[Bella’s intro: If you have read Part 1 of Carla Watkins’s 2-part guest post on friendship, then I don’t need to persuade you to read this second part. You’ve probably been waiting for it. I love it and I hope you will, too. To Carla, thanks again for this wonderful contribution.]
Finding Value Even in the Friends Who Disappoint You
By Carla Watkins
And then there is the loss that goes with friendship.
Shortly after my 30th birthday, one of my groups of uni girls, who are among my dearest friends, came up to celebrate with me. As we sat in a pub and caught up, I discovered that one of the girls from my other close group of uni friends had unfriended me on Facebook.
Which seemed a little… juvenile… for grown up women. Looking back at notifications and messages, it seems that group ‘officially’ cut me loose sometime in the previous year, with the unfriending happening just after I’d invited them to celebrate my 30th with me.
Admittedly that invitation followed a few years of upheaval and change; an extended period of time when, due to my personal circumstances and reduced income after leaving London, I frequently had to say no to their meetups because I couldn’t afford to go.
But though I have known for a long time that we have often very different outlooks on life and what we want from it, and totally different definitions of success, I never truly expected to lose them wholesale like this. They have since had babies and engagements and probably weddings, without me hearing about it from them.
It is disappointing and sad, and yes, it hurts — though I can’t pretend, in hindsight, I didn’t see it or something similar coming and failed to do very much about it.
Around this time I also found that a couple of school friends, with whom I was close when we were at school and through our university days, had also unfriended me. Though this was still unexpected, it did hurt less — I wasn’t in frequent touch with these girls, and while I valued our connections and shared history, we weren’t immediately connected to each other anymore. It felt like more of a natural progression. (Though still — Facebook unfriending?! I have people on my Facebook I barely recognise…!)
Most painfully, I have a couple of friends who I counted among my dearest and closest. In the last year or two, they have been silent, or almost silent — despite texts, letters, calls, voice messages. I worry about them. Are they ok? Are they alive? Was it something I did to upset them? Are they just being their usual appallingly-bad-at-responding selves or is there something more serious going on? The past two years have been the hardest of my life. Alongside the worry, I also resent the fact that they have not been there for me, don’t seem to care what I’m currently dealing with.
Since my beloved Dad passed away nine months ago, I don’t have enough emotional energy to track them down to find out. I send messages and notes and emails when I can, just to say hi and I hope they’re ok. Perhaps one day, I will go and see them and make sure they’re alright. But perhaps it would be better to leave them to it, perhaps their ghosting of me is a choice rather than happenstance, and perhaps they would be happier if I let our history fade into remembrance and nostalgia. I have to admit that their quietness hurts too, this year of all years.
For all the friends I’ve lost, and none have been deliberate, I hope that they are happy, and I hope they remember me and our friendship with fondness. I am so grateful to them for what we shared in the past, and I am always open to reconnecting.
For the friends I am lucky enough to still have in my life, old, new and in between, I love you all. I am grateful that you are there through thick and thin, happy and sad. I hope I am a good thing and a highlight in your lives, as you are in mine.
We don’t say this enough to our friends, so: I love you, I love you, I love you.
About the Author: Carla is a photographer, writer, dreamer and mermaid living on the east coast of England. She’s a firm believer in the gorgeous rebellion of making your life absolutely your own. You can find more of her musings and all the things she is currently up to at CarlaWatkins.com.
[Photo credit for Carla Watkins’s photo: Sarah Wayte Photography.]