Krissie: You Gotta Have Friends

That’s Pooska, aka Skeletor, our 18 year old kitty. She likes to climb in my lap and lay across my arms as I type. Which is fine as long as she doesn’t knead her claws.
We were talking about how much we need friends as we grow older. The unfortunate thing is, friends disappear for no particular reason.
Of course it helps if you start out with the right friends in the first place, but in a tiny town like this one you don’t have a whole lot of choices. You end up being friends with people you’d never have much in common with.
Let me tell you about Rod and Nancy (fake names). Rod’s a jolly fellow, used to come here in the summer with Richie’s cousin. He has a family tradition of always moving on to the next interesting person and leaving old friends behind (at least, that’s what his father always did). He’s also a functioning alcoholic with his own business and a strong sense of self-importance.
He came up here when we we just married and stayed with us, and his girlfriend, Nancy, soon followed. They rented a house for the winter, we bought our first house, and then when summer came and they needed a place to stay they moved in with us again. We thought they were going to help as we revamped the place but they mainly used it as a place to sleep.
Okay. We stayed friends — Nancy and I were close, though she’s a bit of a control freak with a lot of repressed anger. When they got married they asked to use the Big House (our white elephant of a summer house) and Richie’s mother said yes. Richie and I sang at the wedding and all was good.
We’d go through periods where we’d see them and periods where they disappeared. Some of that was our fault — as we went through infertility while everyone was making babies we began to isolate a bit. But we were there when needed — when there was a day care disaster of the absolute worst kind (and you know what the worst kind is) we took in her four year old every afternoon when pre-school ended.
Rod and Nancy — not so much. When Richie got laid off we didn’t see or hear from them for six months, which is difficult in a town this small. When I saw Nancy at work a co-worker was astonished that we knew each other.
Her younger son and mine were best friends for many years, until he started his father’s habit of always moving on to the next interesting group. Rod surrounded himself with drinking buddies and Richie seldom drank, but Nancy and I stayed close.
And then we kicked our son out. He was using again, he was abusive and scary and everyone said kick him out, so we did. Mind you, our idea of cutting a kid off was give him food, pay his ticket to Detroit to stay with friends, send him gift cards for grocery, etc. But Rod (in particular) thought we were terrible for doing it. And we were hurting so much it shattered us, to find out that one of our oldest friends was turning against us during our hardest time. We really felt betrayed.
But Nancy hung in there. Nancy (and to a lesser extend, Rod) were there in moments of panic. Nancy helped Richie clean and clear the house when we brought our son home after his snowmobile accident.
But suddenly they were permanently gone, and I don’t know what I did. When Taffy died they showed up at the service, and even in my shock and grief and went to hug them.
But then Richie’s mother died, and not even a card, no appearance at the service. I had a hysterectomy, called her to tell her, and nothing. No card, no flowers, no visit, no offer of food. My mother died, and the same silence.
I can understand friends drifting apart, but I don’t understand such a total lack of … ? Words fail me.
I thought I was past my grief over the lost friendship, but there’s a problem. This saturday we have the committal service and reception for Richie’s uncle, the head of the family who first brought Rod to Greensboro. So they’ll be there. Busy and helpful and friendly, after what is such a monumental slap in the face. How hard is it to send a generic card?
And I think the loss of their friendship has been part of the reason why we isolated. I don’t really fit with a lot of the women in this town — they tend to be more traditional wives, staying home while their husbands supported them. Nancy was different — she had a career, a strong opinion, a brain.
And it’s funny — the grief and the hurt doesn’t go away. But I think the thing to do is see what I can do to find new friends. And while I’d love to snub them at Uncle Walter’s service, I think calm courtesy is the best way to deal with them. Cool and polite.
The problem is, our pool of possible friends is really small here, which is one major reason we want to move.
Obviously I haven’t made peace with their loss, even though they weren’t that reliable in the first place. And I’ve had a lot of time to deal with it — at least seven years.
How do you let go of lost friendships? How do you find new in a town where you already know everyone and most of them find you a little odd?
I think I need to move.

54 thoughts on “Krissie: You Gotta Have Friends

  1. Janis says:

    I mostly lurk, but I’m compelled to comment. I have a friend with whom I have several things in common, but she likes new and shiny and she’s been pulling away for several months now as we’ve met a couple of new people.

    I feel like an old leather purse that’s the “go-to” bag when the new & shiny purse can’t do the job. She’s done this time after time and, when she has a falling out with the new, improved friend, she goes back to the leather purse.

    We move in the same circles so I’ve accepted it and I accept that she is that way…but I no longer feel the same way about her. I can’t go back to the way I felt about her before like I did the first three times.

    If she suddenly moved away, I wouldn’t grieve. Time has inured me to that pain, thank heavens. And I can be social with her and have fund with her now…but I don’t commit to the friendship as I did before.

    My town is large with many friends opportunities so I have no answer for your question about finding new friends in a small pool of “applicants.” But, I have made peace with the initial pain of “losing” her.

  2. I loved living in the small Oregon Coast town that my mother and grandmother lived in. But they didn’t need much more than each other, although my mom developed a couple of extra friends to do things with sometimes, but Grandma was a clinger.

