I’m bad at a lot of things, and mostly, I don’t care. I can’t peel a hardboiled egg without taking half the egg white with it. I’m terrible at any sort of sports. Math? Pssh. My high school algebra teacher would be appalled at how little I remember. And I can’t put together a fashionable outfit without consulting Pinterest or a store mannequin first. Yes, there are skills I’m seriously lacking, but for the most part I shrug them off. However, there’s one thing I do feel bad about being bad at.
I’m a total slacker in the friendship department. Sometimes I don’t return texts or snaps or Facebook messages in a timely manner. Sometimes I miss phone calls and don’t call back — or promise to call back and then forget. Sometimes a month or more will go by between actual back-and-forth conversations.
If my friends don’t drag me out of my house, or simply show up unannounced, they may not see my hermit-y self for weeks at a time. I might text a funny meme or comment on their Instagram post so they know I’m alive, but my level of involvement is super-low. I keep a silent eye on their lives as I scroll through my Facebook feed on the fly, and as long as I know they’re functioning without my immediate presence, I don’t make much of an effort to keep in touch.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my friends, genuinely and deeply. I think about them on a daily basis, multiple times actually. If there’s a crisis, I’m there in the middle of the night or whenever they happen to be hurting.
But as far as the mundane day-to-day communications — the art of just saying “hey” — I’m the worst when it comes to actually letting my friends know they’re in my thoughts. Something will remind me of a special person, and I’ll think, “I need to tell her about this,” but then…I don’t. Life gets in the way, overwhelms me, fills up my proverbial plate so much I feel like I can’t take on a single extra task — not even a small one, like a phone conversation. Because a phone conversation would last for a half-hour at a minimum, and that’s a half-hour I need to catch up on all the stuff I feel I’m falling behind on.
I was a better friend when I was younger, less tired, not spread so thin, not dividing my meager time between work and spouse and housework and children. I had the time and energy to devote to chatting and pedicures and girls’ nights. Now I barely have the energy to fold my laundry (which is why it’s currently wrinkling in the basket. Hey, something’s gotta give).
I’ve lost friends because of my habit of “ghosting,” and I can’t blame them for bailing on me. But those are the superficial friends, acquaintances maybe, the ones who didn’t understand. My true friends know not to take it personally when I disappear down my own personal rabbit-hole. It happens when I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, which unfortunately is pretty damn often, and am trying to juggle my obligations. Routine friendship maintenance takes a back burner during those times, and I communicate only in quick snaps and Facebook “likes” I send while I’m on the toilet.
But the best part about my friends is that they get it. I can be sure they won’t judge me, even when I flake, even when my anxiety and overwhelm have me pulling all the way back. My ability to feel safe enough to lose touch speaks volumes: I know they’re not going anywhere, and when I’m able to come up for air, they’ll hear from me again. And it’ll be like there was never a distance between us. We won’t have skipped a beat.
This post first appeared on Scary Mommy