Like a sister


***Warning: this is going to be a VERY long and emotional post about my personal life. If I had a shrink, I’d be sharing all of this with them, but due to my crappy health insurance, that’s not an option right now, so I’m sharing this with you lucky people.***

This is a blog post that I probably shouldn’t write. It’s personal and it is never a good idea to put delicate thoughts and emotions out for public viewing. (People who know me in real life/long time readers of this blog will know who I’m talking about, but I’m not going to call her out by name or initial.) I know I should write this down in a private journal instead, but I’m putting it out here anyway, because I need to voice my side of the story. Because I don’t know that I’ll ever get to say any of this to her in person. Because it’s eating me up inside. And because, over the last week or so, reading other people’s blog posts about similar situations has been very comforting and helpful to me. Here’s hoping this will help some other poor bastard. (Hope you like to read, sir or madam… )

I knew that her having kids would change things. I’m not stupid, I don’t have to experience it personally to get that having a baby changes every fiber of your being. It’s a huge thing and I was prepared to roll with the punches, neither of us knowing what those would be. And for the first year, it was challenging but we rolled along pretty much okay. There were definitely sucky times where I really could have used the old her’s support, time and attention. But I still felt like she was there for me to the best of her ability.

Then, little by little, our friendship just felt more and more one-sided. It started to feel like her problems were a higher priority than mine. And that my friendship just wasn’t as important to her any more. She’d always seem to have time and energy for her other new mom friends, while our plans seemed to get cancelled more often than they used to. But I still believed that, when it really mattered, she’d be there for me.

Then T had a heart attack. And when I called her that first night, she unhesitatingly came to the emergency room and “distracted” me with the trials and tribulations of putting an offer in to buy her dream house. And I appreciated it at the time. But, the next day, when I asked her to come to the hospital to visit T and help me keep his spirits up, she begged off because “she hadn’t slept well the night before and just wasn’t feeling great.” They came by to visit when T was finally home from the hospital, crushed from losing their bid to buy the house. And somehow, I found myself comforting her, serving her wine on the couch while her toddler ran rampant in my home. I was devastated. In the days that followed, as other friends checked in to see how I was doing, she was not among them.

At this point, I absolutely should have sat down and had a conversation with her. Initially, I was just emotionally reeling at the whole “heart attack” experience and wanted to wait until I wasn’t so raw. I was afraid I’d say really hurtful things that I didn’t mean and couldn’t take back. But really, I was just afraid. I suck at telling people they’ve hurt me, because I fundamentally believe that they just won’t care. I hoped it would get better on it’s own. (I realize how dumb that is.)

Life went on. The feelings of not being important in her life, except for as a person to complain to, continued. Plans continued to be cancelled, to the point where it became a punchline for T and I. Texts and visits stretched further and further apart. It hurt and it sucked. Then the second pregnancy was announced. And it was “announced” by her not having some of the special wine that we’d opened at Thanksgiving and quietly confirmed by her husband in the kitchen. Later, when she “officially” told me (and another friend while we were out at a diner), she explained that she didn’t want to make a big announcement to the whole group. And I absolutely understood that.

But it was telling that we hadn’t spent any alone time together in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving or in the two weeks that followed. And that it wasn’t important to her to share this level of information with me any more. (In sharp contrast to the first one, where we were pretty much the first people who knew.) And that’s when I saw just how big of a shift had happened in our friendship. That she didn’t regard me the same way. And I didn’t know what to do about it.

We muddled through the holidays and tried to get together. And couldn’t seem to make it happen. We finally ended up popping by their house, (which was good, because otherwise I would have had a Christmas present for her kid lying around my house for two and a half months). I made a New Years resolution to myself that I wasn’t going to drive all of our interactions any more. That I’d happily respond to any overtures that she made, but I wasn’t going to make all of the effort.

Months went by, and except for 20 minutes when she brought back some items that she’d borrowed from me, I haven’t seen her. There have been some texts back and forth. At one point, I strayed from my resolution and sent a text about hanging out. Which was rewarded with a sharp text about how she was sick and potty training a toddler and didn’t have time to socialize. I really wanted to say something hateful in response. I was so hurt, but I forced myself to write something pleasant and hoped that some overture of friendship would follow.

Except for a text complaining about her crazy sister, that never happened. I didn’t respond to her text about her sister drama, but I felt bad and I sent her a happy birthday via text that went unanswered. Then I went to Catalina and ran a really crazy marathon and she wrote nice things on my social media, which felt hopeful. So, T and her husband tried to set up plans for us to hang out when we got back, only to have her pull the plug on them without suggesting other plans. There was this weird, obvious distance between us that I didn’t know how to fix. I invited them for dinner in the hopes that it would kickstart a conversation. And, success, she suggested that we sit down and have a conversation about what was going on between us.