    I had friends at work, but no one to play with outside of work, except my family. And no one to talk about big ideas with, or writing with. Or things like that. So I needed to move. And I tried hard.

    The problem with where I’m at now is that all the people I know live at least half an hour to an hour away from me and they aren’t, most of them, close friends. So even though I live in a very large city (well, in a suburb of it), I haven’t made friends. It’s hard to make friends, no matter where you are, but you can have a greater pool, depending on where you live. I am a bit odd for most of the people in my suburb.

    Moving is probably your option, but how far away do you want to move from your grandson?

  3. Jen Wyatt says:

    I’m sorry that these people still have the power to hurt you. From the way you describe them, it doesn’t sound like you’re missing out on much. You are too fabulous to be shed for any flavor of the month because you are the flavor of Always Cool.
    I vote for you to move down South, preferably to a state with no income tax.

  4. I’ve had the same thing happen a couple of times.
    I lost one friend when I published my first book. She read it and called me and said, ‘You have no idea how much I wanted to hate this book. But it’s really good.” By the time the third book came out, she wasn’t speaking to me. I’d upset the balance of our friendship–we were both public school teachers–and it was just too hard for her. Or maybe it was me; I’m obnoxious.
    I lost another friend when she left publishing and I didn’t, but I’m pretty sure that was mostly because I was coming unglued and sort of bleeding all over everybody and she just couldn’t take it any more; that one I get, she had to save herself.
    More often, I think, friendships just change. People change and their relationships shift. We’ve known each other for a long time, and our relationship has changed, we’ve grown closer over the years. We were always good friends, but it took awhile for us to become really close–The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, maybe?–so I think friendships are like every other relationship: you have to let people be who they are, not who you want them to be.
    It’s really hard, but you can’t expect more from people than they can give.
    The hardest thing I had to learn, during one of the toughest times in my life, is that you either accept people for who they are or you leave. Both lousy choices, but the only ones you’ve got. So accept these people as distant friends who won’t be there for you but who will be there for Richie’s uncle’s wake (or whatever it is) or smile and move on. They get to be who they need to be and so do you.
    Also, love you forever, baby.

  5. Calm, cool, courtesy is the way to go. You aren’t going to change these people. All you can do is deny them the opportunity to keep hurting you.

    Sometimes moving is the way to go. Sometimes you just have to be willing to join groups outside your sphere to make new friends. The question is, how attached are you to this place where you live? If you suddenly -had- to move, would you miss it? Or would it be a relief to finally go? And as Skye mentioned, how much distance are you willing to put between you and your grandson?

    Sending FGBV’s for a trouble free committal service.

  6. Also, I vote for moving. To New Jersey to that place that’s two tenths of a mile from the cottage. Or I can harass my next door neighbor into moving out, but that seems wrong.

  7. I’ve had friends pull away for no discernable reason and some whose lives just took them more strongly in other directions or focused them on other priorities. It hurts, but it happens.

    I’ve had friendships from which I needed to pull away. I’m sure that my pulling away hurt the other people, too, but sometimes you need to do it to save yourself.

    I would always prefer to know why someone has retreated from the friendship, particularly if I somehow hurt or offended them. I’d like them to tell me. I don’t look for ways to hurt people I care about, so if I don’t realize I’ve done so, I absolutely want to apologize and make amends. That said, some people are unable or unwilling to articulate the reasons. I can ask, but might not get an answer and have to let it go.

    Sometimes there is no reason other than people drift apart. Sometimes one person in the friendship is more selfish and only wants to be in the relationship as long as it meets her needs.

    There will probably always be an internal “ouchie” when you think of or see these folks, Krissie. I think the only thing you, in your fabulousness, can do is rise above it. Be gracious and charming if/when you see them and move on.

  8. I say move but more so to get to a better climate. (I’m anti-winter.) I walked away from a friendship that had been toxic for years. Actually, I walked away once for five years then (like an idiot) went back for more. Another five years and I’d had enough. There are people who take and take and take and eventually, you have nothing left to give. This was one of those people and I’d given enough.

    Sounds like Rod & Nancy have issues of their own. How they treat you likely has more to do with them, but that doesn’t make you feel any less rejected. Sorry about that. Been there and it sucks.

    I’ve been here for eight years now and still don’t have actual friends. I’m just starting some new friendships with local writers I’ve found, which is great, but other than meeting up to talk writing, we’re not hanging out or anything. Yet. I hope that will change. It’s been a long time since I had a friend I could call and do things with.

    BTW, this is my way of saying I don’t know how to make friends regardless of population. But I’m interested in everyone else’s answers.

  9. Sharon S. says:

    Jenny…she wasn’t your friend in the first place. She should have shared in your happiness. I have a best friend, like a sister, including constant bickering. We were both poor, barely making it by, paycheck to paycheck. She had a young son. When that son turned 16 she married a man who for 3 weeks had been her boss two years before. He was a wealthy man. I could have ben jealous and turned away, but you know what? She deserved it. She worked hard, took her life day to day and she married a wonderful man who has given her the world. Why would I stop being her friend because her life is so different now. I would have been happy for you, Jenny. I would have thrown you a party.

