I have been mulling over this topic by myself for the past few months. For a long time the thought had always existed, but I never really probed into it more, because I was in a place where I could only focus on getting by day-to-day. Since I have been home for a while now, I’ve been lucky enough to have the space to mull over my thoughts without having too much background noise. This is the one place where I occasionally see friends, otherwise I am always by myself.
I’m a highly sensitive and emotional person. I cry extremely easily and sometimes people’s actions and words stick in me like thorns that I can’t remove for a long time. I wonder at times why I haven’t plucked a lot of the thorns out earlier when it came to this, but I think I needed a quiet space for me to feel my emotions and thoughts without having the weight of others chiming in. I’m always the person that is normally pretty quick to text or reply to someone without even thinking much about it. I always tell myself, I shouldn’t leave people waiting. However, upon reflection a lot of it has more to do with me and my perception of my importance in a friendship.
If I reply quickly and message well, then I will be important. I will still carry importance in this person’s life, instead of the weird fading into the background I can feel closing in on me in real life when we hang out. Lately, I have fallen out of touch with many people. I haven’t texted much, better yet I may not even have replied for days or weeks. If you are one of those people, I apologize, but I’ve been trying to take care of myself. I’ve struggled for years with the concept of importance and priority in relationships, especially friendships.
What kind of importance or priorities? Well, for me I think I look back nostalgically to my friendships when everyone was single. Whether that was as a teenager or in our twenties. Until we find ourselves in a relationship with our partner we tend to keep our friendships as our priority. So much importance is placed on having good friends and a “bestie” throughout life. Part of me wonders if I was ever “bestie” material, although at most I think I settle in as an okay or good friend. Maybe I am a tad more cynical than my other friends as I didn’t start dating until I was 20. I got lost in my relationship for a bit and had on rose-tinted glasses, I wish I had thrown off myself or my friends would have shaken me up a bit to wake me from that rose-tinted world. But, I valued my time with friends during that time. I didn’t always have to be tied to my partner, I could wander free, and at times I really wanted my space.
Now, I’ve been single for a long time, I only have a few friends who have been single longer than me. Being single later in life can be a blessing and a curse of sorts. I’m a very independent person and I cherish my friendships. I’m the first to say friendships are a two-way street and if they are to be maintained then we should be making an equal effort. One thing I have done for a long time is be accommodating to changes in my friends’ lives. Now, I have been far from perfect in my adaptation to their changing lives, but that’s because I was jealous at times. No matter how happy I am for them, sometimes jealousy got in the way.
Whenever someone introduced me to someone they liked or started dating, I was so happy for them, and like a good friend I gave space for them to enjoy their relationship. As time went on, a part of me felt like I was fading into the background. I’m not as important as their partner is the first thought that enters my mind. I struggled with that for a long time, and at times I still do, but I’m aware of it to say the least. When my friends go through changes in life, normally they are happy, things worth celebrating! I am happy to be a part of their happiness and see their lives unfolding as they have wanted, it makes me feel like they are safe and living well. However, there is a part of me no matter how happy I am, is sad for myself. Many times I felt sad, because comparing myself to my friends as their lives moved forward made me feel sad that my life wasn’t doing the same. Which is a silly thing to do, but we all do it. Some of us just do it less than others, or we aren’t honest with ourselves if we don’t admit we haven’t done it at least a few times. When I felt sad for myself out of jealousy, because I wanted similar things it was easier to handle and recognize. The harder part of sadness with a changing friendship are the feelings of loneliness and abandonment.
I mourn my friendships. I mourn the change in our friendship as I celebrate the new successes and developments in my friends’ lives. Yet, most of the time I’m forced to accept everything at once and only be happy with the change. I always am told by a mutual third-party to accept it and move on, you can’t be like this. You need to be happy for them. I realized I can be happy for them, but I have a right to mourn my loss. I have a right to mourn over the fact I no longer have a friend I can call up anytime of night when I need someone to talk to. I can mourn over the fact that I am not as important as I once was. I can feel frustrated and sad when I hang out and feel like, I’m only here to fill the void of the person my friend would rather be with. Am I projecting too much? Possibly, but I can’t change the fact that I know they would rather be with someone else. That when they look down at their phone or message their partner back and forth, I’m not that important.
It is the little cues we pick up on when we hang out with our friends. Are you listening to me? Or are you talking over me? Do you realize I hate you checking your phone nonstop? Do you see when I say its okay to have a partner join our friend date, I’d rather you not? It’s the subtle clues I drop to note I just want to spend time with my friend. The friend that was there before kids, before marriage, before a relationship, when our friendship was strong and fun.
I have mourned a lot of friendships. Change is a part of life and our friendships change as we enter different stages of our lives. It becomes harder to relate to each other when one friend is single and the other is in a relationship. The bridge becomes wider when we marry and have kids. If everything isn’t happening at the same time, there is a divide. Life changes and we adapt. It doesn’t mean I will adapt smoothly to everything happening around me, I will struggle to adjust until I’ve found peace with it. I need time to mourn so that I can be a better friend, being single, besides family, my friends are the most important things to me. It hurts a lot to know that I’m at a stage in life I don’t relate well to most of my friends. Even when I try to relate or be there, my advice is unwanted at best.
So I mourn. I mourn for the days of shooting the shit and enjoying each other’s company. I mourn the times I struggled to be a good friend through the good and the bad in my friends’ lives. I have become a better friend with time, but I’ve struggled along the way that sometimes my best is not good enough for everyone I know. It may never be enough, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t try my hardest. I can only give so much of myself, without damaging myself. I’m not a good friend if I can’t even take care of myself properly. I look back and wish I had been there for more people when I lived in Korea, through their big moments in life , good or bad. Looking back at my life in Korea, I did the best I could for where I was mentally, it was better than I had ever done before, but I always felt what I gave was never enough in any of my relationships.
I struggle wanting to be the friend who is there through thick and thin, the good and the bad. I want to be the friend I never had. I’ve mourned so many changing friendships that I wonder to myself who is by my side through this all? Who has been with me through the good and bad? Has anyone been willing to really understand the sadness I have felt as I mourned each change with a smile on my face? There is only one person who has and that is me. It has taken me a long time to realize even if all of my relationships with my friends change the only consistent in my life, is me. I’m in a better place mentally now that I can honestly say I am happy for all of my friends and all of their successes and milestones in life. I can wish I could have done better, but at the time I did my best with where I was mentally. I can only think that maybe, my friends tried to do their best when I was going through good times and bad times, too.
At times I wish I had been more understanding, but I need to realize I can’t change the past. I can decide not to be that type of person going forward, acknowledge my emotions and accept that feeling happiness and sadness as our friendships change is okay. It is okay to mourn for how things used to be while learning to embrace the new form of our friendship. I still struggle with the fear that my life is so far behind that when I’m going through similar life milestones no one will be there to weather them with me, as once again our lives will have diverged again. But alas, that is life. Life is full of change, and our relationship with our friends is no exception. Like the waxing and waning of the moon, my relationship with each friend will have its highs and its lows. It’s a test of the strength and enduring spirit of our friendship if it makes it through each phase into the next. Sometimes I don’t talk to my friends everyday, but I believe that a truly strong friendship knows that sometimes that is just how life is. Life is never consistent and if I can’t float along with the pull of the tide, then it will be an awfully rough life.
So I say to others, mourn that change if you need to. Because once we mourn the loss we feel with the change, the sooner we will be able to be more open to the present situation. Life is always changing and so are our relationships with others. If we can be more authentic with our feelings then it will create less resentment between two individuals as we move through those changing phases together. So until the next phase of the moon lets continue to support each other. <3