I’ll admit over the years, I have ghosted a few former friends. These people were not really true friends, even though I liked them for brief periods of time. But when the light bulb went off that they were users and most of the giving came from me, it was easy to let them go. Just stop giving.
It is said that a predictor of happiness and longevity as we age is maintaining strong friendships.
On the other hand, I still feel guilty about how I handled some friendships when I was younger. Freshman year of college, there were three of us sharing a small dorm room. I know this is a cliché, but three women was not a great number to get along, at least back in the 60s. Ultimately, I sided with Elaine and we excluded Sylvia. My shame over this behavior is compounded by the fact that Sylvia died before graduating college. Sometime in our junior year, she asked to meet me for coffee and told me she was dying of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Perhaps she wanted to clear the air between us, or perhaps she wanted me to feel badly about our relationship freshman year. Mission accomplished. I have no memory of what I said, but I was not mature enough to do more than hug her and wish her well.
Two years later, I was in my first job, teaching high school English. I didn’t have a car, but one of my colleagues offered to drive me, as she passed by where I was living. Sometime during that year, she stopped speaking to me during those rides. We sat in awkward silence because I lacked the maturity to confront her. I had no idea what happened. Did she want me to offer to pay for gas? Had I said something in casual conversation that offended her? This still bothers me, but I can’t find her online to have the conversation I should have had 55 years ago.
My current friendship group has remained pretty stable. Of course, over so many years, some relationships have waxed and waned. But I can’t think of any that have ended. In fact, some were strengthened by the need to reach out and support one another through COVID and aging. I have been regularly zooming two old friends with whom I had lost touch (featured image). Time and geography made seeing them on a regular basis challenging, but once we started zooming regularly, the spark that made us friends 50 years ago was reignited. Same with the women in my Chavurah (Jewish friendship group), who have become closer through our weekly zooms. And the women with whom I worked at Cherry Preschool. We retirees have stayed in touch. I also have two close friends with whom I meet every week. Our time together is a combination of organ recitals and therapy — priceless.
At this stage of life, I work harder to communicate with friends. I can’t afford to let small issues end friendships as I did when I was younger. It is said that a predictor of happiness and longevity as we age is maintaining strong friendships. I plan to hold onto mine.
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.