts of a 24 year old friendship so we can't ever forget what we've lost.

This friend that I just lost was one of the closest friends in my entire life and once we were in synch with our values and our lifestyle and we supported each other in a zillion ways. I suspect the beginning of the schism was a lifestyle change she didn't feel I would approve of. Or else she just wanted to spend time with people who also were a part of it. I don't know. I have friends with a wide variety of lifestyles and choices that I don't judge so if that's the reason I am even more sad. The only time I've judged such a thing was when I saw someone doing it in a harmful and disrespectful way. But I'm just guessing.

Another friend has been with me on the B list and I hope they can work things out before it's too late. I'm planning to stay out of their issues and not bring mine into it.

How much did my illness play a role? I may never know.

I honor the good parts of our friendship and I'm sad it had to end this way. I wish I had had the courage to talk to her sooner. I was afraid. I was so fragile, so suicidal, I was afraid if it went badly it would push me over the edge.
Tags: chronic illness, divorce, friends
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