Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's not me, It's you

I've been doing a lot of thinking about friendships. Dealing with a life changing experience (grief, childbirth, marriage, etc) will teach you a lot about friendships. Friends that I thought would always be there turned out not to be. And friends that were always solid in the background really stepped up.

I have a hard time letting go of friendships. I'm fiercely loyal to people I care about. And I will try to salvage a friendship that I feel is worthy.

One of the friends that I have lost I have mentioned on here previously. We use to have so much fun together. She could be a bit high maintenance because she wouldn't drive anywhere so if we were going out together I would have to drive. However, she always helped pay for gas or she'd pick up a meal, etc. She was an excellent shopping buddy, which I feel can be difficult to find.

Back in January on the night I really hit rock bottom she and I had plans to go out. I don't believe we had seen each other since before my mom died. In fact we had only recently reconnected after losing touch. Her response to my mom's death was to text me periodically to ask me how I was doing and that kind of bothered me. I initiated contact with her and consequently we made plans. Unfortunately that was a night from hell and I had to cancel our plans.

The conversation, via text, didn't go well. I don't remember all the details but I remember me lashing out a bit that we only had plans because I had made the attempt and her response was that it was work being my friend. And yes it was. Hello, my mom died. Grieving. It's not an excuse, it just is.

Recently I've been thinking a lot about her and sent her an email. I would have preferred to send a letter or card but I deleted her address. So I sent a short email apologizing for what had happened and telling her that I miss how much fun we had together. I sent it Friday afternoon and received a response on Monday morning. She mentioned how she appreciated my apology because she knows it's difficult to do so.

Apparently she didn't feel the need to apologize for her part. And that really bothered me. And then I realized that a)I wasn't surprised and b)I wasn't missing anything. And it got me to thinking about a conversation I had with a friend of mine recently.

We both have had to let go of a common friend. She brought up the point that this particular friend had no long term friends in her life. No girlfriends from high school, etc. I started thinking about that. I have friends in my life that go back to junior high school. We don't talk every day. In fact, we can go for weeks without talking. But if need be I can pick up the phone and say "help" and they'll answer. I have friends that were in my first wedding in 1989.

So, I wasn't surprised that I didn't receive an apology or an attempt to reconnect because this person also has no long term friends. With both these individuals it's painfully obvious that perhaps they don't know how to be a really good friend or they don't understand the value of a true best friend.

To be fair to the common friend, she really stepped up the night my mom died. I will give her that. I appreciate it like nobodys business. But she also thrives on those kinds of situations. The whole "saving the day" thing. I've known her for a few years and we've not only been friends but served on boards together and she's never really truly committed to anything. She'll step up but once she's bored, or it doesn't serve her purpose, or she's just not "feeling it" she quits.

And while I hate losing friends, do I really need these types of people in my life? Someone once told me that one of my biggest faults was that I often expected others to behave as I do. That is, if I treat a friend a certain way, I expect that friend to treat me the same. I disagree. If I send a friend a card, just because, I don't sit around waiting for them to send me one.

However, I am allowed to have expectations. I am allowed to expect to be treated a certain way. I would hope that my friends have expectations from me. And I hope that if I don't they'll step up and let me know.


socalgal32 said...

Have a question - was your apology conditional? It appears that once she didn't also apologize, you felt slighted and changed your mind about wanting to spend time with her. I am most happy when I do something because I feel it is the right thing to do - with little expectations.

divacowgirl said...

No, not conditional at all, that would be pointless. I did it because I felt I should. Other comments made in her email made it clear that she didn't want to resume our friendship. If she had indicated she wanted to, even without an apology, I would have done so gladly.

a Cagey Bee said...

Hope this doesn't come across as strange & cyber-stalky, but you just bought one of my pendants (thank you!) & nineteen clicks later I'm sitting here reading a blog post that feels like it was written just for me.

I'm going through something similar right now with a friend & reading your post was a lightbulb moment. Life is too short & I spend too little time as it is with family & friends that I care dearly about. I think extending the olive branch is important, but at some point we need to take a step back & decide how much effort we can afford to spend on relationships with people that don't feel fulfilling & nurturing & just GOOD. You know?

So sorry about your mom.