“We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” – GK Chesterton
Being a loyal person can sometimes be a serious kick in the scrotum. I care deeply about people and combining that with a rather detrimental over sensitivity and sense of empathy, I’m often left bruised and confused.
It hurts when friends are terrible communicators and you’re left feeling it’s a one-sided conversation, especially when you suffer from the immigrant’s curse of being across the globe in different time zones. When I was younger, I’d usually assume the lack of contact was due to something I’d done, but I’ve realised as I’ve got older that it’s usually a sign of what’s going on with the other person. Sometimes they’re just busy, sometimes I’m being unrealistic and expecting them to act the same way I would (as someone who loves communicating), but then sometimes it’s purely because they are being horribly self-absorbed. And I have finally given up on a few of those people.
There are only so many emails or texts you can send asking how the person is, asking them for news, sharing some stories, etc. and not getting any response. I am very cognisant of when people are, themselves, having a shitty time of it or are stressed or busy or avoiding contact with anyone (not just me), but it can get really tiring after a while being the one who is checking in and getting nothing back. It’s also shitty when they happen to know that you aren’t having a great time either and they aren’t bothering to check in with you in return. I don’t want to give the wrong impression – that I’m needy and stalky and demanding – and I know that everyone has busy lives. All I’m asking for is some response (not immediate, not even lengthy – I’d even take a Facebook ‘like’ to know they’re still alive).
Conversely, I am very lucky that I have some people in my life who I don’t keep in regular contact with, but when we see each other or finally speak, it’s like no time has passed and I know that even when we are out of touch, they genuinely care about me and we are true friends. It’s just sad when people I love feel cut off from me.
Another challenge I have around loyalty and friendship is that there are people in my life who I was close to once and still really care for and think about, but it would probably be weird for them if I did send them a message because I happen to have been friends with them a million years ago. Facebook does make this a little easier, but it’s more like I’ll have a memory of something that happened with that person, or want to get in touch with them to see how they are/tell them I’m thinking of them, but there’s too much time in the way, or they didn’t view the friendship in the same way as I did.
A lot of it comes back to distance again. I know it’s partly because I am still finding it a challenge to make friends here that I feel especially sad when I feel like I have to let go of someone or that I want to reach out to someone but feel awkward doing so.
The immigrant’s curse indeed.