Friends are not friends forever despite what Michael W. Smith says

While driving to soccer practice, my 10-year old daughter chatters non-stop.  One day she mentioned that she and a teammate want to have a playdate.  I suggested the waterpark or the beach and then she said, “It’s weird.  Whenever I go someplace like that I always meet someone and make a friend.  And then I never see them again.”

I said, “Yes, they are just friends for a day, huh?”

I hate the idea of a friend for a day.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the occasional conversation you have with a stranger you meet in random circumstances:  in the airport or the beach or while walking your dog down the street on a balmy Southern California morning.  I like a temporary intersection with an acquaintance or the getting-to-know you exchange of information and ideas with a potential friend, even if nothing really comes of it.

But what I hate is the abandonment of old friends, dear friends, those friends who have toured the inside of your heart and seen you cry.  I hate it and I don’t understand it.

Maybe I am that kind of person, the kind of person who walks away and forgets her friends, the kind of woman who drifts away on the currents of busyness, the loser who plain-out abandons her friends.  But I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t think I am like that.  I spend a lot of time wondering if I am.  Is it me?

Admittedly, I am an introvert, one of those weirdos who would choose reading over partying.  I am never the life of the party, like some people I know.  I don’t gather people to me like a magnet.  I like solitude and peace and quiet.

But when I find a friend, when I connect with someone on a deeper level, when I find someone who laughs at my jokes  and makes me laugh, who “gets” me, I treasure that person.  Over the years, I’ve had some of the most amazing friends.  We have walked parallel paths as we became wives and mothers.  We’ve shared our lives, our sorrows, our gripes, our dreams, our fears.  We have history together.

But at some point, silence has crept in.  Distance both geographical and emotional has turned from space into a wall, an impenetrable wall without a gate.  I’m alone.  I don’t know why.

I don’t have forty-seven other friends tucked away in a banquet room.  I have loved these few friends with devotion and faithfulness.  I have saved every letter these friends have ever sent yet I feel like my actual friendship has been shredded and tossed out in the recycling bin.  (I know.  Real letters with handwriting and postage stamps and everything!  So old-fashioned.)

Sure, this could just be life, that time in the life-cycle of an American female human being when she only sees her children and her husband and her job and her to-do-list, but I have a hole where those friends used to be.

I can’t stop probing the hollow space.

*

p.s.  I already know that some friends are “for a season” and some are “for a reason” and all that trite stuff.  I just feel a sense of abandonment and it’s probably me, not you.  I don’t need advice or comfort.  I just wanted to stay what I’ve been thinking because it helps me think better and sort through things.  (I almost didn’t post this but I can’t seem to post anything else until this post stops blocking the traffic in my head.)

10 Responses to “Friends are not friends forever despite what Michael W. Smith says”

  1. MissKris July 31, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    Yup, me too, Mel. I’m in a rush this morning as I read this so I can’t say much because I have no time. I’m sure I’ll be thinking about it off and on all day. I’ll try to come back this evening after I’ve had time to sit down and put my thoughts together because this is a subject near and dear to my heart as well.

  2. Sarah July 31, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    I have 4 such friends. They are a mixed blessing, because we are scattered around the world, “talk” multiple times a day, I feel a huge sense of contentment knowing they exist, even if only electronically at this point…On the other hand, I don’t feel compelled at all to make new friends in my own time zone.

    In an ideal world we would live Big Love style, with separate houses (and separate husbands), sharing a back yard.

  3. Kathryn July 31, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    Ditto and Ditto. I have one close friend who lives two hours away. We have been friends for the past 20 years and mainly talk on the phone every now and then. Between work, kids, husband, and the never ending to do list, I have absolutely no social life and wonder what will happen if I ever retire. Will I have anyone to call for lunch or an outing? I know that I am a very loyal friend and maybe should reach out more but where to find the time. As always, thank you for writing the post that resonates in such a meaningful way.

  4. Julana July 31, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    It’s partly because of the automobile. We live too far apart, and leave our neighborhoods too often. Also, we are being entertained to till the death of our relationships. We meet too many people and have more relationships than we can handle; they become diluted and fade away.

  5. Mary July 31, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Beautiful post. I know exactly what you mean, but couldn’t nearly express it so perfectly.

  6. Els July 31, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    It is hard. I think it’s part of this stage of our lives, to not have much tie or focus for friends because work and family take so much of our time and energy. I take heart from my parents, who seem to have good connections with friends, including friends they didn’t have much time for in their 40′s.

  7. MissKris August 1, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    When we told a dear friend in Portland that we were moving to Michigan she began to cry and said, “Oh, Kris! I hope you aren’t too lonely!” In her younger years her husband’s career took her all over the West and the Western Plains states. She was a young mom with 4 kids and this was waaaaaaaaaay before cell phones, computers, and long distance telephoning was prohibitive. She just about died of loneliness. We have Facebook, Twitter, Skype,and can call just about anywhere in the world and be instantly connected. I think I’m a few years beyond you and those who commented here…I’m at the empty nest stage in life, but I’ve had my best friend for 47 years and a core group of friends who’ve been ‘with’ me…even if my snail mail or whatever…almost all my life. I was talking to my d-I-l on a road trip into Canada yesterday about friendship…she’s 32 to my 59…and she’s a full time employee, a mom trying to keep her boys connected to their friend network, etc., and is constantly burning candles at both ends. She said she just doesn’t have time to pursue close friendships at this stage in life but, like me, she has her core of lifetime friends that keep her grounded. At this stage in life for me, ‘surface’ stuff locally is fine. Midwesterners are so friendly I strike up conversations everywhere I go and that’s about all I require beyond keeping in touch with everyone else on FB. I like my alone time. And I find that the energy needed to establish close confidant-style friendships just isn’t there for me anymore…in fact, the thought exhausts me. Isn’t that weird? But we’ve been fortunate to be taken in by our faith’s little church in Ontario, Canada, and we go there about once a month on average. The friendships I have there are perfect for me…not too intense but always such a treat whenever we’re able to visit. Once upon a time I wanted EVERYONE to be my friend. Now I guess I’m basically content being friends with ME! :-)

  8. vivian August 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    i have a friend who knows everyone, every place we go if she see someone she makes a point to talk to them. she can go out to eat with a group and spend hours talking…what do they have to talk about that will last that long, especially when you see them every week??? sometimes i wonder if i am just not a sociable person?
    i like being alone, i come home from work and would never leave till the next morning if i didn’t have too.
    i love facebook, i can talk and be sociable without leaving the house :0)

  9. judy August 5, 2013 at 4:36 am #

    I get this.
    I’ve not an extroverted bone in my ample body.
    Pinterest is my friend. Nobody needs to know if i ever actually DO any of the things I pin, so I can be one of the “cool girls” without ever doing anything.
    But in my heart, I know there is nothing cool about me.
    And I don’t care. Much.

  10. Diane Awbrey June 17, 2014 at 7:49 am #

    It’s not all you. It’s also me–thinking that life will someday give us a geographical break; me–denying the realities of time, distance, and age; me–pretending that those moments of walking around in each others’ heads fixed a permanent bond that transcends time, place, daily interactions, and other friend-like activities. Me–assuming you know how special you are without being told more than once; me–being so self-absorbed that I can only interact with what’s in front of me. Me–being sorry for letting you think your friendship was shredded or discarded.

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