I'm pushing away a (formerly close) friend and don't know how to stop. Please help.
posted by SecondSock to Human Relations (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Ok, long back-story... I lost my Dad to cancer two months ago. The last months of 2013 were... I don't even know how to describe that experience, the closest I can come up with, it felt like drowning. It was scary, and exhausting, and very very lonely.
Friends were supportive to varying degrees and there was only so much they could do... but in the last weeks of Dad's life, a formerly not-very-close friend became closer, calling often and having me over for tea/dinner many late evenings after coming back from hospice. We'd been part of a friend group for about a year before that, and seeing each other once or twice a week at group events, so we knew a lot about each other. But I really got to know her better last fall.
Her support, and friendship meant such a lot to me, and she's a great person. She shared a lot about herself. She had lost a parent too, a few years ago, and we found so much in common in our experiences. I thought of her like a sister almost.
So... then my Dad died. The first week or two after he died were, paradoxically, much easier for Mom and me than the months before. He wasn't suffering anymore, we were all catching up on lost sleep, and things got easier at work.
Almost exactly at this time, my friend got involved in a new project, which, though enjoyable, and not very strenuous in itself, was taking a lot of her time. She also became less communicative, going from texting every day or two, to not really reaching out to me personally during the next two months (I was still getting the group messages), and not always returning calls. I found myself really missing the closeness and connection but also afraid to appear too pushy/needy, and I felt embarrassed about how much I missed her, and how much I wanted to hear from her. (I mean, come on, I was not a teenager crushed by her BFF ignoring her, right?) But I felt lonely. I did call/message her a few times myself, too, but it seemed obvious after a time that I was more interested in frequent communication than she was. Intellectually, I also knew that some of it was the fear of being alone, and some of it was grief, and that I didn't really NEED to see her all the time, and that we probably needed to dial down the sharing-and-texting all the time anyway. But it was difficult, and sad, and embarrassing, and I missed her a lot.
We still saw each other at group events and over time, I started feeling really awkward around her. We had a few conversations where she asked what was bothering me and I was honest about my emotions, and I told her I knew it was my problem rather than hers, but it still put a strain on our interactions. She told me she was more introverted and that she didn't need to see her friends as often, and she needs a lot of alone time, that the frequent texts/calls were out of character for her but she'd wanted to support me back then, and of course I get it, or at least I should get it. I see my other friends much less sometimes and it's always been fine!
I am ashamed of the amount of hurt and resentment I feel, and have a hard time even being around her, even though I try to be friendly. But I can't bring myself to call her like in the old times, I'm acting distant at the weekly group events, and even though we agreed to meet up this week, I am more nervous than glad. I'm just so, so embarrassed, and like there's this weird power imbalance now, where I'm really vulnerable and she's the patient and understanding cool friend.
So, I guess, my question is - how do I get back my sense of proportion, and my sense of humor, and bounce back from this? How do I get over the embarrassment and sense of rejection? Please don't be too harsh with me if you can, I don't know if I can handle tough love right now. I'm mostly looking for tips on how to fake it until I make it, I know one day I will wake up and be my friendly self again. Hopefully.