The Mystery of the Disappearing Friends

I don’t even know if I can explain how I feel. Not betrayed, maybe abandoned? Even if this is a normal thing, do I have a right to feel like this? It feels like they broke up with me but never bothered to tell me.

We used to talk every day, and now barely once a week. It’s like I’m the immature child who’s friends all grew up and got married and moved away. Except many of them don’t live too far and they aren’t married yet. Just in very intense (and apparently time consuming) relationships.

Maybe I feel replaced more than abandoned. Was I replaced? Am I that easy to replace? Am I being too insecure about the whole thing? Will it ever get better? Or worse: will I lose touch even more? And then we’ll devolve from finishing each other’s sentences to that awkward form of acquaintance-ness where we can only manage barely more than small talk. Or we can only relive old memories, but are incapable of creating new ones.

It hurts, whatever it is. I feel…hurt. I’ve lost good friends to siginificant others more than I care to admit and I long time ago I swore I’d never do it to any of my friends. So why do they keep doing it to me?

Am I being selfish? I’m happy for them, of course. Not that they’d know it, or anything else about me. But I still am, regardless. But why can’t they be happy and in love and all these things and still be friends with me?

Am I unknowingly doing this to some of my own friends? I’m sure I have before, even though I swore not to do so. It could still be happening. I wish someone would tell me if it was.

Will it keep happening; will it get worse? Will I slowly lose all my friends to marriage or love or babies? Will I have to make new friends? Geographically closer, similar life situation friends?

But I liked my friends, the ones I had before we all grew up.

This doesn’t seem fair.

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It’s been a year.

Even before Timehop reminded me, I knew today was the day. Even in it’s last days, March has never been kind to me.

A year ago today, I drove an hour to get dumped. Apparently around 10am it happened, and by noon I was already back in my college apartment planning a party for that evening. I drank tequila. I went to a bar I’d never been to. I danced. Some of my friends who live far away showed up for the occasion, proving they were still there for me, even if he wasn’t. Not that they had to prove anything, but it truly meant everything to me that they were there. I needed them that day, and they had my back. He never did shit like that for me.

I couldn’t even remember the last time I had been truly broken up with. He would occasionally break up with me for a week or so, but this was nothing like that. So the last time I was dumped would have been in high school, I guess. But I was usually the one to end relationships… so maybe eighth grade was the last time. Almost a decade ago.

I still don’t really know if I got my heart broken that day, though. Of course, I’m older now, but this didn’t feel like when my heart was broken the few times in high school. It hurt, of course, and I cried whenever I would try to talk about him, or think about him, or have to break the news to someone else… but after a few days of that, I just felt free. The anxiety I’d had for weeks or months that I thought was about graduation and job searching, was really about him. That relationship should have ended years ago.

It felt like I got divorced. It felt like I wasted the best four years of my life on someone who didn’t want to share anything with me, let alone give up anything for me. I missed legendary weekends with my  friends, because of him. It meant my dad was right, again. That this boy wasn’t willing to sacrifice anything for me, and yet I was always bending over backwards for him.

I judged the shit out of other people’s relationships. I thought I had the healthiest, most functional relationship, and thus the right to judge. We never fought, we had fun together, we liked the same shows. We had some hobbies in common, but also had our own interests. I thought those were all good things, that we didn’t need anything else, that he would eventually stop smoking. But it wasn’t that we didn’t fight because there was nothing to fight about – instead it was because we stopped communicating a long time ago. Those couples who always fought, at least they were telling each other how they felt. The ones who spent every waking moment together were obnoxious, but at least they knew each other.

I had plenty of things that were his, but none of them with any sentimental value. Always practical things – an old TV, some sweatpants I’d never seen him wear, a fucking wireless router. The normal things a girlfriend would have, things I always wanted, he barely let me touch. His college hoodie, mostly. I did have jewelry from him, I guess, but the chain to the necklace he gave me broke, and he never bothered to find me another one even though he promised he would.

I told him I didn’t want any of my stuff back. I still don’t know what he did with it. Maybe he threw everything away. Maybe, since he never cleans, those few possessions of mine are still there. I wonder what he thinks when he stumbles upon them while he’s looking for something else. I wonder how he told his parents. I wonder if they still ask about me the way my aunt or my grandparents will occasionally ask about him.

Months later, I was still breaking the news to people. Half a year later, I will have a bad day and be insanely mad at him, and myself, for putting me where I am now. About 10 months later, I was headed back home, driving the same roads I’d driven with him so many times. The weather had finally broken, I was driving with my windows down, and “Breakin’” by the All-American Rejects came on my iPod and it about killed me. I put the song on repeat and belted it all the way home.

All your tears
Couldnt match the bitter taste of all these wasted years

You take take
Everything that wasnt even yours
Wait wait
You dont got a hold of me anymore

And that’s the truth. He doesn’t get to me anymore, I’ve lost all romantic feelings for him months (maybe even years) ago. But it’s all those wasted years that still have the tightest hold on me. It’s the feelings I have about myself that still get to me. It’s the anger; the hot, burning kind of anger I thought I left behind with teenage angst, that gets to me.

