In this time of disconnection from the world, I’ve been taking inventory of my friendships over the years. Conclusion: I am a terrible friend.
Perhaps it’s a matter of having a lot of friends “for a season.” But in looking back, I have been lazy about maintaining ties with those who wanted to remain in touch. I’ve been blessed with friends who are diligent with things like birthday cards, Christmas cards, and email.
At one point or another, once it is clear that the gestures only flow in one direction – mine – the cards and emails stop.
Nowadays, this kind of thing is called “ghosting.” And I’ve been ghosting – that is, cutting off all communication with a friend or significant other and leaving that person wondering why – since before it became a thing.
My disappearance off the radar of others is usually unintentional on my part. I like the concept of snail mail and phone calls, but it’s easier to blog or post on social media before descending into my typical passive, inert state. Blame a critical mass of introversion, low energy, and laziness. My focus on my family probably exacerbates all that, but that critical mass existed long before I sprouted a kid.
On top of that, there’s anxiety. (I’m talking about pre-existing anxiety, not COVID-19 anxiety.) I used to love heading into the city to see friends. But the longer I lived in the suburbs, the less I wanted to travel outside my new comfort zone. Heading solo into the city unnerves me now; urban driving scares me, and then there’s the search for parking and concern about break-ins. Never mind that I lived there for 7 years; then again, in those years, I didn’t have a car, and I didn’t have to worry about parking or anything else related to driving.
So, the more city friends would beckon me repeatedly to see them, the more I felt pressured to do something I didn’t want to do – and when I feel pressured to do something I don’t want to do, I shut down. (This, I realize, is my modus operandi these days.) And then I make like a ghost.
This has happened with at least two or three friends. I’ve tried to make amends with one over the past week, but I’ve heard crickets; I’m not optimistic that I’ll hear back, and I would understand if I never heard from her again. (I’m still working on the others.)
(This behavior, I realize as I write this, probably extends to all the times I’ve traveled to California to see family and avoided telling friends who want to see me.)
The upshot: As a friend, I suck. And I’m sorry to the friends I have hurt by ducking their radar and damaging our friendship.
That said, I don’t apologize for my anxiety. My laziness, yes, but not my anxiety or low energy. It’s just that I could stand to find a better way to handle the latter without hurting those I care about.