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Silence, Revisited

Awhile back, I wrote about having to be silent - about cutting off communication with people who were hurting me more than being a positive force in my life.

One of the people I recently had to stop speaking to (let's call them Friend1) had a serious work crisis recently. With everything I knew they had going on, I couldn't not offer a listening ear. What was odd, was that this person didn't even seem to notice that we hadn't been in contact in months. That we, who were so close we were hanging out multiple times a week, had not had a single dinner, phone call, or chat conversation hadn't really registered as something being wrong.

One of the others (Friend2) sort of disappeared from my radar. You'd think this would be a good thing, since having to sever ties with someone is so incredibly painful. But it wasn't easier. It was harder. I was freaking out. What if they died? What if they were being hospitalized for something? What if they lost a family member? What if anything bad had happened? What if this person was suffering through something totally traumatic and here I was causing them even more pain?

I ask these questions both because I am freakishly over-protective of my friends (distant or not) and because something like that has happened to me. This summer I talked through taking a silent break with one of my friends, and then the walls went up. Both of us maintained distance, kept quiet, were silent. And in the mean time, she suffered an amazingly horrific family tragedy. I couldn't do anything, and how do you get back in touch with someone in the middle of a crisis like that - even to offer your help - when they already have so much drama going on for themselves?

I didn't want drama for her, I just wanted to help. To be an ear, to share my shoulder ... because at the end of the day - no matter what had been causing grief between us - it wasn't more important than my friend was to me.

So I messaged. I said I knew things were rough between us, but I was here. I'd always be here. And it took time. I kept up-to-date through mutual friends, and slowly, slowly we merged back into our friendship.

We had needed that time apart, but it came at such a terrible time, and although we're better friends now because of it, I never want to experience anything remotely like that again.

So, I tried to figure out where Friend2 was, and make sure everything was fine. But in the silence, any semblance of mutual friends we have are on the other side of the divide. Finally, I sucked it up and sent a message - just to make sure they were okay. Just to make sure I hadn't stupidly spun myself into another weird scenario like this past summer. And, luckily, I hadn't.

Friend2 is just fine. They had intentionally disappeared from my radar. I can only guess why.

Anyway, the point of all this exposition is simply that I'm baffled. I don't understand how Friend1 can not have noticed what was happening to our friendship. I don't know why Friend2 feels the need to hide from me. How can two people who I considered among my closest friends have so quickly gone from great to silent to hurtful? Because Friend1 not noticing hurts. And Friend2 doing exactly what I promised them I wouldn't do to them hurts.

More importantly, why couldn't I just stay silent? Why did I set myself up to hurt? Why, if I made the difficult decision to be silent, does what they do hurt me at all?

I know that as we grow as people, the people in our lives will change. We'll grow - together, apart, side-by-side. And we have to take care of ourselves; our spiritual, emotional, and physical health. But why can't I figure out a way to do any of this without it hurting?

Do the growing pains of growing up ever go away?