Or, that time my best friend broke up with me.
At 30-something, it had become difficult to make new friends. Or rather, it had become difficult to forge meaningful and lasting friendships. I had a job that required a change of scenery every two years and by change of scenery, I mean a change of geographical locations to the tune of thousands of miles. It makes getting together for wine and chick flicks a bit of a challenge.
I was not happy with my friend…uh…situation. I didn’t have a friend situation, to be honest. I made acquaintances easily and some of them became friendships , at least for about two years. Then one or both of us moved on to the next job, promised we’d stay in touch and then promptly failed. Have I maintained contact with some of them? Sure. Is it to the level that we promised? Not even close. At least, not usually.
So I had sorta given up. I felt exhausted with sharing my soul only to discover it would be over in a short time. It began to feel a little like a summer romance. The kind you have when you’re young and stupid enough to believe that something that began in June could survive forever, much less through the fall.
And then I met K.
I met K in a war-zone. I was her boss. I resisted forging a friendship for this reason and all of the others I already described. But I couldn’t help myself. She and I were like peanut butter and jelly, true crime and podcasts, coffee and…life. We just fit. She left early in my war-zone post and I was devastated but too busy to mourn the loss. But, get this, we stayed in touch and when I finally returned to the States, we picked up our friendship like no time had passed at all.
We had puppy play dates, drank too much wine, cried about our personal situations and I found myself, once again, sharing my whole heart with a true friend.
And then, one day, after she had been increasingly unresponsive, I asked what was going on. She said, “I just think you need me more than I need you.” That was it. We got together one time after she uttered those words. I think it was around Christmas. She gave me a beautiful silver ring that was engraved with “Be Brave” and that was just about the last I heard from K. So, basically, she gave me a promise ring and then ran off with the pool guy.
I never really understood what happened though I have my suspicions. Was it transference? My ex once yelled at her after her dog tinkled on our bed during a visit. He didn’t go all Sergeant Slaughter on her but he did let us both know that he wasn’t happy. So there’s that. And I always hypothesized that, because she didn’t really like or get along with my ex, she believed that she and I could never truly be friends. He didn’t like her – she couldn’t like me. I was guilty by association. Transference? Maybe.
The truth is, I never knew and will never know. But I’ll tell you this. It legit felt like a break up. Maybe not a divorce level ending but definitely a “she’s not that into you” situation. It shattered my confidence. I had never had anything like that happen before. I hope for candor in all of my relationships but I never expected to be slapped in the face with such a brutal truth…by a girl friend! “You need me more than I need you.” Not much you can say to that, is there?
Between me and you, um, Internet – I don’t think she was being totally up front. I think there’s a lot that was happening behind the scenes…some pain and insecurities that she was confronting and unwilling to share. She probably knew I wouldn’t let her wallow in misery alone. And maybe she just didn’t want that kind of friend. Maybe she wanted to go through it in solitude or just with someone who wasn’t…me. Hard to tell. I stopped trying to figure it out many years ago.
Perhaps it was a friendship that burned just a little to brightly to have any longevity. Maybe friendships are a lot like relationships. Few things can sustain that level of intimacy for very long. I guess it’s possible that sharing her soul became too hard for her. I really don’t know.
What I know is this. It didn’t change me in the way that I thought it might. Or perhaps it did, initially. I definitely protected my heart a bit more and retreated back into having acquaintances versus true friendships. But, over time, I began to realize that it’s still worth it to invest your heart in a true friend. If you lose, you lose. For me, it won’t be for lack of trying. I’ve also realized that some of those acquaintances are actually really great friends. People that I thought would disappear have stuck it out and we are closer now than ever. And the ones that followed the same pattern of disappearing? That’s life. I’m guilty of it too.
Life is too short to dwell on these things though. This particular hurt was one that confounded me but from which, I learned to be a better friend. At least, I hope that’s what people might say about me. But, those of you reading this who have ever felt ignored by me, can I just get a pass for the years from, oh – about 2013 to 2019? That’d be great. Thanks.
P.S. I lost the ring a few years back. Call it fate. 😉