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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.