Bidding Adieu to Old Friends

Just before Halloween in 2005, we hosted a dinner party for us and two other couples.  We served homemade lasagna and baked ziti; after we finished eating, we adjourned to our screened back porch and consumed several bottles of red wine as we debated politics, made plans to move to France together, discussed fertility and potential children and celebrated my recent acceptance to grad school.  Jimmy and I had been in this house only since August, and this was our first real gathering.  Though the night became chilly, the wine kept us warm, and we six chatted until the wee hours of the morning.  Even more miraculously, despite consuming about 8 bottles of wine, most of us escaped hangovers.

That night was a special night.  A wonderful night.  It felt like a perfect moment in which friends come together to eat, drink and make merry.  Having been married for a few years, we 3 couples were comfortable in our marriages and beginning to wonder about what came next.  Some of us were pondering having children very soon. It seemed like everything was falling into place.  Though we didn’t know it, our paths would diverge radically beginning very soon.

***

I think upon that evening as a perfect night.  That night was magical but unfortunately, it didn’t last because our infertility cast a pall over everything within a few months.  That night was never repeated and likely won’t ever be.  One couple has moved from 15 minutes away to Florida.  The other couple, though only 20 minutes away geographically, is light years away in every other way.

***

I think about that perfect evening occasionally, especially in the Fall.  Finally, I am in a place in which I can think about it with fondness, not sadness or bitterness.

Today I discovered that the wife in the local couple had unfriended me on Facebook.  We were still Facebook friends as recently as a few months ago, and I wonder what it was that made her unfriend me finally.  Was it my response to her support for Chick-Fil-A?  Was it something else?  Was it even her doing or a weird quirk of Facebook’s? After all, she is still technically “friends” with my husband on Facebook.

Our relationship had been tenuous for years.  Despite my husband being close friends from high school with her and her husband, infertility came between us.  Supposedly we weren’t there for them during their pregnancy.  Somehow, we were blamed for not letting them be there for us during our infertility.

Over the years, olive branches were extended.  Emails exchanged.  Children’s birthday parties attended.  Yet, somehow, relations never improved.  We experienced eerily similar family tragedies and reached out to each other, yet those exchanges led only to temporary repairs.

During our infertility, I brooded over this lost relationship.  Why couldn’t they empathize?  Why couldn’t they just acknowledge that our situation was pretty damn horrific?  I sent a nice gift although I couldn’t attend their baby shower because it was only one week after the lap in which I learned the extent of my damage, and I was a mess.

Once Daniel arrived, we again attempted overtures that led to one-time visits but nothing more.  It hurt, and I wondered why we didn’t make progress. Finally, though, over the last couple of  years, I reached a point of peace with the situation.  Frankly, I didn’t have time to worry about why this couple was still so estranged.  I’m a brooder and worrier by nature, and it was freeing to feel free finally from such concerns.

We made one last series of overtures during the time in which beloved fathers and grandparents were dying in similar circumstances.  Surely, if we ever had a reason to embrace as members of the fatherless club (all 4 of us) or having beloved family members who had died from the same type of cancer, the time was now.  Donations to causes were made.  Emails exchanged.  But it wasn’t enough. It never was enough.

Obviously. Here I find myself defriended from Facebook.  I could email her and ask what is going on and if she intended it or even just to check in, but truthfully, I’m past it.  I’m a little shocked to find myself in that place of peace with this realization because that’s truly not my style (regretfully).  I guess I’m finally tired of not living up to how someone else wants me to behave.  I’m tired of trying to reach out and being rebuffed, punished for not reacting to situations (even our own) like they wanted us to.

Clearly, Jimmy and I, despite a long history with them, are not what this couple needs, and we’re OK with that.  All we wish for them is a happy life and supportive friends and family.  I’ve always understood – even if it’s been difficult to accept – that friendships have a life cycle.  We’ve reached the end of the life cycle with this set of friends.

Friends, I bid you adieu.  Thank you for years we had and the special times we shared.  May you have people in your life who support you the way you need them to do.  Sadly, we could not.

How do you handle broken friendships?

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13 comments

  1. This was very thought provoking. I come from a different angle with relationships because I’ve lived in Florida, LA, San Fran, Chicago, and now Raleigh. I feel like people ebb and flow into my life at different times. And now, being a working mom with a traveling husband, I can’t see people as much as I’d like.

