What would you do if a friend of 40 years suddenly stopped talking?
No phone calls, no letters, no explanation, no nothing.
It will be three years in December since I last talked to my friend. I’ve been alternately sad, hurt and angry at various times, but Thursday was the worst. Perhaps it was the mutual acquaintance I ran into the day before who shared that he had seen my friend a month ago, had lunch with her, and had been invited to her place up north to “hang out” for a day.
Okay, so you’re alive and keeping in touch with other friends, but…
He doesn’t know that we haven’t talked in a long time, that his words carved up my heart. I didn’t feel it right away…work kept my mind going in a different direction. Then Thursday came around and I felt the horrible pain of not knowing and realization of loss.
You see, I don’t know what I did or didn’t do, or what she thought I did or didn’t do to begin the silence. I haven’t known for almost three years. I can’t imagine the “why”, the possible cause wobbling around in my brain cells from time to time without resolution.
Why did you leave me with a huge, open-ended question mark?
This friend and I, we worked together many years ago and that is when we became more than co-workers. We started living personal life together. We suffered through bad marriages. I helped her escape hers, then she helped me escape mine. We both dealt with a failing elderly parent in hospice. I went to her mother’s funeral, but she has no idea that my mother is gone. We are opposites in personality, but value our faith. We’ve had differences before, but nothing that ever split us apart.
I don’t understand how you can throw away 40 years without a word.
This is so f**king hard, so terribly f**king hard. It’s nothing that an adult refreshment or bar of dark chocolate or a bike ride through the woods will resolve. It’s nothing that anyone or a wish upon a star can fix.
At first I would call and leave messages. “Hey, it’s me. Haven’t talked to you in a while, but heard you moved. Would love to hear your voice, so give me a call. Okay, bye.” After a few times, I decided it was up to her to call back, but it never happened. Almost a year after I talked to her last, I tried sending a card, but the forwarding order at the Post Office had expired. It came back to me. After that, I gave up and hoped that she would call or write…one day.
I didn’t really give up on you, friend. I think about you from time to time and it always leaves me feeling down. I stopped calling you because friendship is a two-way street, not a one-way Mary street. It’s your turn.
So, with Friday came the realization that time would have to lessen the feeling of disappointment and I would have to find a way to let go of an old friendship. Time to move on and enjoy what I have in life.
I have been blessed with so many wonderful, new friendships in the last ten years – through neighbors, co-workers, bloggers and church peeps – that it’s not as if I have to move on alone. I have other long-term friendships that have sustained me. I suspect, being a somewhat social person, I will make new friends in the future. Life is good in so many ways that when I thought of it upon a bicycle seat Saturday night, my eyes moistened with a sense of joy and peace.
I hope you have that same joy and peace, my friend, and I do wish you happiness. It’s all we really want, right? So, if our friendship no longer brings happiness to your life, I’m okay with letting go. Perhaps one day, God will help reconcile your desire to be silent.
48 responses to Letting Go of 40 Years
I, too, know that feeling of loss and self-questioning. As you’ve learned, I’ve come to accept my loss and move on with my life.
Another friend of mine experienced the same thing, Rosaliene, so I guess we are not alone. Sorry you had to experience this, but glad you’ve moved on.
Oh, Mary….this was a hard read. I cannot say ‘I know what you’re going through’ b/c I can’t stand when people say that. And I don’t know what you’re going through. But I can feel it through this post. I hope somehow, somewhere there is closure for you. ❤
Thank you Lois. One never knows – I may run into her again some day and either we’ll talk it out or she’ll turn away. In the meantime, I can no longer wait for a change in this friendship. I have to let it go and carry on.
I have had two events like this. Thick as thieves one minute and then silence the next… no communication, no explanation. It is kind of like having a loved one go missing, never to be seen again. It is a difficult thing to wrap your head around. Time waits for no one. You never really get over it.. all you can do is move forward with it..
Two events, Bill? Wow, that’s awful. I’m learning this happens way too often and I don’t know if I’ll ever understand. I don’t believe I could do that to anyone…it’s so disconcerting!
What I can’t grasp is why a person would simply walk away without even ‘having a go’. I would far rather be sworn at than simply abandoned.
Me too, M.R. Just tell me like it is and we’ll work it out. I wonder if she thinks I know what she’s mad about when I really don’t. Oh well, as I said, it’s time to let this go and move on. I have far too many friends who talk to me to let that drag me down.
