Lucinda had been emotionally distant from me for quite some time. I’ve lost track of the years.
If I had to think hard about it, I’d say at least five years this time around. She had a history of coming back into my life, rebuilding a friendship with me, and then disengaging without a reason why. I’ve learned to simply let her go and be there when she returns.
I saw Lucinda sitting her car as I arrived at my destination. She rolled her window down and said, “Hi.” I said, “Hello,” and kept walking. She drove off. She called me two weeks later and said something to the tune of,
“I noticed the last few times we saw each other we barely spoke. I’d like for us to say more than ‘hi and bye’ to each other. I’ve been working on understanding myself and I realized that sometimes there’s things I can’t handle. I know my not being around, not speaking, and not keeping in touch may come across as cold, uncaring, and insensitive. I’m still mad at mom for how she was when I was growing up and it’s hard for me to see her now because I don’t like her. That’s why I don’t visit her in the nursing home. I tried before to take care of her because I felt obligated, but I was burning out and that’s why I left her alone. When I saw her at family functions, it went okay. I know you and I had issues in the past and it’s easier for me to stay away. I don’t want to argue. I have things going on in my life that I’m dealing with in therapy and I when things, with family or you, seem emotional to me, I back off. I can’t handle it. I’m working on it, but right now I still can’t deal with it. I want you to know that I’m not mad at you for anything and I’d like us to speak more than saying ‘hi and bye’ when we’re around each other. I’ll be back up that way in about a month and if you’re around, I’d like us to talk.”
That all sounded like she’d gained revelations about herself and her mental state. I admit to being hopeful things would change. I also admit to being skeptical due to all the previous times Lucinda would come around, things would seem okay, and she’d disappear. Over the years, I stopped opening up to her when I saw her because I felt she wouldn’t be around long.
I thanked Lucinda for sharing her feelings, her thoughts, and what she hoped for in the future regarding us speaking. I told her I didn’t hold any ill feelings toward her, wasn’t mad at her for anything, and even still loved her as a person. I told her I’m glad she acknowledged her behaviors presented as her being cold and uncaring. I voiced my acceptance of her finding out that when things became emotionally challenging for her, she’d leave. I explained when people seem to need space and they repeatedly exit my life, I let them have whatever space they need and I’ll be there (maybe) when they return.
I tried to dismiss what she’d said. I attempted to not overthink it; yet, I did. My thought was, “How can she simply think she can show up and we’ll be besties or that I’ll completely open up and share my heart with her? Does she realize the amount of emotional labor she’d need to exert for me to trust her?” I realized I was already putting more emotional work into her words than she was when I stopped thinking and focused on what she’d actually said. She said when we saw each other, she’d like us to say more than “hi and bye.” She’d said she’d be around in about a month. If she really wanted to rebuild a friendship with me, if she really wanted us to keep in touch, wouldn’t she have said something like, “Hey, how about we touch base over the weekend?” Or given me a specific date and time when she’d be around so we could coordinate and spend time together. I realized I needed to take what she said literally and not think she meant anything more. This all happened a little over two months ago. I haven’t seen or heard from her since.
Have you been in a similar situation where you were willing to rekindle a friendship or relationship and the other person wasn’t? Has a person expressed personal growth while their behaviors remained contrary to their words? Did you overthink we they actually said? Was it easy to simply leave things the way they were?
I look forward to reading your experiences. Comments are always welcome.
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