I’m the friend who’s moving on. It’s not a falling out, the friendship has simply run its course and now is barely functioning.
We still smile and do the “how are you?” as we pass at the school or grocery store. We get together for chats occasionally, but it’s not the deep conversations that went late into the night or the laugh-until-we-cry type of stuff anymore.
We forged a friendship back when our teens were toddlers. Our boys were close in age, and we discovered things in common. We met for coffee after nap times or at playgroup. The conversations ran deeper over time as we revealed more of ourselves and found understanding in each other. We shared the details of raising children and maintaining a marriage including our frustrations and dreams.
We understood each other because we gained trust and let down the walls around our souls. We grew close because we worked hard to.
But life moves on and our children grew and ran in different directions, it drew us down diverging paths. We both returned to work when our homes vacated during school hours altering our schedules even more. We didn’t have time to invest in each other like before.
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We drifted into the “we should do coffee sometime!” friend zone. We meant it, but we rarely found time to make it happen, plus our new routines brought new friendships for us both.
When we did meet for coffee we weren’t as vulnerable as before, had less in common, and spent time explaining where and what we had done in the last three months. Our children were in completely different activities, so we didn’t understand the little worlds evolving in the other’s home.
She’d lament to me about our friendship and how she wants to recreate the earlier version.
At first, I agreed with her, but then I changed my mind.
I’m not the same person I was when we met 10 years earlier. Recent life experiences matured and jaded me in different ways than life had done for her. Because we didn’t share the process as it was happening, we didn’t have the same understanding we once had.
My husband and I have changed a lot in the last 15 years too, but we did it together and even though we aren’t the same people as when we wed, we’re still deeply connected. We changed together. My husband doesn’t compare our relationship to the way it was. He accepts we are different, and therefore, our relationship is different—better even.
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My high-school bestie is still my friend but because we don’t reside in the same time zone, we don’t have that closeness. We still have a friendship because we allowed it to ebb and flow with our changing lives.
I view this motherhood friendship with fondness. My best friend for those years of nursing, potty-training, and tantrums.
I see our old friendship as a special memory that I add to my mind’s shelf in a place of honor. Something I pick up occasionally and smile as I remember the good times. A treasure that commemorates a significant time in my life.
When she talks about resurrecting it, I just can’t. I tried, and we are different. I don’t know what to say when she is excited about something I completely disagree with—and silence is an awkward dinner partner. I don’t know the path that led her to those choices, and she doesn’t understand mine.
I don’t feel heard when we chat. I get caught up on her latest, but I don’t feel she has a clue about my life. Part of it’s my fault—being an introvert, I don’t spew out my thoughts on everything in an hour visit. I require time. Time that is hard to find when our paths don’t naturally cross anymore.
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I guess when she asks when we can get back to the old us, I see a Frankenstein of a friendship. Something that wasn’t meant to have new life. Something resurrected—only it’s nothing like you dreamed.
It’s awkward and barely a shadow of what it was.
I would rather spend an occasional coffee catching up on the basics, and in my mind dusting the old friendship on the shelf, admiring it, then returning to my real life. I don’t want to resurrect it. It was beautiful and special, and I always want to remember it that way.
I am content with the newest version of our friendship knowing this is where life led us for now even if it’s only visiting a few times a year.
I am the friend who doesn’t want to revive our old friendship. I’d rather release the shadows of a former life that hover over us and focus instead on what works for us in this stage of life.
I am the friend who is ready to move forward.