Have you ever had to emotionally remove yourself from a friendship/s in order to experience the personal growth that is waiting for you?
That is the situation I find myself in lately.
I have a certain friend who,m I’ll call Angie Smith, with whom I used to be quite close. That has changed over the last year or so. It’s hard to pinpoint when it started, but one day it occurred to me that I was always the one texting her to see if she wanted to get the kids together for a playdate. It seemed that whenever I did so, her son was napping, so it didn’t work out. Then I would notice her presence at afternoon events and wonder whether I was getting the straight story.
She and I used to go out together to snag coupon deals. It was a fun way to spend a bit of time together while stocking up on great deals. Then one day I realized that I was always the one trying to initiate these outings, and she nearly always was busy doing other things like watching her favorite TV shows. And the important thing here is that she never seemed interested in trying to get together some other time.
There have been so many other little things that add up to one big picture. Last summer, she suggested that a bunch of moms get together at her house one morning per week for a giant playdate. It turned out that attendance waned after the first few times, but I was definitely interested in coming regularly with my two boys. After 3-4 weeks, I got to to the point of texting her before showing up, to make sure we were still – well- welcome. I remember one day she texted back, “Oh yeah, it is Wednesday, isn’t it” and it wasn’t long before I wasn’t sure whether she still wanted to do this weekly playdate. Then I just stopped coming and I never said another word about it, and guess what — neither did she.
I thought it was pretty rude for her to lose interest in the very thing she had suggested in the first place. I guess the weekly playdate wasn’t very interesting anymore after it became clear that it was more or less just going to be The Honest Mommy every week, but instead of suggesting that we change the plan, she just let it die out.
About six months ago, I realized that I hardly saw her anymore. I sent her an email (a regular way of communicating for the two of us) saying that I missed her and that we should try to get together. In reply, she explained how busy she was with this, that, and the other thing, but did not say anything about missing me or wanting to get together.
Let’s just say that I could take the hint, and after that I really realized that she wasn’t interested in hanging out anymore.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. On a Friday evening I texted a different friend, Leah, to see if she wanted to get together. She replied “The Smiths brought burgers over and we are grilling.” I thought, what on earth? What happened to all of us getting together regularly (which our group of friends used to do)? After giving it a lot of thought, I texted back “I guess that’s not an invite, right?” Thereafter, that friend did a lot of backpedaling and such. I could tell she felt bad, or at the very least, awkward. She ended up inviting us over to share dessert, which I declined.
But Angie Smith? She posted photos on Facebook and her blog talking about how great of a time they all had.
There are more details and situations which I won’t go into here, but I did decide a few weeks ago that I needed to distance myself from Angie a bit. Basically, stop being the person who wanted to hang out with her, get her approval, etc. So when I got an invite to a surprise birthday party that Leah was throwing for Angie, I decided that I wasn’t going to attend.
This is the type of thing that, in my group of friends, will be noticed (which is not the reason I decided on this route, but it is a side effect of this route which I will have to deal with). Hubby went to the party and took our two boys along, and several people (not Angie) asked why I wasn’t there. He replied that I “couldn’t make it” or “didn’t feel like going.”
You may be wondering why I don’t just talk with Angie and ask her what’s going on with the two of us. And believe me, I have thought and prayed about this quite a lot. The catch for me is that Angie is horrible with conflict and isn’t too good at admitting that she’s done something less than stellar. I have seen other situations where she throws the other person under the bus because they’re still hurt about something that happened “a long time ago” (however Angie decides to define that). In her world, if something happened a long time ago, then it doesn’t matter and isn’t an issue.
Also, she has a tendency to blame things on the other person and make the issue that the other person is “acting crazy” or making something out of nothing.
And so, it’s really difficult for me to imagine a scenario where I try to talk about things with Angie. Maybe this will change, but for now, I feel the best route is for me to calmly remove myself from situations where I end up feeling like a second-class friend. It’s sort of hard to explain, but I feel that I’m on the verge of personal growth and change, and I can’t achieve this growth as long as certain friends — especially this friend — are holding me back. Basically, I need to stop caring that she seems to want to hang out with everyone EXCEPT me (and my family).