Dear Old Friend,
I miss you.
I know I haven’t been a very good friend, but I think about you a lot. And, thanks to Facebook, I see random bits and pieces of your life now, so many years removed from the last time we spent together in person. I see you with your friends and family and wish I could be there too, a part of your life. You always look like you’re having so much fun at your parties and picnics and dreamy vacations. Your children are adorable and clever and I wish I could be their honorary auntie.
It’s funny, isn’t it?
We thought we’d always be there for each other. We even dreamed that our future children would be best friends.
I miss you. And I miss those dreams.
My daughter is struggling with her own friendships, and my advice is always “If you want to have friends, be a friend.”
That’s something I learned the hard way, after so many years of feeling unworthy and unloveable. At some point–around the time I met you–I started to figure out that nobody could actually see through me into my insecure core, so if I just acted friendly and asked questions, they’d think I was a normal person and hang out with me. I also realized, back then, that we were all so busy worrying about what others thought of us that nobody, in fact, was.
It was so much easier to be friends when we were all together at school or at work.
And then the decades passed. And I lost track of you. And, frankly, I became so ashamed that all I ever had to talk about was my aches and pains, my unhappy marriage, my frustrations, and my seemingly constant bad luck. I figured it was pretty boring. Nobody wants to hear that stuff. Nobody knows what to do with it.
So I stopped talking.
Not that I was ever so great at calling you on the phone or asking you to go to a movie or lunch or anything. I felt like such an outsider all the time; it was easier to just go to movies or concerts or plays by myself rather than face the potential rejection.
I must have been a pretty intense person back when we were close friends. I was dealing with the early phases of my fibromyalgia and all those deaths and so much difficulty paying for college and, most importantly, my extreme inability to attract a boyfriend! Kids our age didn’t know what to do with all that loneliness and grief–Emo hadn’t been invented yet–and I don’t blame you for not knowing how to help me.
I knew I sent out desperate, needy signals, so it was often safer to just study hard, work hard, garden for hours, and love my dog and, later, my kids.
Maybe now that we’re older, it would be easier to talk about heavy things like chronic pain, divorce, how hard it is to juggle work and family, and how it’s really, really hard to struggle with depression.
But I’m afraid I’ve lost you.
I haven’t been a friend. And now I don’t really have you as a friend, anymore, do I? Or do I? Maybe I should just call you and have a heart to heart. We still have some connection, right?
And you still can’t see through me, so maybe you have no idea how often I think about you, and how much I love you and miss you.
And that I’m ready to be a friend.