It’s been quite a year. A year filled with highs and lows – unfortunately, far more lows than highs. As I sit and reflect upon the events of the past 7 months, there’s one common thread through it all: my friends. Friends have been there, helping me through the rough times and, occasionally, the source of the turmoil.
Like the friend who, after announcing her engagement, simply stopped communicating. I called, emailed, and texted in an effort to extend my best wishes and happiness to her and her fiancé. She was, after all, someone I considered to be one of my very best friends. So what changed? Had I said or done something to offend, and not realized? Did the fiancé think there was more than friendship between me and his future bride, even though in reality that is all there ever was? I have no idea. I became even more confused when, out of the blue, I recently received an unsolicited “endorsement” from her on the social media networking site, LinkedIn. She can’t return a voicemail or text message, but after many months of silence is willing to endorse my work to the masses?
Then there are the cancellations. Having moved a thousand miles from home, I’ve spent the past two years trying to make new friends, which seems to be twice as difficult now than when I was a kid. Which is ironic, considering how shy I was when I was younger. But, having made a few connections, I endeavored to make new connections. Yet, each attempt ended the same way: plans were made, then cancelled last minute for one reason or another, then not rescheduled, and the person just seemed to vanish. Again, I have to ask, “What changed? What is I am doing or saying to cause this mass exodus?” With the exception of my friend, the poet/professor from Russia, you can literally count on one hand the number of people who have actually been willing to meet up with me, in person, the past 7 months.
The Grand Champion of them all, however, was when someone I considered to be a close, and dear friend, was kind enough to fly out to Oklahoma City to see me. We were both very excited about her visit, and I had planned all sorts of things to do during her weekend stay. However, my body instead decided to give in to a flu bug, and I ended up going home from work sick Friday afternoon, and staying in bed until Tuesday morning. Rather than offer to help, she chose to be bitter and angry that I got sick. While anyone would be disappointed, and rightly so, what I did NOT expect was the passive-aggressive guilt trip that followed, culminating in an outright deliberate slam made via Facebook. Especially not from someone I trusted, and considered a close friend…that’s what hurt the most.
The year has also seen friends lose jobs, and lose loved ones. Several were diagnosed with serious illnesses, a few of whom died, but some are still battling. Several have gone through break-ups or divorces. One was even murdered by her own husband. All this sadness can bring a person pretty low. It was during these low periods that the true friends came through…
When my father fell ill, and passed away in January, a friend used her air miles to help me get home, and well over a dozen friends (most of whom had never met my father) showed up at his memorial in order to support me. This summer, a friend was kind enough to ship jams, jellies, and other goodies to me, while another was willing to meet me halfway in St Louis. And a group of friends got together this summer to create a “care package,” (including my favorite beer, some photos, and personal notes) and ship it to me in OKC. These beautiful acts, along with the many random texts, calls, and messages have all helped me get through what can only be described as a VERY challenging year. A year that isn’t even 3/4 in the books yet!
I sincerely hope the latter half of the year improves. But, even if it doesn’t, I know my true friends have my back.
One thought on “Friends: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of a Very Challenging Year”
I’ve had the experience of getting sick and not being able to keep commitments to a friend, and the relationship changing because of it, even though the same friend would’ve also been the one visiting or sending care packages a few years prior. My guess is that although it feels like it, it is not you. For whatever reason, it is how they are reacting to things unknown to you. And as for making new friends, probably the same. Don’t give up! You never know what will click or when.