People abandon you



They move, they die, they get mad, changing allegiances take them from you. Worst of all, they break off their friendship without a word because something horrible is happening in your life, and this tells them that it’s time to clue you in on the fact that they were just there for the good times, and you were a sap for thinking they loved you. You probably were too because you probably ignored repeated warning signs.

People who form shallow friendships with a lot of people don’t seem to suffer much when friends go away, but people who invest themselves in only a few other people can suffer a lot. I’m in the latter group, and it has taught me to never assume that any given person will be in my life tomorrow.

When I felt that I had a lot to lose—as with someone I especially wanted to stay friends with—I was burdened by the desire to protect myself by pleasing them. I have, over the years, grown to expect much less from people, and this has made me increasingly content when I get much less and increasingly unwilling to bend myself into a pretzel for what I do get. Living this way makes it easier for me to: know what my feelings are; to be open about them to the extent that is prudent; to let other people’s feelings be what they are; and to be open to hearing whatever anyone chooses to tell me. I’ve learned that not only can I not control other people, it makes life harder for everyone when I try. Besides, I’m too old to lose my dignity to bullshit. I sometimes hear that life is a game, but I don’t see it that way because when something is all you’ve got, it’s not to be trifled with. In regard to wisdom: 

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” -from II Corinthians 6:2

Truly, none of us have a long future in which to get our lives in order.

20 comments:

Marion said...

You know, in the past ten years, I've had four close friends just disappear on me. One I don't know if she's dead or alive...we talked on the phone monthly for TEN YEARS, then she just stopped calling me and even dropped all of her email addresses & phone #. I wrote to her sister (the letter came back). To this day it breaks my heart to not know what's going on with her. I could never do that to a friend. Another friend of 25 years, 'dumped' me because I was unable to make a 5 hour drive to attend her 60th birthday party. Now, this is a person who I had visited over ten times in 10 years and she had never once been to my home. I guess I give too much. THAT one liketa kilt me it hurt so much...The other two got pissed off when I told them they couldn't visit us...(we had put them up for a week a few months before at great inconvenience to ourselves). This time, I was ill. They pretty much live on the road selling jewelry with their 3 cats. The timing was horrendous for us and I was very apologetic, but she immediately unfriended me on Facebook and sent me the meanest email I've ever read. Oh, well! I don't understand, really. I've driven myself half crazy trying to figure out what I'd done to them...and then finally realized that it was THEIR problem, not mine and I'm trying to just let go and move on.

I enjoyed your read. Snow. Full of wisdom. Love to you and Peggy. I hope she had fun in MS. xoxo

Helen said...

One of the most liberating moments in life ... realizing it is impossible to control another, we don't need to .. we don't even want to.

Elephant's Child said...

Oh yes. I had a friend who I took to calling a 'foul-weather' friend. We saw each other daily for years then she started to drift away - unless something had gone wrong in her world. When her world was in chaos I saw a LOT of her. Mine? Too busy. She has now disappeared and I assume that means that things are going well for her.
I don't know what hurts more. I don't have many friends, and any loss is significant. However, knowing that I was retained for as long as I was useful hurts too. As does realising how naive and stupid I was.

Snowbrush said...

"I've driven myself half crazy trying to figure out what I'd done to them...and then finally realized that it was THEIR problem, not mine and I'm trying to just let go and move on."

There are times when being right-brained is disastrous because it keeps us from taking a rational/objective view of a situation, yet it's rationality/objectivity that can save us by giving us an escape from torment when no other way is open. People like you (I believe) and me so often think that when we're hurting, the way out is to go more deeply into our feelings as if feelings are all that matter, yet going more deeply into feelings can become like going more deeply into a prison.

"realizing it is impossible to control another, we don't need to .. we don't even want to."

Exactly. I'm not talking about giving up in defeat, but rather letting go a heavy weight that is ever threatening to crush us.

Snowbrush said...

"knowing that I was retained for as long as I was useful hurts too. As does realising how naive and stupid I was."