While it would be overselling it to say I was happy, I was glad to finally have something on the calendar. Due to her mother-in-law being in town that weekend and then both of us being in Oregon the following weekend, we set a date that was two weeks away, (today, as it turns out). During that two weeks, I thought a lot about our impending conversation and noticed that she’d stopped following me on the social media that I can see (Instagram and Pinterest). It definitely gave me an ominous feeling, but even if she wanted to “break up with me” I would at least get some closure.

So, Friday rolled around and I sent a casual text asking her what she wanted to do. No response. There were shots from her beautiful maternity shoot on Instagram, but no response. Saturday around noon I sent a follow-up “Hello?” text to see what was up, knowing that it wasn’t likely to go well. I finally got a response saying she was having a rough time, that she didn’t respond to texts as quickly as she used to and that if I’d sent her a text saying hi and asking her how she was doing, it would have made her feel a lot better. And that she’s just not ready to have an emotional conversation about our relationship.

I’m going to pause here and remind the reader that my friend is pregnant and chock-full of hormones. I want to be very clear that I really do believe she is going through a hard time. This is not dramatics on her part, and I want to represent that fairly. But, at the same time, I have no way of knowing any of this and the text makes me really, really angry. But I take a few deep breaths and write the gentlest version of what I want to say, which is basically: I can’t possibly have known that and it’s unfair of you to hold it against me. I love you and I don’t know what to do anymore. When you’re ready to talk, I am here.

And so, a million words later, we come to the present moment. I obviously don’t know what the future will hold. I don’t know that we will ever have the conversation that needs to happen for us to be friends again, nor do I know what that friendship even looks like. I do know that we’ve been through a lot together and I would be very sad to see our friendship end like this. I have no doubt she could write her own lengthy blog post of grievances and I’m positive there are things that I’ve done that have hurt her just as deeply as she’s hurt me. And for that, I sincerely apologize. (Especially since this blog post may very well be one of them.)

I hope that we can find our way back to friendship. And I’m struggling through the anger, hurt, and other seething emotions to wish her well, should our friendship be over for good. (I’m not quite there yet, but I will be.) We once bonded over the phrase “like a sister” meaning super closeness because she had as tumultuous relationship with her sister as I have with mine. Our friendship allowed me to feel like I could understand what that could be like and we frequently joked about how we wished we could trade with our actual sisters. Ironically, now our relationship is like I’ve always personally interpreted that phrase: a confusing, emotional mine-field, filled with only my side of the story. It’s completely heart-breaking.

4 thoughts on “Like a sister

  1. Michelle, my first thought was “you’re talking about me, aren’t you?” Until I realized I’m not a woman, don’t have a baby, and still drink as if there were in inferno in my stomach that can only be squelched by hard liquor.

    But you know, people come and go in Life. For many years they are there and then certain circumstances change which results in them arcing out of the mutual trajectories that were shared for so long. Nobody is necessarily at fault – lines that are seemingly parallel but only 0.5 degrees off eventually diverge over time. Painful, certainly. Some things, even with the best of intentions…run their course. Some things also need a pause – like that one plant in the garden that simply won’t flower until later in the Spring…long after all of those other plants have exploded out of the ground when they were expected to.

    I’ve got a similar circumstance so your post hits home. It basically comes down to “is it worth it anymore?”

    Sometimes some people need time to realize something is missing in their life, and they’ll act on it when they realize their loss. Sometimes the healthiest answer is the hardest – no, it is not.

    Trust what your gut tells you. It seems like you have put forth the effort more than several times – you can’t change what a person doesn’t do. To me, it really sounds like it will be up to them as to what happens next.

    Anyway, just some thoughts from your relationship-challenged friend in Portland 🙂

  2. parentheticalstatement

    Hi Luke!

    Thank you for that thoughtful reply. (It’s so unlike you! ;-P) I sometimes think the hardest thing about being a grown-up are these types of situations: no one is at fault, there’s no right or wrong. I miss the black and white world of my youth!

    I believe that both of our friendship situations will resolve themselves over time. Here’s hoping that the transition period is as painless as possible… 🙂

  3. susan shewczyk

    Michelle; There are some that have left and you are correct, it hurts. Sometimes I’ve been mean and others they have been mean. I am sorry for your hurt. It is painful to realize that you’re the only person working on the relationship. I am sorry that you have lost a friend. But your mother in law loves you.

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