What Are Friends For If They Can’t Support You When You’re Down?

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Mandy and I became friends in level 300 at the university. We had a lot in common so our friendship didn’t struggle to flow at all. Our minds even processed things in similar ways. It was one of those kinds of friendships that felt like a soul connection. I suppose that’s what some people referred to as soul sisters. Things became more beautiful between us when another friend joined us. Her name is Diane. The three of us together created a whole new level of black girl magic. 

When I told my mother about our friendship, she didn’t seem as supportive as I wanted her to be. She warned me, “Be careful of triad friendships. In the end, two of them get close and one person ends up feeling left out.” I convinced myself that my mother didn’t understand the nature of our closeness. So even though I listened to her advice, I discarded it. “I know my mother means well but they didn’t have ‘girl power’ back in her days. She doesn’t know how amazing it feels to belong to the sisterhood.” That’s what I thought, as I threw caution to the wind and plunged myself into my circle of friends. 

Our bond continued to grow even after we completed university. We barely had misunderstandings, and when we did, we quickly resolved them. We kept in touch regularly via video calls and text messages. There was nothing we didn’t share with each other. From our school life to our love lives, and our national service experiences. I was the self-appointed hype girl of the group. I always made a lot of noise about Mandy’s and Diane’s achievements no matter how little they were. When it got to their birthdays, I might as well have been given a megaphone. I was basically loud when it came to celebrating my girls in any way. 

Along the line, Mandy got a scholarship to travel out of the country to pursue her master’s degree. That was when I noticed the cracks in our friendship. She kept the news about the scholarship to herself until she had a few weeks left to leave. Only then did she break the news to us.  “That’s good news, Mandy. We should get together and have some face time before you leave.” I said to the girls. While in my mind I asked, “Did Diane know about it already or is she finding out at the same time as me?” I was happy for the opportunity Mandy had gotten but I wasn’t happy that she was telling us last minute. For me, that communicated a lack of trust.

After the happiness and the congratulations died down, I asked Mandy about her arrangements for the school. She told me, “It’s a one-year program and I will be living in the hostel for the duration. Right now I have paid for the first six months of my stay. When I get there I will work and pay for the remaining six months.” I asked if there was any way I could help her and she told me everything was under control. We kept her in our prayers until she left the country in March. When Mandy arrived at her destination, she sent us photos and videos of the place. We had video calls and she showed us her hostel and its surroundings. Everything looked beautiful and she kept telling us how much of a good time she was having. 

Things took a drastic turn when I lost my cousin in June. My cousin and I were very close and her death was so sudden that the impact it had on me was numbing. I completely shut down. I couldn’t talk to anyone or keep a social media presence. My phone was mostly on mute and I only turned on my data to post her photos and lament about my grief. Sometimes I lingered online to respond to messages from sympathizers. Through all this, my girls never sent a simple “Sorry for your loss.” Or “My condolences.” It isn’t that they didn’t know what I was going through. They were always among the first five people to view my status. I was hurt by their indifference and often wondered, “Are these people really my friends? Because if it was me, I would have been all over them trying to console them.” 

Anyone here who has ever lost a loved one knows how much it means when the people close to you offer you their sympathy. It doesn’t undo your loss but it makes it bearable. Unfortunately for me, my closest friends went quiet on me when I needed them most. That aside, the following month was my birthday, and neither of these girls called to wish me a happy birthday. I asked myself a lot of questions. “Did I do something to these girls that I’m not aware of? Why are they giving me the silent treatment even on my birthday? I feel like they are withdrawing from me but I don’t know why.” 

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Someone would say that it was my expectations of them that hurt me. But why shouldn’t I expect my only friends to be there for me? After all, that’s what I would have done for them. I guess I was silly to expect them to match the same efforts I put into our friendship. It was around 5:00 PM on my birthday when Diane called to wish me a happy birthday. I responded dryly and told her, “I’m in town, let me call you later.” I was in a car going home when she called again. “Today is your birthday but you don’t sound happy. What’s going on?” I responded, “I am just learning to mind my business.” Then she started talking plenty, “Things haven’t been easy for any of us. I have my problems and so does Mandy. She is getting evicted from her hostel because she couldn’t make payment.” 

I had a feeling that one of them was not telling me the truth. Mandy had told me she had already taken care of her hostel fees for six months. But after four months of her stay, she was getting evicted? Who were these people trying to fool? Then Diane goes ahead to tell me, “It’s because of all these problems that we couldn’t reach out to you when your cousin died. We are sorry.” I couldn’t have that. So I told her, “I am not trying to question the importance of your problems but are you seriously trying to compare the loss of my cousin to Mandy getting evicted? How can you compare these two things?” 

 I left things off telling her not to worry about me. “Since we’re all facing problems in our lives and the two of you have paired up and left me out, it’s fine. I can live without you two. I wish you all the best.” After that conversation I deleted their contacts because anytime I came across their names on my phone, I got angry. I may not be right somewhere, or I may have overreacted somewhere but my heart is at peace because I know all I did was love them. It’s just sad that the good thing we had going was ruined. I have decided to embrace it as part of life.

—Mel

 

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