Sometimes—no, really, all the time—I can sink pretty low into a pity party when I think of the loss I’ve endured all before age 40. I don’t want attention or my own pity, it all can overwhelm you or better yet—sneak in on the most beautiful of days. When you are a difficult person who also struggles with demons of anxiety and depression, you are hard to be around at times. And when you are deep in the murky crud of life, you honestly want to be alone.
Thus, maintaining friendships is hard. Right now, I am breaking up with two of my longest friends. This break-up has been a long time coming; it all started when the world changed for me again when my brother died. My tears were mostly for the knowledge that grief was entering my life all over again since my dad passed a few years before.
I was a mess of texts to friends. A puddle of tears on my closet floor. A big lump under my covers. A lazy parent who just couldn’t do the everyday. On the daily for a good two months, I reached out to my friends never thinking I was overstepping or overwhelming them.
When the texts and calls began to disappear, I knew we were in the midst of trouble. Multiple emails, calls, texts of “why?” and “where did you go?” began to happen, and after months of “It’s fine, I’m just busy,” I got the response I knew was coming.
You’re different now.
It’s hard for others to have problems when you have so many.
You’ve become too selfish.
Stunned and angry, I let my emotions speak. I was beyond hurt, but I also knew I had been selfish. As one friend shared her truth, another was waiting to do the same after multiple cancellations to meet and talk.
We can’t compete with everything in your life.
I want a friendship that is mutually rewarding.
I’ve had issues with our friendship for 2-3 years now.
Again, more answers as to why I was suddenly without close friends to text when the grief came. I dug deep and spoke with others about their concerns with me. I began to see I was selfish because while my world was changing, I didn’t bother to check in on theirs. While their words physically still sit on my shoulders, there was truth. More reaching out to talk. More plans made to meet. More silence on their end.
Not a day goes by when I don’t play conversations in my head—mostly ones I know will never happen. Other friends and family want me to move on and stop worrying. They want me to remember the friends who let me apologize, and I definitely do, but when a friendship of that long ends, you can’t help but feel the pain.
Friendships are hard and need to be nourished just as would a marriage. You have to fight for it; you have to apologize. But, what happens when it just ends—no closure and no meeting to shake hands and go about your life? How do you move on from that?
Grief still has me in puddles some days. I also tiptoe around sharing my woes when I know others have their own. I wish I had a big life lesson and maybe one day I will, but I am grieving those relationships. No one tells you those could go away as you age. No one puts broken friendships on the list with bills, budgets, potty-training, and any other adult responsibility.
I don’t want to be a selfish friend. I want all my friends to know it is a great reward being in their lives. I want issues to come as well as apologies and understanding. And though I am grieving these break-ups, part of me wonders if we could ever rebuild. We are all hurt; we are all at a loss.
I don’t like this pain. I don’t like being partly to blame for anything ending. I don’t like what it does to my mind on a daily basis. But, as with my anxiety and my grief, I just keep fighting.
And while the fight can be tiresome, it’s all you can do. With the tribe who loves you and with the strength you dig deep to find. While friendships break, you fight to hang on.