Swinging Door, Meet Face, or How I Lost Friends by Inaction

I’ve learned that there are some life circumstances where one tries to make up for things that weren’t the best, but it’s not going to be enough.

Almost a year ago, I was trying to get ready for getting married. Wedding planning is a stress ball. My family thought that they were being nice but in reality, pressures only mounted on a daily basis. My sister acted like Castle’s mother in their wedding planning, and I let my parental unit off the hook when it came to paying for it, and he respected my wishes but didn’t volunteer for anything. I tried to make it as easy as possible on them, but also didn’t ask their opinions on any of it. If they’re not paying for it, they don’t have any control, and are not trying to control me.

My fiancé and I were the victims of the “Economic Collapse Long-Term” team (meaning that following respective graduations, we couldn’t find jobs for a long time), and we didn’t have much of any money of our own. His family was extremely generous and paid for our luncheon for after we got married. We had seventeen people. We were planning on having a reception when we got back to where we (now) live, but that never happened. We couldn’t afford it, and by now, nearly a year later, I am two sizes larger than when we got married due to a nasty winter, little exercise, and cooking more for taste than being strictly nutritionally-minded (I couldn’t fit the dress without massive help). I was extremely embarrassed by not having a reception. Two friends who were bridesmaids lived in the area, and the last thing we said was that we would talk about the reception after we got back. We haven’t seen each other since my luncheon. They were waiting for me to make a move, and I was scared to say, “Hi, I’m not only poor, but so is my husband, and we can’t afford this.” Everyone else I’d known who got married had a reception. It was a normal social ceremony that we skipped.

Socially, it was hard enough that we met online. We had to prove to each other’s families that we worked well together, that we weren’t a fantasy or about to blow up, and to everyone who would be living around us, that we had our heads screwed on straight. Also, we were determined not to live together before getting married, and not to engage in pre-marital relations. Those are novel things these days, but necessary. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m grateful for it. It actually made it easier to find an apartment not to be living that way.

For my husband and I, melding him into (now) our Church social group became an issue of making sure that we were extremely active in participating. Things are different with my single Church friends now. We didn’t have any couple friends here to start,  and he is much more of a loner than I am, so he didn’t need the close friendships outside of family that I looked to for a support system. Home and visiting teachers were basically non-existent, and we loved each other, but it wasn’t easy doing it without a close support network. Thinking back on those first few months, I’m grateful that we are where we are now and that we worked hard to be here. We didn’t side-step our lives, (maybe one party) but pushed through the hurdles and came out on the other side.

We don’t really have couple friends now, and that makes things hard. Outside of at Church, I’ve wanted to give invitations to other families to come over, but the thought always was that we couldn’t afford it. Instead, we work very hard with our Church’s missionaries. They’re nice, they always try to be kind and helpful, and other than them, we almost never see anyone outside of Church these days. If they hate us, missionaries have an expiration date. Every six weeks, they could be transferred. If we like them, there’s Facebook and we can try to keep up or let it go. It’s easy to be nice to short-term commitments, but I, at least, crave longer-term relationships. We’ve had a couple of invitations, and those have been nice, but I missed my old friends. My brakes were out for six months immediately following getting back from getting married, none of my close friends have their own transit, and my husband is paranoid about anyone but him driving his car. I’m not that good at public transit, and in the end didn’t make enough effort to keep up with my old friends.

When there is no obvious expiration date, it seems like there is endless time to do something. Whether or not communication is a two-way street is not the point. My friends were trying to follow the social protocol of letting my husband and I have some time to ourselves. After that, though, I was so bad at following up that I lost them. I’ve tried to communicate recently but haven’t heard back past an initial, ‘You remember how to talk?’ [paraphrased summary] email. I never meant to burn bridges with them. Those bridesmaids were much closer than my family, and getting married didn’t change how my family and I am. I’m nervous that I could have helped in their lives crucially and wasn’t there. I also re-started a business, and have worked a lot with that. I worked on important things, but not on crucial things with the exception of my marriage. I didn’t communicate enough, and I respect their choices. I just think that I lost them as one said that if they didn’t hear back from me, they’d know it was over. I’ve tried and tried now, but they’re not saying anything. I miss them, and there isn’t really anything that I can do about it that I can think of other than what I’ve already done now in trying to communicate again. It may be way too little, too late. These were my true friends, and I botched it. I’ll take the “bad guy” status and leave it be.

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2 thoughts on “Swinging Door, Meet Face, or How I Lost Friends by Inaction

  1. Rick Parker says:

    In the software development world, there’s a term “technical debt” (probably also exists in other domains, but this is the one I’m familiar with). It basically is meant to capture all of the things you really should have been doing to keep your project work maintainable over the long term, but are easy to forget or procrastinate so that they build up over time. These are the little things, usually, such as making sure code has comments in it explaining the thought process that drove it to be written that way, or capturing higher-level abstractions of the design into appropriate design documentation, or setting up repeatable tests for the code so you have an automated monitoring mechanism in place.
    Now that term is defined … what you are describing is basically a buildup of social debt. When technical debt grows to be significant for a project or a software component, often this feels like there’s a lot of effort involved in doing any work with it. And the work that is expended is more costly than it would otherwise have been. The discussion inevitably comes down to one of two recommendations: bear down and pay that backlog of technical debt (by doing all the things that haven’t been done but need to be), or scrap it and write it fresh (with a commitment to paying the technical debt as you go, though it’s also easy to fall back into the same trap).
    For Social Debt, it’s a little trickier because every relationship has two sides. It isn’t enough for one side to decide it’s worth paying down the debt, without the other side being willing to put up the effort. And it really can feel like the same burden as financial debt.
    So, recommendation at this point in your story. Keep up your efforts of connecting with people with whom you have previously had a good relationship. At the same time, start new relationships and keep pouring the effort in to pay the social debt down. It may be that some of these existing but burdened relationships may still open up again and bear fruit, though not all will do so. But any new relationships will need attention to keep from falling into the same trap.

    • The advice is noted snd appreciated.It may sound different, but I like the expansion including the technical jargon and its definition. I relate easily to computer science trends once they’re defined, and this one is most applicable.

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