No, you won’t die and the sky won’t fall in.
It’s taken me a long time to embrace this notion but now that I have I am feeling free of some heavy weights from my shoulders. And, in case you are thinking I’m a nasty person who doesn’t appreciate good friends, let me tell you about one ‘situation’ that took me decades to finalise and let me tell you how free I feel now that I no longer dread the call from these particular friends…or should I say “friends”?
It’s a long story.
Many, many years ago my (future) husband and I were part of a group of older teenagers who socialised together. A boy, we’ll call Neil, became friendly with us and, when he paired up with a girlfriend, (we’ll call her Sally), we occasionally went on outings together.
When my (future) husband and I became engaged, it wasn’t long before Neil and Sally did likewise.
We married before they did. Sally’s dress was modelled on mine: same style, same dressmaker, similar fabric. She borrowed my veil and head-dress.
It seemed a bit weird, but I guess I was flattered at the time.
They built a home less than a kilometre from ours.
Time went by and we saw Neil and Sally occasionally and shared some meals, often with others as well - but we had little in common
Their first baby arrived eleven months after we had our first child. Eleven months after our second child was born, their second one came along.
I could go on………….long story, but you get the drift.
Then we moved away.
Although we were living in a small country town about 300 km from where we had been, Neil and Sally kept up the friendship and came to stay with us at least once a year. We don’t recall offering invitations - they just seemed to arrange the dates themselves.
But I think we were good hosts.
We showed them around the area, fed them well and entertained them.
On one visit Sally brought a home baked fruit cake. Thinking it was a gift, I stored it in the fridge and, as I had already prepared meals and snacks for their visit, we didn’t eat the cake during their stay.
As Neil and Sally were about to leave after three or four days, Sally went to the fridge, took out the cake and said (words to the effect of) ‘Seeing we didn’t eat this, I’ll take it home’.
Gobsmacked we were.
As the years went by, and we stayed living in the countryside, Neil and Sally continued their visits.
After a while, we became used to their taking home of anything they brought with them that hadn’t been consumed.
We sighed at their meanness, but tolerated them.
On one visit, Sally announced that they had decided ‘to have cheap holidays’ that year and proffered a short list of “friends” with whom they planned to stay over the following twelve months.
It was becoming tiresome to put up with them, but we did.
Then two years ago, they phoned in early December to say that they were travelling in our direction soon and I (stupidly, but jokingly) said, ‘So, you’ll come to us for Christmas?’.
‘Yes, if that’s okay’, was the reply.
It was not a happy Christmas time. Neil and Sally bored us senseless with stories centred on their boring lives and the people they knew (and we didn’t). They ate our Christmas fare and watched as we (embarrassedly) opened gifts given to each other and sent to us by our children and siblings.
They had no gifts for each other or from their family members as they ‘didn’t give gifts’. (What?)
They merely sent each of their (adult) children a text, saying, ‘Happy Christmas’.
The days dragged by and became more tedious than ever as we listened to them drone on and prepared to set off to visit our (inter state) family.
Although we tried to remain good hosts, it was becoming more difficult by the day and then Neil, one evening, in the middle of being extra boring – telling us for the umpteenth time about his ‘dodgy’ heart – he uttered a most un-amusing joke.
I questioned the source of such a statement and he suddenly became defensive and then aggressive.
(Had we given him too much of our good wine?)
An argument ensued and Neil suddenly stood and announced that he was going home.
We could hardly believe our good fortune.
But, then realising that it was late at night and they had a long way to go, he made a good attempt to settle down and to call the idea off.
But I was enervated by the good news that they might be going and went to the fridge to find anything they might have brought with them that they could take home.
But the chance was lost; Sally calmed Neil down and they stayed for another night.
The next morning they left.
We have heard from them once since then – via an email which we didn’t answer.
Oh, it’s so good to no longer dread the ‘Neil and Sally phone call’, announcing their next visit!
PS: Over the years we never did visit them – let alone stay. Did they not notice how one-sided the “friendship” was?
The freedom gained from un-friending is so refreshing….why did it take so long?