Friendship Means Sharing More Than Sadness


The discomfort felt when realizing someone only talks to you when they’re sad is quite specific. It comes on slowly, growing invisibly in some crevice of your body like a tumor, until it’s suddenly too large to ignore.  And then, when this friend’s sudden happiness renders her gone from your life, it’s simply there, a heavy outline of your friend’s face, begging you to be pissed off. So you ask yourself lofty questions, like the newly minted philosopher you are—what is friendship? Does it count as such if it’s a one-way street?

And you want it to count because you’d prefer not to get sad or angry. Frankly, you don’t have the energy. But it’s hard to shake the sudden silence from that friend, to chalk the non-relationship up to anything more than it is. You decide to review the past few months from the perspective of a data-fiend, figuring facts can’t lead you astray here. The harried phone calls stack up, each one filled with long diatribes about what’s going wrong, or what said-friend is worried about. And, naturally, most are spent talking about some guy. Some damn guy.

And there’s you, always there, ready and willing to give advice and soften the blow of whatever nonexistent problems your friend’s anxiety has created. Because, well, you’d want her to do the same for you.

But—you’d want more than that, too. The simple enjoyment of each other’s company, perhaps; goofing around like you used to, untethered to the weight of more mature concerns; and, of course, her ear—because you have plenty to whine about, too. You know all of those things were once there, that your friendship once had a nutritious foundation. So, for a while, you pretend the daily dose is the same—delivering all the benefits it once did.

Inevitably, you go through your own phase where life feels too heavy, confusion settling like a bruise in too many places. So you reach out and hope she’ll return your many favors, help pull you out from underneath it all as you did her.  But there’s a wall up and it’s scribbled in something like sudden, shaky happiness, built on the whims of a man and not much else. It’s all very scripted rom-com, sans most of the com, and you’re nauseous as a result. You know it would just be so typical for your character to get upset, and you don’t want to be typical.

So instead you let it be, let it lighten beneath you until it slips away. But when it disappears it takes something with it, and it looks a lot like your friendship as it was—as you know you could never let it be again.

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