I’ve experienced it with friends because of moves, but the absolute worst was with a family member. I’m going on six years of trying to wrap my head around that. Most days I can cope with it, but there are those days when it is truly heavy. One day at a time, Mary, one day at a time. 🙂
Thanks for your support, Judy. I’m sorry about the family member and loss of relationship. I, too, have been trying to wrap my ahead around why she would just quit talking, but as I said in the post, I can’t come up with any answers.
Sometimes, I’m not sure there is an answer. It seems to be a curve in the journey of life that we have to learn to live with for our own mental wellness.
My best friend just disappeared. Nothing heard from her for a couple of years or so. No.phone calls, her house was empty, nobody I knew had heard from her or seen her for a.few years. Then one day we reconnected. Her house had been.reposessed, electricity shut off, and she and her kids had moved out in the middle.of the night. She was embarrassed for me to know the damage caused by her husband’s gambling. We talk on occasion now, but our relationship is strained. I was always there for her. I feel betrayed and it’s just.not the same. I’m.sorry.for your loss, Mary.
Wow, Carol, that’s a sad story and I wish your friend had trusted in your confidence and told you what was going on. Even though you still feel betrayed, I’m glad you talk to her once in a while. Perhaps there’s a positive in that.
I think this happens more now in the electronic age. Face to face doesn’t have as much value as it used to.
That’s totally possible for those connected to social media. My friend wasn’t technology saavy…she didn’t do Facebook and still had a flip phone when we last talked.
We are all flawed big time.
That is true!
I have a similar situation with a life-long friend. We can go for years without speaking and then slowly she begins to respond and we meet up again. At the moment I haven’t physically seen her for four years, but we keep vague contact on social media. I know the reasons for her distance but it still hurts sometimes. We make the best of what we have, and life carries on at its usual busy pace.
Knowing the reasons doesn’t help the hurt, but at least you know. I wish I had that much with my lost friend. Perhaps some day your friend’s reasons won’t matter any longer and she’ll reconnect again as friends who keep in regular contact. Perhaps?
I so empathize with all you expressed, Mary. This very things has happened to me a couple of times. I really don’t understand how some people can just turn away, not caring how they affect someone else. I have such rich memories and hold onto to friendships, even those from childhood. I can close my eyes and remember a specific day and what I did, how I felt..even my dearest friends seem to have adult amnesia about most of their formative years. Sometimes I think I’m so weird. Hugs, Mary.
I have so many fond memories of my friend and our past exploits. It’s hard to think it was all for nothing.
You’re not weird, Cheryl. You feel deeply and that helps to retain those memories.
I feel your pain…in your words and with a similar situation. But, then God sent me someone who changed everything. Now I think….her loss.
Love you! ❤️
I love the way you think and thank God for the friends I have now. ❤🙂❤
I’m sorry, Mary, and reading this makes me sad. I’ve broken up with friends, but never without them knowing why. I can’t imagine why someone would do this. It is definitely her loss, because you’re a great friend!
Awww…thanks Dan. You’re a great friend too, of which I seem to have a few. 😏🙂
I’ve had one friendship break up, but at least I know why. The pain from it sent me spiraling into depression so I can only imagine what you went through, the not knowing.
You’re a fab friend to me even though we have never met. I know it isn’t much, but I’m sending you lots of love, and a hug across the seas.
(I hope the writing is coming along nicely.)
Thank you for the love and hugs, Damyanti. It helps to have such kind support in all of this and I’m sorry your loss friendship was so painful for you. Sending hugs back across the seas!
I’m sorry to read this Mary, especially since you’ve gone through so much together. Perhaps the answer lies there somewhere. You were close during difficult times and for some people, that can be a painful reminder of those times too 💜 For you it’s a reminder of all the true friends in your life, and that’s something worth celebrating 🙂💖 xxx
Thank you so much for the kind words. I am celebrating the good friends I have now and hope that we can always talk out any differences or issues that may arise. I hate conflict, but I’d rather talk things through with friends than walk away.
I’m glad that you wrote about it Mary – and even then, as with adult refreshments and chocolate, writing will only temporarily ease the hurt. If it eases it at all.
I’ve been ghosted, I’ve been dumped. It sucks – some of the hurt lingers, and some I’ve forgotten. Moving helped – I don’t travel in the same circles anymore so I won’t encounter mutual acquaintances. But if I did, I’m sure the old raw hurt would flare up and consume me.
