Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Disappearing Friend


Her name is Brianna.

I've never lost a friend before. At least not one that hasn't died. Not one that has just chosen to walk away...

I pride myself on the fact that I am good to my friends. I have always been good to my friends. The people who stay with you when you're crazy until you get better are people you want in your life. The people who stay with you when you're gay after coming out are people you want in your life. The people who stay with you when you're crazy AND gay... well, they're just keepers. Full stop.

I treat my friends well, though I'm well aware that I am not one of those people who "check in" very often. I do take my friendships for granted sometimes, but at the bottom of it all, I love my friends, and I make sure that they know that.

I am not high maintenance. I do not need much from people. I am quite self-sufficient and I don't base my self-worth on what other people think of me. I really don't like drama, and I don't hold a grudge. Yes, I complain sometimes about really self-absorbed people that upset me in the moment (still two months worth of pregnancy to go!), but I would never ever say anything to somebody's face that I know would hurt them. I just don't think that helps anyone.

So, Brianna and I are not childhood friends, but she's one of those people that I put a lot of my self into. We met in university in an intensive course working on the art of autobiography - and basically, I was so blown away by her strength and her wise old soul and her broken past that I knew we would connect on a very deep level for years to come. And we have, on the most part.

But I don't really know what happened. I know it has little to do with me and much to do with her, but it's hard not to take things personally. She disappears - literally. One day she's living in the same city as me and the next, she decided to take a road trip across Canada. Or go live with her aunt up North. Or go visit her sister in Newfoundland. She answers to herself, and has always done things that feel right in the moment, which I have always respected. Someone who lives by their heart and their gut: how romantic...

Romantic, maybe. Conducive to a healthy friendship? Not so much. So she disappears, and I don't check in... because, well, I don't do that. Plus, I have no idea how to get a hold of her. And nine months later, she's sleeping on my couch for 48 hours and we make promises to see more of each other and renew our deep commitment to each other and hug tight and part ways and then suddenly it's four months later, my emails have gone unanswered, and my phone calls haven't been returned.

This would not bother me so much if it wasn't someone I am so invested in, care so much about, and would do anything for. But I've been hurt too many times by empty promises and last minutes cancellations and no shows, so I am doing something about it: I'm doing nothing.

And it's killing me.

I have sent my last email. I just called her for the last time (and left another message). I am seeing her tomorrow at a social gathering and I will not walk away with a new sense of strength in our friendship. I will lower my expectations of our friendship, and of her. In fact, the expectations have to be so low, that I am basically walking away... or letting her disappear.

She has been going through some identity-rocking stuff, and I have been very forgiving. But she's always "going through stuff". I have told her that I support her. I have told her, in not so many words, that she can walk over me, not give a shit about our friendship, show up half a year later expecting me to apologize for not getting in touch, and I will be here when she's ready. I will say again: I pride myself on the fact that I am a good friend. So this is not familiar behaviour, and it feels awful. But not as awful as the little heartbreaks I feel inside my chest every time I think of her, try to speak with her, or don't hear from her.

Goodbye, Brianna. May you find peace, stillness, and strength.

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