Child, if we can learn without hating ourselves or becoming bitter toward others, the battle is ours. This is something that age has helped me with if only because I know I'm too old to keep making the same stupid mistakes. If my time to be wise isn't now, it's probably never.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

I get so deeply hurt when this happens. I had an ex who would change his phone number and email every time he broke up with someone and sometime move! Why was I surprised when he did this to me?

I had a boss / good friend get furious at me when I couldn't attend her toddlers birthdays. (I had made BOTH their cakes the year before but was put off hearing the way she belittled her hubby as we prepped for the party.) When I finally wrote her to ask what was up, she sent an email a mile long with all of my transgressions during the friendship...my personal favorite was that she had driven to see me thrice in the past few months and I hadn't come up to her house once. Gee, I guess she wasn't keeping count when her babies were small and I drove to see her for YEARS.

My latest one is a friend I've had for 20 years who told me she doesn't like to hike with me...I'm too slow post surgery. Yet she comes to my neighborhood and hikes with a much older and slower friend of ours... Bottom line, I don't smoke weed so I'm no fun... whatever. People come and people go. I just try to stay open to new people now to replace the others when THEY develop issues!

Stephen Hayes said...

I have many acquaintances but only a handful of friends. I don't understand folks who rack up all those friends on Facebook. I've heard it said and I agree: Having lots of friends on Facebook is like sitting at the popular table in an insane asylum.

Snowbrush said...

Hiker, you and Marion should be friends. She lives in Louisiana, and you grew up in the South. You're also both people for whom pets, the outdoors, and spirituality seems to be important.

"Having lots of friends on Facebook is like sitting at the popular table in an insane asylum."

I wouldn't know because I never spent time on it. I joined once, and it wasn't anytime before I got friend requests from people who know where I am, but hadn't been interested in visiting or writing. Sometimes (when I got a friend request), I would email them, and tell them that I would love to communicate with them, but that it wouldn't be on Facebook. Then it occurred to me that the easiest way to handle friend requests would be to cancel my membership to Facebook. Then, Peggy joined, and it's now going for her about like it did for me.

Myrna R. said...

Interesting. I've recently been abandoned by someone I considered a true friend. But views on life, spiritual beliefs seem to have detached us. You're absolutely right though - we can't control anyone. In the end we only have ourselves and that's enough.

PhilipH said...

A real friend is for life, not just for Xmas or FB.

My 'best friend' from schooldays killed himself at age 22. I still think of him as my best friend.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Thanks Snow...I'll check out her blog!

The Tusk said...

you may never look back at this comment, but I feel for you man. I'm just wondering how many people you turn off with offering to wife swap? Is that for real?

ellen abbott said...

some people are meant to be in your life forever, some for a period of years, some for just a while. it doesn't mean that the friendship was false just because it doesn't last a lifetime.


this is a lesson I hope I have absorbed. the last big loss was a group of people I worked with when I was doing the river guide thing. we were all very close or so I thought. then one weekend we were all gathering at a beach house and the air pressure of the cold wave as I climbed the stairs was so tangible that I stopped halfway up trying to decide if I wanted to continue or turn around and leave. I told myself to stop being silly and continued on up to be greeted icily. After that no one would take my phone calls and when finally one of them did he recited a list of grievances against me a mile long. I was stunned to say the least. None of these people were perfect and many had done things far worse than anything I ever did and yet I accepted them wholly. then a week or so later I got a letter from the woman I had thought was my best friend. I didn't read it for a long time, I figured if she wanted to be my friend she would call and I wasn't up for another list of grievances. I finally figured out what it was all about, they were shunning someone who had never done me any harm and expected me to also and I told them I would not let them tell me who I could be friends with. When I finally read the letter, it was as I expected but by then it didn't have the power to hurt me. I was lucky that I had other friends then who stood by me and held me up.

Snowbrush said...

Hi, Myrna.

"My 'best friend' from schooldays killed himself at age 22. I still think of him as my best friend."

I can think of reasons why you feel as you do. For one thing, friendships came a great deal easier to me when I was young, and I suppose this was true for you too.

