I did call one friend, and apologize for leaving her hanging.
I knew she would be 1,000,000% real with me, and sure enough, she verbally Gibbs-smacked me with an iron skillet.
She said that our friendship was deeper than dishing out the day-to-day bullcrap at each other and that I shouldn't apologize for living our everyday lives. She went on to say that she knew that if either of us truly needed help, that we both knew the other would help in what ever way is possible.
Well, now I feel a bit stupid.
And then, I thought more about it. DUH, Trish, that's pretty much what constitutes almost all of your friendships that are worth a damn. We may only catch up with each other online, or in passing, or not at all for weeks at a time. In one case, years pass with no contact. And we can pick up where ever we are, and jump in for how ever long we have mutually available.
Then, I called L back and thanked her for her wisdom shared during our previous call, and relayed a sense of relief from at least one of my perceived burdens with one person. Some of the wisdom she'd also shared in the earlier call was that she and I are the type of women that dig in when we must, and we don't require incessant hand-holding from our friends, nor do we do well having to handle needy friends who must have their hands held all the time. We can pick up the phone if we truly need some kind of help - literal or mental/emotional, and there is a friend who can do just that.
So really, THOSE are the kind of friends that fit me best. And those are the most enduring kinds of friendships. And I'd rather have that, than a variety of people flitting in and out of my life because we're just incompatible. That will still happen, but I'm discerning the kind of role I want people to have in my life each time I encounter them. Likewise, I would expect nothing less of others when dealing with me.
Here I was carrying around this weight of guilt over being a bad friend, in a manner that would rival the fruits of a Jewish mother's laying it on thick. Does it assuage my guilt at all? A bit, yes. But then it piles it elsewhere, under the column titled "Foolish Errors & Worries". I am a much more confident, independent individual than I was even 20 or 25 years ago. But I have things ingrained into me that will never leave, and my inner child will forever be present. I hear her voice all the time, and I'm constantly learning how to parent her - much like I parent my own children, and much unlike how I was parented. I see the same kinds of insecurities appearing in my children, and with it come those exact same pangs I had as a child. And I hear myself telling my real children and my inner child the things I needed to hear at those times, but no one said to me.
Because really, why do I care if no one wants to play with me now that I'm an adult? Why do I take such trivialities as personally as I do? So, when my Clone brings to the table these complaints that girls at school are doing X, Y, or saying Z, I have to fight back my own insecurities that I felt at her age and beyond. And then I have to tell her the things my socially-challenged mother didn't know to tell me. Some girls are afraid of what everyone thinks, and it prompts them to behave poorly towards someone they once regarded as a friend. There are some girls that want to be seen as cool, no matter the personal cost to them or others. And that unfortunately, there are going to be people in the world that purport themselves as a friend, when in fact they may only be looking for personal gain. We must learn to listen to our instincts when something is even remotely off kilter about a person. We must also not be afraid of being real with people, and not be afraid to let go of the weight of burdensome friends. In turn, we must respect the decisions of others when they decide that we are not the kind of person they want or need in their lives. And to expect that when you're 1,000,000% real with people, you're going to find yourself on their chopping block.
And it will be okay to be there on occasion, because you're going to move onward to more fruitful things like friendships that don't drag the day-to-day BS, or incessant drama, into the friendship. Or if it does, you and that friend recognize it for what it is, and once it's behind us, it stays there. And even when your friend thinks you're out of your gourd for doing things a certain way, you respect her opinion, and she respects yours. And the differences don't harm the friendship, because the value of the friendship trumps the differences of opinion. Unfortunately, I'd let myself lose sight of this important revelation in evaluating my friendships over the years.