Behind Closed Doors: Friendship, Shifting

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There’s something about feeling uncertain or disappointed in a relationship with a friend that feels immature. Uncertainty about where you stand or insecurity about a friendship makes you feel like you’re back in the playground, whining to a teacher because your best friend of three days has gone off with someone else and they keep whispering to each other and pointing at you.  You’re worried that, amid all the other big concerns of adulthood, of jobs and unemployment, homes and homelessness, families and loss, that you’re being overdramatic, immature and unflatteringly needy.

 

That said, it can be a sudden shock to the system when something shifts in an established friendship, and you no longer have the firm footing and solid foundation that you had come to rely on and expect. Friendships change over time and proximity and circumstance, but it can be a huge blow to suddenly realise that the friendship you have treasured and prioritised has changed.

 

This weekend I have wept, berated myself for weeping over nothing at all, and reminded myself that it is no one else’s responsibility to help me spend time as I’d imagined; with shared plans unfolding over a couple of days, of long evenings of shared home cooked meals and talking. Assuming those circumstances, based on previous weekends spent over the past decade, was a mistake on my part. I have no one to blame but myself for that assumption and the sudden shock that it didn’t happen.  But it was that shock, and the l­oss of the memories I thought I was going to make, that made me weep. The ground has shifted and I’ve just found out.

 

I managed years ago to appreciate that romantic film descriptions of partners’ understanding each others’ every need without a word, was utter rubbish. I realised pretty early on the importance of actually talking through plans and expectations with my other half. Somehow this wisdom has bypassed my long friendships and I find myself having to learn it again.

 

Having been separated by circumstance and distance for long months, when two friends separately arrived close by for a weekend, I was excited and thrilled, looking forward to sharing plans and slipping back into familiar conversations and laughter. When those two friends, separately rejected repeated invitations, decided to remain at home, it was their proximity that really hurt. Moments from each others’ door, we sat separately. I was alone and felt it, sitting isolated, paralysed and more hurt than I had any right to be.

 

One lost Saturday night is not important. It is not anything as large or important as an end of a friendship, let alone a life-changing event. It’s just one of those small moments when you’re reminded of the separateness of people, and the difference between your understanding of how things work, and the reality.

Categories: Behind Closed Doors
5 interesting thoughts on this

5 Comments

  1. Posted August 14, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    This is a tough, grown-up reality nobody warns you about having to deal with. My parents drilled into me to never expect anything from anyone and then you can only be pleasantly surprised. Even with this rather Eeyore-ish outlook I’ve still felt disappointed, left out and hurt by friends who have drifted without me realising.

    Praise yourself for being open enough to have experienced the friendship in the first place. If you really protected yourself enough to never get hurt again, you probably wouldn’t have the fantastic friends you do still have!

    Px

  2. ChirstyMac
    Posted August 14, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I so so know what you mean. I am also one of those with a rather foolish perhaps, propensity for mentally living a meet up many times in advance of it actually happening. Its so dangerous as it so often sets up up for falls – something that we only seem to ever realise after.

    Not so long ago I reached out to a friend that I hadn’t seen in years but that I knew was now living in London, having been living overseas (or on the seas!) for many of the years since we were the kind of stupid-close you get in your late teens.

    I was apoplectic with excitement that popped when her opening words were ‘It’s so lovely to see you, it’s been tooo long! But can we be quite quick ordering? I’ve got a yoga class at 8…” Far from the slip right back into the kind of easy relationship we’d once had where we practically knew what the other was about to say, it was like an awkward blind date with someone you really have nothing in common with.

    It took me quite some time to get over the ‘break-up’ that sort of inevitably followed. But I don’t mourn it now. We are 2 people who once enriched each others lives immeasurably. Now we don’t.

    But I like to think we totally do it for other people; our now friends. X

  3. Fran M
    Posted August 14, 2014 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Your first paragraph especially struck a chord with me. I think saying goodbye to a friendship just isn’t something that I’d even contemplated in your teens and early 20s. The only way I think I saw a friendship ending is through some kind of disagreement/abuse of trust. Maybe that’s why we see it as immature, because it’s somehow unjustified? I hope your faith in friends hasn’t been shaken too much x

  4. kate g
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Loosing a friendship is always sad and sometimes harder to come to terms with when its due to drifting, rather than a big nasty cause. Drifting is usually due to change and growth, and growth happens unconsciously so it’s often a shock to be confronted with the change and natural to be sad. Growth though, is something to be celebrated. I’ve come to hold strongly to the belief that people come into your life for a time and a reason, and hope you will soon be able to look at all the reasons these friends were in your life and chart and celebrate your own growth from having them in it. xx

  5. Posted August 20, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I 100% know how you feel. Early this year, I moved out of my comfort zone and to a whole new country to live out a dream. At the time my 4 best girls told me nothing would change, and naively, I believed them! Now, 8 months later I find that I have barely spoken to them in months despite repeated emails, texts, whatsapp on my part. The thing that gets me the most is not only were these girls my bridesmaids only a year ago but one of them spent 2 years living in Sudan but we managed fine.

    Trying to start all over again is hard. Losing a friendship is hard. But don’t let your faith be shaken too bad. X

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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