I was chatting to my cousin Phoebe on the phone tonight. She called to check up on me. We’re pretty close and she’s good like that.
After she was satisfied that I’m still keeping my head above water, the conversation turned to other things. Even though she is a few years younger than me we loosely move in some of the same social circles and share several friends.
“Ugh did I tell you that I almost ran into Doug on the weekend?” she asked, the loathing dripping from her voice.
“No.” I said, trying to sound nonchalant. “Did you?”
“I was at Drew’s party on Saturday night,” she replied. “Drew mentioned that Doug had texted to say he was on his way so I quickly bailed out of there. I’m so glad you didn’t go to the party, it would have been totally awkward for you.”
It suddenly felt like my throat was tightening and restricting my ability to breathe.
“Drew…had a party?” I eventually managed to splutter.
For a moment there was silence on the other end of the line, then I heard my cousin sigh.
“I’m sorry Sadie.” she said. “It’s so awful when friends pick sides. He should have invited you too.”
This is the story of my life now. My friends have abandoned me in droves. Why? I just don’t know.
For almost a decade Doug and I have been part of the same tight knit group of friends. Maybe we were more like family than friends. We all worked for the same company, lunched together, spent our evenings together, vacationed together, had fun on the weekends together. Those people made my life better, and happier, and richer.
And as we all grew older some things changed, but the important things still stayed the same. We all changed jobs, two people in the group moved interstate, another two got married, and of course there was Doug and I trying to start a family of our own. But still I knew those people were there for me. Loyal friends who would do anything that I asked of them.
I remember the time one of the boys phoned me, and when I answered I was hysterically crying. He asked me if I was okay, and when I said no he hung up the phone, got straight in his car, and drove for over an hour to reach my house. When he knocked on the door, he was carrying a large box of chocolates that he’d grabbed from the supermarket on the way over.
He didn’t even need to ask me what was wrong before he made the decision to get into his car. All that mattered was that I was upset, and he knew he needed to be there for me.
Do you know I can’t even remember the reason I was crying now? But I do remember the kindness my friend showed me. He loved me like a sister and I loved him like a brother.
Do you know how many times that “brother” has contacted me since my husband left? Zero.
Do you know how many of the people in our “tight knit” group have spoken to me at all since my husband left? One.
The only friend who I’m still on speaking terms with is one of the people who moved interstate. He left about two years ago to take a job in Canberra. With the IVF and miscarriages, neither Doug nor I made any real effort to keep in contact with him and we mostly lost touch.
He texted me last month and made a silly little joke about Doug. That’s when I realised he didn’t even know Doug had left me. I phoned him and we spoke for hours. He was genuinely shocked and obviously very supportive of me. But there isn’t much he can do from Canberra and it doesn’t really make me feel less alone.
I have no idea why I have been purged from my own group of friends.
I have no idea what Doug has told them to make them wipe me from their lives. He must have spun some wretched lies.
I have no idea why not a single one of those people has bothered to contact me to ask my side of the story, or check that I’m okay.
It hurts me. It hurts me terribly. I have been socially isolated, but I have no idea what crimes I committed to deserve this kind of punishment.
I really heavily relied on that group of friends for support, guidance and love. I don’t really have anyone else outside my family who is consistently there for me. I mean there’s a few people, but I still feel like I’m walking around with a huge chunk scooped out of my heart.
My childhood best friend lives in a small town a couple of hours away. He drove to my house when my husband first left and even brought his sister’s new puppy to try and cheer me up. But he’s a dentist so he works extremely long hours and it’s hard for him to make the long drive on a regular basis.
I had two really close girlfriends at work who I regularly socialised with. They were both amazing through my miscarriages and beyond.
One left about four months ago to take a job closer to home so she can spend more time with her baby son. I know she would be there for me if I called her, but I’m not mentally ready to be around her son and I also suspect she may be expecting again.
My other girlfriend sat with me for hours while I cried, on the day I returned to work after Doug left me. She was angry for me and supportive of me and said all the right things. What she didn’t say was that she’d been offered a teaching contract at another university and was finishing up her position less than a week later. She felt so guilty about leaving me that she didn’t even end up telling me until she had already left.
Our next door neighbours, Mark and Rebecca, have also been really amazing. They’re almost the same age as my husband and I, and we were already quite friendly with them before Doug left.
But now Rebecca texts me regularly to see how I’m doing, they’ve invited me around for dinner on a few occasions and they also bring their dogs over to play with my dog. Mark has even given me the password to their Wifi so that I’m not completely without internet, although I have to sit in the front room of my house to pick up their signal.
My neighbours are great but there’s no deep love or connection there. Not the same kind of connection I had with all my friends. The ones I grew up with, who understand me better than I understand myself.
So even though Mark and Rebecca are wonderful, I still feel isolated. I miss my closest friends. I hate that they’ve hurt me like this. And now I’m not going to take their crap anymore.
Tonight, after my cousin put her foot in her mouth and I found out I hadn’t been invited to Drew’s party, I logged into Facebook and unfriended him. Petty, I know. But it was either that or phone him to abuse him, and I didn’t think the latter was a wise option.
Then, as if possessed by a determination I didn’t know still existed within me, I started writing out a list of names on a piece of paper. It was a list of all the friends who had turned their backs on me. A list of people to unfriend on Facebook.
Tonight, I purged my friends the only way I know how. One by one, on social media. How very Gen Y of me.
I started with the easy ones. Firstly I took care of the spouses and family members of those I love. They were followed by the friends who didn’t mean so much to me, or the ones I’d lost touch with over the years.
Then I moved onto my close friends. Then to my very best friends. I hesitated over a few of them, remembering the good times we’d shared in the past. But then I reminded myself how many times they’ve all reached out to me in the past month. Unfriended.
I am so tired now. I am always so tired, but I also feel drained and disappointed. I feel like these people have stolen a light from me that I will never get back.
Ten years of friendship meant nothing to them. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. It was just over. I feel like a huge, important chapter of my life has just closed. I will never have that type of friend again.
We were silly teenagers when we first met, and we grew together into adults. Those types of bonds can’t be replicated or replaced. Those memories can’t be duplicated.
I will never get those years of my life back. I feel like the happy events of my youth are tainted. Or maybe I just made them all up inside my head. Maybe these friendships that I believed were solidly forged in all our hearts, were simply imaginary.
I know eventually I will find a new group of friends. I will forge new bonds. I will make new memories.
But for now I am just tired.
And so very sad.
p.s thank you all for your advice about sleeping pills I really appreciate it and hope to respond to you all individually once I have managed to get some sleep…how’s that for irony?