Once Upon A Friendship
A poem and an open letter
Once we were friends.
We laughed, we carpooled, we hugged in the market.
Once you were happy.
We shared the dreams that mothers share for our children.
Once you were caring.
You asked about my moods, my hopes and dreams.
Once you were giving.
You shared smiles and walks and memories.
Once you were chatty.
We spoke for hours about everything and anything under the sun.
Once, you were my friend.
But then the storms came.
Once you were scared.
I listened and comforted your breaking heart.
Once you were worried.
I shared my strength and optimism with you.
Once you were sad.
I cheered you with a home grown pedicure and a sandwich.
Once you were alone.
I came and kept you company.
Once you were angry.
I reminded you to be thankful for all that was good.
But then the drought came
Once you smiled at me and said hello.
Now you snub me, looking down or to the wall. I see you.
Once you asked politely after me and mine.
Now you turn away, no better than a public shunning.
Once you said I was your friend.
Once you said you cared.
Once was a lifetime ago.
I won’t disguise my hurt, my confusion.
I won’t ask you.
I won’t stoop to that level.
I won’t think about you.
I wish you well in your travels.
I wish you true friendship.
I wish you peace of soul and happiness.
I wish you a clear conscience and true faith.
Because once you were my friend.
This poem began last week in my sleep. The words spinning in my semiconscious mind after seeing a friend at holiday services. We don’t speak anymore, just drifted I suppose, but I see she feels differently. Embarrassment, denial and some other emotions escape her careful countenance, as she alternately stares and avoids. I passed her earlier in the week while walking the dog. She was with two others, and a friendly hello and cameraderie known to early morning risers caused us to pause and chat for a moment. An uncomfortable moment when she turned her face to the sidewalk and continued walking without her companions. It took me a moment to register the emotion that invoked: relief, wistfulness, and wonder at her blatant snub.
I am that friend. The one who is always there when you’re in crisis. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’ve no problem cutting it open for you. I feel your pain, your need, your joy. I am compelled by some unseen force to be that sympathetic ear. I honestly feel God put me on Earth to help others. The penalty is my aloneness, which is not such a terrible fate.
But now, I am sorry, for you needful one. I am no longer your salvation, your doormat or your confidante. I feel an innate desire to be on my own has become obscured by you and other needful “friends.” I find myself avoiding the phone, the carpool moms, the social group activities. I am done riding your emotional roller coaster and being sapped of all spirit to help you my needy friend. I cannot solve your problems. That is on you.
I lost a friend. I lost several friends. Though some I question, the others are as if I dropped that daypack of stone-like supplies from my back. Now I can climb to the summit and be free. This friend, the one my dreams are writing about, is lost by separation. We were tossed together in the salad of carpool cameraderie, and somehow ended up friends. With little in common except a shared and forgotten career, we trudged forward. I didn’t see at first that you were clingy. You were emotionally charged and overloaded. I made myself available, expanded the room in my heart and extended not just the finger you needed, but the whole arm. You took it, held it, and dropped it. Shards of a tenuous friendship lay scattered as I moved on. I was less available and you took a job. You stopped looking for my sympathetic ear. I learned to say “hi, all good?” when we met and move on. You learned to widen your friendship circles and I learned that you were irrelevant. You relied on me to meet your emotional needs, but I didn’t need you. Now you’ve found another path and I wish you well on your journey. I know you cannot reciprocate.
I saw you turn away.; the public snub that screamed your wish for the power of invisibility. It is too much for you to politely say hello. I saw you looking at me from your mid -front spot at services. You turned round so often I wonder how you weren’t dizzy. I watched you from my last row seat. In the lobby you turned to the wall, rather than greet me even with a nod amongst the other women. You were the only silent one. But I forgive you. We’re not friends anymore.
I came to visit when your father passed away. I sat as you told me how thrilled you were that I was there to comfort you. How surprised but pleased you were to see me. You were apologetic and inquisitive. I was polite. You were exhausting, you were needy. I am a giver, of my time, my empathy, my self. That is my cross to bear as I once again extended that arm to you. But no more. You were frustrating; you heaped your emotional baggage onto my train and derailed me. You were unable to reciprocate when I was in need. And our friendship listed to the side, and slowly floated away.
I end here with these thoughts. I do not regret the time we shared, we each took away a learning experience. I am saddened that you feel I am one to be shunned. I keep your secrets even to this day. Sometimes by being generous with my self, needful friends take the whole arm and more. But I am stronger now. I don’t miss our friendship. You and I have moved on. Your issues no longer my emergencies, no guilt on my part when things don’t go to your plan. I am proud of you for branching out, for taking that job, for finding your comfort zone. I don’t miss you. No more making myself available in difficult times. I could never give you what you needed even though I helped you to stay focused.
But we’re not friends anymore.
Have you ever drifted apart from a close friend? Ever felt they took advantage of your kind spirit and generous nature? Please share your experiences in the comments.
Hugs and coffee for all ☕️💕