It is not always easy to accept the end of a friendship.
Perhaps it never really was a friendship. Perhaps it was just a shell of one.
Maybe there was a lot of pretends going on and you are the kind of person that takes things for face value. Maybe you think that people are true and kind and honest and why would they pretend to be something they are not? Why waste all that time and energy on something they don’t mean or something they are not?
I recently met sadness. Well, she was sad. That’s all I could see.
I would see her every few days, standing in the same aisle, doing the same thing, with a pretend smile, but the sadness couldn’t be faked. I could feel it.
I accepted one of the brochures. I took the time to read it and struck up a conversation. I asked what it all meant. Very eloquently, she spoke and I listened. While she was speaking I could hear her counter parts speaking as well but something was disturbing. They all seemed to be connecting except for her. I asked if she was okay. She shrugged. I looked over at them and said, “They are a bit loud, aren’t they?” She was surprised at my comment. I smiled.
“They do that every time they see me speak. Apparently, they don’t think I can attack an audience like they can.” she said. Then the sadness crept in.
“Well,” I said, “That’s not nice. You speak just as well as they do, if not nicer since you aren’t as loud or as boisterous as they are.”
“We used to be friends. Or I thought we were friends. I don’t know. Sometimes they act like they are friends and then suddenly, I’m not.”
Ahh, I thought to myself. I know that feeling. That sometimes you like me and sometimes you don’t feeling. Sometimes you talk to me like you really are interested in speaking to me and sometimes, you just want to fill in the time until your real friend comes along. Sometimes, you’ll text me and sometimes, I won’t get the group text to meet you after work like every one else did but I’ll see the dinner pics when I get home. Yea, I’ve been there. So I knew what she was referring to.
“Oh, don’t worry about that. You are a sometimes friend. Which is a good thing. It could be worse. You could be a never ever friend. You could be the she’s not there friend. And that could be worse. Because that would mean they’d walk right by you and it’s like you are not even there. This way, what they are doing means that you are affecting them. What they are doing is basically telling you that in some way, you, something about you, bothers them. And that’s a good thing. Because whatever it is, is a reflection on them, not you. Think about it.”
Her eyebrow furrowed. She looked at me. She looked at them.
“Well now, let’s think about this.” I said. “You have a very pretty face. You have a beautiful smile and just now when you spoke to that young man, you made him laugh and your supervisor noticed that. You handed out most of your pamphlets and those children over there keep coming back to you to ask you questions about the books they should know something about because that’s their department. But they are coming to you because you, my dear are the approachable one. I’d say those are great qualities and those are reflections of what they do not possess and should.”
The sadness became a happy smile. “I guess.” She said. “But we were friends. We used to have lunches and at times when we closed up, we went out for drinks and to the movies. And now they just leave earlier or later and don’t even ask me any more. I don’t understand. Sometimes they speak to me but it feels forced.”
The sadness returned. “Don’t mourn what never was. They were phony, not you. They pretended, not you. They weren’t honest, not you. If they could do this to you, imagine, one day, they will do this to each other. At least you are out of the way.Stay true to yourself.”
A week later, I came back to see my friend. She was not there but her catty friends were. I came back a week later and she still was not there. I feared she had quit. A month went by and there she was, her back was turned but I knew it was her and she was fixing something on the table. I tapped her on her shoulder.
“Hi.” I haven’t seen you in a while.” I said.
“OH! Hi! I was away. I was training.”
“Yes. I’m now manager of the Children’s Section of the Bookstore. I get to travel now to different area’s to select children’s books and get to meet different authors to bring to the books store to read passages to the children and to sign books as well. It’s amazing and exciting and oh, I’m just going on and on. ” She smiled.
“I’m so happy for you.”
“I’ve only been here a year!”
“Well that’s good right?” I asked
“Well, yes, but they’ve been here for five and they are livid that I got this job.”
“Are you sad?” I inquired quietly
“Oh no, I’m not. I tried to be their friend. I wanted to learn from them but they shut me out. They never let me in on anything so I learned on my own. I reflected!” she said as she held her head up high and smiled.
“Thank you,” she whispered. “I remembered what you told me. “Reflection of who they wish they could be. I wanted to learn what they knew so I taught myself. And now I’m doing what I love. I’m not angry with them and I would love to be their friend but I’ve made some wonderful friends and I’m so happy. I’m reflecting happiness.”
And so I walked away learning my very own lesson. Many times I wonder why the people I think are friends say and do things that make no sense to me. I watch them speak of others and I walk away wondering if they speak that way about someone they care for, do they speak that way about me? I see how they behave one way when someone is around and when that someone is not, they become a different person, and I wonder why? Why can’t they be who they want to be? I find myself confused and feeling the toxicity of emotions that shouldn’t be and then I think of this young woman who understood that to thine own self be true is one of the most valuable lessons in life.