Sunday, December 18, 2005

Heartfelt words and difficult times (the essence of blogging)

This time of year is difficult for many people, especially those ones missing loved ones, or who are estranged from their families. I have come to terms with my own sorrows there, but still find myself more introspective than usual (and that is saying a lot). I have been reading posts lately about "why we blog" and have seen some people like Amanda, reach into their souls to see if revealing so much of themselves is appropriate. I have been asking similar questions, and whether I should continue this venture.

Many of you do not know that I recently had a huge drama erupt with my three closest friends (a friendship that has been like family for 25 years) because I chose to blog about a disagreement we had over Christmas. My blogging resulted in an enraged reaction on ones part (and a scathing email of resentments against me from the past 12 years), another has had no reaction, and another has been hurt by my comments, though hurt was certainly never my intention. Gossip, she called it. So why blog about it again now? Because blogging is a journal. Blogging is a way to work things out and discuss elements floating about in your head. Because blogging is bits and pieces of things that are important to you, and in discussing what is important, you aim to touch other peoples' lives as well as your own.

In a brief synopsis, I was upset because one of the girls wanted to give out gift cards for Christmas, and it pissed me off because it just seemed to me like one more element of her over-busy lifestyle infringing on our more and more infrequent gatherings. I have continually tried to say, look, we need to spend more time lest day to day changes create gaps that become too far to bridge. I felt like I was looking at a chasm, and trying to call to them...and my words were never heard. I was tired of trying to be understanding of their choices. Yes, I know they have families, but you're telling me you only have time enough to get together twice a year for holidays?

I guess a part of me can see their frustration. I am forever the one questioning. I am the one shuffling my feet. I am the emotional one, the one who analyzes everything. I am the artist temperament. And they're tired of it. And I see that. For so long so many things just didn't feel right for me, though, and I have to acknowledge that. Yes, I know the situation has to change with the addition of families--but THAT much? Why? You're telling me coffee once a month is out of the question? I don't think so. I WASN'T asking too much. And I got tired of my take on it being overlooked. That's the bottom line. Barb the confused one, Barb the emotional one, Barb the fucked up one. No, I was just wanting to really feel accepted and integral, and I never quite got there. Friend X was the keystone, and it's with X that the others will side. I can no better make my point of view valid than Z (a former member of the group who was left by the side of the road, so to speak). It will be shunted off to a "whatever" category, and how wrong I was/am. And I'm just standing up to say, no, my words are valid, and I was right all along, and I'm not going to play this game anymore of what subjects we can broach and the others that are off limits because that's your own deal with yourself. If we really were like family, I should have been able to make a comment about kids without being told "I hate it when people who don't have kids try to say stuff". Well, maybe it's just common sense, and maybe I DO have valid points. Okay, so it's too sensitive for you to hear. That's the problem--there's too much that's sensitive. I have to step carefully lest I step on land mines, and I was tired of protecting my comments so much. That's the great thing (seemingly) about men and their relationship with other men. They can yell and scream and then go out and have a beer. Done. Women need to learn how to do that more often, so we're not pots of resentment just waiting to boil over at any little addition of flame. Sigh. It's all so complicated. As I've said before, I am nothing if not honest and forthright, and I don't plan on changing now. This is the only way I know how to live, and overall it reaps rewards ten fold.

I have so many mixed feelings. One part of me wants Friend Y to write or call and say, "gosh, I over-reacted, I'm sorry". That wouldn't discount the fact that she really felt the things she said (and I'm glad that was finally given voice), but maybe we could cross that bridge. I don't really think it's my place to work things out. Yeah, I started the blogging that started this whole thing, and I was the one who considered the exit...but I wasn't actually the one who exited. So I don't feel like it's my place to try to mend anything. X tried to mend stuff by having us get together and I declined. But I didn't want to be in the midst of a smackfest and having to defend myself.

We have a shared history that is intense (at least I thought so) but so much resentment has built up with changes. This started because I felt too many words were left unspoken, and too many subjects off limits. I felt like I did when I was with J (first boyfriend, a seven year relationship) and I had to be a different person to please his family. After awhile, you give away little pieces of yourself and there's just a few scraps left with which to work. I just don't buy into the psycho-babble your garden/my garden thing--it's like trying to validate why the friendship is currently held together with little pieces of tape. I can't discount the entire 25 years as invalid. I don't think I'm on a path of self destruction nor am I prideful...or any of the other accusations they rallied my way. I think I'm a nice and kind person who sometimes has bouts of self doubt and depression and this can be overwhelming to others who don't understand. Would that they had just talked to me about this rather than blowing me off, because that started my distrust in them. Bottom line is that it wasn't so much fun to get together anymore. Not with X whining about how tired she always is. I thought Y and I had fun still, but I didn't know about all the anger brewing under the surface. But how could I? None of us ever TALKED about anything. We saw one another so rarely, we were just trying to catch up. Like Debbie (my co-worker friend and former roommate who also has three kids) says, "if you really WANT to spend time, you MAKE the time". I just wasn't important enough, or so it felt. Even as X is ill she doesn't see that her lifestyle is crying out for change, and it pisses me off. The way Y handled it though (a good-bye email? Sheesh), that was below the belt. So now it all just feels sort-of odd. I'm never going to talk to them anymore? All because I wrote about them on my blog? What is that all about? I guess I always felt like my voice was silent, and maybe I was right in my assessment. Maybe they just never wanted to hear. So in many ways I'm glad because this is more real, and I do have other friends. Not to the same degree, granted, but I can certainly make new ones. I can certainly survive, even though this is painful like a divorce is painful. I keep thinking it's going to smooth over, and perhaps that's not the case. Last time our rift lasted 7 years. This time I don't think it will mend unless it does so in the next week (it will be Christmas). I don't think I'm being stubborn--I didn't do anything wrong. To speak ones mind is not a crime.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sad reading about your friend problems. I too have lost dear old friends. We grew up and the things that held us together in our youth just did not stick anymore.