  10. Kieran says:

    Krissie, I agree with Jenny. PLEASE move next to her. You need each other–you’re sisters, and sisters need to be together.

    I also want to send you a virtual hug about those friends who are NOT friends, after all. This happened to me, and I was also surprised how long I let it linger inside me…the hurt. Like you, it was not the most solid friendship in the first place. There were some disagreements, long periods of not connecting. We had little in common except that we’re both writers and adventurous people. I really, really thought I was over it and had made my peace with the hurt–until I went to RWA and someone told me she’d said a rude thing about me.

    So when I saw her there, not thirty minutes later, sitting alone on a cushy ottoman waiting to speak to the concierge, I sat next to her, looked her in the eye, and said, “Please stop saying unkind things about me.” And her eyes nearly popped out of her head!!!

    Of course, I’m a crybaby and instantly, tears started flowing. I thought I’d be ashamed to show her how much it hurt, but I wasn’t. And I went on to tell her that it hurt so much because I thought our friendship had been genuine.

    She agreed in a very quiet voice to stop. And to let bygones be bygones. Who knows what will happen? But my speaking to her was freeing. So if you start to tear up when you see that old friend, let it happen. Don’t let pride stand in the way of your expressing your hurt–if that will help.

    Good luck!!!


  11. Sharon S. says:

    Krissie…I believe in that old saying that people come and go in your life for a reason. Some for a moment, some for longer and some forever. I think you’re right. Go to the event, be courteous, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to cozy up to them. Its time to move on. Friendship needs to be cultivated to some degree or it withers and dies at some point. I have had many best friends through my life. They have all moved (literally) and I am still in contact with them. I am always the one to make the overture of contact with all of them. I make the phone call, I send the email to “just say Hi” and it rarely happens that I hear from them, but I know they are there. Having someone to hang out with is the icing on the cake though. If you’re going to move anyway, then move and start over, but I wouldn’t let them run me out of town. They don’t sound like they were your friends anyway, I’m sorry to say. You are a good person and if nothing else, Krissie…we are all here for you.

  12. I have a lot of acquaintances but only a handful of close friends. Those are people outside of immediate family who I could call in case of emergency. That for the most part is my problem because I’m selfish about time. I need a lot of undisturbed time. I had to walk away from two friendships because they had become too clingy. I’m very independant and can go weeks without talking to anyone.
    Your friends sound like acquaintances to me. Possibly users. True friends will pick up where they left off no matter the amount of time that has passed between meeting up. And in times of stress they offer support willingly.
    When I moved to the desert I knew nobody. I pushed myself to join a once-a-month book club and it ended up being the best thing ever. (I’d always shied away from women’s groups and groups where I had to express an opinion.)
    Surprise of surprises! I made friends of like mind, I gained three Beta readers, I gained women friends who would ditch the hubs to go to a movie matinee or lunch, and we have had wonderful outings and shared tons of laughs. I’m thinking of starting another book club, one that is purely for romance readers.

  13. Rose says:

    I think I might be the Rod or Nancy in this equation, although I’m not a drunk or a control freak. I’ve let lots of friendships lapse. Friendships are situational; you get to be friends with people because you are in the same school or job or you’re neighbors. When you start having less in common the friendships are less organic and more forced. Friendships, especially ones that aren’t based on proximity, take time and energy to maintain, and those are things that everyone has in limited supply. I have friends that I see weekly and friends I might talk to once year. But I’ve had friendships die because I knew the other person was a “keeper tracker,” the kind of person who always knows who called who last and from whom you’re sure to be met with cold disapproval if you’ve let a return call wait too long. Eventually it’s just not worth trying to get back in the other person’s good graces. Or so I tell myself. I’m actually not that good at friendships. I’m an introvert and I really value my “me” time, and I’ve never been good at keeping track of other people’s occasions. And this is why I take my vacations by myself. Which is not actually that much fun.

  14. This touches a chord with me. I had a friend that I thought was in for life, sisters of the heart. But when I had my crash, that strained the relationship and we blew up rather spectacularly. It devastated me, really. Part of it was my inability to understand how someone I thought knew me so well suddenly didn’t know me at all, accusing me of wanting things and thinking things that had never crossed my mind. She was so convinced she just “knew” what it was I thought, she wouldn’t sit down to hear what it was I actually did. A few years later we tried to put the friendship back together but it didn’t work. The same dynamic repeated itself and I finally got it — for reasons I didn’t understand, she was always going to walk. So I let her go.

    It was a hard, hard loss and I grieved that friendship like I imagine some people grieve a divorce. I haven’t had another friendship come as close. I have group friends but no one really strong one on one. I miss that. But it’s also true, people are going to be who they are and you can’t change that. You can only change yourself.

    I think the advice to just be polite when you encounter them and let it go at that is pretty good advice. They are who they are. And I so understand the desire for close friends close to home. Perhaps you might find a friend or two in musical theater?

