Those “On This Day” memories on Facebook are something what I look forward to everyday. It’s well know among my friends and family that I’m a bit of a sentimental sap. I love to reminisce and even take a peek at who commented and who “liked” the post. I always take an extra glance when you see “add as friend” next to someone’s name, as it obviously means I’d been “unfriended” sometime over the last year. Lately, it’s been largely due to politics, as that seems to be the common denominator these days. I’ve experienced some folks thinking I’m too liberal…and some folks thinking I’m not liberal enough! No joke. Those of us stuck in the middle of the political spectrum seem to experience most of the drama because you get it from all sides!
This said, through my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to have life long friends – even from as way back as elementary school. As luck would have it, social media helped to re-energize some friendships, resulting in an even stronger connection. Sure, I can do better – as can most – but overall, I’m proud to say that I’m a cool lady to be buds with!
So, I was taken aback a few weeks ago when those three little words – “add as friend” – appeared next to someone’s name. What?! It glared at me…almost in bold, neon lights. Wow. This one was not due to political reasons. It was personal and quite recent.
A Little Background
My son was born in 2004, which was prior to days of true social media and online mom groups. You actually had to get out there to meet people! I was clueless on where and how to find local “mommy” friends. I worked in the city full time, and with my commute, I was away from home about 11 hours a day. Not only did I not know where to go to make local mommy friends, I hardly had the time for the effort. My son was enrolled at a child care center, but since I didn’t drive, my husband handled all drop off and pick up. Occasionally I accompanied him and over time I met many of the parents. There were a few “girls night out” dinners, and of course the birthday party filled weekends, where I was able to chat more with parents.
I think I gravitated towards one woman who was one of the other day care moms, because we lived in the same town and both worked in Manhattan at the time. Our kids had been at the center since they were infants. Her daughter was THE cutest! She and my son enjoyed each other’s company, even at such a young age. We became friendlier when the kids were in the preschool program. This was around 2007/2008 and we’re both pregnant with our second.
We became good friends and I can honestly say that it wasn’t just because of the kids. We had many similarities, and we joked that it was due to us having the same astrological sign. We offered each other sound advice and a true shoulder to cry on. We chatted about our careers and we coincidentally gave each other job leads – which we both landed. Our sense of humors jived, we had tons of silly private jokes and simply laughed so often and easily together. For a long time we were one of each other’s “go-to gals.” We’d chat, we’d text, try for impromptu get-togethers with the kids.
We did tons together with the kids, like apple picking, play dates, meeting at indoor play areas and such. We’d refer to our kids as the Fab Four because they had a blast together. We’d certainly hang out without the kids too – moms need their “girls night out!” She came to my 40th birthday celebration in 2010, my husband (who hardly ever takes notices of these things) said that we had a great friendship. He was happy for me. I am comfortable saying that she was my first real local mommy friend.
As our kids got older, some of the “easy” play dates – like meeting at McDonald’s so the Fab Four could play on the equipment while the two of us chatted and caught up – could be no more. The kids were getting too old and too big for that. As the time marched on, it became more challenging to get together. Kids had activities after school – sports, scouts, religion. As life started to move us in different directions, I’d be lying if I didn’t feel us drifting apart a bit for the mere fact that the in-person meetups became few and far between. We still had a huge connection on Facebook and always remained in touch. Hilarities that made us laugh to the point of tears would pop up now and again, always resulting in a text or a Facebook post to each other.
The Possible Turning Point
My son’s Bar Mitzvah was in December 2017, which is a milestone for not only for the Bar Mitzvah boy, but a celebratory event for the whole family. The guest list typically gets narrowed down to the closest of families and friends. These friends may not even be the ones you see everyday, but the ones who you have a history and closeness to. I extended an invite to this friend and her kids – even though it had been a while since we’d seen each other in person, they were always on our guest list.
The invites went out – some texted, called, emailed to say the received the invite. By no means is this required, but I was curious why she hadn’t reached out. We’d chatted about the Bar Mitzvah often over the past couple of years. Each time one or the other had an important and exciting event in each other’s lives – happy or sad – we’d connect to check in.
The responses flowed in and just a few days before the RSVP deadline, I texted to see if they’d be able to attend. She responded stating that they’d been trying to make it work, but unfortunately couldn’t, for various reasons. In my mind, a Bar Mitzvah is huge event and it’s an honor to be invited. My family will always make every effort to attend an event such as a Bar Mitzvah, but I understand that not everyone has the same notion. Although I did not express it at the time, I was disappointed.
The Bar Mitzvah came and went, without a word. Not even a Facebook comment or “like.” I point this out because Facebook was definitely a tool that kept our relationship in tact. Obviously I hoped everything was okay with her and the family. At the same time though, I wondered if she was upset with me.
Fast forward to this past February. I had a funny dream that she was in. That next morning I texted her with: “I had a dream that you were mad at me because I didn’t like the theme song from Titanic. Like really mad. Like not friends anymore mad…! Then I added in – That said, I do sense that part of that may be true. And it’s not the Titanic part…”
The response back was, “Not at all!!…..life for me has been nuts…I’ve taken a back seat on lots of stuff….Hope you guys are well. Take care. Hope to see you guys soon.” In the text (not specified here due to privacy), she explained some things that had been going on in her life – not the easiest of situations. I’ve always been supportive. I try my best to be with this way with all my friends really. Why wouldn’t I?
I responded with an question/comment or two regarding the circumstances. The text ended with, “I will admit to being a little hurt about the bar mitzvah… I know everyone has lots of stuff going on and commitments (some awesome, like your son’s sports and new jobs…and some less so). Same with us here. Different, of course, but still nutso and overwhelming. And life, friendship, choices and priorities change. I get it. I’m not looking to add drama, but I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t being honest about it. I hope that’s ok… PS. I really don’t like the Titanic theme song.
And that was it. I never received a text back. Through the power of “on this day” in Facebook, I discover the unfriending and days later the unfollowing on Instagram.
How could this be it? How could this be the end of our fun friendship?
The Cool Kids Call It “Ghosting” These Days, Right?
Luckily, this was a pretty new concept for me! This was an icky feeling!
Then came the “What Did I Do?” questions:
- Was it bad to tell her how I was feeling? Being “real” was always something we had in common.
- Was I rude, overbearing or aggressive? Of course not – that’s not me.
- Was I being insensitive? I mean, we all have stuff going on.
- Were my friendship expectations unrealistic?
- Did I make this all up? Maybe we weren’t as good friends as I thought?
Then a little anger kicked in – Did I waste all the years when I could have been making other friends? Was I so desperate for a mom friend that I put efforts towards the wrong person? I lean towards saying “no” and “no,” but the reality is, I don’t believe I did anything wrong, per se – except to be honest with a friend. We ALL have lots going on. And my friends know when “something” hits the fan, I’m a darn good sounding board.
Most friendships and relationships are formed for a reason. They provide lessons and can shape you as a person, for better or worse. Not only did we have some hilarious times together, but our friendship truly offered me more confidence to “just be me.” Meeting folks locally and forming new friendships where I live became easier. I have her to thank for that.
I can’t tell you what happened – not sure I’ll ever know. Friendships fade and priorities shift, but I never thought this friendship wouldn’t weather the storm, the distances and the changes in our lives. It know our friendship was the real deal. It was – even if it was only for the amount of time that it was meant to be.