I spent a good portion of yesterday and today chatting via email and text with a friend who suddenly reappeared on my horizon. After a 2+ year absence without explanation, GS suddenly sent me an out-of-the-blue email to say hi and reestablish contact. I was very surprised and very happy to hear from him, albeit somewhat cautiously. One does not go from emails or texts several days per week to absolute radio silence that lasts for more than 2 years without some residual concern or resentment or disappointment. At least not with me, anyway.
However, there were extenuating circumstances, and he has been a friend like few others to me for so many years. Our periods of extended no communication are not unheard of, either, initiated by both of us at one time or another during our long friendship.
When our communications so abruptly ended I knew his father was engaged in a very serious, last-ditch fight with cancer and the prognosis was not very encouraging. At the time I suspected and now know was because his dad did take a turn for the worse and within a few days of our last text exchange in 2014 passed away. GS is an only child and a single father himself. Life had been complex before this event came to pass, and we spent many months over email discussing his divorce, his father’s illness, jobs, work, and all other milestones in life. The radio silence is forgivable; I know and understand how he compartmentalizes. I am happy that he is again popping up in my text and email throughout the days.
At the time, though, despite all my knowledge and concern about him and his family, negative girl was pointing out all my high maintenance crap and the issues I was coping with at work and in my life. Things were not as terrible for me as they have ever been during that period, but my former firm owners’ ability to make me crazy was not a new thing that just started before I moved on to my present phase of employment life.
Funny how my life seems so settled and routine right now to me, living it as I do on a day-to-day basis. Yet trying to catch up with someone takes multiple emails and several hours and lots of blog reading on his part. I am apparently living in interesting times.
Thing is, he is not the first incommunicado old friend to pop up and appear in my inbox or my phone in the last couple of weeks. He is, in fact, the third to reappear in March after an extended silence. I am happy to hear from them, happy to learn they are in good health and thriving in their own lives. But with these other 2 friends, it’s a little different than with GS.
My other friends, they were happy to hear that things are going well for me professionally. Personally, it seems a no-brainer to them that I would still be with M and our relationship thriving. Unfortunately, my spidey sense says their comments are less sincere than merely polite. The leap to self employment was marginally interesting, until I neatly sidestepped direct questions as to how profitable my little firm and then being corrected that I am not technical in business for myself with my part-time law firm gig.
Today I am wondering why they bothered reaching out at all. I am the same hard-working, happily married person I was a few years ago when we last spoke. News of my diet and exercise changes were met with the most cautious optimism yet, along with the usual disclaimers about overtraining and unsustainable diet extremes and vague hopes that I can stay off the insulin needle.
Their lives with jobs and newly-minted romantic partners and grandchildren that make them feel old … perhaps they need a fresh audience? I’m not sure exactly, but I am a bit perplexed. Perhaps I am the one who has outgrown the interaction this time.
GS is different – ours has typically always been a cerebral, intellect-based friendship. He makes me feel as if I am brighter than I believe myself to be, and opens up all sorts of conversational topics that make me think, make me want to explore more. His is the sort of balance I want and need in my life – a source of topics and books and interests that I know little or nothing about and will take the time to seek out just to understand the positions he takes or what it is precisely we are discussing. His children are now young tweens, growing up into lovely young ladies. I love listening to his parenting stories, now that he himself is a parent, whereas I used to love hearing his stories of being a good son to his very typical, WASP-y parents.
His return is fortuitous for me, because I am in the midst of a difficult professional task that he seems to have a better, clearer understanding of what I am coping with right now. I greatly appreciate the sounding board, and like so many things in my life, what I need most somehow just appears. Kind of woo, I know, but it surely feels like an answer to a prayer to see his name in my inbox yesterday.
I have started implementing strategies to cull my client list, because I simply do not have enough hours in a week to serve them all as the consultant and accounting resource I pride myself on being. It’s been far more difficult than I expected. The relationships I develop with people does not make it simple or easy to just release them back into the wild and never to see or hear from them again. I genuinely care about the outcomes of their projects and the work I do for them, and it is perhaps my own hubris that makes me feel as if I am letting them down by terminating our professional ties. More than that, though, we have become friends of a sort. I know about their families, their spouses and their children, their parents and the challenges of caring for a multi-generational family. If anything I have done in self-employment makes me feel like I am faltering, it has been this referring many of my small clients to another accountant.
M understands, and listens patiently while I agonize over the choices and the difficult conversations and topics of transition. However, he has never been in this position, never wanted to be this sort of manager or business owner for precisely these kinds of situations. It is nice having my friend back who loves talking with me about this sort of stuff. It’s wonderful to have him back in my life and communicating regularly.
The other 2 old-is-new friends who just appeared out of the woodwork after extended absence? I have no strong feelings about it, which is new and unusual. I am happy they are well and happy, yet I have no real need or desire to stay in close contact or to allow their “being real” with me to impact the very pleasant, even-keel zone where I am presently dwelling. I was back-burner pondering it this morning during my workout; I find the current routine J drafted and updated for me very absorbing and fluid in its transitions, so much so that I get lost in the sequence and forget where I am as far as reps and sets and such. I love that. I love that I have to look at my watch to get an estimate of how much work I have done and am not pleading or trying to make deals with myself for it to be over.
But in my mulling it over, I realize that letting go is easy for me in this situation. These people are part of a life I once led, not where I am today. Their comments are unhelpful and I find that when I think about it and about them, I am far less inclined to want to stay in touch. It’s a little sad, but not depressing as it might have been once.
Maybe the exercise and the lack of less healthy food intake is perking up my brain cells and my emotions as well. I am not unkind in my lack of interest, merely acknowledging the reality of what exists within me. And having preferences and acting upon them does not make me evil or mean or bad person.
I am surprisingly okay with that. There are a lot of little signs that remind me I am on the right track, and I am not quite as blind as I once was. Progress.