It’s particularly galling that she has not responded to your reaching out. I would assume that a 40 year friendship was built on a shared vocabulary or communication style – that is, she would comprehend and appreciate your messages – the mystery is confounding and it resonates with me. I hope she’s lurking and it resonates with her.
My friend has moved away and the remaining acquaintances are mostly retired. I would guess I’m not going to run into any of them too often, but who knows.
I doubt she’s lurking, but I hope something continues to remind her of the many good years of friendship and not the one incident, whatever it was, that made her stay away. Life is too damn short to be angry or hold a grudge, then make a friend suffer. I will never ever do that to any of my friends. Thanks for the understanding words, Maggie. ❤
I understand your need to wonder if you did something that caused your friend to ghost on you. I’ve been there, too. Wondering. But like you in the end I decided to let it go, trusting that this is how our relationship was meant to be. There used to be saying that went something like: friends are there for a reason, a season, or life. Maybe your season with this friend is over?
Yes, Ally, I’m guessing our season is over. It’s too bad I have to let go when she used to call me her adopted sister, but I must keep moving forward.
You struck a nerve, Mary. I’ve been struggling with the same thing … a friend I’ve known since Grade 1.
… and then nothing.
Phone messages that went unanswered. Cards, notes, emails. Nothing.
When / if you figured it out, please share. Maybe it can help me too 😢
It seems I have struck a nerve with many in the same situation. I’m sorry that your friend walked away in similar fashion. It has weighed heavy. I’ll let you know if I ever get an answer or hear from her again.
In both of our situations, I hope there is a happy ending.
This breaks my heart, Mary. It makes me hope there isn’t someone out there who feels like I’ve ghosted them. I know I did it to one girl: She came up to me in the airport and wanted to talk about our time in college together, but I didn’t recognize her. She introduced herself and I didn’t remember her. Then, as soon as I got to the parking lot, I remembered we had called her by a nickname and I had forgotten her real name until I connected it, too late. If I could have turned back time, I would have. I’ll always regret that moment of stupid forgetfulness. Maybe try your friend again? Check with the acquaintance who visited with her and make sure your contact information for her is current? I have a friend who didn’t respond for years, then suddenly did, and we were besties again until she passed away.
I thought about calling her again, but I’ve done that with no response. She moved and I have no address and I don’t feel as though I can ask the acquaintance for it. For now, I’m concentrating on the wonderful people in my life and maybe one day the friend and I will reconnect. It’s really up to her, she’s the one who walked away.
Mary, I understand your pain because I almost broke up with my own BFF of nearly 20 years. I commend you on how you have kept trying. But if she loves you as much, she should give you a chance. What could have gone so wrong that she wouldn’t even reply to you? Maybe try going to her place and clearing the air. I know this is an extreme thing, but this is what I would have done if messages, calls and mails failed. All the best. I really hope you guys can patch up.
Thank you Pradita. I’m unable to go to where she lives because I don’t know where she moved to other than the general area. Maybe I’ll run into her in the future, but right now I’ve decided to enjoy the friends I have and move on.
I hope you run into her and you get back together. All the very best 🙂
Thanks, Pradita, for your kind thoughts.
Most welcome 🙂
I understand this completely. Not forty years. How about… 20? In my case, I introduced one friend to another, encouraged their mutual commiseration during a difficult time, and one sorta never returned, as the new-to-her friend seemed to fill my gap.
Social media likes, but the connection, the communication, is lost. I have long assumed she was done with me and I went on with my life. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt, or that this post didn’t strike a nerve, but like, life goes on. It was incredibly painful that summer. Incredibly hard. For whatever reason, I wasn’t as important to her as she was to me. There are a lot of people to whom I am that important. ❤
I'm not a ghoster. Once you're in, you're in. I keep my circle tight and tended.
This post seems to have struck a nerve for many, Joey, and that both amazes and disheartens me. I don’t know what’s up with a person that drops a friend for untold reasons and never or hardly communicates afterward, but whatever. I also have a circle of friends that are important to me and vice versa, and this has taught me the lesson to never ever let my lovelies go like that.
I’m sorry Mary J. I understand — and I see from the comments that you already know you are not alone in this kind of thing. Hugs on the wing!
Thanks, Teagan, for the hugs, and I am thankful for the wonderful friends still in my life.