"I'm just wondering how many people you turn off with offering to wife swap?"

Tusky, I've missed you, and I do check in on your blog from time to time to see if you have a new post. As for your comment, I would just point out that there's a difference between an open relationship and a sado-masochistic relationship in which wives are "swapped" like chattel.

"some people are meant to be in your life forever, some for a period of years, some for just a while."

Given that you're an atheist, I have no idea that you mean this literally--as in the universe arranged it for your own good--but it leads me to wonder if you're a determinist--as am I.

"I was lucky that I had other friends then who stood by me and held me up."

What a horribly sad story. I wonder if someone had been lying about you. I ask this because, as you might recall, I was a big-wig at one time in a local atheist group. I eventually pulled away altogether from a leadership position and rarely even attended events. However, I did maintain friendships with a few of the members. One of these members turned against me, instantly, unalterably, and dramatically. It was her craziness that was responsible for the death of our friendship, of that I was sure, but she was a favorite in the group (far more than I), and no one else had seen her act like this. Anyway, I rather got the idea that I was being shunned by the inner circle of the group (all of which were close to her). I concluded this, not because I ever saw them, which I didn't, but because they stopped answering my emails. Well, why would you shun someone you never saw unless you had been told things that turned you against him? So, Ellen, there's something just not right about a whole group of people turning against you all at once, yet I completely accept that it wasn't your craziness that made it happen but theirs, probably due to the fact that someone was sabotaging you. I was treated similarly by the people at the Episcopal Church I attended last winter. In that case, I don't know if I could have handled the situation in a way that would have prevented my shunning, or if my atheism doomed me from the start. It was my little effort at atheist/Christian outreach, but because of the way it ended, I formed the opinion that there had been an expectation that I would fit-in almost painlessly or else I would leave, but that, regardless, no one was interested in what my experiences had been or why I thought and felt as I did. What I saw as outreach, they apparently saw as me surrendering myself to Christianity with the expectation that I would somehow take what they offered and interpret it so that we could coexist. In any event, I found it more challenging being shunned by a group because there's the feeling that if there are a lot of them and but one of me, then they must be in the right. However, I've been in many groups, and I've seen them crush people for no good reason. Group-think isn't much different from mob-think. Instead of making people more rational and kind, it can take away whatever rationality and kindness they might have shown as individuals.

The Tusk said...

Thank you for checking on me and thank you for explaining what doubts I may have had about our friendship, and bringing it to a greater understanding..

It's also nice to see a blog with a little less recipes for grass infused brownies. Although these are humorous to read, we like your day to day topics on religion and life in general as well.

I promise to post more blog in the near future. For the first time in probably 55 years, I sorted my clothes by season.

Robin said...

Oh Snow....yes..been there too..one of the many things we share....

Love, always...(this makes Nolly/Vicki smile...although you don't believe it)!

♥ Robin ♥

Robin said...

Oh Snow....yes..been there too..one of the many things we share....

Love, always...(this makes Nolly/Vicki smile...although you don't believe it)!

♥ Robin ♥

The Blog Fodder said...

So many hundreds of people have drifted in and out of my life in the past 65 years I have lost count long ago. Every time I move or change jobs (or religions or countries) I leave one set behind and create a new set. There are people that I consider friends that I haven't seen in years yet if we were in a place to be together again, I expect we might be friends again. Or at least "good acquaintances".
That is when I learned that FAMILY are the best bet in the long haul.

Snowbrush said...

"That is when I learned that FAMILY are the best bet in the long haul."

I have only Peggy left, which reminds me of when I was a child and became upset when I learned that my parents weren't blood-related (I had assumed that people who lived together as a family had to be so related). Anyway, I think you are generally right. Speaking of Bible verses, here's one from Proverbs: "A man with many friends can still be ruined, but a true friend sticks closer than a brother."

I wish I had such a friend, but I think that if Peggy were to die, I would be on my own.

Joe Todd said...

I used to think "life is a game" but somewhere that idea just vanished and I now wonder how/why did I ever thin/feel that way..