  15. Deb says:

    Yep, I totally get it. I live in a small Vermont town too. I’m lucky enough to have family here but outside of that my socializing is severely limited. I don’t have much in common with my neighbors and I get the distinct impression that they think I’m a bit weird…and I haven’t even been stirring the cauldron or dancing naked by the light of the full moon.
    I do have friends through work but we don’t live close and most have kids and that further complicates socializing.
    I love where I live though and have no intention of moving…but it does make for some lonely times (and don’t even get me started on dating prospects). That being said, I lived in DC for 10 years and was lonely there too–maybe I’m just a hermit at heart.

  16. Cindy says:

    Friendships can be so hard. I don’t have many friends, I usually have 1-3 really good friends. I feel like a broken record talking about my daughter again, and I think that’s how my friends felt. As my daughter got sick, and her illness didn’t improve, I lost 2 of my friends. They weren’t gone completely, but our friendships became more shallow. I think they didn’t know how to deal with what I was going through.

    I think some people don’t know how to handle the hard aspects of life. Others don’t know how to deal with the successes of their friends. People walk away when it gets too hard for them.

  17. Frances in England says:

    “You have no idea how much I wanted to hate this book” – from a ‘friend’.

    Um, WTF?

    I don’t think so!!!

  18. Barbara Cameron says:

    I couldn’t respond right after I read your initial post, Krissie, but sure enough, just like I thought would happen, others wrote you much of what I was going to say. These weren’t really good friends, they don’t have what it “takes” to be good friends (sounded like users), and you shouldn’tlet them back close to you if they put out that feeler when you see them this weekend.

    I lost several very, very long term friends (more than 25 years) all within about a year or two. At the time my grown daughter asked if women of a certain age suddenly had anger management problems. She really didn’t mean to be insulting. The fact was, these friends had always had anger management problems and at some point one or the other of us called it quits. My marriage counselor had once pointed out that my family controlled me with their anger. I would do just about anything so that they wouldn’t be angry with me. I didn’t realize that friends were doing it, too.

    A move might be good for a number of reasons. I’d be torn about the grandson … I have one an hour and a half away I’m trying to move closer to and have been very sad that several have just moved two and a half hours away. I seldom got to see the ones moving farther away before but now it feels very hard to think about driving that far (above drives are one way).

    I’ve found it’s hard to have friendships as a writer. Too many friends had envy issues and I lost them when I got published and they didn’t. Of course they never saw they weren’t willing to work as hard as I did for that success.

  19. oneoftheotherjennifers says:

    I don’t believe in friendship, not the kind you’re talking about here. My life has taught me that everyone, and I do mean everyone, will eventually abandon, betray, or disappoint me. I am the only person I can truly count on.

    I know lots of you here are softies (that’s really sweet, I’m happy for you) and will try to comfort me in some way, but I don’t need comforting. I really am happy. People are all different, and this is OK for me. I have lots of “friends” and people are always calling or inviting me places. I suspect it is because I don’t need or want anything from anyone.

    My point (yes, it took me a while to get here) is that Krissie, if you actually have the real deal with Jenny, I agree with everyone who says you should move to be near her. Big cities have lots of people, but true, TRUE friendship is one in a million. Good luck finding those friends in the crowds.

  20. Deb says:

    You know, it’s not the friendships that just drifted away that I grieve for….those I can put down to changing circumstances/the ebbs and flows of life in general. I can wish those friends well and if they drift back into my life I gladly welcome them.

    The lost friendship that still makes me nuts is the one I walked away from. A pseudo-friend who I finally realized was only in the friendship for favors I could give and because she liked to feel superior by making me feel bad about myself. I don’t regret walking away. What still drives me freaking NUTS though is the fact that I ever let her take advantage in the first place. I’m not even angry at her anymore but I’m still furious with myself.

    Maybe it’s easier to get over it when you can just put down the loss to a character flaw in the former friends. But once they make you feel used or stupid or betrayed, it just gnaws at you for years.

    Totally sucks.

    I’m sorry Krissie. Good luck at the service.

  21. Chris S. says:

    I’m sorry. This is a particularly hard time for you to have to deal with the whole situation. Loss of friendship is still loss, though it doesn’t always feel or look or behave like grief.

    Friendships change. All relationships change. Sometimes that change is for the better, the richer, the deeper. Sometimes… not. Learning that lesson is one of the best things about growing up, and also the worst.

    (Or at least, the hardest, which can feel like worst)

  22. Maria says:

    Hmm, I think what Jenny said is correct. You either accept people as each presents him/herself or you walk away because who he/she is isn’t acceptable.

    I don’t know how it is that I make friends but I’ve had friends since kindergarten, 2nd grade, junior high, high school, college, work, and now writing groups. Not everyone I meet ends up being a “friend” but I am friendly with many of them. I assure you that in 45 years of friendship the relationship has ebbed and flowed. In fact we stopped talking to each other for a couple of years but when my dad died, I reached out to her again. When I find that I make more of an effort than a friend, I’ll let things go. If the person reaches out to me, I accept their hand. No explanations needed. I do make the effort to keep my circles wide and shallow on the edges and deep and grounded in the center. My friendships tend to flow across lines and it is all good.

    Hmm, perhaps that is it. I am fine with me and allow people to ebb and flow through my life as each person needs to. I’ve been hurt by friends, betrayed even, but some how we work through it. I am pretty sure that I am not easy to be friends with either and thus, when someone needs to pull away, I usually assume they need a break from me. I get that and let it happen.

