Monday, August 17, 2009

Changing Friendships

What happens when friends change, grow apart, and have commitments that continue getting in the way of that friendship? Do you set aside special friend time? Move on? Accept that your position within the friendship dynamic has changed? Are there other options?

I am not the kind of person who has long-lasting friendships. The friends I let in my life are few and far between. They are dedicated, "get" me, and we are there for each other whenever.

It is painful to realize that your position in the life of one of your best friends has been relegated to the very bottom. It wasn't an intentional just happened because life got in the way. There were elderly parents who suddenly needed the care and constant attention of their only daughter. There was the move that, even though it was only a mile, put an almost insurmountable distance between us. Add a grown daughter returning to the nest, a son who joined the military, got married and had the friend's first grandchild, and suddenly, even the dog has a higher ranking than I do.

I used to drop in, completely unannounced and hang out for hours. Now, I don't feel comfortable doing that unless I call first. I used to feel like part of the family. Now, I feel like a guest. It's uncomfortable for sure. In short, I used to matter. Now, I am merely an acquaintance. Ugh.

That in and of itself would be fine if it weren't for the fact that I used to be her best friend. I was the only one she knew when she first moved to town. We shared meals, went to church together, spent summer days hiking, and even camped together with our families. She brought out the very best in me. Just when I was starting to trust being that close with someone, I find myself suddenly on the outside looking in. It hurts.

So, I face the dilemma of a changing friendship. Do I continue to try to worm my way into her life, even though it feels as though she doesn't need me anymore? Do I cherish what we had and accept the fact that I no longer matter? Do I ignore her completely so I don't have to feel the rejection? The bigger question is: How do I feel better again?

Maybe changing friendships are inevitable. Maybe not. What is inevitable is that change is never easy.

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