    I do have some constant friends- Jon, my BFF Irene – but with everyone else, I feel like people are there when I need and want and sometimes our needs and wants don’t line up. I used to ponder this more but now I just accept that friendships are often in flux.

    I’ve found one of the hardest parts of being a mom is making new friends. Hoping we can see each other again soon!

    1. I have moved around a good bit as well and agree that friendships are often in flux and change as we change.
      There are people I consider to be almost like family that I see and speak to rarely because we are all so busy. Some friends I seem more often because of geography.
      Ki, I’m glad you had a magical night and hope you experience many more in the future. Maybe your friendship with this person isn’t over, but hibernating. You never know what could happen in the future.

  2. I have a REALLY hard time letting go of friendships so I would say, I let go of them, in a manner that completely and utterly lacks grace or dignity. Not much help to you and I’m sorry for that but the truth none the less.

  3. This entry comes a day after I mustered up the courage to remove 50 people from my Facebook 😦 I overextended myself to people who probably don’t care and who I never see post anything or comment on my posts, and it just seemed time to downsize. My world feels smaller and a little safer now, I guess.

    I’m sorry about your friends. Friendships are weird. My best friend’s husband and I were very, very close for a while (she’s the sort of friend where this wasn’t boundary-crossing for us). I’d go over to hang out with her but she’d be an hour out from arriving home, so he and I would watch TV or play video games or just chat for the hour until she got there. Then he decided he had a problem with something I was pursuing for a while, gave me some BS line like “you’ve become a different person and you never want to hang out” (he NEVER left the house except to work and avoided parties, etc) and it really hurt. That was a few years ago, and honestly, now it’s super awkward because my friend thinks we’re cool and I’m still very NOT cool with her husband, but I don’t want her to feel badly about that so I don’t tell her. Now I go over there, he hides in his room as usual, and I give him an awkward “hey” if he happens to pass through the living room. Cordial feels angry and distant when it comes in the wake of former closeness. 😦

  4. This is a very good post. I think that friendships can be stronger at certain times and then fizzle later. My school best friend and I are no longer as close but we can still pick up the phone and chat sometimes. I had a lot of broken friendships at school and varsity, and now I think I’ve learned from that to value genuine people. I am actually so grateful for the precious people I have now.
    I think that “friend” you speak of was possibly not really such a true friend. Here’s to making new and deeper connections.

  5. This is something that weighs on me often. I have a couple of friend who have flowed out of my life–relationships with damage never quite repaired combined with growing differences in our lives. I miss them sometimes, but I miss who we were as friends, not who we would now be. Lovely post.

  6. This is such a beautifully written post. I so know – but in a different way – what it’s like to say goodbye to friends, old, new, whatever phase of life you’re in it’s still really rough. I’m sad for you that it’s time to bid them a full farewell, but hey, their loss. You’re right, it’s their time to find someone else and your time to move along. I kind of wish I had a friend who’d invite our family over for such a cool dinner. We haven’t had that in years. Since before we moved here, so I guess I’m missing that from back home – which is different than you missing that from “around the corner” so to speak. Hugs though. Both ways suck and I can so relate. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Wow, this is exactly what I needed. I am in the middle of a similar situation. All of our couple friends got married and suddenly it was like I was no longer good enough for them. I have been trying to grapple with why being at different phases in life should hurt a friendship so much. I finally found a kind of peace about it and then today I received an invitation to a baby shower, soooo, I guess I am going to step back in and try again.

    I’m so happy for you that you have found your peace with it and I hope to join you someday.

    Feeling really thankful for sharefest right now 🙂

  8. Hey, I seen the link for this post in the blog roundup comments and I just wanted to tell you that this is a beautiful post. I can relate to this as I’ve lost some friends while others have distanced themselves since I’ve become so open about our infertility. I look back fondly on those great times together but I now feel a big gap between myself and those friends who are lucky enough to have children and I just don’t quite know what to do about it.

  9. Oh my goodness, this post. It made me tear up. I’ve definitely become distanced from many people over the years of our infertility journey. For me, our best couple friends are distanced by geography. I loved nights like the one you described and I miss them.

    Good for you for handling this so gracefully.

  10. Wow, this hit home for me. Unfortunately, the couple for us, is my brother and his wife. We used to be so close, and now I fear we will never be more than just aquaintances. I hope I can come to terms one day as you have.

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