Here’s a thing that I don’t get in my life: People I know, who I thought I was friends with, who go through major martial changes, keeping mum, and then afterwords send out a generalized “now that I’ve ignored any of your attempts to connect, let’s be friends now that it’s over.”
I get that when you are going through major challenges, you may be too overwhelmed or vulnerable to share everything with everyone. But if I know you well enough to know that something is not ok, and I reach out to you, and you literally ignore me with no response, and then after — after a divorce, after hooking up with the new guy, after marrying the new guy — you want to pretend that our friendship hasn’t been affected in any way and I should just jump in and be happy for you — well, I’m confused.
What is friendship? Is it not the process of sharing the good times and the bad? I don’t call a distant cheering section of spectators “friends.” If you can’t even do the dignity of a response — any response — (“I’m having a rough go right now, but not ready to talk,” counts, among many other things) then how are we even friends? How am I supposed to pick back up that supposed friendship I thought I had after you shut out any interaction with me? How is this not a damaged relationship?
I recognize that I have never been through a divorce, and I can’t speak to what that experience can feel like. I can only share my experience from this side: I’ve lost more friendships from cutting me out, ignoring my attempts to reach out, followed by a vague and generic group statement about how now I should feel happy for them. The temptation to make a biting comment about how relationships take work, and maybe the fact that you don’t seem to realize that is a factor in you dissolved marriage is definitely there. I don’t make it, but I realize that, whether words are spoken or no, I grieve the loss of friendship and move on.
It might not have been that the friendship was damaged. It might have been that it was only a figment of my imagination in the first place, and all I am grieving is my lost notion that there was a relationship. Am I owed an apology? No, but I don’t think I owe one either. If my presence in your life did not merit an acknowledgement, I am willing to accept that. But if there is no attempt to literally mend broken things, I’m not going to pretend they weren’t broken.
I’m saying this not to condemn the people who went through the dissolving of these relationships; I’m saying this because I can’t for the life of me believe that those people understand what it is like to be on the other side of these ignored-friendships. If you really think you can suddenly put up a generic Facebook post about what happened in the last year and we can pick up our friendship where we left off, you’re wrong. If you think that just because you have had a rough year it automatically absolves you of any need to invest in relationships, you’re wrong. And if you think that being your friend means that I will automatically agree and support everything that you do, you’re also wrong.
I didn’t walk away from the friendship because you got divorced. I walked away from the friendship because you walked away first. I got tired of looking at your back. And now that you are all fake-smiley and waving, there’s not much to walk back toward.