Saturday, 28 March 2009

You've changed.....

One of the people I count as my greatest friend is my old boss. I worked for her and with her for 8 years and only left because I no longer wanted to live in London.

I have helped her move house (twice), am an executor on her will, have had her children to stay countless times and seen her through an affair, a divorce and the death of her mother. All that on top of working together in a fairly high pressure environment and still managing to laugh an inordinate amount and stay friends. In eight years we only argued once. That's rare.

The thing is that in the years since I have left London she has changed. I expect I have too but I really notice it in her. She is harder than she used to be, more impatient and more self centred. These are deliberate changes. She was always an incredibly generous person, hugely accomodating and would bend over backwards to help the friend of a friend if she could. I think she got fed up with it and decided that she was going to put herself first from now on and have what she wants. I can understand this but I confess that I feel I have lost a great deal of the person that I was friends with.

She is so much more impatient now and much less accessible as a friend. She was always my first port of call if I had a major dilemma or crisis and now I think twice before ringing her as I'm not sure of the reception I'll get. In the last three years I have asked her to stay countless times and each time she has cancelled me at the last minute with frankly really poor excuses. Essentially she couldn't be bothered to come from London to Wales. What does that say about how she views me as a friend?

I loathe situations like this. People change, I know that, but I don't want to give up on a friendship that has meant so much to me over the years. Equally the friendship simply isn't the same anymore. I know that there isn't an easy answer to this. No quick fix that can resolve it. The obvious answer is to talk to her about it but that is the crux of the problem. She is incredibly hard to talk to now. Aaargh. Life is always so hideously complicated.

I shall stop moaning and get on with painting the office instead.


notSupermum said...

This is clearly a difficult situation, and not dissimilar to a situation I find myself in right now. I have changed in a way because over the last few years I have been dealing with depression, and I felt my friend wasn't acknowledging that fact. I don't know what your friend is like but could she be trying to deal with something similar? It just struck a chord of familiarity with me.

You sound like a great friend, and perhaps she'd appreciate a letter of concern from you? It might help if you find it hard to talk to her. All the best.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Supermum. Never undereastimate the power of the written word. I hope your friendship can be mended

elizabethm said...

Here is a thought - she may be crap at distance friendship. I know I am and I am not proud of it. My husband is much better than I am at remembering to send the card, to make the phone call, to make the effort. I tend to think that the fact that I think of my friends quite frequently means that they know this. Rubbish I know. I also think there is a difficulty in keeping a friendship when you have changed your life and your friend has not, particularly when it sounds as if it is not natural to your friend to be as selfcentred as London professional life can demand that you be. I would continue to keep in touch, write a letter if that is your kind of thing, or just send friendly emails from time to time. My best friendships are those which have survived fallow periods without too much guilt.
I must say I am a bit freaked about whether some of my friendships will survive my leaving work! I think I can guess which will and which won't already although that may be just a self fulfilling prophecy.

justme said...

I think some friendships only really work when you see the person all the time and have lots of day to day things in common. Some just can't survive distance, because the whole nature of the relationship has changed. It is sad, but I don't know what you can do really. Difficult.

The Singlutionary said...

I went through something very similar about a year ago. In a way it was the reverse situation and in other ways it was the same.

I had several best best friends from childhood. None of us lived in the same city. We would talk on the phone a lot. I had really needed help with my house and had asked all them if they would like to come visit and help with shopping/painting/decorating but they were too consumed with their lives which I understood.

One of these friends I had helped move when I was moving into my house. It was a very stressful time. She also had children and I felt like my whole life had become about helping her. This wasn't her fault because I wanted to help. But when I needed help she wasn't available. I needed to take a step back and care for myself. Her husband has asked if she and her kid and dog could come stay with me for a month while he was taking finals. I wanted to say "hell no" but in the moment I said "yes".

So I sent her an email saying that I could not deal with this visit and that I was having a hard time in my life and I needed space to take care of myself.

Anyway, all this drama and anger insued and we didn't talk to each other for about nine months. We agreed that we both needed time to figure out our own lives. But we both got out all our feelings and I said everything I needed to say and she said everything she needed to say. This was very painful to me because I wasn't sure if we would ever talk again or be friends again and this was my best best friend from childhood.

Anyways, we are friends again now but the friendship is better. First of all, I don't have to engage with her husband. Second of all, we both now realize that I have a life too and my life isn't about her life and her kids. Third of all, we both had to get happy on our own and not just complain to each other about everything.

I sent similar emails to the other two friends. I am off and on with one and on hiatus still from the other. But at least I don't feel so much angst about the situation.

So I guess what I have to say is this: write with love but also say what you miss/need. And start a conversation that way. Sometimes people get stuck in a pattern and it takes some time to work your way out of it.

Anonymous said...

I've grown apart from many of the friends I used to have, Maybe that it what has happened here. I've made new friends to take their place and we probably have far more in common. I suppose we all change as well. I agree with the other comments - a letter (or email?) sounds a good idea. It is worth trying to salvage the friendship before giving up on it.

lunarossa said...

My best friend lives in Italy and I live in the UK. Before I used to live in Germany but our friendship has survived 40 years (since we were in reception!) and still ongoing. We see each other 4-5 times a year at the most but when it happens is pure joy. We've survived some bad patches together but we are always been there for each other. I cannot give advice as I don't know you both, but if this friendship is so important to you, don't let it "die" without a fight. Talk/write to her...All the best. Ciao. A.

Welsh Girl said...

I think I will have to bite the bullet and talk to her. I have been avoiding doing that in case it 'broke' the friendship instead of fixing it. Thanks everyone though...

Anonymous said...

It is easy to almost view a friendship like a marriage but friendship is not like marriage. Friendship should be based on mutual support and understanding. Or at the very least - fun. When it is not based on any of these three things, what really is the point. If you want to be miserable get married. It is too easy to be hormonal over friendships but when one is not either having sex or children then the simple fact is you need to feel happy with your friends or have a very good reason not to. Not all people are nice or stay nice. Sometimes the answer is to be quite stupidly proud, soothe one's ego and give another person space to decide whether they want to be friends or not. It also sounds to me that you have plenty of friends available not to worry too hard if this friend becomes an aquaintance. P.S. terribly moral of me, but one always has to worry about the decency of someone who has an affair, old rules sometimes apply.

Anonymous said...

Try once, try twice, try three times. Then really and truthfully give up. And let her try. Don't be cross or bitter, give her chances but slowly relegate her along your line of friends from best to aquaintance to fun occaisonally. Sorry rubbish spelling. You can't change people so very much but you can change how you feel and if they have asked you to do something serious or legal and then abandon you, that is their decision, Equally there is no reason why you cannot be milder friends. perhaps next time you are in London, you ncould suggest something very casual like coffee. Life can be very strange and very short, sometimes one can think far too much and disappear up ones own fundament

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