When you begin blogging about something as taboo and uncomfortable as your disordered eating recovery journey, you discover one of three things about your readers.
1) They are people who read for support, even though they have no food/exercise issues themselves and just maybe like you and/or your style/topics/voice.
2) They are people who have secretly battled similar (albeit different) demons and find a resource like this blog useful/helpful/encouraging/inspirational.
3) They are people who can’t handle the truth and, upon discovering it, walk away.
While I don’t know most of my readers personally, I’m blessed and happy to say that 99.9 percent of the people I know and love in real life (blogger/WW friends are included here too!) have been in the first two categories. I appreciate them and their support more than they could know … and I’m eternally grateful for them because I couldn’t have done it without them.
But there is one friend who falls into the third category.
A friend who I was so close with that we were in each others’ weddings. A friend with whom I shared my weight loss journey (as she was experiencing her own around the same time). A friend who encouraged me to start blogging about my issues. A friend whom I thought was, indeed, for a lifetime.
I won’t go into details, but let’s just say my blog was, inevitably, the reason we stopped being friends.
Basically, instead of being there to support me during those excruciating times (the way so many friends did, including my two very best friends) this friend stopped calling and emailing (we live in different states) and basically began avoiding me because it was easier for her to let me “work through things” on my own than to face them head-on with me.
UM … OK. Anyone else see how jacked-up this mentality is, or am I nuts!? I mean, I know for a while there I was a tough pill to swallow (and it hurt many of my loved ones to see me so visibly [and secretly] struggling) … but last time I checked, good friends are supposed to be there in good times AND in bad. At least, that’s how I roll … But I digress.
We finally spoke in early March 2009 where she admitted this inability to deal with my struggles during this time (for several reasons). She also expressed that she thought I wasn’t getting enough out of therapy — and in many respects, she was right. I hadn’t stopped many of the disordered behaviors in spite of heightened awareness I gleaned in therapy. Coincidentally, around this time I wound down my therapy sessions and, in a turn of fate, it was a conversation with her that led to the conversation with my brother that led to me quitting chewing and spitting altogether.
There was no big blow-up or screaming match. There were a few intermittent emails … and then we never spoke again.
We have lots of mutual friends in common, and I know she knew I was pregnant; had a baby. Not a word. I don’t ask about her; I’m sure she doesn’t ask about me.
And for as sensitive a person as I tend to be, when it came to this friendship, I’ve harbored more anger than even sadness at the culmination of what had been, for the most part, a decade-long relationship.
Every so often I think of her and, especially given how strong I am feeling these days, I feel pangs of hurt – but then I echo the lyrics from Christina Aguilera’s anthem, “Fighter.”
‘Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
And I realize I’m perfectly OK even without her in my life. Because I do truly believe people (friends, lovers, etc.) come and go for a reason, and at specific times … and maybe our time was up. I’m OK with that; I get it.
The reason why I share this is because, regardless of the when or how, it’s sad to me when we lose a friend.
One of my best friends died of cancer nearly five years ago, and his loss was visceral and gut-wrenching and horrifying to the nth degree … but Jason didn’t choose to leave my life (or anyone’s)! (And I miss him enormously!)
This friend of which I’m speaking, however, made a conscious decision to do so. She couldn’t deal with my issues, for whatever reason, and it was easier for her to avoid me than deal with me.
And, well, that hurts.
I don’t dwell on it every day or anything — and even debated putting it to words here at all — but every so often I’ll have a fleeting thought about her and remember, “Hey wait, we’re not friends anymore.”
To be honest, I’m not sure what triggered this post tonight, of all nights … but sometimes it just feels good to lay it out there. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently.
And if anything, it’s a reminder to me about how to be a good friend, and that means celebrating his/her joy as much as picking him/her up when he/she is falling.
It doesn’t mean walking away when the going gets tough; it means sticking by, even if it’s painful to do so.
In the end, tough experiences like these teach us who our true friends really are. And I’m amazingly blessed for each and every one of them!
How about you? As kids, it’s easy to just move on to a new friend. The older we get, the harder it gets to just move on. How do you deal with friendships that fade?