Because of the long history with an old friend we often fail to see each other as we really are today. If you met these ladies as strangers at a party, would you have anything in common? Would you care to be friends with them?

I had cancer several years ago(I am fine now). I lost several friends over that. I understand that it is difficult to be friends with as sick person and that folks have their own issues around the subject of cancer. I still believe that if you are a friend you stick with your friend.

I had a friend that I talked to at least once a week. She quit returning my calls after I started Chemo. I have tried to call her several times since I have been fine but still no return call. How do you share your everything and then just stop? I will never figure this one out.

I look back at these old friendships fondly at times. Other times I wonder how I was ever such close friends with such self absorbed bitches.

I wish you all the luck in the world!

Oh yeah - I agree with you about the gift cards. Why don't you all just go buy something nice for yourself? Then you can meet for a quick lunch and show each other what you bought. This way you will all get something that you love and each lady can focus on herself.

9:06 PM  
Blogger tweety said...

Hugs, Barb. I'm sad to hear what your are going through. You know, I have lived in O'side for 20 years and I still don't have any true friends here. I always have my family (my female cousins, I have no sisters) for the closeness, and they don't even live around here. Anyway, I have been thinking about you today, I just can't express how I feel. Although, it sounds like you are dealing with it and moving on. Yes, you can always make new friends -- count me in.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Hey - that's tough stuff. I know what it's like when your friend start having babies! Completely changes the friendship. Hope you have a great Christmas and make fabulous new friends. xo

10:01 PM  
Blogger Claudia said...

Hi Barb,

sorry to hear you’re still grieving about the old friendships.
Yes, I know, it’s sad that friendships fall apart, people fall apart. But we all develop throughout or lives, it’s a journey. A journey where we have lots of travelling companions, some for longer, some rather short. We may experience a lot of things on this journey, grow up, have relationships and kids, suffer losses and illnesses. Through that, our travelling companions connect to us. We all have a kind of picture of how life should be, and life deviating from that picture leads to strange behaviour sometimes…
My best friend’s husband suffered from cancer last year (but is well now), and she said that some of her supposedly good friends turned a back on them and came back again after they had heard of his recovery – they just couldn’t cope with the concept of the possible death of a friend – or their own.

Our friendships change when our life circumstances change. Changing school, going to college, marriage, parenthood, but also illness and death affect our lives in a way that friends fall apart.
But somehow, they all also offer opportunities of new friendships, and this is the concept of hope that lies within all change.

Be yourself. That’s the main point. Don’t change for anyone, because it will come back to haunt you when you discover that they liked a concept of you, and discovering that you might not comply with their concept is their problem, not yours.
You show a lot of empathy and ponder about what might have gone wrong. If they want to talk to you about the situation, they always could. It’s their turn, if they still care about the friendship.
But maybe all of you have moved ahead, in different directions. In this case, honor the memory of the good times with them. And just move on.

LG Claudia

1:59 AM  
Blogger The Calico Cat said...

How sad... The whole thing is sad... Don't get me wrong, sad is not bad... Sad just is... It is sad that once your single friends get married they only have time to do couple stuff - just as bad if not worse when they have kids...
Sad that grudges are held... Sad that people have to act one way rather than how they are... Etc. (Thanks for sharing)
I have more to say (similar examples) - but it is all sad and similar... I wish we lived closer... Kindred spirits should be closer in proximity rather that just in spirit. I wish my blog had the same honesty...

5:16 AM  
Blogger Gina E. said...

Hey Barb, look at it this way - your ex-friends are the losers, with their attitudes. I am lucky to have a number of close friends who understand me and my moods, as I do with them. You sound like a very interesting, and amusing person who would be a great friend to have.
Ditto all the above comments, especially Nicole's about friends having brats and dropping the friends who don't - lol! I can relate to that one. Again, I am lucky that my friends who do have kids can keep their family life apart from their friendships, which means they don't waffle on endlessly about their brats to those of us who are not the tiniest bit interested. That sounds thoughtless in itself I guess, but I am actually interested in what my friends' kids do. I just don't like having them rammed down my throat!

6:08 AM  
Blogger my house is cuter than yours said...

This is an amazing post. I have been wondering lately if "friends" are ever real. I think it's just a myth sometimes.

1:34 PM  

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