An Open Letter From Your Shittiest Friend
Hey. Today I realized that I’ve totally become that friend, haven’t I? Or worse, maybe I’ve been that friend all along.
We rarely see each other anymore. You probably need me now like you’ve needed me before, and true to form, I’m MIA.
In my defense, it’s not that you’re not on my mind. In fact, my shitty friend status causes me a lot of anxiety. I think of you often. I want to reach out, call just to say hi, get together, make plans.
But then there are so many compelling reasons to deny myself the pleasure of your company.
Like the fact that I’m also a shitty wife and mother. Since I barely spend any quality time with my husband or my son (since I’m working my tail off to feed said husband and said son), spending time with you seems like drinking champagne on the deck of the Titanic; I’d love to grab some bubbly, but this ship is fucking sinking and I should probably grab a bucket instead.
I also can’t see you because I don’t work out enough, or go to yoga, or read books for fun, or buy blackberries (even when they’re on sale). Since I no longer do me, seeing you has turned into yet another luxury I can’t justify gifting myself.
I long for the type of friendships I see in films and on TV, where people drop by their friend’s houses unannounced and everyone enjoys fresh fruit plates and white wine in the middle of the afternoon (while wearing pants that zip, shirts that have collars, and lipstick. Lipstick, I say!).
If you dropped by my house unannounced today you’d see a barely-under-control carpenter ant problem, my 10-month old still in his pajamas at 4pm, a woman working 10-hour days to support a husband who can’t find a job that pays more than the cost of daycare, and a really, really dirty bathtub.
I can’t see you because I can’t even see myself. Because it can’t be how I want it to be, where we’d laugh uncontrollably and gossip about mutual friends (who I’m also neglecting) and drink like we used to and relax, for godsake. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking or rose -colored nostalgia, but didn’t I used to be more relaxed?
Here’s the unflattering, embarrassing truth: you’ve got your shit together and I so, so don’t. You can handle this marriage thing and this mom thing and this adult thing with grace and style, while it often takes every ounce of energy I have not to erupt into anger, drown in sorrow, or stick my head in the oven along with my pathetic attempt to bake chicken (who screws up baked chicken?!).
Don’t get me wrong. I love my family with all my heart. I am so grateful to have these problems, these anxieties, these beliefs that keep me from you. My happiness is another good reason not to see you, because I feel guilty for not feeling guiltier for not seeing you more.
There’s no excuse for being a shitty friend, but there is an explanation: I’m so shitty at so many other things right now that the shitstorm has swept up our friendship in its wake.
Maybe someday, when my kid starts sleeping more than two hours at a time, when our household income surpasses the federal poverty level, when this giant anvil of anxiety dissipates into miraculous lightheartedness, I’ll call you to say hello.
I know you’re there for me if I want to talk, and that it’s times like these that we should lean on our friends.
But how can I ask you to be there for me when I haven’t been there for you?
I can’t do that.
And besides, getting together with you feels like just one more thing on a plate that’s been overloaded with too much life.
And that, my friend, is the shittiest truth of all.
I’m sorry. I love you. I suck.
Your Shitty Friend