I got “unfriended” on Facebook last week by someone I once thought would be a friend for a long time.
Throughout my life, I’ve learned that friendships change. They come, they go. Sometimes you just drift away from someone and there are no hard feelings—it’s just that their purpose in your life is finished and you both move on with happy memories and a certain fond feeling when you think of them. Sometimes friendships end in a rush of drama—accusations, hurtful actions. That’s happened, too.
But this faded friendship is different. Just a short few years ago, she was one of my best friends, and I think I was up there on her list, too. We shared so much with each other. We talked, we laughed. We loved the same movies and drinks and places.
I changed. She changed. But even through all that change, I cared about her. Sometimes I got frustrated with her propensity to act like a mother (she’s eight years older than me) who knows best, or to psycho-analyze everything I do. I think we were both willing to overlook the quirks and appreciate the whole … until we weren’t.
My life has taken so many twists and turns in the last ten years, and in the seven years I’ve been friends with her alone, I’ve moved to England, then to Washington, then back to California. When I was offered a job in Stockton, California, her reaction was, “Stockton?! Are you crazy?” And yet moving to Stockton was the best move I could have made—it’s in Stockton where I found Chorale, and found the self-love I needed to lose weight and take better care of myself.
It was that self-love that initially seemed to alienate her in 2008. There was an email about “putting others down to make yourself look better,” which shocked me. I thought my new confidence would make her happy for me. I read and re-read my message that had inspired this chastisement, and couldn’t find where I had committed this grave error.
There was going from “You’d better be at my wedding!” to “I have to uninvite you, the guest list is too big, we can’t afford a hundred people, and [husband’s] colleagues wouldn’t understand if they weren’t invited.” I told her I understood; even as inside, it hurt that I was suddenly less important than colleagues.
Our friendship cooled. Then I noticed she was no longer present on Facebook … or, rather, she was no longer present on my Facebook. That was later said to be a mistake. And in March of 2009, we decided that the friendship was too important to either one of us to let it die. So we let bygones be bygones and made a new start. Our friendship was different now, but we still cared.
She moved to the east coast that summer. Her husband had been laid off and he got a new job. I saw her once or twice before she moved, but she was busy, I was busy. Once she was gone, we kept in pretty good touch via email, but I knew that our previous closeness would never come back. I was okay with this. People grow and change, right? Still, I wanted to know how she was doing.
My last email to her was a little over a month ago. We’d been writing back and forth with some regularity. I sent off a newsy little email and never heard back. I sent a card via snail mail, as I have for many people of late. Nothing. Occasionally, she’d click “Like” on something I posted on Facebook, but that was it. I would reciprocate, but not do anything else. I wondered if I’d said something, then figured that she was just busy.
And then she was gone. I went to read her blog yesterday, and I no longer have permission to access it. I checked for her on Facebook, and we’re no longer friends.
At first, I was a little hurt. Perhaps a little indignant. “What, you don’t want to be friends with me?!” Then I was angry. “What the hell do you think I did? Can’t you even have the balls to tell me?” Then I accepted that our friendship really has never been strong since two years ago … and that, perhaps, I’ve always been a little angry with her for things she said and did at that time.
But what really struck me—what really shocked me—was that it took me a few days to realize she was gone from my life. She had slipped from a “person I tell everything right away” to “eh, I’ll tell her later.” Even, sometimes, “I won’t tell her that … she wouldn’t understand.”
I’ve had about twenty-four hours to process my feelings about the end of this friendship, and if I’m honest, I’m still a little sad, a little hurt, a little angry. And shockingly, I’m relieved…because in the last two years, I sometimes felt like I was tip-toeing around her, never crowing too loudly about the things I was proud of for fear of being thought too boastful; never showing more than a lukewarm opinion for fear of being treated like a child who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. It was exhausting, and I resented her for it. It’s not her fault I felt that way—after all, I could have been more open, more honest, and I wasn’t. Still, it took its toll.
I am blessed to have friends the world over—some who were once close but now not-so-much (though we keep in contact via Facebook and genuinely care about one another), and others who remain close. I have old friends and new friends. I have close friends and acquaintance-friends. I am blessed to have them…and I was blessed to have her for a time. Because there was a time when she was one of my best friends, where she was important, where we were “past-life twins.” And that time is done.
I changed. She changed. No use being angry about it.