So, it’s been a year. One hell of a year. I learned a lot. And I could have spent this weekend feeling bad about it, but I decided to be fearless instead. (More on that tomorrow…)

Are you okay? What do you want? Why aren’t you happy?

After months of not knowing, maybe I’ve finally figured it out.

I just want one goddamn thing in my life to make sense. To be a constant. Something reliable, something I’m good at, something that makes me feel good.

I had that, I had a rock (a stone, maybe only a pebble), for four years. As much as I hate that rock for dragging me down during college and then letting go at the worst possible moment, I don’t know if I could have make it through the uncertainty of college without that rock. The longer I had my rock, my pebble, the more I relied upon him. And sometimes, honestly, that rock wasn’t very good at being solid, at being there for me. (Maybe he was really more of a squishy, flaky pebble) But at least the pebble was predictable and made sense. I knew what to expect. I knew where my life with this squishy pebble was going, even if I didn’t know where other parts of my life were going. I had this squishy pebble to hold on to, even if he wasn’t always holding on to me in the same way, or wasn’t capable of being in love with me the same way all the time. At least he was there. So since he left I still haven’t been able to get solid footing, despite being over him. It was the constant he provided that I’m still trying to figure out. Up until now I’ve been trying to figure out my dating life, find a replacement squishy pebble. What I need now, though, is more than that – I need a solid rock this time.

Maybe my rock this time doesn’t have to be a relationship. It probably won’t be my job, not for awhile, but it could be something else. There’s more to life than boys and careers, right? I suppose friends and family are constants – but not in the same way. There’s a sort of obligation for them to stick around; rocks by default aren’t the same as rocks by choice.

In that same vein, I don’t believe in doing things like taking a year to “work on myself”. I don’t believe I should avoid dating just because I need to find a constant that doesn’t involve a boy. I don’t believe in forgoing one thing because I need to focus on something else. Maybe it’s my “I can do it all” mentality or the fact that I wouldn’t know where to start with something like ‘focusing on my career’. But regardless, I don’t believe in exclusion.

The rock doesn’t always have to be a boy, but it could be. It doesn’t have to be a person, really. I just need a constant, a more solid rock this time. No more squishy pebbles.

Maybe this blog is a start. I think before the squishy pebble, writing was the thing for me that made sense. Maybe this time it’ll be my ever-growing love of wine and food, or the ever-more habitual exercise routine. I don’t know. I just know I need something, a rock to orbit my life around. Something, anything – that makes the rest of my uncertain life make sense.

Making Friends

I’m not going to lie to you. You’re in a really strange place right now. Arguably the weirdest time of your life. I don’t know what to tell you, but you will figure it out eventually. Somehow, it just happens. -A.

I have a favorite barista. She’s been my favorite for a very, very long time. Since I started drinking coffee out of both habit and necessity, A. has been there to further my addiction.

A. was also a friend and mentor to me in high school – she was very involved in a lot of the discussions I had about where to go, what to study, etc. She eventually hired my brother to work in the coffee shop because he’s related to me (and probably because he was well-qualified, I’m sure). So A. and I occasionally stayed in touch when I went to college, but not nearly as close as we were when I was in high school. Then I graduated, and after a few months of being on my own I happened to be in her area and surprised her at the new coffee shop she opened. I told her life in general was great, getting a job right out of school and all that. Except…after being in a new place, all alone, for a certain amount of time… I realized I was constantly going back to my hometown or my alma mater to meet up with my friends from high school and college. I suddenly realized I was unable to make friends in my new situation.

“But really, how do adults make friends?” was the question I kept asking myself. Sure, I had coworkers and they were great but also most of them were married with kids and not exactly open to my still-favorite weekend pastime of drinking like a college student. Plus – do I really want to hang out with these people outside of work, too? I get to see them 40 hours a week… shouldn’t I have separate friends for evenings and weekends? Perhaps these other friends should be people who don’t have children, and therefore a lifestyle more similar to mine? Where do I find these people?

For me, what makes this whole process even more difficult is how introverted I am. Unless I’m somewhat drunk or in a super-rare talkative and outgoing mood, I’m not going to just walk up and talk to someone. Small talk isn’t something I do if possible. If you’re a fellow introvert, you get it. If you’re an extrovert, go read Quiet by Susan Cain (or if you don’t want to commit that kind of time, watch her TED talk). So even if I did want to go to a bar alone, where other people my age and with my same interests were hanging out…I wouldn’t be able to say hello anyway.

Another option could be that I could join a sports team, either something I’ve played before and am halfway decent at (soccer) or I could try something completely new (any other sport ever) and fail miserably. Either way, I’m embarrassingly out of shape and that’s no way to make a good first impression on my new friends!

My mom suggested I could get a second job, which did not appeal to me in the slightest. But still, I entertained the idea. Eventually I decided to volunteer as a soccer coach, for something to do. But that didn’t really result in any friends…just met some cool parents and their cool kids. Neither of which fall into the category of friends I’m looking for.

I moved up here in May, it’s now the following January… and I still find myself driving an hour or more to go hang out with friends. I eventually decided to join the company indoor soccer team, so at the very least I’ll meet people who work at my company, but whom I wouldn’t normally see every day. That almost counts, right?

Maybe this will lead to something, or at least help me figure out how to make friends in my own introverted way.