Last year at about this time, I was in another city not too far from here, spending the weekend with some friends from high school I’ve reconnected with. It began about 5 years ago, when we saw one another at our reunion (the only reason I went was because those two were going to be there), and vowed to stay in touch. We connected via Facebook and messaged back and forth. On a whim, we packed up and met in Nashville for a long weekend, and an annual get together was born.
I’m so glad we did, we had a blast. We talked and caught up, and it felt as if I’d connected with two open, fun-loving women who wanted to share and maintain a friendship.
Over the next few years, others joined in, but the three of us tried to meet up apart from the larger group of seven. There was something more between the three of us. There was an easiness, the kind that passing time didn’t seem to affect.
By last year, I’d realized that while I very much enjoyed their company, the weekends always left me feeling as if I’d gone with hopes (and expectations) that we’d talk and catch up, talk about deep, meaningful things, and not just chill and drink and go out to eat. As much as I love those things, I need the other too. There was every indication that we had the sort of relationship in which that was a realistic expectation. We’d done it before, but it seemed to fade away. Contact faded more and more until it was mostly likes on Facebook. I agonized over whether I should go.
I asked myself…did I still value them? Absolutely. I was just beginning to see the friendship for what it might be – acquaintances with a history. Ones who have fun and can be open and honest and accepting with one another, but still really just acquaintances. And that was okay; I wasn’t ready to give that up. So, I went on the weekend. I tried to go with realistic expectations and I had some fun. I do value each and every one of them very much.
Except on Saturday, there was this odd-feeling exchange. The day before, J and A brought up that we should go to her parent’s cabin this year and plan on a big vacation weekend next year, some place like the Bahamas or a cruise. A few said maybe, and then JK said she wasn’t sure her husband would let her. I said I’d have to check with my hubby too, and the conversation ended….until Saturday, when JK left.
After she left, J and A brought up that they thought it was weird that JK had phrased it that way, that she wasn’t sure her hubby would let her. A couple of the others said it was a little odd, but J and A said it sounded like maybe her hubby was really controlling or something. I chimed in and said maybe that’s just the way it works for them. It works that way for M and I, and I’d have to ask him too. Then J seemed to abruptly change the subject with a giggle, so I left it alone. We had a decent evening and went home the next morning.
But later, I couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened. Sometimes it takes me a while to process my feelings with things like that, when I’m hurt and fear rejection. And in my history, I have a very difficult time telling those I care about that they’ve hurt my feelings or said/done something that I’d like to discuss. Again, that fear of rejection and abandonment, but I’ve been evolving and trying to maintain healthy friendships.
A few days later, I asked J and A if we could talk. I asked if we could do a three way call, but we couldn’t figure it out and decided to group text instead. I carefully brought up that it seemed like they were being judgmental toward Julie, and their judgement of her made me worry they might feel the same about me. All I wanted to do was discuss it. I also didn’t like that they’d spoken about JK while she wasn’t there.
Despite my efforts to try to talk with them openly, that conversation did not go well. J did not love that I confronted her about talking behind JK’s back. A said she was concerned that JK might be in an unhealthy relationship. They both turned it back on me, saying I shouldn’t have to defend how I live if I’m happy, when all I wanted to do was share of myself with them. That hurt.
I attempted to talk it through, but again, J just abruptly left the conversation. A was short and a little abrasive at times, but stayed in the conversation for a few more exchanges and seemed to try to understand my point. I understood hers.
Since then, there hadn’t been any contact at all. Nothing. Not even on the girl’s weekend FB group where plans are made each year. And then, two weeks ago, N asked if we were still planning to go to J’s parent’s cabin. J said she was busy and if someone else wanted to plan, she’d let us know if she could come. A said the same. Two others said they were in. I said life was hectic for the next couple months. It all just felt weird and unresolved. I figured it would, there’d been no contact, no further discussion.
Fearing last year’s exchange was the cause for the evasiveness, I contacted them both again last week by text. I’d had a long time to think about what had transpired.
A didn’t respond at all. J was still very agitated. No matter what I said to try to explain my thinking, to take responsibility for what I perceive as wrongdoings on my part and apologize, to tell her it’s possible I misunderstood their intent, and maybe even responded the way I did because I feared rejection, she wouldn’t hear me. She was angry and defensive, didn’t explain her view, took no responsibility at all, and abruptly left the conversation again. I offered to speak via phone (my preferred method!), but no answer. That was a few days ago.
The thing is, I always think about misunderstandings, I can’t just ignore them. I have this need to understand what went wrong. I always evaluate them to see what part I played, so I can take responsibility and apologize, understand the other person’s view and feelings if I can, and learn from my mistakes. I certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t mean to, but I know I do sometimes.
I also have a history of taking responsibility for things I shouldn’t, because I don’t want the other person to feel bad. I feel other’s feelings so deeply, that I often allow them to overshadow my own.
My history also consists of instances where I’ve fostered these sort of co-dependent tendencies in some relationships. I’d do things to keep the other person around, seek approval, giving and offering, and hoping they accept that offering of myself and appreciate it. I’d give my all, putting others before myself, protecting their feelings above my own.
These are all things for which I’ve had to be acutely aware, but I feel like I’ve made some positive strides. I’m in a much better place; I know what healthy looks and feels like. I have some healthy friendships with some amazing people (which I constantly analyze, lol). I know that it’s sometimes not possible to mend a misunderstanding and it has nothing to do with me.
And I know it will pass, but it still hurts when it feels like someone who was a friend doesn’t care enough to try to work through a misunderstanding. It always will.