    I do have a mother who showed me how to be friends with people despite distance and time challenges. She is 76 and still has friends from when she grew up in Chicago. Joanie, Shirley, and Susie are just a few and all of those women are also a part of my life.

    The other thing she taught me was that when I am feeling cut off or left out, then it is time to find new friends and new circles. I think that you are doing that, Krissie. As for how you should treat Nancy, et al, I vote with love. I think the best way to treat people, especially those you have loved, is with love no matter what.

  23. Chris S. says:

    I’ve never understood the zero-sum-game variety of friendship. Success for you does NOT equal failure for me. Happiness for me does NOT equal misery for you. There’s lots to go around. Okay, yes, cake for me MIGHT equal no cake for you, but hell, there’s always more cake!* Maybe we could even make it together.

    *Unless you’re playing Portal.

  24. stephanie says:

    I know people like Rod and Nancy. I’ve had relationships with people like Rod and Nancy. I like to pretend in my head that they are people who just can’t listen to the other side of a conversation that isn’t about themselves. That works for me since I don’t want to always be the one that’s listening, and giving and doing. That’s not a friendship or partnership. That’s slavery and we don’t do that anymore. It’s hard but we need to let them go. It’s taken me years to be okay with letting these people leave me – yes, that’s always how it looks like to me. It’s painful when people leave. It’s personal when they leave. We don’t know the real reasons why they leave – in fact, there may not actually be reasons, but we don’t have to let their decisions control our lives. Not anymore.

    Hugs to you, sweetie.

  25. Naked Under My Clothes says:

    Friendships change naturally. Keeping score and being angry about this pair is paying too much attention to people whose attention is elsewhere.

    I live in a small city of 100K people — have for 7 years now — and I don’t have a real friend locally. I have about 4 friendly acquaintances, but zero true girlfriends.

    That’s partly because I’m married to a wonderful man who is my friend and so much more. It’s partly because my sister and I get along pretty well (though she lives 1200 miles away, we visit each other for vacations). We email often.

    But it’s partly because of circumstance. People here tend to have been born here and have friends from elementary school, to say nothing of family, to socialize with. Their “friend” dance card is full. And that’s fine.

    Which is why I actually like Facebook. I resisted for a long time and joined because my siblings (far-flung) and extended family (nieces/nephews) are there. Through FB I have also reconnected with people I knew vaguely at other times in my life, from high school to previous jobs and everything between — and the best part? It’s just enough connection. I control how much I’m on there, how much I share. I can do the electronic equivalent of “wave hi across the fence” to some and make plans to meet for coffee (friendly acquaintances) with others.

    It works for me, for now.

  26. Redwood Kim says:

    I think it’s the not knowing what changed or why that hurts. It’s one thing to drift apart, but to feel as if you’ve been cut loose for no good reason is another.
    I had a friend do that to me while I was overseas. I wrote something in a letter, unintentionally, that really hurt her feelings, six months into a yearlong backpacking tour. It took me four months to realize that I wasn’t missing her letters, that she had actually stopped writing to me. In the meantime, I had been pouring my heart out to her. I have no idea whether she read those letters are not, but to this day that violation of my trust stings. If I don’t know you’re upset with me, how can I possibly fix it?
    Good luck, Krissie.

  27. Lynda says:

    Eight years into my “new” home, I’m still dealing with the friends issue. Most of my time is spent alone, or with my son and his family, and, to some extent, my daughter-in-law’s family. But I do have an amazing neighbor who’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever known, and one other person whom I don’t see often, but who has made it clear that she really likes me. I still have very dear friends elsewhere whom I’ve known half my life, but there are a lot of people who were very important to me in the past who’ve just fallen away. I know that part of the problem is that for so many years I was a caregiver, which is isolating in a way that most people can’t appreciate until it happens to them. I’m blessed to be part of a very closeknit online community that’s been my rock for twenty years or more; I literally don’t know how I would have survived without their support. But it’d be nice to have somebody close at hand to go to the movies with now and then, or whatever.

    Right now I’m in the process of making some major changes in my life, which I haven’t really talked about, so we’ll see what the future brings. As for your situation, Krissie, it will take a while for it to really sink in that you now have options–such as moving–that you didn’t have while you were responsible for your mother. Just take your time. Don’t forget, time is also another luxury that you have now.

    Love and hugs!

  28. Catherine says:

    How to let go of friendships…? I think detached in the moment politeness helps. That and an exit strategy before awkward pauses ensue. I agree with the many comments that people change. Sometimes whatever shared connection gets frayed. Sometimes it’s severed. For me it’s futile not to feel that it’s personal. To me friendship is often sharing what is highly personal.

    I’ve left friendships with an explanation and none. Sometimes the friendships cease because our way of communicating doesn’t work in a pressured situation. Mind you many friendships have developed because we do work well under difficulty. I’ve had people pull away from me too.

