One of the lovely things about being a writer is that I can work in my pajamas if I want. (For the record: I do not—although what I wear could easily double for pajamas in a pinch.) The not-so-lovely part is that I am almost always alone and have few opportunities for making friends. I sit at my little desk and look out my second-story window all day and, for some reason, no one climbs up the side of the house and knocks on the window to make my acquaintance. It is really disappointing.
To make matters worse, I was recently ghosted by a friend.
You would think this was something that would only happen to 20-somethings, but apparently not. My friend lives two hours away, so our communication has been mostly text, with long luncheon get-togethers where we catch up face-to-face. We have not had lunch in a long time and now (not for the first time) she is not answering my notes.
“Happy New Year!” Silence.
“I hope 2019 is off to a great start!” Silence.
“I hope you are doing well, take care of yourself!” Silence.
It’s hard not to blame myself. I know I am the Energizer Bunny of friends, exhausting and annoying in equal measure. I imagine my upbeat attitude and willingness to provide endless encouragement in some way compensates, but this might not be the case. It is quite possible she is just tired of me and my incessant Pollyanna outlook. But it still hurts. I feel like an eight-year-old, alone on the playground, no friend in sight.
My friend struggles with self-esteem issues and anxiety (as most of us do, from time to time). I encourage and cajole her when she is in the dumps. I remind her how talented and smart and lucky she is. But when she is not feeling very talented or smart or lucky, she vanishes.
When she has come back in the past, it has always been with lots of apologies and promises to never do it again. I have always accepted her apologies, explained how it was hurtful, and we have moved on. I don’t know if we will this time.
I am saddled with the feeling that things are somehow easier for me and so I should be more forgiving, more accepting of times when she is not able to be a very good friend — and I think I have. But I also suspect a point comes when I need to pay attention to what I need in a friend and being ghosted — repeatedly ghosted — is not it.
My husband, Peter, has no patience with it. “Why do you expect her to be any different?” he asks. It is a good question.
I expect her to be different because she has said she will be. Believing she will do what she says seems somehow essential to being a good friend. Maybe I need a new definition of friendship. Or maybe I just need new friends.
Of course, Peter is right (as he so often, annoyingly, is). We don’t get a choice about how other people behave. We don’t get to tell them what they should want or do. And maybe, if I really want to spend more time with people, I should get out of the house a bit more, upset my routine, write in a coffee shop or attend that Spanish language group I keep saying I am going to.
At a minimum, I could lean a ladder up to my window, just to let people know I am available.
Till next time,
Carrie’s memoir, “Blue Yarn,” will be released in April. Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.