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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 12/9/11

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Is Friendship Forever?

 

Dear Rachel,

I’m not sure I’m writing this to ask for advice or just to vent. I am a young married mother with two children under the age of three. Before I got married, and especially through my high school years, I had a really close friend. Down the road as things evolved, I eventually moved to a bigger city where I met my bashert and settled down.

It so happened that when I got married my friend was studying in Israel and so she couldn’t make it to my wedding. Afterwards we kept in touch but weren’t in contact on a frequent basis. Occasionally, when she had the opportunity to be in town, we’d get together.

So far, I know, this all sounds normal — being that I was married, she single, and we were living miles apart in different cities.

Then, less than two years ago, my friend got engaged. I called her to wish her my best and of course, received an invitation to her wedding. At that time I was going through some rough patches in my life and was also in the early stages of my second pregnancy and feeling out of sorts. I let my friend know that I wouldn’t be attending her wedding which was going to take place quite a distance away from where I lived, requiring a relatively lengthy commute by car. She was quite upset and let me know it. But I had to do what was best for me at the time.

Since then I’ve emailed and texted her with various bits of news and have for the most part received no response from her. (We now live about an hour and a half’s ride from one another.) When I had my second child, I received a curt mazel tov and that was it.

A couple of months ago, when I heard that she had her first child, I tried to get in touch with her.  However, she wouldn’t take my call, nor did she bother returning my voice message. I texted her and she finally replied with a simple “thank you” to my mazel tov wishes.

I guess to assuage my feelings of letdown and disappointment at her unforgiving attitude, I sometimes look back at our teen years and wonder whether our closeness was genuine; I recall a friend who always liked giving me things, while I, coming from a less privileged background, reciprocated in a much different way — I could always be counted on to be there for her as a sounding board, for emotional support, as a reassuring friend, or just to share.

While her coldness and estrangement used to bother me a whole lot, I admit I’ve gotten used to it. After all, I have a life, baruch Hashem, and am kept quite busy. However, I still can’t understand that childish display of spitefulness. I certainly didn’t harbor a grudge against her when she was unable to come to my wedding.

I always thought a friend was a friend forever. Guess I was wrong.

Ready to move on…

Dear Ready,

While there is something uniquely special about a friendship that goes back to one’s childhood years, it is not uncommon for childhood friends to grow apart over the years. This is especially so when one marries and the other remains single, and when you end up living miles apart from one another.

From your description, the break in your friendship didn’t happen when you said you wouldn’t be able to make it to your friend’s wedding. It occurred way before, when you moved away while still single. And by your own admission, once you married you kept in touch but not on a “frequent basis.”

Since you had always been there for your friend in a very personal and supportive way, she could have felt the loss of your presence more keenly than you hers. (Giving you things was her way of expressing affection and appreciation for your friendship.) When you got married, the sting of the emotional distance between you would have become more acute. In order to move on in a productive way, your friend may have elected – perhaps in a subconscious way – to leave her past, which included you, behind.

Whereas sharing the happiest moment in her life might have rekindled the dying embers of your friendship to a degree, she had by then most likely forged other friendships and would not have reverted to relying on you to be her closest confidante.

Still, you may ask, why must she spurn you in such a cold fashion? You want to know if it is normal to harbor such deep-seated and prolonged resentment for a close friend. Try seeing it from her perspective: in her mind, it is you who turned her back on the friendship when you moved away and then found another “close friend” to settle down with. Your choosing not to share in her big day was further corroboration of your indifference to the bond you once shared.

Obviously, your friend has chosen to cut all ties with you. In all probability, she has assessed her relationship with you as an “all or nothing” deal; since the “all” is in the past, there is only “nothing” left.

You say you are “ready to move on.” Smart move, but only if you stop groveling to her by keeping a one-sided communication open. As for lasting friendship, there is a saying that may mollify you: Everyone has a “best friend” during each stage in life, but only a precious few have the same one.

If your friend is reading this, she may want to consider that the best rule of friendship is to keep your heart a little softer than your head.

Thank you for sharing.

 

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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