    I live in a small town too. A little while back I found living here harder than it needed to be because I kept coming across people that were really gossipy. I’m still working on it but I find if I keep moving with a smile and a nod I’m a harder target. At Mum’s funeral I handled a former friend. ( who had been very insulting, judgmental and hurtful when my marriage broke down) with a smile and accepted her condolences.. thanked her and then I ‘spotted’ someone needing my attention behind her.. And slipped away. Yes it hurt for a moment but it was a reminder that I am a different person now. My standards of what I bring and accept in a friendship are higher. I love me more now and while I’m accepting of foibles in myself and others I’m much more ruthless about not allowing repeat offenders into my life.

    I think your refabbing opens the door to new friends and reinforces strong ties to healthy loving friendships. The door opens by allowing room for new activities. New attitudes where you appreciate yourself more attract people with similar self belief. Maybe moving to NJ is a long term answer. In the short term maybe thinking of opportunities to connect with people who share interests that reflect who you are now will widen your friendship pool.

    I’m finding as my attitudes change I’m surprised, even in a small town how many new potential friends I’m coming across. I’m just letting things develop in their own time . Over the years that’s seemed to work best. That said if I was solely dependent on this town for all my friendship needs I’d go nuts. Any friends I have here are a reflection of one aspect of my life. Varied connections elsewhere keep me hopefully interested and interesting as a person and a friend.

    I’m still finding that my way of looking at life and myself is vastly different since Mum has died. Hurts are sharper in some cases. I process some emotions faster. I deal with the past differently too. My bullshit meter is on high ert. My frame of reference has tilted. Maybe this is what is stirring up your questioning past connections and hurts. Maybe it’s another shift to reflect who you are now ?

  29. I lost a really good friend not too long ago. The funny thing was I knew it would happen eventually. She’d tell me about these really great friends she used to have and then tell me how she’d dropped them like a hot rock for whatever reason. Usually, it seemed like the minute they put their needs or their kids’ needs above her plans that was the end.

    I’m not really sure what I did, but one day she stopped taking my calls. Returned something she’d borrowed from me by mail. That was it. I have some guesses why she dropped me, but I don’t really know which of my faults drove her away. And in my heart I knew it would come someday. It still hurt though.

    I have other good friends now. The kind that will stick by you even if they know what you are doing is stupid. I see one of them a lot, the other not so much. But it doesn’t matter. Distance and time doesn’t seem to count in those relationships. Maybe they are my sisters like Lani and Jenny are yours, Krissie.

    I have something else I’m dying to talk about, but if I do I have to sign in as someone else. It’s not the kind of thing you want your kids to find out about.

    Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not at all, because I don’t mind y’all knowing, but it would be not so great if my family figured out it was me.

  30. I have lost close friends over the years, sometimes for reasons that I haven’t fully understood. I am sure that in some cases, I have been responsible for things going off the rails. Other times, a relationship will founder and it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with where the other person is in their life. Doesn’t make it any less painful.

    I know lots of people, through work, my kid’s school, etc, but I don’t currently have a close friend in my city I can just call up and get together for coffee or a movie. I did start curling in a Ladies League last year, which gets me out of the house once a week for exercise and socializing.

    Since I am hardly an expert, I would say your are doing everything right, getting involved in theatre, etc. As for moving, having a wider pool doesn’t necessarily more friends. But I could certainly understand why you would want to move closer to Jenny.

  31. JenniferNennifer says:

    When hurt by behavior that seems inexplicable to me, I always go back to my favorite Robert Heinlein quote:

    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”.

    I don’t know why it makes me feel better but when dealing with human beings, it always does. And makes calm courtesy seem more possible to pull off.

    Good luck

  32. Reb says:

    Kate, curious as I am (and I am!) I wouldn’t guarantee you’d be disguised if you logged in as someone else. Your voice is pretty distinctive.

  33. Reb says:

    I lost my best friend 15 years ago because she and my husband were very bad for each other. I thought I could keep up the friendship myself but I was wrong. None of it was really anyone’s fault but I still feel guilty.

    Some other friendships drifted apart as our priorities changed, and most of my other friends have moved out of town. I’m dreadful at keeping in touch long-distance – hate phoning people – and some of my friends were as bad. Those friendships are just friendly acquaintances now.

    So I’m not great at keeping friendships

  34. Reb says:

    … or at pressing the right keys on the keyboard.

    but in the last few months I’ve been trying to turn some acquaintances into friends. All I’m doing is inviting people over more and seeing what happens. It’s tiring but looks like it might be working.

    Could you invite the cast of TSOM over?

  35. Naked Under My Clothes says:

    Thank you!! This was tickling at the edge of my consciousness but I couldn’t quite remember it. Yes, good advice. (But I also don’t linger around people if I have to try to figure out whether they’re being mean or just stupid.)

  36. Jessie says:

    As has already been said, if you move into a small settled community, lots of those people already have a full dance card. I’ve noticed that in suburbs where people move a lot, it is easy to form friendships. BUT people move a lot so you are doing it over and over again. My older friends and siblings who are snowbirds talk about the great friendships they form in their winter communities (all people away from home and family who need to reconnect). Sometimes though when they come back “home” they find their old social group no longer automatically includes them. Everyone is used to the idea that they aren’t around to be social with half the year. Then when widowhood or ill health mean they stay in one spot the year round, they no longer have a back-up system in place.

