Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Friendships, Part 2

So the original post for today was going to discuss friendships, but it seems I've already written it and said pretty much everything I want to say.

It's just that I'm thinking about all of that stuff again lately. I think it's because this week, I was contacted by an old and dear friend I've missed terribly (anyone remember Lady Starfish? 25 pts for you if you do). She was my best friend for years. Even when she moved to Tennessee, we stayed close. Then one day, she didn't return my call. I waited a couple weeks, called again, and that call was not returned, either. I am pretty good at taking a hint, so I admitted defeat: the friendship is over. A few tears in my pillow, and I moved on. I tried not to take it personally. She is the first to admit that she's a crappy friend. This was about 2 years ago.

Every so often, I would think about her, and even try and call her. But to no avail. After a while, I realized I may not ever be able to get in touch with her again: she probably changed her phone number to avoid her psycho ex-husband, she changes jobs a lot and she got re-married to a guy whose last name I don't know. So I basically gave up.

So imagine my surprise when she called me the other day!

Well, she sort of called me. You know how if you hit the wrong button on your phone, you can accidentally call someone? Somehow, she did that to me. I was so excited. But when I picked up, all I could hear was a car radio. She must have been driving somewhere, and the phone was on the seat next to her. I could hear the radio loud and clear, and even hear her rolling the window up and down. But she could not hear me yelling her name. So I gave up. And hung up. And was very sad. So close, but so far. If only...

Today, the rollercoaster friendship started back up again. I got a text message from her, telling me she misses me and is going out of town but wants to catch up on Monday! She apologized for being gone so long! Yay! My friend is back! She must have seen that she accidentally called me.

But I am wary. I am gun-shy. I'm wondering if we can even be close friends again. It's not that I'm not aware that friendships can fluctuate or even wither away. But it is painful, sometimes. She's one of my favorite people, so for her to jump in and out makes me feel...disposable. B-list. Back burner. And it hurts. I think I am going to have to say something about this, when we talk on Monday. Oh, who are we kidding. I KNOW I will say something. I have a big mouth and I think out loud. So we will see. Right now, I am expecting her to not answer her phone on Monday......experience makes you a pessimist. *sigh*

I swear, it's like dating a guy or something. My emotions right now are the same as when an old ex-boyfriend would call me and want to get back together. I have all these questions, and old memories, and a longing to have that person in my life again. But at the same time, didn't we already try this? How can I trust them again? How do I know this will be worth my emotional and time investment? Do I only give it a half-assed try, in order to protect myself? Or should I settle in for the time being, grateful for every moment? Maybe I should keep up some walls for a while. It's only fair, since I've been put on the back burner all this time.

Right now, I am wary. But excited.

Also this week, I have been dealing with the flip side of this situation. There's a girl I used to be friends with. She's very nice, but not very fun. And she makes (what are, in my opinion) stupid decisions. She has a tendency to be negative. A wet blanket. An Eeyore. Looking back, I am surprised I could even tolerate being around her for as long as I was. But when your schedules mesh well, and you can't really come up with a bad reason to stop being someone's friend...you find yourself sort of stuck with them....

Until you can't take it anymore and realize you'd rather just be alone. Which is what happened to me about 2 years ago. So I faded away. I didn't always return calls, and if I did, I cut them short. I cancelled plans, or always had some kind of an excuse. I was hoping this would do the trick -- she would get the hint and move on.

Only, she hasn't. About every 6 months, I will get an email or a phone call. I don't return them, of course. I thought she was done, until she called me. And emailed me. And text messaged me. All in the same day. That day is today.

She is having a big graduation party and wants me to go. While I applaud her achievement, I have ZERO desire to go to the party. She will corner me and expect an explanation for my long absence. Or worse, act like it never happened. The other girls from that "group" will also be there. I have also blown them off for the same reasons. The food might be good, but the party will be lame. It will be awkward, at best. I know everyone will want to know "where I've been" because I'm a "stranger". Which, if you are a woman, you know is just a thin veil for, "WTF? I thought you were my friend!" The best thing I can hope for is that they are all pissed at me, and will refuse to speak to me. This would actually be the best thing to happen, if I go. But do I want to go to a party like that? Um, no.

And yet, I cannot bring myself to reply to any of her attempts at contacting me. What do I say?? I can't go to your party, which isn't until mid-December? Congratulations on working your ass off for the last 3 years, but I can't make it? I don't want to be your friend anymore? Please stop calling me? I'd love to, but I have to clean my house that day?

Any of these replies will either hurt her feelings or open the door for further contact. Neither of which are viable options, from what I can see.

The thought of talking to her fills me with dread and guilt. At the same time, I am even growing a little irritated at her inability to just let sleeping dogs lie. Get. The. Hint. You know?

It's so funny, because I NEVER had these feelings when I dumped a boyfriend. I felt relief. I was happy to move on. If they called me, my attitude was more along the lines of, "WTF do you want?" rather than, "Shit. I am an asshole." -- which is how I feel right now, staring at my phone and its voicemail message from Miss Eeyore.

