Here it is again staring me in the face, the cold result of my inattention. The note says "This will be the last message you will receive from me if I don't hear back from you... why don't you write or call me.... what has happened to our friendship... did I do something wrong?"
Oh God! I lower my head as a blanket of failure weighs down on me. Why do I do this? Why do I let valuable friendships with people I love and care about fall by the wayside? Do I really want them to say goodbye? Do I really want to let them go? Am I so callous that I really don't give a shit about their feelings? No, no, no! Then why do I let it happen? I honestly don't know.
For one thing, I hate to talk on the telephone... hate it! Phone conversations tend to go on and on, taking up way too much time that I have so precious little of. Time has always been my enemy - so much I want to do and never enough free waking hours to accomplish half of it. I don't know what boredom is. Some folks insist on phone calls and feel slighted if I don't return the repeated messages they leave on my cellphone.
Email me instead I say, update me on your life. And sometimes they do, but mostly not. I am a writer, not a talker, something they cannot understand. Written words are more precise and more carefully thought out. You can say so much more, share so much more. And later on you can't say "I didn't say that", because the proof is right there.
I am a hermit by nature, a recluse, and the urge grows stronger as I grow older. Acquaintances laugh at that, as they see me visiting away with people and handling myself ok in one-on-one or small group situations. But the truth is I'm miserable in any group larger than two, and my most fervent desire is to escape to the sanctuary of my home. I don't want to converse, I don't want to engage in polite conversation, I want time to think about the things I say, and to talk about things that have meaning.
Or am I just kidding myself with such excuses? Is is more true to say I am just a sloth, an unappreciative, uncaring friend who never quite gets around to responding to the people she truly cares about... and I DO care about them.
Sometimes, no most of the time, I feel overwhelmed by the "to-do" list in my life. Not just the "must do" list but also the "want to do" list. I don't handle pressure well, I don't like anything or any feeling imposing on me. I don't like restriction or requirements. Rebellious attitude much, huh? Even when I really want to do something and know that I should, I don't always do it. When the pressure to perform starts building I feel backed against the wall, and I become paralyzed. I don't do anything, not even the things I really want to do, or know that I should do.
So, for reasons I can't really explain to anyone's satisfaction, including mine, I don't respond. I sadly observe the phone messages come in and the emails pile up. The please for communication go unheeded. And finally they grow sick of my silence and tell me off because they're hurt, or just go away and leave me feeling even worse about my inaction.
I always promise myself I'll try harder, respond sooner, at least to a couple folks each day... stay on top of it and not let it become an imposition. Not let the list pile up until I feel overwhelmed. I promise myself that, and I try, God knows I try. But I break my promise far too often.
Part of me wonders if a therapist would find deep unresolved issues that makes me behave this way. Do I fear being misunderstood? Do I fear rejection? Do I fear that my words will be turned against me? Do I fear that I will disappoint them? Do I fear that if they really knew me they wouldn't like me that much anyway? Maybe all of that. So sometimes it just seems easier, though unforgivable, to just let things unravel. Everything and everyone who has ever been important in my life up until now, has in some form or manner been taken away. Maybe in my lack of reaching out I am just hastening the anticipated end result.
Or maybe none of the above and I am just a shitty friend that never quite gets around to telling some very wonderful people that I love them and I care about them and I truly do want to know how things are going in their lives.
In the darkest, hardest hardest times of my life I withdraw from people. Like a wounded animal I go off on my own until I feel better about being among the living. Maybe over time I've grown accustomed to that place and my need for the safety and security of refuge overtakes my desire for companionship. Sometimes I wonder if my life has damaged me beyond repair, beyond the ability to trust relationships and to trust myself.
I write about my life here for folks to follow along, it's so much easier (and admittedly lazier) that way. I wish everyone blogged, I love the real sharing that takes place.
My heart cries for the friendships I've let fall by the wayside, and the longer I let the silence grow between us, the harder it is to come back and say "hello, I've missed you, how are you?" I am ashamed, because I know this is not how you treat people you love. I need to do better. I need to apologize. I need to make amends.