To be honest, I’m not a #bestiesforever kind of person. I’ve always ranked that hashtag up there with people who post pictures of themselves on social media, looking absolutely screwed, with the caption, “this little angel has kept me awake for a week straight, but I’m so #blessed.”
I’ve been known to unfriend anyone who uses the #blessed hashtag because, ultimately, I know that we can’t really be friends. I love Instagram, but some of the hashtags I use to whore myself out for likes are similar to #blessed, and I’ve had to stop using them because it feels like I’m selling out. It got to the point where #bestiesforever brought me that same kind of cringe, and it took me a while to work out why.
I do love a good celebration of friendship, whether it’s on social media or just sending someone a message to tell them they’ve been an awesome friend or that you miss them. When children are involved, it’s often searching your diary for months on end, finding out that nobody has the same free date for the next 18 months, but looking forward to that date like your life depends on it. You know that after one sip of prosecco, it’ll feel like you’ve never been apart. But what happens when you slowly realize that your best friends aren’t your best friends anymore?
I think it’s safe to say that when you have a child, you will, whether it’s intentional or not, totally overhaul your life. You chuck out old clothes that will never fit you again. You sweep the house for anything that might hurt your child and promptly get rid of it or put it out of reach. You also have no time for friendships that have become hard work, and overhaul these with everything else. What you’re going through is hard enough without the added stress of trying to maintain something that will just never work.
I started to feel like this about a lot of my friendships early on in my pregnancy and, once my first baby arrived, it became clear that maintaining certain friendships was going to be harder than climbing Kilimanjaro in heels. But it was a struggle of emotions. These were friendships I’d had for 20 years – I’d been friends with these people for longer than I hadn’t been. I felt I should keep trying. Eventually, the hurt I felt every time I saw a #bestiesforever picture without me in it outweighed the need to try and remain friends.
They also did some pretty crappy things, using the fact that I had a baby as an excuse for ignorance. One day, I went through my phone and deleted all the numbers of people that I no longer felt were my friends and blocked them from all social media. I was cackling like a deranged witch when I did it, gleefully muttering “so long, knobheads!” I practically danced around the house, free from the weight of them, and relieved I finally had some closure on the situation.
But out of the blue, I was out one day, saw something hilarious, and retrieved my phone to take a picture, thinking “H would love this!” Then I realized, H and I aren’t friends anymore. I had cut H out of my life. It hit me, I would never actually see H again, and that had been my decision.
The full force of cutting these people from my life hit me and, for a while, I actually felt bereft. Before now, I’d felt nothing but relief and cackling delight, but to feel bereft totally knocked me for a loop. It was almost like I was experiencing the stages of bereavement for the friendships I had lost: denial that they were no longer viable friendships, anger (the bit that made me delete their numbers faster than a secretary on speed), bargaining with myself over whether the decision had been the right one, and feeling depressed about it. I have, of course, now given the whole situation way too much thought and come up with the following:
I hated #bestiesforever because I was jealous. I wanted to be included and I got rid of my friends because of jealousy, not because the hashtag made me want to throw up a little in my mouth, which is what I told myself.
My friends genuinely never invited me anywhere anymore because I had children, and they automatically assumed that meant I could never go anywhere or do anything ever again.
They filed me under B for Boring and planned to be better friends once they thought I was less boring.
Maybe they actually wanted to get rid of me. Maybe they were actually doing the dance of delight that they’d pushed me out enough to make me get rid of them, thus alleviating their own guilt at finding me to be a total non-entity and no longer wanting me in their lives.
I’m actually overthinking the whole f***ing thing and my initial assessment that they were, in fact, shitty friends was correct, and I’ve done the best thing for everyone by cutting ties.
It’s just so flipping hard to know what is the right thing to do. I’ve always gone with my gut feeling and my gut was definitely telling me to let go. But then it changed its mind and left me with a nagging feeling that I’d messed up.
Maybe a part of me thought that once they had children of their own, they’d realize that they hadn’t been the greatest of friends and want to make amends. (I will say that I wasn’t the most understanding towards people with children when I didn’t have any of my own.) But then, despite being blocked, a picture of one of them with a new baby managed to make its way onto my Facebook timeline and it was captioned #blessed. Maybe that’s just enough said and should be my final stage in the process: closure.