Thursday, April 21, 2011

Keep the old

This article from Salon touches on something I've been meaning to write for awhile. Though the author of that particular piece seems a little blind to her own privilege (money, college, nuclear family, following convention in marrying college sweet-heart at 23) that led to her relationship with her friend drifting apart, I recognize how painful it is.

I was never the type of girl who put whichever guy I was dating ahead of my friends. (Partly because I never dated anyone for long/seriously, I admit).  However, this was still a VERY conscious choice. I saw firsthand in my parent's divorce that friends are there for you when the "love of your life" isn't.  I swore I would never put myself in a position where I depended solely on a "significant other"-- I'd seen often enough how those types of relationships ended up. The woman ended up both without a relationship and without any friends.

I also swore that I would never cancel plans on my friends because some guy came along. I promised myself that I would continue to make time for my friends-- after all, they'd been there for me long before some guy came along, my first loyalty was to them.

What a hurtful surprise it was to realize that my friends would make those choices for me, and start cutting me out of their lives.

Not all of them, but some I considered a very good friends. And it hurts. 

We used to talk for hours on the phone, hang out, go to movies, shopping, dinners out-- the usual. We were at the same points in our lives We would commiserate over jobs we didn't particularly like, over school work, but especially over being single and what crappy dates/choices we had.

We graduated from school. One particular girl struggled to find a job in her field of study. I got a new job I love. She's been on bad date after bad date, and had several short lived relationships. I met Jedi. She's bemoaning getting older and being single. She didn't acknowledge my birthday.  Her phone calls come less and less. She doesn't answer when I call her. I find out later that she made plans, to something she would know I'd love to do, with friends I introduced her to, and she didn't include me. I find out this happens a lot.

I made a point through all of this to continue to invite her to things, things she would blow off. I would be very conscious of asking about her life, talking about things that were important to her, mentioning Jedi only incidentally, never talking about the wedding. When I do talk about my own future plans I can see the pursed lips, the barely contained eyerolls, the judgement.  It seems she's no longer the person I became friends with.  There's a way to disagree with my choices, (as supergirl has done), while still being supportive.  This friend and I used to support each other. I wanted to continue to support  her. I don't feel like she feels the same.

It makes me supremely sad. Female friendship went beyond the bonds of male-female relationships for me. It was supposed to transcend them. That's what I was taught, and that's what I always believed, and that's what I was prepared to show.

I wasn't always nice to Jedi as a result of this. I made it clear that he took second place to my friends. I was wrong to do that. They should at least have been at equal footing. I know there are those who say I should have/should put Jedi first.  That still makes me really uncomfortable... but I recognize that if Jedi were "just" a friend, and not my partner (key word there), he would have proven himself to be the most loyal friend in the world, over and over and over again.  Why then would I put a friend who has proven herself to be unsupportive ahead of him, regardless of our relationship status?

There's a song I remember singing in girl scouts-- "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold."  I desperately wanted to keep the old. Who knew that it would be them who would shut me out?

No comments: