Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Season of Change

The past month or two has taught me a lot about life, love and the realities of growing older, and these months have made me see certain friendships in new lights.  I had wonderful moments of clarity, happiness and contentment, which were punctuated by periods of sadness that I haven't felt in a long, long time.

To begin with, I’ve never had the most reliable friends. I remember as a teenager asking my mom why the only person I could ever count on was my twin sister, since many of my friends were a bit flaky and simply couldn't be relied on. She just said that's how it is for some people, and we aren't always lucky enough to have great friends who are there for us through anything. Man, was she ever right.  I always wished I had that level of support from someone who wasn't actually a blood relative of mine, and prayed I would find that in later years.

This trend has continued on throughout my life, though I've had some periods of time where it was less of an issue. I've always done a lot for other people just because I like to show people support and friendship in meaningful ways.  I like doing little things, like offering to meet up for drinks after a friend’s had a bad day, or bringing a friend their favorite soup and magazines when they're sick.  However, when I realized that those efforts were not being reciprocated or shared, I tended to pull back.  I couldn't allow myself to be a person who continually gives and gives to others and gets nothing in return.  Thankfully, I've found some good friends over the years and haven't needed to worry about that quite so much.

That is, until recently, when some of my friends began to show their lack of reliability during an important time in my life.

Hubs and I announced our pregnancy at a small housewarming party we held in early February, where we invited closer friends and people we thought would like to hear our news directly from us, rather than through the grapevine or on social media. Our friends in attendance seemed excited but certain friends seemed awkward about it.  We later learned that these friends are going through tough times in their current relationships, so seeing my husband and I's new house, hearing about our news of a baby on the way and great jobs might not have been totally aligned with what they're going through right now.  I get that.

After that, I called and emailed two long-term friends who live in other states about our good news. While the response was good from one, I heard crickets from the other one (let’s call her College Bestie).  So I followed up with another phone call, and an email. Still, I received no response. I thought, "What gives?! I tell you that I have big news and want to chat ASAP and I don't even get a call back??" I hoped she had a good excuse since we’ve been friends for almost 20 years.

Since then, we announced our news on Facebook and Instagram, and we felt so much support and love. I did notice, though, that College Bestie and a couple of other long-time friends were conspicuously absent from the Likes, Comments and general messages of congratulations. Again, not what I thought would happen.  I was bugged, but what can you do?  AND, it's Facebook.  I've learned not to hold a lot of stock in what happens in the world of social media for a myriad of reasons.

College Bestie sent me a message on Facebook a couple weeks later acknowledging my messages and apologizing for being "a horrible friend" and not contacting me back sooner. She said she had been too busy with work and commitments to call or email me back, but saw my news on Facebook and was happy for me. It just felt... hollow. Saying that my feelings were hurt would be a huge understatement. After being friends for so many years, I really wanted more.  I replied about a week later (after my initial frustration wore off and a cooler head prevailed), and said that I was disappointed that I hadn't heard from her, but hoped that we could talk soon. I still haven't heard from her.

While this was going on, one of my closest local friends (let’s call her Married Mabel) asked me to get together for a girl's day, to hang out at my house and watch chick flicks without our husbands.  I was excited because I've hardly seen her lately and I miss her.  We confirmed that we were getting together the day before, but on the day of, she flaked out on me. I waited hours for Married Mabel to arrived, and not only did she never show up at my house, but she has still never called me to tell me what happened.  Was I hurt?  OH YEAH.  I know she's been having a tough time with certain things in her life, but you know what?  So am I.  They might be different things, but they're just as important.

I tried to push these things to the back of my mind, but how could I? These are people I care about, and I was just blown off in big ways, without much care about how that would make me feel. 

A week ago, Hubs was sick with the flu and quarantined to the bedroom, and I found myself alone with a lot of time for thinking. With my pregnancy hormones in full gear, I cried a lot over these friend issues and ultimately came to realize that this is a season of change for me.

Many things will take my life in a different direction from those of my friends, especially as we get older.  While I believe we can still stay close friends through all of the changes life brings, whether it be kids, marriages, divorces, relocations, loved ones passing away, and more, but it requires support and friendship on both sides.  Being a mom doesn’t change who I am as a person, but the other friend has to realize that and make as much of an effort to keep the friendship alive as I do.  It’s not a one-sided affair by either person.

Married Mabel and College Bestie aren’t interested in having kids at all.  I often wonder if they believe that we’ll soon have less in common because of that.  Many of my friends from college (like College Bestie) have chosen not (or have been unable) to have children, and they remember a time when I said that I didn't want kids either.  Over time, I changed my mind and I decided that I wanted kids.  Now I'm having one, which is great, right?!  But I can understand why they might be confused or annoyed or any number of other emotions. They might have figured that if I hadn't pulled the kid-trigger yet, but I might just be staying a member of the No Kids Club, like them.  But here I am, having a baby, and it might just feel like one more reason to not communicate like we should, like one thing we just don't have in common anymore.  This couldn’t be further from the truth, in my opinion.  Babies don’t change the fact that I love celeb gossip, beauty products, shopping, my adorable dog, having cocktails, going to concerts and traveling.  My priorities might shift a bit, but all of those things remain intact.

Married Mabel has since texted me to apologize for what she did and said that she's just having a tough time in life. In general, I believe in giving people a pass if they are going through hard times, particularly due to relationship issues, pregnancy, or other problems that take them away from their friends for a bit. That's fair and sometimes people need space.


I pay attention to social media. I see that this friend has had no problem making time for other commitments and other friends recently. Has she called me since bailing on me?  No, and I don't expect her to, at least not anytime soon.  Is my happy news just too much for her to deal with while she's got her issues?  I have no idea.  I've heard rumors about her issues, but I don't really trust rumors. I trust meaningful, honest conversations. I miss our days of long, personal talks, and part of me wants time with her to do just that.  Right now, I just want a call back, and I haven't even gotten that.  It felt like our friendship was gone practically overnight and I never got the memo.

Ultimately, I know that for my own sanity, my own happiness, I need to adjust my expectations of other people.  I can't expect their reactions to stress and life to be just like mine, and I can't expect them to treat me the ways I want to be treated all the time.  My expectations are not their expectations.  This is SO hard to for me to do because I want to believe people value me enough to respond in certain ways, but their ways and my ways might be different.  I have to be okay with this or else this kind of thing will only make me feel worse.

You know that sadness that I mentioned feeling earlier?  I think feeling was actually grief, over a realization that once cherished friends may in fact be gone for good or at the very least, those friendships are evolving into something different.  And that’s okay.  That’s a part of life that I will never get away from because my life will always be changing, as will the lives of my friends.

Getting older and experiencing life changes is never easy, especially when you feel like you’re losing key elements of your support system.  I’m finding that my family and a couple of friends have been wonderful, and they’ve brought clarity to my situation.  This might also be a time when I let certain friends go and invest more time and energy in new friendships.  If that's the way things turn out, then this season of change will be a big one.  Nurturing new friendships is never easy, but I do love a challenge!  If Married Mabel or College Bestie come around and recommit to our friendship, I will be here waiting to see what they have to say.

Only time will tell what will really happen or how things will change from here, but I think it’s time to see a new season in life ahead of me.

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Tampa, Florida, United States
I'm a wife, daughter and amazing twin sister. I'm a mom to my adorable dog, Bella. Loves: Shopping, cooking, baking, good grammar and Dave Matthews Band. I'm also a Bath and Body Works addict, a Michigan State Spartans fanatic, and an iPhone aficionado. I see beauty in simple things and little things make me ever-so-happy. Welcome to my world!

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