It's a million times more difficult to blow off a friend than a boyfriend. I can't figure out why. You'd think it'd be worse with the guy -- after all, you have probably seen each other naked. There's an intimacy there. But for some reason, loyalty seems to trump compatibility in friendships. It's sort of the other way around when romance is involved. Look at all the men who have friends from childhood, and despite their obvious differences, they still hang out. Guys don't seem to care. It's like loyalty is the #1 rule. Even if the guy is a lame-o. I don't get this. You can call me selfish, but I think life is too short to spend it with people who bore the shit out of you.

Perhaps it's confusing, because I don't hate her guts or anything. She's still on my myspace friends list. I just don't want to be an active friend to her. If I run into her in the grocery store, fine. Let's have a friendly chat. Catch up. But I do not want to hang out with her over a meal or even a drink. I don't miss her or regret ending the friendship.

And I don't think there's any way to tell someone that without hurting their feelings. So my phone stays where it is, next to me on my desk.

It's so strange, being on both sides of the same coin at the same time. I am excited! No, wait. I'm an asshole. I can't wait to catch up! Why won't you leave me alone? Please remember to call me! Ugh, stop calling me!

With Miss Eeyore, I feel guilt and shame. And empathy. Which only makes the guilt worse. I know exactly how this must make her feel. The confusion. The pain.
With Lady Starfish, I have trust issues. I am hurt. I am resentful. Yet understanding. Because I have been blowing someone off for 2 years, myself. I also worry that I am her Miss Eeyore, and I have finally browbeaten her into calling me.

Is this karma at work? Some surreal metaphor? Is the universe trying to teach me something?

Ugh. Friendships are hard. What should I do?

9 comments:

Fluffycat said...

You are right, much harder to get out of a friendship than a relationship. I think that with this graduation party, you should be flaky and avoid answering. I dunno, seems like she would "get it" at some point that you don't really want to hang out with her. But maybe you just need to be direct with her since avoiding her hasn't done any good.

That's good about your friend getting back in touch but also good to figure out where you stand so you don't get hurt by the situation again if she starts flaking out again.

columbiacitygirl said...

I think it is more difficult because when a romantic relationship has run its course you just end it – you have to. That’s how it works - you can’t have more than one significant other. With friends you can, so if you are ending it is just seems, well, meaner and more personal (whether you are the one ending it or if someone ends it with you). Friendships between women are so intimate, and I guess that’s why it hurts. All in all, any relationship is about chemistry, and if it is not there, it just isn't.

teahouse said...

I agree..it IS hard.

I just got totally dumped by a friend and it hurts, but like you I've accepted that she'll never return my calls, and she'll never give me a wedding present or even send an email to say, "Congrats on getting married" (even though I spent over $1,000 on her wedding and was her maid of honor).

As for the other friend, I agree that you shouldn't feel guilted into being her friend. Life is too short.

Meghan (The Declaration of MY Independence) said...

Text Eeyore back and tell her congrats, and that you would love to come, but unfortunately, you have an out of town wedding you need to go to that weekend. I'm sure she will understand. ;)

As far as Lady Starfish (and yes, I remember her! 10 points for me!), proceed with caution. I would ask her why she dissed you for so long. Make sure her answer is honest. Busy is not an honest answer. And if she doesnt pick up her phone on Monday, then I would end the friendship immediately. You think life is too short to hang out with boring people, I think it is too short to hang out with jerks.

Miss you, friend!

Jonathan Zero said...

It happens with guys as well. I have several friends both male and female that have I have stopped the communication and others where they have. Yeah, it hurts but in most cases I feel better off without the ones that bring me down or for whatever reason do know want my friendship.
And yes, I remember LadyStarfish. If I remember your first post on friendship had her in it.

Jonathan Zero said...

gee, so many errors in my post...where to begin?

I meant to say "...friends both male and female that I have stopped...

and "...I feel better off without the ones that bring me down or for whatever reason do not want my friendship..."

Becky said...

i don't know what to tell you to do LOL but i DO remember lady starfish and i don't think yall can ever be as close again. cuz what she did sucks even though she's trying to make up for it. but yall CAN still be friends. maybe not good close friends but friends nonetheless.

tallglassofvino said...

VB, this is totally random, but thought you'd enjoy:
http://www.nerve.com/CS/blogs/scanner/archive/2008/11/10/sexy-librarians-win-wisconsin-dance-off.aspx

hope all's well!
tgov

tallglassofvino said...

dang, I'm so behind catching up with you, but once again going to pull the link punch: http://tallglassofvino.blogspot.com/2008/09/phone-tag.html

btw, we did fine - she misses me as much as I miss her, but our lives are on separate orbits, now. C'est la vie. Good to know it, and good to know the reason for it, and good to know that we both care and miss what we used to have, even while we know it's impossible to keep it afloat.

best to you!
tgov