    One thing to consider as one approaching retirement age is “Where will you be in 10 years, 15 years? Who is your back up support?” This is why lots of people predicate a move on where family is. Your friends are likely to be the same age as you and in no better shape then you are.

    However, that being said, it isn’t worth living life based on a worst case scenario:(i.e., You move to NJ to be next to Jenny, she elopes to Hollywood with the actor playing Uncle Joey when her film is made) because if you do that you miss out on the best case scenario (i.e. Uncle Joey is from NJ and the four of you have a fantastic time together and every Saturday night stay up partying with his Hollywood friends).

  37. Yes, there are a lot of issues with writers having friends. People don’t realize we really work. We need time to dream. If the friend wants to write there’s all that jealousy going on.

  38. Yes, I wouldn’t mind polite drifting. It’s the slamming of the door. It’s ignoring the mildest of social niceties. There’s a reason cards exist.
    Let go, Krissie. Let go.

  39. Micki says:

    There was a younger mother at our preschool who would drive me crazy. We weren’t friends, but she wouldn’t do common courtesies such as saying hello when picking up the kids. I’m not talking about a convo, I’m talking about a cheery, “Hello.” OTOH, I had little interest in long, drawn-out gossip sessions, and was always going home early to catch up on never-ending projects.

    People talk of friendship as a garden, how it needs to be constantly cultivated, and sometimes weeded, and how the effort you put in brings back equivalent results. You could extend that metaphor to arid conditions that make each friendship a precious flower . . . .

    I think you have to continually make new friends. The first things is that for reasons beyond our control, friends go away, or disconnect or sadly die. Also, new friends keep the mix fresh — so fun to have new ideas and new ways of thinking about things.

    And while it’s worth putting some effort into some troubled friendships, when it’s too much, it’s too much. (or when it’s too little, it’s too little?) Don’t try to force a lost friendship. At the ceremony, I think you should keep yourself busy with other people. OF COURSE, greet her in a socially appropriate manner — no matter what she/he does, because there are standards to be met, and it’s not your fault if s/he doesn’t meet the standards, but it IS your fault if you don’t. But you don’t need to do more. This really isn’t the appropriate venue to respark a friendship, although if you want to meet for coffee or something later, it could lead to something — if both parties are agreeable.

    And when you run out of people, there are things that need to be done at something like this. Trays to be carried, trash to be disposed of, little busywork things — but hopefully it won’t come to that. Concentrate on the people who matter to you. Not the ones who are simply regretful memories.

    If you really, really think it’s going to be a problem, though, call her today. Have the confrontation outside of the public eye, and then you’ll be better able to plan the public strategy. The ceremony is supposed to be about your uncle-in-law, after all. Everything else is lower on the agenda.

  40. Micki says:

    That is great — I heard something like that or similar at a very young age, and it really helped me get through my high school years. Both for forgiving others, and for forgiving myself. Lord knows, I go through bouts of tired, sick, lazy, depressed and I do let things go . . . why shouldn’t it be true for other people? Sometimes getting a card in the mail *is* monumental. I don’t know why that is so, but every November I say, “OK, I’m going to Do My Seaons’ Greetings” and I rarely make it over the hump . . . . Season’s Greetings is like Friendship 101, and I just fail miserably at it every year — not through lack of love, not through meaness or pettiness, but just because of me.

  41. I have lots of trouble finding friends. I have web friends but outside of cyber space, not so much. I always seem to be out of sync with everyone else. I am always considered to be odd.
    I have a good friend who, in a similar fashion to Kate’s friend, I know eventually she will drop me. I’ve seen her drop others left and right for one thing or another. It takes a lot for me to drop someone once I bond with them.
    Excessive drug or alcohol use, fanaticism or refusing to allow me to be fully myself will push me away. Otherwise I’m kind of like one of those plants that can thrive despite a lack of watering.
    Sounds like you’re better off without these particular friends. I know that doesn’t make it any less sad, though.
    Seems like it would be nourishing if you and Jenny lived closer. Would that be too close for comfort for Richie?

  42. Lois says:

    I live in a low population area but we have 2 univer. So when I was in my 20s it seemed I would make a great friend and they would leave because they or their spouse would finish their grad program or whatever. I felt like a tidepool – fun people would wash in but the tide would go out and I would be left behind.
    Then I met 3 women (through work) and we had a great time – out for birthdays, movies, complaining about kids and husbands, etc. 30 yrs. later I am still friends with all 3, altho one has moved away, one has complications from a stroke, and one is a workaholic. They have become like family but we no longer do the birthday/movie/etc.

    I think with friends we have to enjoy what we have while we have it because life changes constantly for all of us.

    I think to meet new people we need to go to things we enjoy. I have met people in a stained glass class, meditation, art assoc., gyms…..

    Because I have to be very social in my career I enjoy time alone when I get it. I seem to be withdrawing from any pursuit of new people.

  43. Linda says:

    I think part of the problem with this conversation is that the definition of “friend” changes from person to person and situation to situation.

    I was born and raised in a small, closely knit community made up of families who had members working in the local logging industry or farming and have lived in similar communities for most of my life. Having done so, I have found that there are multiple levels of friendship. I’ll give you 4 to ponder but there are multiple levels between these as well.

