It’s no secret that I have had trouble making friends as an adult. Last year, I wrote a post about how hard it was to connect with new people, and I quickly found that I was not alone. Although being the parent of a young child comes with its fair share of meet-and-greets, I find I rarely connect with another mom or dad on any level beyond friendly chit-chat during daycare pick-ups and drop-offs.
One part of this could be related to my tight schedule, built around my son’s needs, and my full time job plus at-home business, but I feel like adult friendships should form and blossom in a more organic way.
Now that my son is two years old, I have come to accept this limited interaction with other adults as the new “normal.” I have quietly resigned myself to the fact that making friends is hard at this age and turned my attention to my longer term friends who already treat me with genuine kindness. I thought that everything was going well in my small world, but I recently discovered that something (or rather, someone) was missing. While I was focused on keeping a steady supply of diapers and groceries stocked, trying to cope with the impending loss of one of our beloved dogs, and trying to keep my head above water at my new job, I missed something big: my friend pool had gotten smaller.
When scrolling through my texts and social media messages, I noticed that I hadn’t heard from one of my closest friends in weeks. Typically, we would contact each other more frequently. Of course, this isn’t the only time in my adult life that I have been delinquent in keeping up with my friends, but usually, with my closest of friends, it’s easy to pick up where we left off. A message here and there is plenty to stoke the fires and keep the friendship alive; it’s one of the things I love most about my besties. We can talk about random things on and off for weeks or months, but I know that if something important comes up, we’ll be there for each other in a heartbeat.
At least, that’s what I thought.
This time, when I messaged her, she dropped a bomb: she had gotten married.
It was like a gut punch.
When I am stressed, I make lists. Reasons why she should have told me. We’ve known each other for ten years. We lived together for 6 months. We lived in another country together. We experienced another world together. She was at my wedding, my baby shower. She was one of the first people that I told about my miscarriage. I love her.
I made another list. Reasons why she wouldn’t tell me. She was keeping secrets. She didn’t want me there. We weren’t as close as I thought. She didn’t love me.
I couldn’t hide my disbelief, and she joked about the whole thing, playing it off like it was no big deal.
It didn’t feel like a joke to me.
Nearly every friendship of mine has come to a breaking point. No matter how nice, how thoughtful, how genuine the intentions, it seems inevitable that there will be a power imbalance or conflict at some point. You discover that one of you is always stronger or faster or skinnier, or better at something than the other. Then things will go one of two ways: you will celebrate the other person’s success or there will be jealousy. As an adult, I have almost always been the one to end a friendship when it goes sour; I can usually understand what has happened and rationalize my choices.
Not this time.
I don’t know what went wrong or when. I couldn’t even decide how to feel. Was I supposed to be concerned or sad or insulted? Was this really no big deal? I didn’t know how I was supposed to react.
I asked if everything was okay and she said of course. I said I thought we were closer than this. I was met with silence. When I didn’t hear back, like any sane thirty-something woman, I took to social media. I pulled up her profile to see the pictures. I skimmed her updates for hints. Who was this secret man? Who could I find in the background of the wedding pictures? Were other friends there, just not me? What I found surprised me even more: there was nothing. No photos of the wedding, of the relationship leading up to it, or any posts to that effect. Most of the photos of her as an adult were gone. I couldn’t tell if she had blocked me from seeing them or if they were deleted altogether. I felt like my friend had been erased.
What am I supposed to do with that kind of information (or lack thereof)? I can spin this a bunch of different ways, but I can’t avoid the truth:
It’s a hard pill to swallow when you realize that you value someone more than they value you.
It’s more common to talk about “breaking up” when one is talking about romantic relationships, but it certainly feels like I’ve been dumped. If I were to follow advice commonly given after a break up, I would spend time with loved ones, spend some time focusing on myself, do some traveling, and face my feelings. I can get behind most of that advice, with the exception of travelling (at least for now). That was our thing.
As for now, I’m coping how I always do: I’m trying to be present with my family. I’m drinking extra macchiatos. I’m putting in extra miles on the treadmill. I baked a cake. And like after any breakup, I’m not sure I want to put myself back out there anytime soon.