    As an example: When I was a kid, Family “A” lived across the street and 6 houses down from us. My parents and the “A” parents were friendly (worked on community functions together, played cards and watched each others kids). All us kids played, rode the bus to school, and did all the typical kid things together. 35 years later, although we don’t go out of our way to keep in contact, if we meet at a function or on the street, I would introduce them as long time friends and we would enjoy remembering old fun times shared.

    Family “B” lived in my town. We ran into them at school or work, the store, the Dr’s office, community functions and were always polite and friendly. Although we shared many of the same things with the “B’s” as we did with the “A’s” there just was never the connection. If I run into them now, we’d smile, introduce each other as being from the same hometown or that we had gone to school together, stop and spend a couple minutes to say hello, ask about family, catch up on the news and then move on.

    Family “C” lived 10 miles away yet were still part of the general community. We didn’t go to the same school until all the different towns funneled into the high school. We didn’t see them as often, but I and the “C” daughter were best friends and constant competitors at horse shows. Although she and I have lived a couple thousand miles apart for most of our adult lives, that connection has remained and when she moved to the same general area I now live, our friendship (although altered) picked up where it left off and they often borrowed my teenage son for family outings after their daughters grew up and moved away. When we are together we spend a little time on remembering old fun or catching up with the day to day, but mostly we spend time sharing new fun.

    Now Family “D” although we shared all the same community things with them, they were just too hard to be friends with. If they dropped by your house, your first thought was, “What do they want now, I just don’t have time for this today.” They were work to be around because you never knew which way their emotional wind would blow on any given day. If I met one of them on the street today (and happened to recognize them) I would nod and smile and probably keep walking. And then when my husband asked who that was I’d tell him they were someone from the community I grew up in.

    The point of this is that you get thousands of family “D’s”, hundreds of family “B’s”, a couple dozen family “A’s” (if you are lucky), but only a couple family “D’s” in your lifetime. The trick is to cherish your connection with the “D’s”, enjoy your remembrances with the “A’s”, be polite to the “B’s” & “D’s” and then move on. Only having one or two truly best friends doesn’t mean you are lacking, it means you are a good judge of character and so are they.

    Don’t have to think too hard to come up with your two “D’s” do we?

  44. Linda says:

    Okay forgive me. I re-wrote that three times and got the last set of letters out of sequence. Should have been only a couple “C’s” so Cherish the “C’s (Lani & Jenny) and of course your “D’s” would be Rod & Nancy.
    Sorry for the mistake.

  45. I’ve had Rod and Nancy type friends, and the only way I’ve finally come to peace with their type of erratic friendship is to realize that somewhere, inside, they’re broken. It’s like a wind-up toy that only works half of the time; sometimes it springs up like it’s supposed to, sometimes it just sits there, awkward, sometimes it won’t even open. There’s no rhyme or reason, it’s just broken. And it was broken like that when it came to me, so I can’t really fix it.

    I still remember when I was 28 and I was sitting in a restaurant, waiting for a woman I thought was a friend; we were supposed to have lunch and I’d confirmed it the day before. She never showed up. Never called, never answered my call, never explained. Just poof. Friendship over. To this day, I still can’t figure out what I’d done. We hadn’t had a single disagreement, and really, I hadn’t called or been clingy (two small kids, full time student and working 30 hours a week–just no time). But it was the week of her birthday and I’d gotten her a small present. I never set foot back in that restaurant again.

    And it took me a few years to trust anyone else, that they weren’t going to yank the rug out.

    Since then, I’ve made some really close, long-haul friends, people who will be in my life forever. Occasionally, though, someone will stun me, and the slap is just staggering and it hurts. Man, it hurts. And I get angry, but there’s no way to really vent that anger and let them know, because they’re broken–or why would they do it in the first place, ya know? And it’s times like that that I have to sit back and realize that sometimes, the people who are the most broken inside have learned to hide it really really well, and it’s not something I can control. I just have to let it go.

    (And name a villain after them, that I then kill off in a heinous fashion.) (Hey, it’s cheaper than therapy.)

  46. Frances in England says:

    My original reply got eaten by the machine, but I think Toni puts it really well – they are broken, and it isn’t your responsibility to fix them.

    I too have had people that I thought were true friends dump me unceremoniously when I needed them rather than the other way around. And it is very easy for the non-involved (however well-meaning) to say that they are not worth the hurt, but it is a very difficult thing to deal with.

    Detached politeness would probably be best at the committal. However, if you can only do icy, or angry, or something non-detached, then just go with that and don’t beat yourself up about it. Tell yourself that you have more important things to be worrying about. Cos you do.

    I’m in favour of moving. It doesn’t need to be far (unless you want it to be) but moves can be very cleansing.

  47. Oh, Richie would love Jenny (they’ve never met). And he’d have no problem with us living closer. The problem is, both of us grew up in NJ — he grew up in northern NJ and I grew up in Princeton. We hate the traffic and the heat etc. The thing is, the place Jenny has found is very unlike NJ, just as Squalor on the River is nothing like what you think of when you think of Ohio.

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